Benchmade H&K Espionage Folding Knife

By David Tong

H&K Espionage Knife.
Illustration Courtesy of Big 5 Sporting Goods.

This article is about a good working knife for pocket carry. It is not flashy, made of "steel du jour," or a collector's item. This knife is a limited run made for Big 5 Sporting Goods under the Heckler & Koch name.

Heckler & Koch, as most of you know, is a manufacturer of top-grade commercial and military firearms. When they decided to offer knives with their brand imprint, as so many gun manufacturers have done in recent years, they teamed up with Oregon's Benchmade Company, another company well known for quality products.

The spring-loaded, assisted opening Espionage blade is constructed of chrome-molybdenum-vanadium steel (specific type unspecified). It is 3.3 inches long and the rearmost 45% of the blade is serrated. The blade features a titanium coating, presumably some kind of titanium-nitride, to further corrosion resistance.

Deploying the blade can be accomplished either by the thumb studs, or the knife's small protruding flipper that serves as a finger guard when cutting. The blade snaps open very quickly with light pressure on the protruding flipper. When closed, the blade is slightly over center, so the same spring that assists opening also serves to keep the blade closed. There is no mechanical blade lock to prevent inadvertent opening.

Thumb studs on both sides of the blade allow deployment and the blade, with its copper or bronze bearings, has little to no play when wiggled side-to-side. The thumb studs appear to bear against the slightly concave area of the handle to act as abutments to prevent the blade from over extension when downward force is applied. The liner-type lock is well-fitted with no apparent play and feels rigid.

The scales of the knife are made of the laminated composite known as G-10. It is very finely checkered and has a place for your index finger to land for good purchase. When grasping the knife, there is extensive "jimping," or friction grooves, on the top of the inner metal frame, scales and blade for your thumb.

The handle's perimeter is beveled and quite smooth, which should minimize damage to your pocket liner. There is a lanyard hole in the end of the grip. All of the assembly screws are of the Torx variety and were uniformly tight, including the two that secure the spring steel pocket clip.

The design and placement of the black pocket clip allows the knife to sit deep in the pocket for secure and discreet carry. One niggle is that the clip is not reversible and the knife is thus carried tip down, rather than up. This means you have to flip the knife 180-degrees to grasp it properly for use.

Features and Specifications

  • Model: H&K Espionage
  • SKU: 5140793
  • Style: 14140 (#14140STI-1401)
  • Blade Length: 3.3 inches
  • Blade Style: Drop point, hollow ground
  • Blade edge: Combination of fine & serrated
  • Blade Material: Chrome-molybdenum-vanadium steel
  • Blade Lock: Liner lock
  • Handle Material: Black G-10 (also available in tan)
  • Overall Length: 7.88 inches (blade open)
  • Closed Length: 4.5 inches
  • Weight: 4.3 ounces
  • Spring Assist Mechanism for one-hand opening
  • Country of Origin: PRC
  • MSRP: $44.99 (Big 5)

While its name Espionage might indicate clandestine use, these H&K knives are being sold for between $20 and $45 on Amazon, Ebay and in Big 5 sporting goods stores. It seems an excellent value if "Made in China" doesn't torque your head too much.

Being a limited run model outsourced for a mass market retailer, the Espionage is not featured on the Benchmade website. The knife's manufacture was subcontracted by H&K to Benchmade and by Benchmade to a manufacturer in Red China, yet it retains Benchmade's limited lifetime warranty against defects in materials or workmanship. So long as the knife is used for cutting and not as a pry-bar or lever, re-sharpened by a power wheel, disassembled, or otherwise abused, the warranty will cover the original owner for any failures.

Benchmade will re-sharpen the blade for a small fee, but I suspect for most of us its stunning sharpness out of the box will be adequate for quite some time. Crock sticks should serve to touch-up the blade after normal use.

The H&K Espionage appears to be a nice, if slightly heavy, general purpose folding knife and should be suitable for any reasonable purpose to which you might put it. At these prices and with a company like Benchmade behind it, they are inexpensive enough to own multiples of for your pocket, backpack, car glovebox, or desk drawer.

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Copyright 2016 by David Tong and/or All rights reserved.