The Benchmade model 581 Barrage folding knife is part of Benchmade’s Blue Class of tactical folding knives and it has an overall length of 8 3/8” and a closed length of 4 3/4”. In addition, it features a 3 9/16” flat ground, drop point, blade made from M390 Super Steel hardened 60 – 62 Rockwell with ambidextrous thumb studs and a spring assisted opening mechanism combined with Benchmade’s proprietary Axis Locking Mechanism. Last, it features an ergonomically designed handle with G10 slabs mated to aircraft grade aluminum bolsters.
When I first saw this knife, it was immediately obvious to me that it was designed to be a tactical folding knife. However, since I am not trained in the art of fighting with a knife, I do not consider myself qualified to evaluate this knife as a tactical knife. Fortunately, I believe that this knife would also serve its user well as an everyday carry utility knife even though I have a distinct preference for a clip point blade over a drop point blade.
Benchmade chose to use M390 Super Steel for the blade of this knife which is a high performance blade steel manufactured by the European firm of Bohler and Uddeholm with superior cutting ability and wear resistance due to its high concentration of Vanadium and Chromium/Molybdenum carbides and an extremely high degree of corrosion resistance due to its exceptionally high concentration of Chromium. Consequently, this remarkable steel is akin to the Japanese blade steel VG-10 except that instead of containing 0.2% Vanadium it contains 4.0% Vanadium and instead of containing 1.5% Cobalt, it contains 0.6% Tungsten.
In addition, its unique powder metallurgical process also promotes a uniform carbide distribution and clean steel properties; thus making M390 a popular steel for use in surgical cutting instruments and in applications requiring a high degree of finish. Plus, Benchmade’s knifesmiths took their mission to create the best possible knife to heart by hardening this remarkable steel to 60 -62 Rockwell which very hard compared to the 52 – 54 Rockwell you see in most folding knife blades.
The flat grind on the blade delivers the best possible combination of sharpness and toughness; thus ensuring that the edge can be sharpened to create a razor-like cutting tool and yet will also retain that edge even after repeated use.
The blade incorporates ambidextrous thumb studs so that the knife can be easily opened with either hand and a spring assisted opening mechanism has also been incorporated into the handle so that the knife seemingly springs on its own with just a little pressure on either of the thumb studs; thus making one-handed opening a breeze and providing a legal alternative to an automatic.
Add to that a very comfortable tapered handle design with the suggestion of quillions combined with aluminum bolsters and G10 slabs and you have a handle that is both ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing. Last, Benchmade has also chosen to incorporate its proprietary Axis locking system on this knife. A patented Benchmade exclusive, the AXIS locking system has been turning heads and winning fans ever since its introduction.
A 100-percent ambidextrous design, AXIS gets its function from a small, hardened steel bar which rides forward and back in a slot machined into both steel liners. The bar extends to both sides of the knife, spans the liners, and is positioned over the rear of the blade where it engages a ramped, tang, portion of the knife blade when it is opened and two omega style springs, one on each liner, give the locking bar its inertia to engage the knife tang. As a result, the tang is wedged solidly between a sizable stop pin and the AXIS bar itself.
Although the Benchmade Knife Company, Inc. set-up shop in Clackamas, Oregon in 1990, they were originally founded in California in 1988. The initial knives primarily consisted of Bali-Song knives, the building of which employed a combination of outside vendors and inside processing to create finished products. Like most companies, entering a new business meant big plans but scarce money, second hand equipment, and limited resources.
However, a natural born fortitude and an undying passion to make the best knives in the world led to significant growth and as the Benchmade product line grew, so did their in-house capabilities. Thus, they eventually began to acquire new machines and technologies including the first of several lasers; making Benchmade the first knife manufacturer to have such equipment in-house.
Furthermore, open minds and positive attitudes would lead to several more industry firsts over the course of the next several years and consequently, this was only the beginning of Benchmade’s breaking of new ground in the manufactured knife market by using non-traditional materials and modern manufacturing methods in not only building knives better but, inevitably, building better knives. Consequently, their “Designer Series” was introduced in 1991 with several different custom designs being manufactured. Plus, by tapping into the custom knife makers’ knowledge and combining it with their manufacturing expertise, they were more readily able to offer more contemporary knife designs and innovations to knife users than other companies were.
Next, consecutive years of aggressive growth led to the next logical step which came about in 1996 when Benchmade moved into their own 35,000 sq. ft. facility and in 2011, an additional 20,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space was added and the entire factory was awarded the prestigious LEED Gold certification from the Green Building Council. Today, Benchmade Knife Company, Inc. manufactures knives for a loyal and ever growing following of knife users around the globe and their commitment to world-class quality is embodied in their well known motto: “It’s Not Just a Knife. It’s a Benchmade.” Consequently, the Benchmade model 581 Barrage folding knife is a prime example of Benchmade’s continuing commitment to high quality knife production.
So, not only is the Benchmade model 581 Barrage folding knife pleasing to hold and behold, it is also a very useful utility knife design. In addition it has a pleasing heft and the strength to withstand the rigors of every day chores. Thus, if you are the type of person who is willing to pay top price for a top quality product that you can depend on for a lifetime of service, then this knife would make an excellent choice for your every day needs.
Written by Bill BernhardtLast updated: January 3, 2014 at 5:12 am