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Benchmade Nagara Review

Nagara11cWoods Monkey takes a look at the Benchmade Nagara–An EDC knife that is as home in the city as it is in the woods.






Nagara4aThe Nagara is an attractive and elegant knife that is at home wherever it resides.  The Nagara is offered in a long slender plain edge blade that is crafted from 9CR13 stainless steel blade.  9CR13 is a Chinese made high-carbon stainless steel with increased levels of cobalt added for greater edge retention.    Its Titanium handle is anodized blue, with a reversible, tip up carry pocket clip and lanyard hole.  The Nagara comes with the NAK-LOK, which is built on the framework of a locking liner but with some innovative updates.  The lock engages using the tensile strength, compared to the compression hold of more traditional locking liners.  With the NAK-LOK the chance of injury is greatly reduced because the opening finger never crosses over the blades path.  The blade is 3.25” long and 0.120” wide.  The knife weighs in at a paltry 3.3 ounces.  Its open length is 7.5” and 4.25” closed.

Upon the arrival of the Priority Mail package, I quickly removed the Nagara.  The knife fit in my hand like it was made for it.  I immediately imagined it carving fine details, but it appeared to have enough muscle for larger tasks.   The handle finish was a lustrous blue, which was absolutely gorgeous.  The blade opened smoothly and the NAK-LOK positively engaged it so that there was no play present.    The blade was shaving sharp with no pull on the hairs.  I handed the knife to my stepfather, who immediately commented on the NAK-LOK.  He is left-handed and finds more traditional liner locks difficult to use.  His hands are much larger than mine and he was able to manipulate the NAK-LOK without trouble.   The pocket clip appeared to be strong, and able to retain the knife in a pocket but I am not fond of a tip up carry, having learned from experience that a loose pivot pin can cause deep wounds.

Nagara7aI started carrying the Nagara to work with me.  I work on construction sites, but at no time did I worry about losing the knife due to the deep pocket clip.  I started by opening a box of concrete sampling cylinders.  The thin blade slid through the box with no problems, actually nicking a cylinder stored inside.  It sharpened pencils to an extra fine point, and was ready to whittle me a toothpick after a practically stringy lunch steak.  While waiting for concrete, I pulled the Nagara out and carved on a chunk of cedar.  The extra fine point made it easy to carve a wood spirit with a chained honeysuckle border.  I passed it around to my co-workers who all liked the fit and finish of the Nagara.  The left-handers all liked the NAK-LOK.

When making my lunches on site, the Nagara’s blade was wide enough to spread peanut butter or mayonnaise easily.  It sliced onions and ripe tomatoes into paper-thin slices for a burger.  I chunked up carrots and bell pepper for a salad.  The fine point made it easy to clean out all the seeds from a jalapeno pepper to spice up some black beans and Spanish rice.  After preparing the food the Titanium handles were easy to clean up.  Just drop into hot soapy water and wash clean.

Nagara3aI took the Nagara with me on a day hike to Stone Mountain, in Elkin, NC.  It served as my main blade for the day.  I hiked the middle and lower falls trail, and while sitting listening to the falls I fired up my wood stove to boil a cup of herbal tea.  I used the Nagara to carve twigs and hunks of birch to fire the stove.  It worked well in carving a pothook to hang my billy can from.  The back of the knife has enough edge to scrape the bark from a poplar branch, which I used to lash a tripod together.   I carved up some cheese to go with the crackers, and jerky I ‘d brought for lunch.

After lunch, I used the Nagara to carve some figure four trap figures, and some Piute deadfall triggers.  It ate through the dead fall I picked up.  The thin blade cut as much into the maul log as into the sapling I was trying to cut down.  I do need to mention, that through all this use, the 9CR13 maintained the razors edge it came with from the factory.  In fact, it wasn’t until I used the Nagara to carve up some seasoned hickory, that I needed to put it to the sharpening stone.   I used a Smiths diamond stone to return the edge to shaving sharpness, and then stropped it a few times to remove the slight burr. Now for the bad part.   While I like ease of use of the NAK-LOK, it doesn’t lead me to depend on it.

Nagara14aI found myself constantly readjusting my grip to ensure I didn’t activate the lock and close the blade on my hand. My stepfather also worried about the blade closing while in use.  It placed the lock button into his palm, and it slightly pushed it in while using it.  I’d like to see a backup lock to prevent a cut.   The finish on the handle scales scratched after the first day, so I would recommend carrying the Nagara in a dedicated pocket, or see Benchmade increase the durability of their anodized coating.  Also, the tip up carry almost caused me a nasty cut, where the blade had slipped open in my pocket.  Maybe Benchmade would add more threaded holes to allow for a tip down carry.

Over all the Nagara would make an excellent backup or secondary blade for the woodsman.  Its thin blade lends itself to fine carving, but has enough strength to do some larger tasks.  The Nagara isn’t designed for batoning, but does a great job at everything else.  It loves the kitchen, where cutting up fruits and vegetables just makes its day.  I recommend the Nagara for lefthanders; every one I showed it to just loved its ease of use.  It’s classy enough for the businessman, but tough enough to carry its own weight in the woods.

The Benchmade Nagara has an MSRP of $100.00, but with some judicious searching on the Internet, it can be had for around $65.00.  Benchmade has a winner with the Nagara, one that I wouldn’t hesitate to carry around the world.


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