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Benchmade’s 585 Mini-Barrage and 580 Barrage

Benchmade’s 585 Mini-Barrage and 580 Barrage, designed by Warren Osborne, continue the company’s long-established reputation for delivering innovative sports cutlery. Benchmade’s Barrage knives are manufactured with American-made, premium 154CM stainless steel. Benchmade believes this steel to be battleground-proven, and it is the steel of choice for our Special Forces units. The 154CM steel, originally developed for heavy-duty industrial applications, offers corrosion resistance, toughness, good edge retention, and edge quality, while also being easy to sharpen.

The 585 Mini-Barrage and 580 Barrage are essentially the same knife design, but the 585 Mini-Barrage is smaller, weighing 3.4 ounces and having an overall length of 6.9 inches, as compared to the 580 Barrage’s weight of 4.2 ounces and overall length of 8.4 inches. While the 580 Barrage has a drop point, the 585 Mini-Barrage has a mini-drop point blade. The false edge at the top of the blade is a signature design feature of many Osborne knives.

The 585 Mini-Barrage and 580 Barrage knives are the first folders with both an AXIS® lock and a spring assist. The AXIS lock is generally considered the strongest locking mechanism available on a folding knife. By adding a spring assist, Benchmade gives the user two great features—speed (with the assist), and strength (the AXIS lock can withstand over 800 lb-inches of torque).

The AXIS lock is also fully ambidextrous and works well in both clean and dirty environments. The integrated safety allows for the AXIS locking mechanism to be locked open or closed. When the safety is engaged in the closed position, the blade will not deploy in the pocket. The safety can also be operated with one hand.

The lightweight handle is made from Valox, a glass-filled nylon, and rides easy in the pocket. The textured handle is a blend of ergonomics and style, and provides a firm grip. Its finger indents, or scallops, a feature of Osborne knives, allow the hand to rest easily on the back of the handle. The handle’s full-length, stainless steel liners are skeletonized to reduce material and provide structure with minimal weight.

Field Test

George T. Williams is the Director of Training for Cutting Edge Training, LLC in Bellingham, WA, and is the Corporate Trainer for Benchmade Knife Company. He is a Master Combatives Trainer for both police and military personnel in physical skills (CQB, defensive tactics, firearms) and tactics, and he provides civil liability prevention seminars both nationwide and internationally. He developed and teaches both a police-oriented (4th Amendment-based) duty knife course and a military knife course for either infantry or SpecOps personnel.

For his evaluation, Williams carried the Mini-Barrage for almost two months, utilizing it daily for common cutting situations. According to him, the knife’s molded, reinforced resin scales are textured exactly where they need to be for serious use. It has deeply cut ridges that are also angled properly and precisely where they need to be for retention during opening—at the thumb and forefinger. Additionally, there are several scallops, permitting better grip. He felt that this was no slick-sided knife easily lost during less-than-ideal circumstances (e.g., emergencies where the user is scared, fighting, injured, wet, cold, etc.).

The knife’s locking mechanism is the first offering of Benchmade’s proprietary AXIS-ASSIST with Integrated Safety. In Williams’s opinion, the sliding safety on the back of the handle is redundant and simply there for the lawyers. Yes, any assisted-opening knife can inadvertently open in your pocket (and most do eventually).

However, the ambidextrous AXIS-ASSIST mechanism has an interesting feature that no other assisted-opening knife can boast—the “suck-back” feature. If the blade is opened less than 20 degrees and released, the blade actually sucks back into the handle under spring tension. This safety feature, tested fearlessly in Williams’s pocket, performed flawlessly during daily, as well as vigorous, activities.

Williams felt that, unlike their earlier attempts at an assisted-opening mechanism, Benchmade’s Mini-Barrage was incredibly easy to open. Despite the “suck-back” safety feature, a slight yet deliberate nudge of the thumb stud creates sufficient distance to engage the assist mechanism, causing the blade to suddenly lock open. It is deceptively easy to open.

Unlike other assisted knives (or even most automatic knives—the assisted-opening knife does NOT qualify as an automatic), if the blade’s opening is interrupted, the spring assist will lock the blade open once the impediment is removed. And there is no question whether or not this blade is locked open once it crosses the 20-degree threshold. The blade is fast enough that it is nearly impossible to ride the edge with your thumb during opening.

Williams’s tests of folders differed from those of a fixed blade knife because their jobs are different. While folders must perform in extraordinary circumstances, they have inherent weaknesses and cannot be expected to compete with a full tang, fixed blade.

The first test consisted of repeated opening and closing of the knife. For this he utilized the police officers in his training classes for the two allotted months, handing the knife around and encouraging them to operate the mechanism. Based on the incessant and prolonged clicking during the lecture portion of the classes, he estimated the test knife had at least 4000 to 5000 problem-free openings and closings prior to formal testing. This resulted in no increased play between the blade and handle—the phrase “rock solid” comes to mind.

Formal testing began with 50 cuts through a 3/16-inch tightly woven nylon rope as a test of edge durability. According to Williams, the knife arrived with the expected Benchmade factory sharpness. With a plain blade, each cut required from one to three attempts, which is normal without serrations on this tough rope. There was no apparent change in the effort required from cut #1 to cut #50.

Next, three campfire fuzz-sticks were whittled from dry maple limbs, each approximately 1½ inches in diameter. This small knife made this a chore, but small knives have inherent disadvantages when performing hard labor. The blade, however, handled the test well.

Next was the dreaded stab test. With an ungloved hand, overhand stabs were tested. There was absolutely no slipping or hint of riding up on the blade. Williams modifies this test for folders because of the thinner nature of their blades, as compared to fixed blades intended for heavy use. The blade is 154CM: a drop-point with a secondary grind.

This design led him to believe that the tip would hold up well enough, although one can never be certain. He stabbed it more than 50 times with sufficient force to drive the blade up to 3/8 inch into a dry maple round with the bark removed. Quick lateral pressure pried the blade out of the wood. The tip was untouched and proved strong enough to withstand this tough test of any blade’s durability.

Finally, the knife was dropped into a mud puddle and stirred around a bit. It showed no slowing in its opening after this, although grit could be heard in the mechanism. The mechanism seemed as good as new after cleaning it by repeated blowing with compressed air, alternated with rinsing with clean water. Lubricated with a little Mil-tech, this little knife was good to go.

After a thorough cleaning and without being sharpened, Williams used it to cut up a three-pound pork roast into stir fry-sized chunks. Stabbing at the roast created the expected “wounds.” Even after being worked in the testing process, the edge was able to easily carve the raw meat.

Following another thorough cleaning, Williams conducted a final sharpness test. The 154CM steel sliced through a single sheet of typing paper held vertically by two fingers after several tries, but was unable to shave the hair on his forearm. The edge still caught on his thumbnail throughout the length of the blade. After what it had been put through, Williams felt this was a superior edge retention for any folding knife, especially a small knife with a blade only one-tenth of an inch thick.

This is a knife that Williams says he can recommend without reservation to any police officer needing a small folding knife that stays closed when you need it to, opens instantly, and can go the distance performing beyond its expectations. Warren Osborne and Benchmade have hit a home run again with the 585 Mini-Barrage.

Jim Weiss is a retired lieutenant from the Brook Park, OH, Police Department and a frequent contributor to LAW and ORDER. Mickey Davis is a Florida-based journalist.

Published in Tactical Response, Nov/Dec 2009

Rating : 8.2

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