Benchmade came out of the gate roaring in February with a lineup of knives that got better and better each time you flipped the page of its 2023 product catalog. There are a lot of updated knives in there and a collection of new ones designed to outlast you and whatever you do. But there is one knife that’s going to shake things up, if not for its price — its ultrathin profile: the Narrows.
The Benchmade Narrows is around 9/32 inches thick. For everyone who’s not an engineer or sucks at fractions as I do, that’s just a hair over ¼ inch. It’s also less than 3 ounces, which lines this knife up to go against everything we’ve learned about strength and durability in folding knives.
To achieve this skinny profile — without sacrificing strength and durability — Benchmade had to distill everything down to what was absolutely necessary and build back up from there. The Narrows is an exercise in both engineering and metallurgy. The result is milled 6AI-4V Titanium handle scales and a specially engineered Axis lock that works within the narrowness of the Narrows.
And I haven’t even told you about all of the electric-blue accents and the M390 drop-point blade.
Benchmade Narrows EDC Knife
- OAL 8.02”
- Blade length 3.44”
- Blade steel Bohler M390
- Blade shape Drop point
- Grind Flat
- Hardness 58-61 HRC
- Lock type Axis
- Carry right or left hand, tip-up
- Weight 2.41 oz.
- Price $580
- Premium materials and build
- Ultrathin profile and minimal weight
- Overall strength and durability
- It’s almost $600
Design and Features
At just over ¼-inch thick the Benchmade Narrows is the thinnest knife Benchmade has ever made. To give you an idea of how thin that is, the Narrows is 33% thinner than the Bugout. When you put this knife in your pocket, it virtually disappears.
Where that aspect is impressive, the real wow factor here is how well the blade slices through materials. Bohler M390 steel is a premium steel known for its high corrosion and abrasion resistance as well as honing to a razor-sharp edge. When you thin it out, as Benchmade has done here, you get an uncanny slicing and cutting experience.
How thin is the blade? At the thickest part of the spine, the blade is 5/64 inches thick. That tapers down to 1/32 inch at the tip. That’s roughly the thickness of a credit card. In drop point form, it becomes incredibly effective and easy to use.
When you wrap that with two slabs of milled Titanium, and anodize the hardware, thumb stud, pocket clip, and pivot bolt to be electric blue, you’re left with one of the most impressive production folding knives to hit the market in the last decade.
But, why would Benchmade stop there? Where it could have easily made this a frame-lock knife, it decided to reengineer its Axis, crossbar-style lock so it could fit the thin profile of the Narrows.
In the end, the Narrows may just be one of the most well-thought-out and best-built knives on the market for 2023. But you’re going to need to drop over $500 to experience it firsthand.
Benchmade Narrows First Impression
I didn’t think a knife could be this thin. Seriously, the Narrows nearly defies everything you know about a folding knife. North and south, east and west, it looks like a premium folding knife. When you shift everything and focus on the Z-axis and realize how thin the knife is, it doesn’t look like a knife you can do a whole bunch with it before it snaps or a good wind whisks it away.
But, of course, that’s not the case.
This is a Benchmade knife and even though it still falls inside the confines of the Blue Class of its knives, it’s a high-end dynamo that could easily fit into their Gold Class. Benchmade even had the audacity to lighten Narrows up by milling out the titanium handle scales, as if being around 3 ounces was just too much.
In all of this — the thin frame, the Bohler M390 steel, the electric blue anodization on the thumb stud, backspacer, pivot bolt, pocket clip, and screws — it’s the new Axis lock that has me in the zone. I’m over here in a daze, locking and unlocking it, letting the blade drop, and then firing it back in place. It’s a whole new take on the crossbar lock that someone should be getting an award for in the Engineering Department at Benchmade.
In the Field
After nearly a month of day-to-day use in work and play, I’m still overly impressed with the Narrows. It excels in form and function and is made from premium materials, but it’s also a bit of a talking piece because it’s so thin. How thin? I have knives with blades thicker than the Narrows.
Looks can be deceiving and when it gets down to actually using the Narrows. That’s when you realize you’ve been lied to your whole life. Bulky does not always mean better. Even at just over ¼ inch thick, there’s no bending and bowing in the Narrows. You’re also not losing anything in the way of gripping and holding, which is due to the stylized, ergonomic profile.
Bohler M390 steel is from Austria. So is Arnold Schwarzenegger. He’s strong as hell. So is M390. Originally designed to make plastic injection molds because of its incredible wear resistance, the Narrows M390 gives you the perfect opportunity to put in a hard day of work — in all conditions.
Considering the aforementioned, It goes without saying that the Narrows is virtually nonexistent in your pocket when you’re carrying it. It carries deep, too, so you can’t feel it, and “they” can’t see it.
The one drawback is that it’s expensive ($580!), but it’s also going to be a chore to sharpen if it ever gets dull.
I don’t want to knock the Bugout anymore than I already have, but if Benchmade built it the way they built the Narrows, with these incredible titanium handle scales, retaining the S30V for posterity, it could be the perfect pocket knife. But, alas, we’re getting a little bit of that flavor here with the Narrows.
The Narrows from Benchmade is a plateau. Benchmade built the Narrows so well, yet so thin, that it sets a precedent in what engineers can do with a folding knife to make it more adaptable.
The new wave of tactical folks will love it for its thin profile and hardwearing build. So will the suit-and-tie crowd who wants to carry something significant but can’t have anything bulky in their dress pants. In the middle of that is the outdoor crowd and the working class who just need a knife they don’t have to think about, but they can’t beat on like a little brother.
I guess what I am saying is that the Narrows is a very utilitarian EDC knife. It’s got something for everyone who needs a reliable folding knife. I personally would have made it a flipper, but I’m all about flippers these days, so I would turn a kukri into a flipper if it were practical.
The $500+ price tag is what’s going to hang people up and turn them back to the Benchmade catalog for something more affordable. That said, I don’t think that’s going to keep the Narrows from gaining traction in the diehard knife-owner crowd.
At the very least, when it launches in June, see if you can get your hands on one to play around with. It might just knock your socks off enough to warrant the investment.