Pat’s Product Review: Benchmade’s 810BK Contego Folder

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I love pocket knives! I carry one or two on my person every single day. A pocket knife gets used almost daily, whereas, my handgun on my right hip, is there for when really bad things happen. I couldn’t get along with some kind of folding knife in my pocket – UPS, FedEx and USPS bring packages to me almost daily, and a good sharp knife does the job of opening the boxes in short order. I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t carry some kind of pocket knife – even as a kid back in Chicago, as early as third or fourth grade. Just think, the police weren’t called, and you weren’t expelled when you carried a pocket knife to school – unlike today, with the PC crowd, expelling students for having a butter knife, or pointing a finger and pretending it’s a gun – the insanity in our public schools never ceases to amaze me these days.

I’ve been writing about Benchmade knives for about 20 years now, maybe even longer. I’m a long-time friend of Les d’Asis, who owns Benchmade – and he’s a real down-to-earth type of guy, too – no suit and ties for him. And, he’s never too busy to get on the manufacturing floor, to see how everything is running – he has his hand in everything – as busy as he is. So, I’m a big fan of Benchmade knives – and one thing that always catches my attention is, that no matter who designs a Benchmade knife, the designs just seem to flow – a graceful flow to their designs.

Today we consider the new 810BK Contego folder. I waited for this folder for more than three months because they were always out-of-stock, due to the popularity of this folder. And, the wait was worth it, too. A quick look at the Contego is in order. It has a 3.98-inch long blade made out of CPM-M4, one of the new powdered stainless steel blade materials, and this one is very impressive, to say the least – more on this shortly. Blade thickness is 0.156-inches, and the blade is tactical black – super cool looking, with a reverse Tanto-style blade shape that I really liked.

I was a bit concerned with the Rockwell hardness of the CPM-M4 blade, at 62-62, because when you start getting up that high on the Rockwell scale, the blade tends to get a little brittle in my experience, as well as hard to re-sharpen. My fears were for nothing, as when the blade finally did dull – and it took a good long time, it was easy enough to re-sharpen.

Weight of the knife is only 5.92-ounces – not too heavy, and not too light – a really good balance to the Contego. The handle scales are G-10 and have a bi-directional pattern on the scales, that really grip you back – I like a knife that stays in my hand, under all types of weather conditions – and the 810 does that. I had the 810BK, that has the blackened blade and a plain edge, however, you can have a partially serrated blade, or glades that are shinny instead of black – for me, the way to go is with the blackened blade – looks very tactical.

The clothing/pocket clip allow for a tip-up carry of the blade, and the clip is reversible from one side of the handle to the other if you’re a Southpaw.  Also, the clip allows for a very deep carry in your pocket, yet allows the knife to be easily drawn, too. The locking mechanism is the now famous AXIS lock, and it is super-strong and self-adjusting as the knife wears in over the years. It also allows for a VERY smooth opening of the blade, using the ambidextrous thumb stud for opening the blade. On the butt end of the handle is a carbide glass breaker, and unlike some other glass breakers, this one is almost hidden, but it works – I tested it on an old piece of window glass.

Overall length of the Contego is 9.28-inches and closed it is 5.30-inches – once again, not too big and not too small. I like a folder, with a blade of 3.5-inches to 4-inches – when used for self-defense purposes – and this blade length just works best for me, under most conditions – be it for self-defense or utility work around the homestead.

Now, in case you were wondering where the name “Contego” came from, it’s actually Latin – a language not used much these days, and it means “Protect” or “Shield” and the Contego 810 can sure serve as a last ditch self-defense weapon if needed.

I did my usual testing, and that is I used the knife in the kitchen, and it worked great slicing veggies and even meat at the table – I don’t know how many knife writers use a pocket knife at the table when eating, but I do. I also stabbed and slashed cardboard boxes, and the Contego really grabbed and did it’s job. I even threw the Contego at a tree several times, never got it to stick, then again, it isn’t a throwing knife – but it was fun just the same.

I will say that, the CPM-M4 blade took forever to finally dull to where it needed to be re-sharpened. And, as I mentioned, I thought it would be tough to get that hair-popping edge back on the 810, but it didn’t take long at all to get it back to factory sharp! I’m not privy to the science behind the new CPM-M4 stainless steel, other than it’s a compressed powder, but I was totally impressed with the performance of the blade material.

I liked the way the Contego felt in my hand, and it has friction grooves on the top of the handle for a secure thumb placement in the fencing position. And, even in the reverse grip, with the carbide glass breaker, with my thumb placed on the glass breaker, it didn’t feel the least bit uncomfortable and it didn’t hurt my thumb. There is also a lanyard hole in the butt of the handle, and if you work over water, you’ll appreciate a lanyard – it will help keep your knife from going deep in the water, where you’ll never find it again.

All-in-all, I was pretty much blown away by this newest offering from Benchmade, and as I’ve said many times, quality never comes cheap, and the full-retail for the Contego is $210. Is is worth it? You bet it is, because you only buy quality tools once. But the junk, you have to keep replacing, and junk will fail you…the Contego won’t. So, if you’re looking for something just a little bit different for your next EDC folder, take a close look at the Contego.   – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

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