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Reviews > Knives > Folding > Benchmade 580 Barrage > Test Report by Jerry Goller

BENCHMADE 580 BARRAGE KNIFE
TEST SERIES BY JERRY GOLLER
FIELD REPORT 

Main Shot

INITIAL REPORT - September 10, 2009
FIELD REPORT - November 15, 2009
LONG TERM REPORT - January 10, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Jerry Goller
EMAIL: jerrygoller@backpackgeartest.org
AGE: 62
LOCATION: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 220 lb (99.80 kg)

I started camping with my father at age 6 or so. I’ve backpacked and truck camped, off and on, all of my life. Even in the Marine Corps, I was in the Infantry. I consider myself a light weight backpacker with an average dry pack weight of 10 to 15 pounds (4.5 to 7 kg), depending on the season and terrain. I backpack year round. Most of my trips are 2 to 5 days long and in Utah. I also, from time to time, take much longer trips lasting one to two months or more. These trips are usually on the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Benchmade
Model: 580BK
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.benchmade.com
MSRP: US$145
Listed Weight: 4.2 oz (119 g)
Measured Weight: 4.2 oz (125 g)
Blade Length
Listed: 3.6" (9.1cm)
Measured: same
Blade Thickness
Listed: 0.121" (3.07cm)
Measured: 0.125" (3.19cm)
Open Length
Listed: 8.35" (21cm)
Measured: Same
Closed Length
Listed: 4.75" (12cm)
Measured: Same
Blade Steel: 154CM Stainless Steel (58-61HRC)
Blade Style: Drop Point
Handle: Valox

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS



Size View



My first impression of this knife was that it was larger and heavier than I expected. My second impression was that it is a high quality, very well made instrument. The fit and finish is excellent. Every part is well made of quality materials and fits perfectly. It feels good in my hand and inspired confidence in its quality. I can't think of a proper use for a knife of this type that the Benchmade Barrage wouldn't do with ease. The blade came from the factory with a keen edge and required no further sharpening.

Detail



The Barrage uses the Axis Assist system for one handed blade opening. The blade has thumb lugs on each side of the blade for ambidextrous opening. I found these lugs work equally well left or right handed, with the blade pointing forward or reversed. Once the blade is moved past a certain point by thumb or finger pressure a coil spring completes the opening of the blade. The image above shows the blade at a point just before the Axis Assist takes over. Blade opening is accompanied by a very satisfying snap and the blade locks fully open. Once opened, the blade can only be closed by sliding either of the blade release studs, located on each side of the handle, to the rear. These studs are spring loaded and automatically return to their "normal" position once finger pressure is removed.

Thumb Lug



As an added safety feature, the knife also has a blade lock tab located on the spine of the handle. This tab can lock the blade in either the open or closed position. To lock the blade the tab is moved forward. To unlock the blade the tab is moved toward the rear of the knife. This is made easier by way of deep groves machined in the top of the tab.


Blade Lock Tab



The knife also has a removable belt clip which can be mounted on either side of the knife handle.

As is to be expected in a knife of this quality, the Benchmade Barrage includes a warranty against defects in materials and workmanship with no time limit that I could find. This warranty is extended to the original owner only.

The knife also includes a cloth carrying bag. As the knife will spend its life in my pocket, I have no idea what I would use this for.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

This will be a short section as the knife seems to have no included instructions. If it does I couldn't find them. There is an explanation of how the various Benchmade model's blade mechanisms work but I found that quite by accident long after I'd been using the knife. It was in, of all places, the product catalogue that Benchmade sent along with the knife.

I spent the first few minutes trying to figure out how to open the blade. It was obvious that it was locked in the closed position but I was at a loss as to how to unlock it. Fortunately a much younger, sharper eyed, clearer headed friend of mine was with me and finally found the lock tab on the spine of the knife handle. The rest of the knife's operation is pretty straight forward and easy to figure out.

TRYING IT OUT

As I said at the beginning of this report, my first reaction to this knife was that it is big and bulky. It seemed unlikely that I, as a light weight backpacker, would ever carry this knife in the field.

After carrying it for awhile, I have to admit my feelings have changed. This knife feels so comfortable in my hand and I enjoy using it so much that I just can't see going anywhere without it.

I love the snap of the blade as it opens. I have great confidence in this knife.

So far I've just used it around the house for the general tasks one uses a pocket knife. I've opened boxes that were shipped to me, cut strings off my cut off jeans, cut straws down so my son Jack can more comfortably drink from his cup and other things of that nature. The Benchmade Barrage has done all these simple tasks with ease. I'm really looking forward to seeing how well it performs general camp and trail tasks, how well the blade holds an edge, and how easy it is to sharpen.

SUMMARY

All in all, I'm very happy with this knife. As with every one handed opening knife I've used personally, there was a learning curve on how to easily and gracefully open the blade. That is to be expected. But the curve was much shorter than other one hand opening knives I've owned. Part of this is due to this being the first spring assisted knife I've owned but it is also due to the great design of this knife.

I've found nothing, so far, that I would change or improve on it. Well, except for the addition of a decent set of instructions.



FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I made two overnight pack trips during the testing period. The first was to the Uinta Mountains of northern Utah and the other was to the Wasatch Mountains of northern Utah. Both trips had clear weather with daytime temps in the upper 70s F (40 C). The night time temps were in the lower 40s F (5 C) in the Uinta Mountains and the upper 40s (5 C) in the Wasatch Mountains.
The vast majority of the testing was conducted by carrying the knife in my pocket and performing common tasks every day. I can't think of a day that went by during the test period that I didn't use the Barrage. I used it for everything from opening boxes and trimming my nails to general woodworking tasks such as cleaning out dados and trimming parts to fit. I used it as an eating utensil to cut portions for both myself and my son Jack. I've pretty much used it for about everything I ever use a knife for.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD


The Barrage has performed every task I've put it to with precision and ease. It has stayed exceptionally sharp throughout the test period so far. I went ahead and sharpened it even though it didn't actually need it, just to see how well it took an edge. The sharpening was done on a diamond hone. The blade took and kept the new edge well. It performs woodworking tasks as well as any chisel I own. It is an excellent knife. It remains as tight as the day I got it. Although the opening mechanism has loosened slightly, which is good, it remains solid and positive. There was a bit of a learning curve to easily and gracefully open the blade to the point that the spring mechanism took over but that is to be expected. With a little practice I am able to open the blade left or right handed and with the blade forward or backward. The easiest way for my to open the knife right handed is to bend my thumb, place my thumbnail against the thumb stud, and push forward. The belt clip has proven to be very handy. I don't normally use belt clips but due to the size of this knife I found that best way for me to carry it was clipped to my right front pants pocket with the knife in the pocket and the clip on the outside. This positioned the knife out of the way in my pocket but made it very easy to draw and deploy the blade. The series of pictures below show how I draw the knife. My thumb goes in my pocket along the body of the knife. It ends up pressed against the thumb stud. The rest of my hand is outside my pocket with my index finger hooked around the belt clip. As I draw the knife from my pocket I push forward with my thumb. This deploys the blade, all in one smooth flowing motion. I can do essentially the same thing with my left hand from my left hip pocket using my left third finger on the thumb stud. This puts the blade in my left hand with the blade pointing to the rear. This is a fighting stance I prefer. This is the easiest folding knife to deploy this way I've owned.
This has ended up being the easiest pocket knife to carry and use I've ever owned. Even thought it is noticeably larger and bulkier than the one it replaced it has still won its position in my pocket. It is so easy to open and use that I've just forgotten how big it is. It has inspired quite a bit of confidence. At this stage I feel is a knife that will last. Time will tell.


SUMMARY

The Benchmade Barrage has exceeded my expectations. I have been pleasantly surprised by how easy to use and carry this knife is. As Benchmade is a top brand, I'm not particularly surprised by the quality of the knife. It is what I expected. The blade is quite hard and holds a keen edge. Because of that it requires a decent sharpening system just as any high quality knife does.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS


My long term field use consisted of two overnight trips. The first was to the Wasatch Mountains and the second was to the Unita Mountains. Both trips were to typical high alpine (8,000' or 2500 m) areas. I also used the Barrage in general tasks around the house and shop.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

On the first trip I used the knife for general camp chores such as opening meal packs and also did some whittling. The second trip involved essentially the same thing. The Barrage easily performed the tasks as I expected.
I have continued to use it for everyday tasks such as box and letter opening, cutting up meat for Jack at restaurants, and trimming parts to fit. It has proven to be surprisingly helpful at woodworking tasks. It is almost as sharp as some of my chisels. I 
have resharpened it a couple of times using a diamond hone. It didn't actually need it but it has become a game to see how sharp I can get it and have it still hold an edge. 

SUMMARY

The Benchmade Barrage has been a surprise for me. Although I was really impressed with the quality of the workmanship and design of the knife, I really didn’t expect a knife of this size to find its way into my backpacking kit. I honestly doubted I’d even be willing to carry a knife this large for everyday use. But it performs so flawlessly and feels so…”right” in my hand I just can’t walk off without it, morning or trail. I continue to love the snick and snap when it opens. Never a miss, it always opens quickly and easily no matter how awkward a position I’m in. I don’t even notice the size anymore. I actually think it is easier to use and takes up less room in my pocket than the one hand open knife it replaced. That is because of the belt clip. I clip it inside my right pocket so as to not chance having it come off my belt. It stays secure that way yet always handy.

CONTINUED USE

I expect to use this knife for a long time. I just can’t imagine not having it in my pocket, ready for whatever comes along.

 

This concludes my report on the Benchmade Barrage folding knife.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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