Benchmade 980 Turret Voted Work Sharp Knife of the Year

Presented by: Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpeners

The Benchmade 980 Turret has been chosen as the Work Sharp Knife of the Year! Our friends in Ashland, Oregon settled on the burly Turret in a close contest that included knives from all walks of life and price points.

Work Sharp is more than a sponsor for the Readers’ Choice Awards: they’re knife lovers themselves. “We built an internal committee to select and evaluate each candidate,” Work Sharp’s Joshua Warren tells us. The hand-picked members of the committee, from many different departments, were chosen for their enthusiasm for all things sharp. “Each person was selected specifically because of their level of knife nerdiness.”

The committee evaluated and scored each of seven different candidates for the KOTY award. “Hands on with the knives really showed their true colors,” Warren continues. “There were some fantastic knives released this past year and we enjoyed spending time taking a critical look at each.” The candidates, culled via voting from a list of 25 top sellers, were:

Benchmade Bailout

Benchmade Turret 

Buck Sprint Pro

CRKT Avant

Gerber Fastball

Kershaw Bareknuckle

ZT 0230

Each knife was hand-tested and scored between 1-5 in the following categories: Fit and Finish, Ergonomics, Material Selection, Price to Performance, and (of course) Factory Edge.

Turret Surprises Everyone

Although it made the top cut, Warren frankly admits the Turret was something of an underdog amidst the competition. “It was not the obvious choice from the beginning. In fact it stood out as large, and heavy, not something we would want to carry.” But in handling, carrying, and using the knife it became clear this bulky beast was more than the sum of its parts. Here’s how it scored in each category and what the testers thought of it:

Fit and Finish: 4.3 points. The Turret was well-put together, and even after all these years the Axis Lock is hard to beat. “It has small side-to-side blade play, but that comes with a silly smooth action,” says committee member Steve from Engineering.

Ergonomics: 4.2 points. As a larger knife the Turret will be divisive to some degree, but ultimately its size made it just plain good in hand. Matt from Marketing found that the comfortable grip directly affected performance: “Killer profile, beastly function.”

Material Selection: 4.6 points. While not flashy, the crew says the G10 and S30V are a solid combination for a larger, hard-working blade.

Factory Edge: 4.2 points. As sharpening experts, the Work Sharp crew took a forensic approach in evaluating the out-of-the-box Turret edge. “We noticed a slight inconsistency in the bevel height, specifically in the belly of the blade,” Warren remarks. “This has no effect on performance, but there was room for improvement.”

Price to Performance: 4.1 points. Given the relatively steep price on the Turret, Work Sharp says that expectations were high. Ultimately, they found the knife to be a worthy performer for the money, even if the cost is steep. “We warmed up to the $220 price the more we held and used the knife.”

How to Sharpen the Turret

Work Sharp says the Turret’s traditional drop points makes it easy to sharpen on many systems. “The Work Sharp favorite is our Elite Sharpening System, especially when sharpening Benchmade knives.” Here are their instructions for getting the absolute most performance out of the Turret:

Set the angle to 22 degrees and sharpen from heel to tip. Raise a burr on one side, then repeat the same number of strokes on the opposite side. Remember to stop the stroke when the tip of the knife is about half-way across the belt, do not pull all the way across.

If the knife is dull, or has not ever been sharpened, we recommend starting with the P220 grit belt. This will quickly establish a burr on S30V blade steel. Then switch to the 6000 grit ribbon belt to hone the burr away. This will leave you with a razor sharp and toothy edge.

The Turret in the midst of sharpening

A slack belt sharpener like our Elite Knife Sharpener will convex the blade, leaving more material closer to the edge. We love a toothy convex edge for holding an edge and putting out a lot of work. However, if you are not using a slack belt, there are a few other tips to keep in mind:

In lieu of a slack belt sharpener, diamond abrasives are a great alternative and will cut the S30V quickly. In general, try and use as few strokes as possible. Inconsistencies arise more often when hundreds of strokes are required to sharpen a blade. This can often happen when using a sharpening stone, for instance. When using a stone of any type, we recommend a ramp or angle reference to maintain a consistent angle for your bevel.

And no matter how you sharpen your knives or what you carry, remember: Edge maintenance is 90% of the battle. Hone and Strop daily.

Visit on Monday, December 16th to find out which company won the Best Overall New for 2019 Lineup.


Monday, December 2ndBest New Tactical Fixed Blade 2019 (WINNER: Spyderco Respect)

Tuesday, December 3rdBest New Fixed Blade for EDC 2019 (WINNER: Ferrum Forge Lackey)

Wednesday, December 4thBest New Outdoors Fixed Blade 2019 (WINNER: ESEE Knives AGK)

Thursday, December 5thBest Knife Upgrade 2019 (WINNER: Kershaw D2 Emerson Models)

Friday, December 6thBest New Slipjoint/Non-Locking Knife 2019 (WINNER: Chris Reeve Knives Impinda)

Monday, December 9thBest New High-End Knife 2019 (MSRP of $300 or more) (WINNER: Spyderco Paysan)

Tuesday, December 10thBest New Value Folder 2019 (MSRP of $100 or less) (WINNER: Civivi Anthropos)

Wednesday, December 11thBest New Folder 2019 (WINNER: Spyderco Para 3 Lightweight)

Thursday, December 12thMost Innovative New Knife 2019 (WINNER: Cold Steel AD-15)

Friday, December 13thWork Sharp Knife of the Year (WINNER: Benchmade 980 Turret)

Monday, December 16th: Best Overall New for 2019 Lineup