As many of you know, Stanley May likes titanium knife handles just about more than any other.  This is a curse I have from being a structural engineer for so long. With this background, I have acquired a bias that says, I want everything to be as strong, lightweight, and functionally rugged, as possible within reason.  For me, this usually means titanium handles.  If any of you know of a good titanium counselor, please let me know, for I need help.

Today I am going to review the Benchmade 790 Lerch Subrosa.  It is a high quality, strong, assisted opening, titanium frame lock knife that actually has some style to it.  First, let's get the particulars out of the way:


  1. Blade length                                                                                  3.75 in
  2. Closed knife length                                                                       4.625 in
  3. Blade material                                                                               S30V
  4. Handle/Frame thickness (per side)                                               0.110 in
  5. Blade thickness                                                                             0.125 in
  6. Handle material                                                                             6AL-4V
  7. Knife Weight                                                                                  4.00 oz.
  8. Pocket clip                                                                                     Titanium?
  9. Spacers and screws                                                                      SS?


Note I could not readily determine the materials for items #8 and #9, so they are my best guesses.  I didn’t feel like spending much time trying to figure these out.

This Matthew Lerch design titanium knife came in the usual Benchmade box and pouch, and possesses the usual Benchmade quality.  I really like Benchmade knives, and generally think they are high on quality and value.   The Subrosa’s machining, finishes, and tolerances held are very good indeed.  The centering of the blade is perfect as it is in all the Benchmade knives I own.  It is an open knife that facilitates cleaning, and is very lightweight.  The frame locks the blade open via a monolock scheme typical of most other framelock knives.  The handles come in only one color (titanium grey), and have some NC machining done on them that forms the design’s artistic long arcs.  The handles are then bead blasted to give it that dull uniform appearance.  Post bead blasting, some shallow semi spheres are machined in between the arcs to give it a fairly esthetic appearance, especially in comparison to other titanium handles.  The blade is available in either a satin finish or painted black, and with or without partial serrations.  I got the satin plain blade that came very sharp.  It has one pocket position; tip down.

The Subrosa’s performance has some good points, and some less than desirable points.  I like the knife’s size, and balance, and it feels very comfortable in my hand.  The knife flies open when the thumb stud is nudged and locks up very solid.  At this point there is not the slightest hint of movement or looseness.  It definitely feels very strong.

It is when retracting the blade that I have a problem with the Subrosa.  It takes more force to do this than I expected.  Perhaps it will loosen up with use.  However, I used an electronic parcel scale and measured the force it required to do this.  It consistently required 3 pounds to fully retract the blade.  This not a show stopper, but it does and will take more time and effort to retract the blade.  Once retracted it feels like it will stay shut, and I think the potential of it firing in your pocket is very low.

 Another problem I have with the Subrosa is the grip.  When you grip it, it feels like there is nothing gripping back.  Additionally, the jibbing is anemic.  I do not see much point to this minimal jibbing provided that really does not offer much.  This could really cause a problem if the handles are wet, and it seems like a problem that could have been avoided with a little more thought and machining.  If you have the hands/strength of a gorilla, then you can ignore this problem.

I will conclude with pros and cons:


  1. Esthetic appeal – for titanium handles, they are very attractive
  2. Strength and toughness – this is a strong knife
  3. Opening speed and lockup
  4. Great materials
  5. Great machining, finishes, and tight tolerances
  6. Blade shape, thickness, and material


  1. Large force required to retract blade, and resulting in slightly longer time to do so.
  2. Poor gripping features
  3. Anemic jibbing

 In summary, I would say this is a good and worthy knife.  I think it would make a very good EDC for regular and demanding tasks.  It may not be the best knife to take into the woods, camping, or hunting because of the less than ideal grip and speed of retraction.  If you are considering a Subrosa, I would encourage you to look at other assisted and non-assisted knives because I think for the same money there are others that would match the pros, and not have the problems I see in this knife.  Thus, I do not give the Subrosa my highest recommendation.

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Thanks Stanley for the good review...Some interesting things to consider there. I really like the look of the knife as it looks quite attractive and it should be a good steel for use.

I love your review. I found the same things to be true of the Subrosa when I first saw it 3 years ago. All these concerns did not detract my Bro-n-law from wanting it for a Christmas gift that same year. But him getting that knife lent me the experience of seeing a novice knife owner learn that you don't need all the bells and whistles to get great work out of a knife. I also learned that when you drop a "Nitrous" assist knife in public women and children scatter, because 8/10 times that blade flies out and starts that knife spinning. But on the bright side the BM heat treat of the S30V is outstanding, as my B-n-L doesn't carry his knife anymore since he has been to the ER twice to receive stitches because of it.

It is still a pretty knife though.

Great review, Stanley

Thanks a lot Billy!!

Great review, Stanley. I must learn how to do one so well. I also like your opinion, tell it like it is...lol

Thank you Robert.  I appreciate this, and I am thinking you could write a good review as well.  Just get the facts and tell it like you see it.

I like the review also Stanley but it is a shame such a nice knife with so many good attributes lacks in basic user friendly aspects.  Thanks for sharing

You know since we started this discussion and searched for the word "Titanium" in the knife description and you do get quite a few hits. I think its a pretty hot topic!

I also have a Subrosa that I like to carry.  Very very sharp and holds extremely well.......FANTASTIC knife imo.



I also like my Subrosa and I also think it is a great knife in almost all ways.  It is a tough, tough well made knife.  I also think it would be a great knife to carry.  I was a little critical of it for a couple of reasons, that I explained in my review.  And on those points you can choose to disagree.  All knives have strengths and weaknesses.  I try not to write a review that is all pros because I believe folks should be aware of some of its cons, so they can make a more intelligent judgment about a knife they may be thinking of buying. Did you notice how much longer my pro list was as compared to the con list?  In the end I do think it is a great and worthwhile knife.  I am not about to sell mine.  However, I did find those cons less than ideal, they are totally my opinion, and I am not going to even pretend that I have the corner on knife knowledge.  That is simply not the case at all.  I am glad you wrote and told me you opinion of the Subrosa and I respect that.  Just know that I still think the Subrosa is a great knife as well, but I hope you can respect some criticisms I have about it, for no one has made the perfect knife for everyone.  Thanks for your feedback.

I do not disagree with your review even a little bit Stanley,  just wanted to add my opinion of the knife and post a pic. Fantastic does not equal perfect by any stretch and you are right,  no one makes a knife that is all things to everyone. Benchmade did a great job on this one and it does make a sweet EDC,  and there are a couple things they definitely could have done better.  I love the Nitrous Assist and mine closes easily,  but every once in a while it will creep open just a hair in my pocket.  Hasn't poked me yet,  but makes me wonder if it might......yikes. I prefer a knife with a lanyard so it was cool to see how you attached yours,  will definitely be adding one to mine soon.  Great review on a great knife from a great company that makes a great carry.  Hard to imagine that someone would be unhappy with this one,  because as your comments state......way more good than bad in the Subrosa.

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