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Elite vs Elite – Which Sharpener is Best?
The Precision Adjust Elite vs the Ken Onion Elite. We bare down and test our two high end knife sharpening machines head-to-head. Which sharpener is fastest? Which sharpener will create the better edge? Which edge will hold up best against abuse? What is the best knife sharpener? Today we find out.
Both machines will sharpen matching knives then be edge tested on the BESS Tester. We conducted this test using the Limited Edition Work Sharp Benchmade Bugout. Both of these knife sharpeners were ranked head-to-head in four main categories: Speed, Edge Finish, Sharpness, and Edge Retention. Each knife will then be put through some hard use. 50 cuts through cardboard, 25 cuts through a hemp rope, and 10 cuts through a braded rubber hose. We will then finish the test by rechecking the edge sharpness on the BESS Tester and comparing to our original results to find which knife held the better edge.
The sharpening process on the Precision Adjust Elite and the Ken Onion Elite are similar but use two different types of technology. Flat grinding on the Precision Adjust Elite using diamond, ceramic, and leather plates. Then flexible belt sharpening on the Ken Onion Elite allowing you to achieve a convex edge. Both feature progressive grits to achieve that truly shave sharp, razor edge.
If you’re at all familiar with the Precision Adjust Elite you’ll know that while it will deliver you a razor sharp edge, it is not considered a fast sharpening system. As a manual sharpener it is just that, manual. The pivot rod allows the sharpener to maintain the perfect edge angle throughout the sharpening process but it requires time and patience as you create a burr and work your way through each sharpening plate.
Speed: Winner Ken Onion Elite
The first test was a clear and obvious winner. The Ken Onion Elite was 3-4x faster at sharpening the Work Sharp Bugout than the Precision Adjust Elite. While both machines feature progressive grits, the Ken Onion powered sharpener is the obvious choice for fast sharpening.
Edge Finish: Precision Adjust Elite
To the naked eye, both of these knives are pretty. The Ken Onion Elite is a nice even finish but contains sharpening scratches along the entire edge. It just does not compete with the almost mirror finish from the Precision Adjust Elite. With just a few scratches along the edge, the camera even struggled to focus on the edge it was so reflective. Nice job PA!
Sharpness: Winner Precision Adjust Elite
BESS Test results averaged 154 for the Precision Adjust and 295 for the Ken Onion. Both sharpeners delivered a VERY sharp edge but the clear winner here is the Precision Adjust. With a BESS Test below 200, this is a razor sharp edge. Was it worth the extra time? Both of these sharpeners can and will deliver extremely sharp knives – sharper than you’ll see direct from the factory. With the clear lead, the win goes to the Precision Adjust Elite on this test.
Edge Retention: Winner Ken Onion Elite
Now it’s time to wear these edges down! Both knives are put through a range of cutting tasks to determine the wear across the blade. Both knives will cut 50 strips of cardboard, 25 cuts through 1inch hemp rope, and 10 cuts through braided rubber hose.
After all items were cut, both knives returned to the BESS Tester to determine how well each knife maintained it’s edge. The Precision Adjust returned an average of 329 and the Ken onion an average of 439. That’s a increase from the previous Bess Test of 175 and 144 respectively. Meaning the Ken Onion with it’s convex edge maintained a better edge through the cut tests.
This result was not very surprising. The Ken Onion Elite system sharpens using flexible belts which contour to the edge of the blade, delivering a slight convex or rounded edge leading to the cutting point. In theory this added material allows the edge to maintain a stronger point through rough tasks. The Precision Adjust Elite system sharpens using flat diamond plates which sharpen the edge with a flat grind. While the blade was razor sharp after sharpening, the edge was weaker and would only continue to dull over time. Pair that with the time it took to deliver the razor sharp edge and the Ken Onion looks pretty good in comparison.
Overall Winner: Ken Onion Elite Sharpening System
Both of these sharpeners deliver amazingly sharp edges in completely different ways. Each of them excel in different places but when it comes down to two of the most valuable scores, time and edge retention, the Ken Onion Elite is the superior sharpener.
NOTE: We rematched these two sharpeners again and had surprising results! Watch HERE
9 responses to “Elite vs Elite – Which Sharpener is Best?”
I too have both units and have found that the precision elite produces an edge that is more consistent. One complaint is that sharpening range is not wide enough to cover the benchmade otf units such as the infidel.
The KO requires a manual strop to bring down the edge 100 points on the Bess system. Run your knife flat and with very high pressure. This method takes 3-5 passes and will significantly increase sharpness (will shave the hair on your arm or chest).
I missed an area shaving and pulled out my benchmade at a traffic light on the way to work and it was sharp enough to clean up the mistake. I’m sure it looked strange.
Very important that you use substantial force when use a strop. On the precision elite it requires supporting the blade or the magnet is not sufficient to hold the blade in place. 10 passes and your knife will be incredibly sharp.
Thanks Work Sharp. The precision elite is a masterpiece.
For the Ken Onion sharpener…
How was the “flat/convex” screw set?
Which belts were used?
I own both systems and can attest that your results seem quite accurate. For me the extra sharpness the precision elite delivers is very noticeable and well worth the extra time. Now the only knife I use the Ken onion on is my cleaver. Side note I do use the KO on my wood splitting axe and hatchet.