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Benchmade Barrage 580 Review

The full size version of our Editors' Choice is less portable with minimal but real gains in usability. If you know you need a full size pocket knife, the Barrage 580 is a great choice.
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Price:  $160 List | $132.50 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Immaculate materials, assisted opening, fully symmetrical performance
Cons:  Large in your pocket, expensive
Manufacturer:   Benchmade
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 12, 2019
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 18
  • Blade and Edge Integrity - 30% 9
  • Ergonomics - 20% 9
  • Portability - 20% 6
  • Construction Quality - 20% 9
  • Other Features - 10% 0

Our Verdict

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.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award    
Price $132.50 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$130.00 at REI$110.00 at REI$139.89 at Amazon
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$178.75 at Backcountry
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Immaculate materials, assisted opening, fully symmetrical performanceIncredible blade quality, assisted open, perfect combination of compactness/functionalityProven and well-respected blade, smooth, comfortable ergonomicsGreat blade, classy wooden handleSmall, excellent materials and construction
Cons Large in your pocket, expensivePricey, blade lock mechanism not intuitiveLarge, no assisted openingExpensive, no assisted opening functionShort blade, issues with opening the blade, expensive
Bottom Line The full size version of our Editors' Choice is less portable with minimal but real gains in usability. If you know you need a full size pocket knife, the Barrage 580 is a great choice.Immaculately constructed knife in a form-factor that is easy to carry and large enough for virtually every task.Full-size, basic folding pocket knife with immaculate construction.A solid little knife for all-around “every day carry”. With assisted opening, this model would be similar enough to our Editors' Choice to really complicate our assessment.Compact, carefully designed knife for the discerning user that seeks uniqueness and can forgive some usability issues.
Rating Categories Benchmade Barrage 580 Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585 Benchmade Griptilian 551 Benchmade 15031-2 North Fork The James Brand the Chapter
Blade And Edge Integrity (30%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Ergonomics (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
6
Portability (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
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9
Construction Quality (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
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9
Other Features (10%)
10
0
0
10
0
0
10
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0
10
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10
0
0
Specs Benchmade Barrage... Benchmade... Benchmade... Benchmade 15031-2... The James Brand...
Weight (ounces) 4.2 3.4 3.9 3.2 2.8
Blade Style Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Drop point, straight
Blade locks closed? Yes Yes No Yes No
Opening Style Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud Ambidextrous thumb stud Ambidextrous thumb-stud Thumb stud
Lock Mechanism Proprietary (Axis) Proprietary (Axis) Proprietary (Axis) Proprietary (Axis) Frame lock
Carry Style, in addition to loose in pocket Pocket Clip, lanyard hole Pocket Clip and lanyard hole Pocket Clip Pocket Clip Pocket Clip
Blade Material 154 CM stainless steel 154CM Steel 154CM steel CPM-S30V stainless steel Crucible S35vn stainless steel
Handle Material Valox Plastic Plastic Stabilized wood 6al4v titanium
Blade Length (inches) 3.8 2.9 3.5 2.9 2.7
Closed Length (inches) 4.8 4 4.6 3.9 3.8
Overall Length 8.5 6.9 8 6.9 6.5
Thickness (w/o pocket clip) (inches) 0.7 0.57 0.6 0.53 0.3
Other Features or Functions None None None None None

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.

Performance Comparison


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.

The Benchmade Barrage is well made and full sized. For the right user  it is exactly what you need and want.
The Benchmade Barrage is well made and full sized. For the right user, it is exactly what you need and want.

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.

Whittling counts as a heavy use of a pocket knife. The big blade and handle of the Barrage hold up real well.
Whittling counts as a heavy use of a pocket knife. The big blade and handle of the Barrage hold up real well.

Ergonomics


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.

Recently tested pocket knives. The Barrage is the largest  sitting there on the furthest right.
Recently tested pocket knives. The Barrage is the largest, sitting there on the furthest right.

Portability


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.

The pocket clip of the Barrage is secure and oriented such that pulling it out and deploying the blade can happen nearly all at once.
The pocket clip of the Barrage is secure and oriented such that pulling it out and deploying the blade can happen nearly all at once.

Construction Quality


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.

The sturdy  thick  modern blade shape of the Barrage is up for rugged use and heavy forces.
The sturdy, thick, modern blade shape of the Barrage is up for rugged use and heavy forces.

Other Features


This is a simple pocket knife. There are no other features to comment on.

Best Applications


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.

The full-size Barrage 580 (left) next to the Editors' Choice Benchmade Mini Barrage. This size difference crosses a critical threshold. The Mini feels much more compact in your pocket.
The full-size Barrage 580 (left) next to the Editors' Choice Benchmade Mini Barrage. This size difference crosses a critical threshold. The Mini feels much more compact in your pocket.

Value


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.

Even while cutting stubborn rubber hose  the Barrage has all the strength  sharpness  and comfort you need.
Even while cutting stubborn rubber hose, the Barrage has all the strength, sharpness, and comfort you need.

Conclusion


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