I don't think it fair for me to state "you get what you pay for". However, there are a number of folders that are better than Benchmade's. They also tend to cost more money. They may be better in that the locks are more dependable, the ergonomics are better and/or the steel is better. Some which come to mind are Chris Reeve's Sebenza, Ernie Emerson's Commander and some of the Microtech offerings. A folder that you wouldn't trust for thrusting is one example of a reason to pay more (there are very few folders that I'd feel comfortable attempting this with.)
I've always found it surprising that firearms afficianados, willing to part with well over $1,000 for a sidearm, sights, mags, holsters, belt, etc, raise an eyebrow at knives with a price over $100. Both are important survival tools.
I have no problem with those who choose the AFCK, as long as they are aware of the limitations compared, for instance, to the Sebenza.
Our sister site, http://www.bladeforums.com
provides a wealth of knowledge to novice and expert. Many of your questions might be answered there, though this is certainly a welcome subject here as well.
Hope this helps.
[This message has been edited by Rich Lucibella (edited 02-06-99).]