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Reviews > Knives > Folding > Benchmade 580 Barrage > Test Report by Ryan Lane Christensen

Benchmade
courtesy of Benchmade
2009 Consumer Catalog

Benchmade
580 Barrage Knife

Test Series by
Ryan Christensen

Last Update - January 11, 2010

Barrage

ACCESS MAIN REPORT SECTIONS VIA THESE LINKS:

INITIAL REPORT
September 3, 2009

FIELD REPORT
November 17, 2009

LONG-TERM REPORT
January 11, 2010

INITIAL REPORT
September 3, 2009

Reviewer Information

Backpacking Background

Name:  Ryan L. Christensen
Age:  45
Gender:  Male
Height:  6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:  235 lb (107 kg)
Email:  bigdawgryan(at)yahoo(dot)com
City, State, Country:   Idaho Falls, Idaho, USA

I began backpacking at twelve, continuing until 25. After an extended hiatus, due in part to a bad back, I resumed cycling, hiking, and backpacking several years ago. I also began snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. I share my love for backpacking and these sports with my children. I am a midweight backpacker, but carry a full array of necessary gear.
 

Product Information:

The information below is available in
Benchmade's 2009 Consumer Catalog and on its website.

580 Barrage
Manufacturer: Benchmade
Manufacturer website: http://www.benchmade.com
Place of Manufacture: USA
Year Manufactured: 2009
Materials:
Blade
Handle
Liners

154CM Stainless Steel
Valox®
420J Stainless Steel
Blade Style: Drop Point
Locking Mechanism: AXIS® ASSIST Lock
Opener: Ambidextrous Thumb-Studs
Models Available: 580 - Plain Edge
580BK - Plain Edge BK1® [black corrosion resistant coating]
580S - ComboEdge® [partial serration]
580SBK - ComboEdge® BK1®
[partial serration w/ black corrosion resistant coating]
Warranty:
Limited Lifetime Warranty

"Benchmade Knife Company, Inc. (“Benchmade”) warrants to the original owner that this knife will be free from defects in materials and workmanship. Benchmade will, without charge, repair or replace, at Benchmade’s option, any knife returned for Warranty work and found to be defective by Benchmade."
MSRP:
580
580S
580SBK

$130.00 US
$130.00 US
$145.00 US

Product Specifications
Manufacturer's Specifications  
Listed Dimensions:
Blade Length
Blade Thickness
Knife Length (open)
Knife Length (closed)
Handle Thickness
3.60 in (9.14 cm)
0.121 in (3.07 mm)
8.35 in (21.21 cm)
4.75 in (12.07 cm)
0.65 in (16.51 mm)
Listed Weight: 4.2 oz ( 119.1 g)
Tester's Actual Measurements  
Dimensions:
Blade Length
Blade Thickness
Knife Length (open)
Knife Length (closed)
Handle Thickness
3.60 in (9.14 cm)
0.121 in (3.07 mm)
8.35 in (21.21 cm)
4.75 in (12.07 cm)
0.65 in (16.51 mm)
Weight:
knife
cloth storage sack w/cordlock
4.4 oz (124.7 g)
0.2 oz (5.7 g)
Model Tested: 580BK

Product Description:

l_closed r_closed

open bag

Benchmade has four classes of knives: Gold, Blue, Black, and Red.

  • The BLUE CLASS - "represents the heart of everything that is Benchmade. These USA made products are designed and built for the individual who appreciates the difference that a high-quality cutting tool can make."

Designed by Warren Osborne, the 580 Barrage [hereafter referred to as "the knife" or "the 580"] is a new member of Benchmade's Blue Class for 2009. Benchmade's patented exclusive AXIS® locking mechanism includes the power of a coil spring assist for the first time ever in the 580, and its little brother the 585 Mini-BarrageTM.

The listed features of this knife include:

  • Strongest Assist Locking Mechanism on the Market
  • Ambidextrous Function
  • Reversible Carry-Clip
The blade, which is 3.6 in (9.1 cm) in length, is made of 154CM stainless steel. 154CM is the American made equivalent of ATS-34T, the Japanese premium grade stainless steel owned by Hitachi Steels, which is used by most custom knife makers and upper echelon factory knives. 154CM, the American made premium stainless steel, was originally developed for turbine blades in jet engines. According to northamericanknives.com, it is "a high carbon steel with 1.05% carbon. It also contains about 14% chromium. Many people consider 154CM knife steel to be 'super steel'." 154CM has good corrosion resistance, excellent toughness and edge quality. 154CM is not a standard grade designation, but rather a manufacturer's trade name.

The knife I am testing, the 580BK, has Benchmade's BK1® coating. This matte black coating provides corrosion protection that exceeds the ASTM-117 spec for saltwater, and possesses higher scratch resistance. I am anxious to see how well this coating holds up.

The handles are made of VALOX®, a polybutylene plastic. Some of the physical properties of VALOX are good toughness (high-impact strength, high tear strength, and high puncture resistance), good moisture barrier properties, excellent electrical insulation characteristics, and resistance to most chemical environments. The handles are molded: near the blade, on each handle, there are eleven grooves that are graduated in length; near the butt end, there are four notches, two on the top and two on the bottom of each handle. Each handle is secured to the knife via four screws.

The blade liners are made of 420J stainless steel. This steel is very stain resistant and tough due to being very soft. This steel is only used for blades in less-expensive knives due to its ease of machining.

Benchmade calls the carry-clip on the 580 a "Reversible Bright Split Arrow Clip." The clip is approximately 2.0 in (5.1 cm) in length, 0.375 in (9.5 mm) at it widest and 0.25 in (6.4 mm) at its narrowest point. Although it came attached on the right side of the knife, it can be relocated to the left side if one prefers.

AxisAssistAccording to Benchmade, the Axis Assist mechanism [the image on the right] "gets its function from a small, hardened steel bar which rides forward and back in a slot machined into both steel liners. The bar extends to both sides of the knife, spans the liners, and is positioned over the rear of the blade. It engages a ramped, tang portion of the knife blade when it is opened." There are two thumb studs, one on each side of the blade, near the hinge. Each stud is approximately 0.25 in (6.4 mm) in diameter and extends out approximately 0.125 in (3.2 mm) from the blade. The two thumb studs provide for ambidextrous opening of the knife. "The blade is started open with the thumb stud, then the coil spring engages and maintains torque to the fully open position. A safety can be engaged in either the open or closed position for added security." The safety is the sliding button located on the spine of the knife near the hinge.

The knife came with a User Care Manual. This manual briefly describes each of Benchmade's four classes of knives. It also outlines proper knife care and maintenance which includes occasionally applying a good metal sealer as needed. Benchmade says the best way to resharpen a knife is to never let it become dull to begin with; touch up the edge as needed and maintain the bevel for maximum sharpness. The manual also includes a Warranty Registration Card, information about Benchmade's LifeSharp program as well as warranty information.

Benchmade also provided a cloth storage bag with a drawcord and cordlock.

Initial Impression:

My very first impression was "Wow, that's a big knife!" When fully opened, the 580 is 8.75 in (22.2 cm). This is larger than the knives I usually carry either in my pants pocket or in my backpack. However, for as big as it is, the 580 is noticeably lighter than a knife of comparable size (overall knife length) I occasionally carry. I really like the feel of the knife in my hand. It feels comfortable.

Initial Testing:

My initial testing consisted of a thorough examination of the knife. There were no noticeable flaws. Next, I opened the Axis Assist Lock. It was very intuitive and the mechanism work smoothly. I was a bit surprised at the amount of force generated by the Axis Assist opening mechanism. It was immediately apparent to me that one must be careful when opening this knife. I quickly formed the opinion that this knife is not suited for children, even young teens.

I am anxious to put this knife to the test to see how well it maintains its edge, how well it resists rusting, and how well the Axis Assist mechanism performs over time.

Initial Likes:

  • quality of workmanship
  • lightweight for its size
  • spring assist
  • corrosion-resistant blade coating

Initial Dislikes:

  • none

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FIELD REPORT
November 17, 2009

Summary:

During the Field Test Phase, I used the knife on two overnighters and nearly every day during this phase of the test series.

Likes Thus Far:

  • quality of workmanship
  • lightweight for its size
  • excellent spring assist
  • locking mechanism
  • corrosion-resistant coating

Dislikes Thus Far:

  • larger than I previously liked to carry in my pocket

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

CDT At the end of September, I accompanied my boys' Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Venturing Crew on an overnight backpacking trip to Aldous and Hancock Lakes north of Kilgore, Idaho near the Continental Divide Trail, in the Centennial Mountains. Located along the Idaho / Montana border, these mountains are one of the few mountain ranges in the United States that run east to west. Aldous Lake is 7,340 ft (2,237 m) above sea level. It is a steep 1 mi (1.6 km) hike from Aldous to Hancock Lake. However, the trail drops down into Hancock Lake, which sits in a bowl formed by a landslide. At Hancock Lake, one can see the Centennial Mountains and the Continental Divide ridge. Weather conditions were ideal, clear skies, no wind, and over night low temperature was near freezing.

In October, I used the knife on an overnighter in the foothills near Idaho Falls, Idaho. Again, the skies were clear and overnight temperatures were near freezing.

I have also used the knife for routine daily activities which include cutting lengths of rope, cutting zip ties, opening blister packs, opening boxes, etc.

Observations:

breakfast

On both overnight outings, I carried the Barrage in my right front pants pocket. I used the Carry-Clip to secure the Barrage to my pocket as close to the side seam as possible. Although much larger than the knife I usually carry, I was impressed with how unobtrusive it was. It did not hinder my hiking or other movements in any way. I used the knife to prepare my breakfast: splitting English muffins and spreading butter on them in order to toast them prior to heating pre-cooked Canadian bacon and cheese on the muffin on the first outing and pre-cooked bacon and cheese on the second outing. As one might guess, the knife was overkill for this task, but it worked very nicely.

In my daily chores, I used the knife to cut plastic zip ties with much less effort than some other knives I own. Likewise, I easily cut braided nylon rope in lengths for use in teaching knot tying to eleven year old Boy Scouts. Neither boxes nor blister packs posed much of a challenge for the Barrage. The blade remains sharp, I have not had to sharpen it as of yet. However, I plan to sharpen it during the Long-Term phase to see how easy it is to do. The BK1 coating remains intact. The Axis Assist opening mechanism and lock continue operating as smoothly as they did on Day 1. With only minimal effort, the opening mechanism continues to open with a lot of force. I will continue monitoring this to see if it mellows over time.

Known as a top-shelf knife company, Benchmade has delivered a quality product in the Barrage. Although larger than I previously preferred to carry, I have become quite impressed with the Barrage. It has quickly become my first choice when I have need of a knife. Further testing will determine whether this changes in any way.

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LONG TERM REPORT
January 11, 2010

Summary:

During the Long Term Test Phase, I used the knife on one overnighter and nearly every day during this phase of the test series.

Although I initially felt this knife was too big for my preference, it has become my favorite. The Barrage is an excellent knife!

Likes: Dislikes:
  • quality of workmanship
  • lightweight for its size
  • excellent spring assist
  • locking mechanism
  • corrosion-resistant coating
  • none

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

IPDuring the last phase of this test, I used the knife several days for normal chores around the house.

In mid-December, I carried the knife on an overnight outing to Island Park, Idaho with my sons' BSA Venturing Crew. The elevation was approximately 6,293 ft (1,918 m). As shown in the photo on the right, the sky was gray and overcast. Temperatures ranged from a high of 24 F (-4 C) to a low of 12 F (-11 C).

In late December, I used the knife for various chores over a three-day period while cleaning my mother-in-law's home.

Observations:

On my Island Park outing, I used the knife for general chores, including opening packaging, cutting summer sausage, and spreading cream cheese on my bagel. I did get snow, albeit dry powder, in the knife. I brushed it off, but did not get everything out of the knife. At the end of the day, I was pleased to see that there was no rusting or other issues as a result. As has been the story throughout this test series, the Barrage performed wonderfully. I was even able to open it while wearing softshell gloves.

Just after Christmas, my mother-in-law had a mild stroke. We spent time with her and out of necessity had to do some cleaning of her house. I used the knife over this three-day period for such mundane chores as opening blister packs, cutting cardboard and packing string, etc. During this time, we moved many things out of her basement and moved her furniture around so that she can more easily get around on her own. I carried the Barrage in my front right pocket the entire time. I was amazed that as large as it is, the knife did not impede me in any way.

For chores around my home, the knife performed equally well. Although not "really" needed, I did touch up the edge of the knife. I am very impressed with how well this knife keeps an edge and how easy it was to touch it up. The corrosion coating is also still intact. In addition, I continue to be pleased with the opening and locking mechanism. My teenage boys are still impressed with the fact that the knife still opens easily and with such "power."

Conclusion:

I expected the Benchmade Barrage to be a high-quality knife. It is indeed that. However, I was concerned that it would be too large for me to carry comfortably. However, testing over the past four months has negated that concern. In fact, I have been pleasantly pleased with how comfortable the knife is to carry. Consequently, I will continue to use the Benchmade Barrage on my backpacking, hiking, snowshoeing, and x-country skiing outings for years to come. This is a great knife.


Thanks to Benchmade and BackpackGearTest for allowing me to test the Barrage.

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