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A Comprehensive Review

What is the Benchmade 581 Barrage?

The Benchmade 581 Barrage, fondly known as the classy Barrage, is a premium production folder that has carved a niche for itself among high-end users.


‍Benchmade, a name that evokes reverence in the knife industry, has been consistently raising the bar on knife-making excellence for over three decades. Their track record is studded with the creation of formidable blades that blend cutting-edge technology, innovative design, and rigorous quality control standards. The Benchmade 581 Barrage, introduced in 2009, is a shining testament to this legacy.


Overview of Benchmade 581 Barrage

It was the first AXIS-lock folding knife to sport an assisted-opening mechanism, further elevating Benchmade’s reputation for innovation. The knife’s design is credited to the late Warren Osborne, whose design philosophy focused heavily on how a knife feels in hand during extended use.


The 581 Barrage is available in several variants, offering ample choice for knife enthusiasts. The variants include:

  1. 580 – Drop point, 154CM blade, Valox handle
  2. 580-2 – Upgraded version of 580 in S30V and gray G-10 (new in 2016)
  3. 583 – Tanto, 154CM blade, Valox handle
  4. 585 – Mini-sized 580
  5. 581 – Drop point, M390 blade, G-10 with aluminium handle
  6. 586 – Mini-sized 581

In addition to the variants, Benchmade provides the option for straight or partially serrated blades and a satin or black coated blade.

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Benchmade 581 Barrage: A Closer Look

The 581 Barrage is a tactical knife with a touch of class. It features a drop point blade made from Bohler’s M390 Super Steel. The blade length comes in at just over 3.5 inches, and the overall length of the knife is 8.35 inches when fully deployed and 4.75 inches when closed. It weighs 5.2 ounces, which may be slightly heavy for an everyday carry (EDC) knife but is within reasonable limits.

Key Features

Blade Design and Material

The 581 Barrage sports a standard, yet beautifully executed, drop-point blade design with ambidextrous thumb studs. The blade is made from a 3mm stock, with a partial hollow grind, giving it an excellent, durable edge.

The real highlight of this blade is the use of the outstanding M390 super steel. Produced by powder metallurgy, M390 Super Steel is a premium steel from Austria’s Bohler. It boasts formidable resistance to wear and tear and can be hardened to around 60-62 HRC Rockwell with proper heat treatment. This steel is considered one of the best in the market and often compared favorably with Crucible’s S30V for its edge retention.

Handle and Ergonomics

The handle of the Barrage 581 is fashioned from G10 with aluminum bolsters. This combination lends the knife an interesting design, fusing tactical appearance with a gentleman’s style. While the handle is slightly on the thick side, it fills the hand quite nicely and offers excellent ergonomics in standard or reverse grip. The G10 scales feature finger indents that serve as gripping points, ensuring a secure grip even with sweaty hands.

Pocket Clip

The pocket clip on the Barrage 581 is Benchmade’s standard split-arrow design. It retains the knife securely in the pocket, offering a low visibility carry. The clip allows for tip-up pocket carry, and the knife is designed with screw holes on both sides of the handle for ambidextrous carry options.

Locking Mechanism

The 581 Barrage features Benchmade’s patented AXIS-Assist opening and locking mechanism. The blade deploys with extreme speed and safety, offering a smooth and fast assisted opening. The blade locks up solidly, with no play in the blade, either left-to-right or up-and-down.

Buyer’s Guide: Is it Worth the Investment?

The Benchmade 581 Barrage, with its high-quality design and material, is a significant investment. So, is it worth the money?

The answer largely depends on your needs and preferences. If you are looking for a large EDC knife or a tactical knife for unexpected self-defense situations, the Barrage 581 should be high on your list. It competes favorably with peers like the Spyderco Paramilitary 2, Zero Tolerance’s 0550, and Benchmade’s own 940/943 Osborne.

However, it’s important to note that the Barrage 581 is not without its flaws. Some users have found the texture on the G10 scales a bit rough, which can cause discomfort during heavy usage. Furthermore, the knife could benefit from some jimping on the thumb ramp to prevent the thumb from slipping along the blade’s back.

Despite these minor design flaws, the Barrage 581 remains a strong contender in the $200 category. Its blade performance is outstanding, the lock-up is excellent, and the overall quality and performance are top-notch.


The Benchmade 581 Barrage stands as a testament to Benchmade’s commitment to quality, innovation, and excellent craftsmanship. It is a versatile knife, suitable for various tasks, and offers a perfect balance between functionality and aesthetics.

While the price tag may seem steep, the investment is justified by the knife’s high-quality materials, superior design, and extraordinary performance. Whether you are a knife enthusiast or a novice, the Benchmade 581 Barrage is a worthwhile addition to your collection.

Last Updated on August 27, 2023