Reviewed 10/26/2010 by KennyB
-Price Paid: $105.00
-Used for Every Day Carry
-Owned for 6 months
Blade Length: 3.6"
Weight: 3 oz
Blade Material: S30V
Blade Style; "Modified Drop-point"
Blade Finish: Satin Polish
Handle Material: Blue/Black G10
Benchmade's "Kulgera" is a great folder that holds a good balance between utility and aesthetic appeal. You could clip it onto a suit or some nice pants as a "gentlmen's knife" with the ornate and well finished black-nickel hardware and blue/black G10 that has a terrific wood look; or you could use it equally as well as a solid working knife for light to moderate duties and hunting and camping.
Mine is my EDC and I'm constantly putting it back in my pocket over most of my other knives. A large reason I like this knife over so many others is the weight and size; when you clip it to your pocket, you almost forget that it's even there. The width of the handle is just a little bit over half an inch.
The ergonomics of the handle are pretty nice, but there's some things that could be a little better and that just don't make much sense. My biggest gripe is the placing of jimping on the knives, because instead of putting it on the back of the blade, they've put it on the back of the knife handle where you're fingers are never going to engage it, and even if they did one of the jimping areas is actually recessed beneath the scales so you can barely engage it with your fingers anyway. I have no idea what the idea behind this jimping pattern was, or if they're supposed to be for jimping; it'd be nice to know what was going through Osborne's head. Aside from that, there's a part of the scales that are cut out that expose the metal liners; again I'm not really sure what the point is, but it doesn't really both me or make the knife any less comfortable.
I don't really find the ergonomics to be extremely comfortable as I would with the "Needs Work" that I reviewed, but when using the knife my hands don't become sore and it never feels heavy. The low weight is especially nice because the knife feels very easy to control.
I really like the blade's shape and finish. it has a "modified drop-point" but really it's just a drop-point with a swedge on the back that creates a high-saber grind on the knife edge that's so high I would liken it more to a full flat grind. There's a thumb ramp formed on the butt portion of the spine above the thumb stud before the "swedge", and the whole thing is finished with a very smooth satin finish. Overall the blade is quite thin at .115" at the spine, and so when cutting through materials it feels like it cuts much better than many other knives, but doesn't feel like it can easily bend or snap.
The AXIS lockup is great, there's no vertical or horizontal blade play, and the opening operation is very smooth. I've had a couple of issues with the AXIS lock. One of which could simply be solved by Loctite, and that's the pivot loosening up over time; however both of my AXIS springs have broken. A lot of people have the opinion that, "Well, you shouldn't open the knife up so much," but since then I've replaced the springs with some cheap guitar string that has far exceeded the springs they put in the knife originally. The big issue here is that I voided my warranty by disassembling my knife, but I didn't want to spend the money on shipping and insurance just to have them put new springs in there--especially if the springs they're going to use are just going to break again.
Overall though, the build quality is fantastic between blade design, the lockup and the handle. The fit and finish of everything is superb, and it's very aesthetically pleasing as well. I think the handle could stand to be a bit more comfortable in away since you become quite aware after time that the handle feels a little "straight", unlike a knife that contours to your hand naturally. However, the knife is so light, and the blade geometry cuts so well that most tasks don't require enough energy to make the handle uncomfortable and painful. It's not a knife that will tire my hand out, but it's not really a handle that I'll forget I'm holding onto either. Still it's contours make it very grippy, and it's very maneuverable, so I would say it's better than most. Even the clip barely feels like it is there, and actually helps with the grip and opening and closing it in my opinion.
I've used mine as my EDC so it sees a lot of letter and package opening duties, but I took it camping and whittled quite a bit with it; let a friend scrape out a glass bowl and the edge just rolled, no chipping or major denting. The edge retention seems fine to me, but I don't really make a habit of seeing how long my knives stay sharp without touching them up. However, I have let this one go for quite a while thinking it was still hair splitting sharp because how well it was opening packages until I tried to split hair and noticed it had dulled slightly; and that was after a couple of weeks of daily use, mostly on paper and packaging, but sometimes cardboard cutting because I have to break boxes down quite a bit. So I wouldn't really know how to qualify it, but I think it has better wear resistance than average. I wish that it would resist edge rolling a little bit better at more acute edge angles, but I don't find the S30V as hard to sharpen as many people say it is so that's okay with me. It does take quite a while to touch up on a strop with chromium oxide when compared to other steels like Case's CV which are also high in Vanadium.
If I had any complaints about the knife itself ( aside from the AXIS lock ), then my only real complaints would be inane jimping placement and that the clip loses its finish and becomes scratched/faded very easily. So if you EDC it, then it might not look as good sticking out of some dress attire, but that's not really a big deal... I'm just looking for something to complain about on the knife. As much as they don't bother me, others have complained that the exposed liners hurt their hands after extended use, but I don't really get that problem.
Overall I think it's a very aesthetically pleasing knife that isn't impractical to work with as well. Doing something like cutting through a stack of cardboard two inches wide takes less force with this blade than it would with many, and it feels very solid doing that kind of task. In addition to that, it doesn't feel as clunky as a "hard use" knife would for many operations, and often I find myself easily holding it like one wood a wood carving scalpel to do complete delicate cutting tasks. I think it's balanced very well between utility and aesthetic, and delicate and hard use.
Value wise though, I think that's an interesting story. Benchmade MSRPs this knife at $205; I would not purchase it at that price. Most sites offer it for around $175 which is still a little high for me, but I've seen it available for $130 which I think is a fair price--again that's just after having used it and finding out how much I like it. The price I paid for it was $105 because I had a $100 discount from Benchmade, and I would say that it's a perfect value for that price, I don't regret spending that much for it at all. However, if I were to have bought it for $175 and I didn't like the exposed liners or something I think I would be upset, because from what I've seen it's not an easy knife to resell for much more than $100-$120 depending on the condition.