If you are a knife aficionado, then you have heard of Benchmade. They have been creating some of the best knives on the market for the last 25 years. If you own a Benchmade knife, then you know this to be true. Best of all, all Benchmade products are made in the USA.
Benchmade produces everyday knives as well as professional tactical and rescue knives for law enforcement and military personnel. They classify their knives as follows:
- Blue – everyday knives, recreational class
- Black – professional class
- Gold – collection class with limited edition productions
- Red – discontinued in 2010
- HUNT. – elite hunting class knives
- HK knives – designed by Heckler & Koch
The Barrage series of knives are rated blue class. They are everyday use knives that are made of high-quality materials and come in a variety of sizes, blade styles and handle options. Knives can also be customized on the Benchmade website.
The Barrage line is the first series of Benchmade products that are equipped with the AXIS Assist. AXIS Assist is a spring loaded mechanism that quickly allows the user to open the knife using only one hand. The great thing is that it is designed to be ambidextrous, so whether a user is right or left-handed, they can easily access the button.
Consumers love this fast to open feature because it gets them about as close as they can to a switchblade, while staying within the law. The action is that quick!
There is also a safety feature that keeps the blade locked in place so it will not collapse during use. The locking device is similar to a steel dead bolt which keeps the blade open. It engages as soon as the knife is opened up. The knife can be opened with one hand, but generally it takes two to close it. This was a little disappointing to customers who griped it was so easy to open, but if they needed a quick close, they were out of luck. Sometimes, you can’t have everything.
There are many types of blade materials available within Benchmade. For the purposes of this review, we are going to discuss only two of them; the 154CM stainless steel and the M390 premium steel.
The 154CM is composed of carbon, chromium, and molybdenum and is produced in the U.S and was originally designed for heavy-duty industrial use.
154CM has a better edge retention than your typical blades and is great for heavy duty cutting. It is made to withstand repeated use while still keeping a sharp edge.
The M390 is manufactured by Bohler and is a powder metallurgy stainless steel. This is considered a premium grade steel and its composition allows for it to be polished to a mirror-like finish. This material is extremely durable and resistant to corrosion and breakage. It is super hard which makes it a bit difficult to sharpen.
Barrages offer a choice between a drop point blade and a tanto style blade. The drop point is visually appealing to many consumers, and the tanto style has the added extended tip for puncturing, that many find useful. The blades are offered in a satin or black finish and are available as plain edge or serrated.
As with the blade materials, Benchmade offers a wide array of choices including G10, Aluminum, Carbon Fiber, Dymondwood and Titanium.
The Barrage series come with the options of Valox handles, G10/aluminum, or G10 only.
Valox is a thermoplastic polyester resin. It is heat resistance and is resistant to chemicals. This is a very durable material that will take a beating with minimal to no visible effects.
G10 is resin-soaked fiberglass that is compressed and then baked. It is liquid and moisture resistant and stable under extreme temperature changes. G10 is also offered with aluminum accents on the Barrage handles for a more aesthetically pleasing look.
Benchmade offers multiple types of mechanisms that deal with knife function, specifically opening and locking features. Some of these options include AXIS Assist, Monolock, Nak-Lok, Nitrous and AXIS Automatic.
The Barrage series offer AXIS Assist whose function we discussed earlier, and it comes standard on the models we are reviewing. Our review will include the 580, 581, 583 and the minis, 585 and 586.
The Barrage 580 is billed as an everyday knife with capabilities to handle outdoor tasks. As with other Barrage offerings, the 580 can be purchased with a serrated blade, and if outdoor use is on the agenda, the serrated would be the best option.
Users give the knife high marks for sharpness straight out of the box. However, some do report the blade not retaining its edge as well as they feel it should, given the caliber of the knife. Others raved over the feel of the knife, citing excellent ergonomic properties and the feel of the handle. The handle, though, was one of the items on this product that was highly debated. Many customers had no issues and loved the feel, but a good number of them called the material “cheap” and were put off by the texture of the handle.
The locking mechanism was lauded as a great safety feature and gave many a level of comfort operating the knife without worrying about it closing during use.
The biggest issue with this Barrage for customers was the AXIS Assist. When it worked properly, customers raved about it and how great this feature was and how impressed they were by the speed and reactivity of the mechanism. There were a large number of reviewers who had big issues with the spring mechanism failing, which would cause the knife to become difficult to open. Often, they had to resort to manually opening the knife with great effort expended. The knife blade would also not close all the way if the mechanism failed, and this left customers a bit leery of accidental openings while the knife was being carried.
On the whole, it scored big with customers, but the handle and the defective AXIS mechanism left many disappointed with the product as a whole.
Click here to see the full Benchmade 580 review.
The 581 is a bit of an upgrade from the basic 580 model. It boasts a M390 blade which users report is nearly indestructible. The toughness of this blade impressed its owners and also gave them a bit of frustration when they attempted to sharpen it. The M390 steel is really hard and is going to be a bit of a challenge for those who sharpen their own blades. Just be prepared that while it certainly can be done, you’re going to need a bit of elbow grease for this particular task.
Users LOVE the handle on the 581. The black G10 with the aluminum accents wins in the “good looks” department. Some comments mentioned that it has that enviable balance between tough and attractive, citing it looks just as good in the pocket of a pair of jeans as it does in that of an elegant suit. Like a gentlemen’s knife with an edge (pun intended).
The only negative about the handle came from a customer who was concerned that the texture was a bit rough, and he felt if you were using the knife for a long period of time that you could tear up your hands a bit. No one else seemed to be concerned over this, however. The overall feel and grip were a bit hit.
The pocket clip is the same style as all the Barrage products: a reversible tip-up. This can easily be switched up to carry in either pocket with a simple screw adjustment. Just like the handles on these knives, they are great for either right or left hand users. Lefties report they feel very comfortable using these knives and are especially appreciative if they have had issues with other knives in the past.
The ASSIST device was reported for some problems, just as the 580 was, however, not as frequently. The 581 scored better overall than the 580 in all areas reviewed by customers.
Click here to see the full Benchmade 581 review.
The 583 switches it up in the blade department. Instead of the drop point blade, that the 580 and 581 use, the 583 boasts a tanto style blade. In case you are not familiar with this type of blade, it is characterized by an extended section of the tip that comes in handy when you need a puncture function. The blade rates high for customers as far as sharpness.
Some felt that the design of the tanto tip was lacking. The tip is very long and thin and there were some reports of it breaking off. In defense of the product, this appeared to happen more when the tip was being used in a prying motion, rather than the use for which it was intended. This blade is made with the 154CM, if you used the customization feature on the Benchmade website, you could opt for the tougher M90 steel if you were concerned about issues of potential tip breakage.
One reviewer stated that his blade poked out a bit when it was closed and expressed concern over the lack of proper fit within the liner. Again, there were reported problems with the AXIS spring malfunctioning, but these were less than compared to the 580.
Click here to see the full Benchmade 583 review.
585 Mini Barrage
The 585 is a mini version of the 580, so all of the features are the same except for the size. It weighs about an ounce less than the regular version and the overall length is about 1.5” shorter. What drew many people to purchase this knife was the size.
In many states, a knife this size is legal to carry without any worries for the owner. It’s just under 3” and this makes the cut (there’s that pun again), as far as legal to carry in most states, and is conforms to the federal knife law.
Click here to see the full Benchmade 585 review.
586 Mini Barrage
The 586 is the mini version of a 581. This option scored overwhelmingly high with purchasers. This, remember, is the “good looking” knife is a smaller size. This carries the same specs as the mini 585 except for weight. It’s a bit heavier due to the M90 blade. Remember this will make it a bit more difficult to sharpen.
The rare complaints about this knife seem to come down to user preferences. Some thought it was not balanced and the grip was uncomfortable. One person thought the clip made it too noticeable in the pocket.
This knife would be legal to carry in most states due to its 2.91” blade. It is a big hit and with the highly durable blade, could easily be a best buy item.
Click here to see the full Benchmade 586 review.
Overall, the Benchmade brand is highly regarded. They have a great reputation that they have developed with their customers over the years. Their knives are praised for their ergonomic designs, which for any knife user, is a top selling point. If it doesn’t feel right, you’re not going to use it. Handle grip, weight distribution and overall design all play a part in knife ergonomics.
The Barrage knives perform very well, even under heavy, everyday use. They do seem to have some functionality issues with the AXIS mechanism, but if any problems are discovered, all of their products are backed by their Lifesharp lifetime service and warranty. The knives can be returned and will be repaired and sent back to the customer with a report of the work performed. This comes at no charge to the customer. They are serious about backing up their work and are clearly dedicated to putting out quality products.