Knife Review: Benchmade 580 Barrage Axis Assist

Image courtesy Sears.com

My foray into ‘better’ knives began a handful of years ago, as many knife ‘careers’ have, with a Spyderco Tenacious. I carried that knife daily for at least a full year. Occasionally I’d peek my head out and take a look at other offerings but ultimately I was impressed with the venerable Chinese blade. Especially for the $22 I paid for it. I’d browse through numerous catalogs and eye the blades, only to decide that a $50 Delica was my ABSOLUTE upper limit. $100 for those Benchmade blades? Crazy.

The one day, I ran across the 580 Barrage. I don’t mean to get all cliche here in TTAK, but it was love at first sight. Seriously. And I still lust after that blade shape. I had acquired a few Amazon credits, and I decided I wanted, neigh, NEEDED this knife. Thus began my adventure, hacking and slashing my way into the belly of the beast.

History

Introduced at the SHOT show in 2009, the 580 Barrage marked the first assisted-opening Axis lock folder for Benchmade. Available in two sizes, this Warren Osborne design features 154CM steel and Valox handles. Later, in 2012, a G10 handle became available with stainless bolsters. Special one-offs of this design have been available in a multitude of configurations, even as recently as last week.

Image courtesy Benchmade Knives

The Steel

154CM is produced by Crucible Industries (data sheet http://www.crucible.com/PDFs/DataSheets2010/ds154cmv12010.pdf). It is a corrosion-resistant stainless steel, with high hardness, toughness, and edge retention. This steel has a proven track record from numerous manufacturers. 154CM is akin to 440C, but with added molybdenum. This addition increases the corrosion resistance, wear-resistance, and edge retention as compared to 440C.

154CM, as seen in this knife should not be confused with CPM154, also a Crucible product. The CPM version is a powder metallurgy version of the 154CM. This process creates a uniform distribution of carbides, which helps increase toughness. As with everything, there is never a free lunch, and this improvement comes at an added stock cost.

The Blade

Image courtesy Jay for TTAKThe blade on the 580 is a 3.6” long, drop point. I actually refer to it as a spear point, as the swedge begins at the midpoint of the blade, and runs the full length. This is probably my favorite aesthetic of this knife. In addition, the swedge runs along the drop point, and meets the blade grind right at the end, helping to re-enforce the tip. Dual sided thumb studs adorn the spine, helping to actuate the lightning fast assisted opening. The venerable butterfly can be found on one side, and on the other the blade steel marking, and the designer, Warren Osborne’s mark. The other available blade options include: drop-point or tanto, partial serrated or plain edge, DLC coated or satin finish. This yields a possible 8 permutations of the Barrage family. Overall, the 580 has a distinct blade shape, and I make no reservations preaching my love for it.

Construction

Image courtesy Jay for TTAK

The is something to be said about Benchmade’s construction. I have owned half a dozen knives from them, all with impeccable build quality. And you certainly can’t ignore their lifetime warranty.

The 580 has Valox handles, on top of 420J stainless liners. Valox is a glass filled nylon, that although feels a bit cheap in the hand, is a light yet strong material. The handles are sculpted, with scallops adorning the lower section, and grooves closer to the blade. These additions help to increase the traction in your hand. It is a closed construction, with a full length, ribbed back spacer, which looks to be of the same Valox material. At the top of the spacer is the safety latch. When activated, it prevents the axis bar from being disengaged. This, in effect, acts as a safety from the knife firing in your pocket, or from the blade unexpectedly closing. Just to note, in the approximately three years I have owned this knife, I have never had an accidental issue with the action. This, despite never utilizing the safety.

The knife is assembled with torx screws, and the pivot is blind: it resides behind the handle scales. This, I suspect, is to prevent over-tightening, which would slow down the action. On the backside is Benchmade’s ‘arrow’ pocket clip. This knife isn’t particularly low riding, but in my opinion, is a very happy medium. The clip itself has great retention, and due to the smooth finish of the Valox, the knife is easy on your pockets.

Lockup and Action

Image courtesy Jay for TTAK

The Axis mechanism has a reputation for being one of the strongest locks on the planet. There isn’t much more to say about it which would boost it’s credentials. Check out the 580 test video linked at the end of this review.

Blade deployment is a sight to behold. Merely flicking the thumb stud causes the earth to rumble, the heavens to quake, and the blade to extract from the handles with the speed of the lightning bolt that just struck a tree behind my house. No really, I’m writing this in a thunderstorm, and I thought it would be funny to compare this action to the chaos that is occurring 5 feet beyond this window. Humor me, ok? The blade deployment is impressive, and satisfying. How many times have you flicked open an ‘assisted opening’ blade and been utterly disappointed? Not this time, I can assure you.

Ergonomics

The knife fits very comfortably in your hand. The front ‘choil’ is set away from the edge of the blade, so there is no real chance of slipping and getting bitten. Due to the assisted opening spring, this knife cannot ‘wave’ closed. However, due to the comparatively light spring pressure the Omega springs apply to the lock bar, just a thumb is needed to disengage the lock. This leaves my index finger to close the blade.

Image courtesy Jay for TTAK

Favorite Feature:

Is this a surprise? The action on this thing is just flawless. Runner up is the blade shape.

Least-Favorite Feature:

The Valox handles can feel cheap, but I learned to overlook that quickly. They just plain work.

RATINGS (out of five stars)

Styling: * * * * *
The long ‘spear point’ blade compliments the sleek handle.

Blade: * * * * *
This blade is a great shape for everyday tasks, and the reenforced tip should prove very durable.

Ergonomics: * * * * 1/2
The knife fits comfortably in the hand. Closing it takes some muscle memory, but that’s par for the course in assisted openers.

Ruggedness/Durability: * * * *
I have no worry this blade will last a lifetime. It’s not really a ‘rugged’ folder, however. It’s more suited for general everyday tasks.

Overall Rating: * * * * 1/2
This is a fantastic EDC knife, especially if you like longer blades.

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Assisted Opening Locking Folding Knife
Blade style: Drop Point
Blade dimensions: 3.6” long, by .121” thick
Steel: 154CM
Grip: Valox
Overall length: 8.35” open, 4.75” closed
Weight: 4.2 oz.
Price: $130
Origin: USA

Manufacturer’s Links: Web

Benchmade 580 Barrage Demo and Testing – YouTube

 

 

comments

  1. NavyRetGold says:

    jay… You are my new best friend. I own this knife and I wholeheartedly agree on all the major points discussed. This knife got me out of a jam when I needed it.. The assisted opening action is the fastest of any knife I own, including the automatics. It’s even faster opening than the aptly named Kershaw Blur (my EDC). Excellent blade steel and ergonomics. I was fortunate to be able to purchase one of these for $70 LNIB from someone who needed the cash. If I were to lose or break it, I would buy another immediately. No better value for the dollar in my opinion. The Griptillian and the Spyderco don’t even compare, IMO.

    1. Jay says:

      The 580 is truly something special. I don’t think it’s a mystery why two of my best friends, who have played with my whole knife collection, own 580/585 knives.

      Thanks for the compliment.

  2. Matt in FL says:

    Nice review. Thanks for writing it up.

    1. Jay says:

      Thank you, kindly!

  3. Rick says:

    I bought this on a kind of whim yesterday. Then decided to research it. You are spot on with my findings. I may try to stiple the handle to make it feel better in my hand.

    I actually took a long time at the counter choosing this one. I was after an auto opener in a higher price range but I kept coming back to the 580 because the action was much smoother and faster then the autos.

  4. Bryan says:

    I’ve owned a 580 for a couple of years now and it’s my edc.
    I use it daily and am very satisfied.
    Most assisted knives don’t want to work properly if dirty. This isn’t the case with the 580. It always opens when you want it to and with the double lock engaged it’s like using a fixed blade knife. I pry cut and peel with this knife and have had no problems with it at all.
    Its a great deal at twice the price it sales for.
    Kudos to Benchmade

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Knife Review: Benchmade 580 Barrage Axis Assist

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