One flaw in your argument is that you use bows in the beginning. Obv KKCS is as good (marginally better) with the bows. So that would work anyway, and if the critters come in range you chop their heads off. Swords beat sparks/poison spray - only with shrapmetal at GM dark are the knights surpassed in point blank damage.
It surprises me that you feel that the beginning of the game is easier with mages? At low spellpoints and horrible weapon skills, the beginning is traditionally where the knights are farthest ahead of the mages.
Simply getting lvl 7 M sword takes no time at all and allready you are a good swordfighter while mages cast 5 sparks at the time.
It is usually easier to go through the second time, because you remember the dungeons and quest/trainer locations.. could this be an effect?
Well, a 1st time player would indeed prefer a KKSC party at the beginning. But I define the beginning game as not yet being able to cast invisibility, so that's really only Emerald Isle and Castle Harmondale. Once the party has invisibility, it's easy to use promo quests and others to get fly then dark magic.
You may be right about the '2nd time effect', I'm sure that helped give me a better subjective sense of control and of not being lost.
Also, I managed to do a complete run-through from Nighon to LoTG without needing to port out for mana. I didn't clear everything out, but I made it through OK. So again, mana really isn't a problem for me. Occassionaly I will rest in a corner away from MOBs (none on Wizard Eye map), or I'll port out with Lloyd's, but more often than not this isn't necessary. And turn based combat is something I found myself using selectively, only when the situation called for it. More often than not, I was spamming shrap in real-time.
It's clear to me you have put more hours and done more playthoughs than I have, so I trust you know what you are talking about. One thing I don't see however is the subjective AC argument, mobs didn't tend to hit my Sorc, even though my Cleric had a higher AC. This was definitely true when running past orc packs outsite of harmondale town. For some reason they preferred targetting the cleric.
Personally, I would conclude that KKSC is probably the ultimate 'might' party, whereas SSSC is the ultimate 'magic' party. If the front two knights managed to shield the back two players (SC) like a tank wall in other games (Bard's Tale), I would be far more inclined to give preference to KKSC, but since that's not how the MM7 engine works, I find SSSC to be the best choice for my playstyle.