We only test excellent equipment. The Benchmade Barrage 580 is near the top of the list of pocket knives we chose to test "hands on." Nonetheless, a few products edge further ahead. In terms of performance, materials, and durability, the Benchmade Barrage 580 is virtually unmatched. It is in portability that this full-size knife suffers. It is heavier and bulkier than many of the knives we prefer. To use a knife, you have to have it with you. To have it with you, it has to be small and light. With options that do all the Barrage does but are smaller, it is hard to choose the Barrage. When one of the options is exactly the same except for size, it is a logical choice. The Benchmade Mini-Barrage earns our Editors' Choice Award for function exactly like the Barrage in a smaller form. If you know that the Mini, though, is too small, you can extrapolate all we like about the Mini to the full size Barrage reviewed here.
Benchmade Barrage 580 Review
Cons: Large in your pocket, expensive
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Benchmade Barrage is a venerable product. We've long tested and loved the Benchmade Mini Barrage. In now comparing them both directly, we stand by our Editors Choice award to the Mini. The Mini is just the right size. The unqualified Barrage is very well made and designed but is just too darn big in most situations. The Mini is the sweet spot for almost all of our test team. Regardless of hand size, the Mini handle allows the application of all the force and precision you might need. If you require a larger knife, though, the Barrage 580 will not disappoint.
We know that our scoring rubric is doing its job when the scores it generates are in line with our test team's anecdotal preferences. We put the Benchmade Barrage 580 through the paces and then met up to assign scores. When we did that, we found that it exactly matches the Mini Barrage in every category except portability. This is exactly how it should be, as the Mini is simply a smaller version of the Barrage 580. All the materials and function are the same between these two. Looking elsewhere, the Benchmade Griptilian 551 is similar to the Barrage 580 except it doesn't have assisted opening function.
Blade and Edge Integrity
Benchmade makes excellent blades. Of the mass producers, their blades are among the most highly regarded. We have years of experience with the 154 CM steel they use. The blade of the Editors' Choice Benchmade Mini Barrage is a down-sized version of that on this full-size Barrage. By the numbers, the Benchmade Griptilian has the same blade material as well. The Benchmade North Fork uses theoretically better "CPM-S30V" steel, though none of our testers could tell the difference between it and the 154 CM steel.
We all dig the full-size, rounded handle of the Benchmade Barrage 580. Even users with relatively small hands found it to work well. Further, the Benchmade knives we test are among the only ones that are fully symmetrical. Open, close, lock, and pocket clip from either side. The SOG Flash II comes close to being perfectly symmetrical, except that the locking mechanism is only on one side. Similarly, the Spyderco Tenacious G-10 is nearly perfectly ambidextrous. The blade thumb hole works from either side, and the pocket clip can be moved to any of four different positions on the Spyderco. Only the Tenacious' liner blade lock is off center. It barely matters on these other knives, but we do find ourselves appreciating the fully symmetrical function of the Benchmade Barrage and other Benchmade knives we've tested.
Portability is a function of size, weight, and carry options. Every pocket knife can be carried loose in your pocket. The next most popular and useful carry option is the pocket clip. A simple spring steel clip holds your knife up out of the other contents of your pocket. The Barrage has a great low profile pocket clip. In terms of size and weight, the Barrage 580 is on the large end of the spectrum. In length and thickness, only a couple of knives are larger. In terms of weight, though, the Barrage is not as obtrusive. A few models are heavier, but many are right around the same mass as the Benchmade Barrage 580. Of course, the portability of the Barrage is surpassed by the Editors' Choice Benchmade Mini Barrage. It is the smaller form and lighter weight that pushes the Mini ahead of all of the full-size knives, including the otherwise identical Barrage 580.
Like with their blades, the overall construction of Benchmade knives is immaculate. All hinges are tight but smooth running. The locks work cleanly (direct comparisons of our well-used Editors' Choice winner and the newer, unqualified Benchmade 580 indicate that the blade lock mechanism likely breaks in to be even smoother) and smoothly. There is a bit of a learning curve with any knife that has a mechanism that locks the blade closed. Pretty much all assisted opening knives have a mechanism to lock the blade closed. The Benchmade Barrage is no exception.
This is a simple pocket knife. There are no other features to comment on.
If you can afford the cash and the pocket space, you won't go wrong with the Benchmade Barrage 580. The performance is clean and great. The materials are long-lasting and solid. Benchmade's service is unprecedented. If portable size is a concern, step down to the Editors' Choice Mini Barrage. If you know the Mini is too small, the unqualified Barrage 580 is just the ticket.
This is an expensive product. Its price is more in line with compact electronics than with other hand tools. Quality and service back up the cost, but the initial investment is steep. If you can consistently keep track of a piece of small, expensive equipment (like your cell phone…), the performance and durability of a Benchmade knife is likely a worthy investment. If you misplace your sunglasses weekly, look to a cheaper pocket knife for better value.
Full-size pocket knives are a hefty addition to your pocket or pack. If you have tried smaller knives and found them lacking, consider the full size Benchmade Barrage. If you prioritize portability or don't know your preferences, a smaller knife is likely a better option.
— Jediah Porter