Benchmade says, “Our knives are made of many things: steel, aluminum and titanium, to name a few. But perhaps the most important part of a Benchmade knife is expertise. We carefully measure every part at every step in the process. We use the best materials and equipment.”
Every blade begins as a sheet of steel. A laser cutting technician programs the laser to cut the steel into blanks, giving the blade its basic profile. The blanks are hammered out of the sheet by hand, and for the first time, the steel begins to look like a knife. The blanks are measured to make sure they meet specifications. Measurements are taken every step of the manufacturing process to guarantee an impeccable knife and streamline production. If a part isn’t “up-to-spec”, it doesn’t become a Benchmade.
This is where the blank is ground to its precise width. A surface grind technician places each blank in its rack by hand (racks vary by the number of blanks they can hold at one time), and each side is ground to its specified thickness. After grinding, the technician checks the thickness of each set of blanks. Tolerances are within the width of a human hair. They say, “Our knives have no room for error, and neither does a blank’s thickness.”
Blade holes, handles and grooves are cut on high-speed mills. For every job (or batch), the blade milling technician programs the mill and measures the blade or handle to make sure it meets our precise tolerances. Blades and handles differ from knife to knife, so the technician gathers a specific set of measuring tools for each job. One of the holes that is cut here is the blade pivot, which is crucial to the folding mechanism. The pivot tolerance is .0005 inches, because the slightest deviation there becomes exponential at the blade’s tip. Handles require the same precision in order to fit the liners and blades properly and ensure a smooth mechanism.
During milling blade holes, handles and grooves are cut on high-speed mills. For every job (or batch), the blade milling technician programs the mill and measures the blade or handle to make sure it meets our precise tolerances. Blades and handles differ from knife to knife, so the technician gathers a specific set of measuring tools for each job. One of the holes that is cut here is the blade pivot, which is crucial to the folding mechanism. The pivot tolerance is .0005 inches, because the slightest deviation there becomes exponential at the blade’s tip. Handles require the same precision in order to fit the liners and blades properly and ensure a smooth mechanism.
The next step is back sanding. This is where the back of the blade gets special attention. The sides of the blade have been beveled and milled, but the back has been relatively untouched since the original laser cutting. Each blade is attached to a custom fixture that fits the arm of a standing belt sander. The back-sanding technician sands the back of the blade until it is smooth. Every blade is back-sanded like this, one-at-a-time.
Finishing gives the blade a more refined look. The finishing technician stone-washes the blades in a ceramic medium to remove any burrs and give the blades a clean, polished appearance. The medium itself can vary in size and shape depending on the specific finish of the blade. For example, every 300 Axis Flipper blade endures the large stone-wash medium for two hours. When the blade is cleaned up, it is taken to laser marking to receive its one-of-a-kind Benchmade mark.
The last two steps are finishing and sharpening. It is through these steps that a Benchmade really begins to be a Benchmade.
Today we will be discussing a great Benchmade, the Mini-Barrage in grey.
The man behind this knife is Warren Osborne. Being raised in the farming and ranching industry taught Warren early on what great utility a quality knife can offer. How a knife feels in the hand over extended use, blade design/edge configurations, and the types of materials used are all mandatory considerations of an Osborne design.
The blade is made out of 154CM. This is a high end steel that is relatively hard. It is also usually considered an upgraded version of 440C through the addition of Molybdenum. This means that the steel is going to have extreme edge holding capacities, especially when compared to 440C. Even though it does have less Chromium, it still retains high levels of corrosion resistance. This steel as toughness that will hold up to most uses as well as holding an edge well. When you have the right sharpening equipment, it is not tricky to sharpen.
The finish on this blade is satin. The satin finish is one of the most common blade finishes in the cutlery industry today. The finish is created by repeatedly sanding the blade in one direction with an increasing level of a fine abrasive. The finish that results is clean, classic, and helps to cut down on glares, reflections, as well as corrosion. With this blade finish, you will know that your blade will never go out of style.
The blade has been carved into a drop point blade shape. The drop point blade shape is a great all-purpose blade shape that is also extremely durable. The back edge of the knife runs straight from the handle to the tip of the knife in a slow, curving manner, which gives you a lowered point. The lowered point is broad, which means that you are going to be able to better control this knife as well as getting a lot of strength from the tip. This Benchmade Mini-Barrage has been designed as an everyday carry knife as well as an outdoor knife. The strength from this tip is going to give you the qualities that you want in an outdoors knife, because it will be able to stand up to heavy use. Drop point blades also feature a very large belly that makes slicing a breeze. That is the feature of the knife that makes it a great everyday carry knife. The drop point blade only really has one disadvantage, which is its relatively broad tip. The broad tip is going to make it less suitable for piercing than the clip point. You do need to remember that the broadness is going to give you the strength that you want out of a knife though, so the broad tip is an advantage as well as a drawback. By having this knife, you are going to be prepared to take on a wide variety of tasks, whether it is your everyday chores, or whether you are in the outdoors and need a reliable companion.
The handle on this knife is made out of grey, textured G10. The G10 is a material that has been made out of fiberglass. To make this material, the material manufacturer takes layers of fiberglass cloth and soaks them in resin. The next step in the process is to compress them and bake them under pressure. Through this process, G10 becomes tough, hard, strong, but still very lightweight. Out of all the fiberglass resin laminates, G-10 is considered to be the toughest of all of them. G10 also has very similar properties to carbon fiber, except that because it is slightly inferior, you can get it for a fraction of the cost. And while it is cheaper to produce than carbon fiber, it does still have to be cut and machined into shape, which is not as economical as the injection molding process used FRN handles.
G-10 is easily textured, which provides a secure and comfortable grip. Outdoors knives will benefit from the G-10 qualities because it is durable, lightweight, and still non-porous, which significantly cuts down on maintenance. The overall benefits to a G-10 handle is that it is going to be tough, light, and still durable. These are all great qualities for your outdoors knife as well as your everyday carry knife. The biggest disadvantage to a G-10 handle is that it is going to be brittle.
The handle is pretty classic. The belly of the knife has an elongated finger groove that is shallow, but still comfortable. The texture that Benchmade has added to the knife are grooves going across the width of the knife.
An added bonus to this knife is that it sports a lanyard hole on the butt of it.
The Pocket Clip:
The pocket clip is not a deep carry pocket clip, which is a little bit of a disadvantage. The clip can only be attached for tip up carry, but it is reversible for either left or right handed carry. Because it is reversible in this way, the knife becomes fully ambidextrous.
This is an assisted opening knife. An assisted opening knife is a type of folding knife that uses an internal mechanism to finish the opening of the blade once the user has partially opened it using the thumb stud that is attached to the blade.
The knife has been equipped with thumb stud. This is arguably the most common one-handed opening feature that is used by Benchmade. A thumb stud replaces the nail nick that is found on the more traditional knives. This is a very straightforward mechanism to use. You grasp the folded knife, place the tip of your flexed thumb on the stud, and extend your thumb to swing the blade through its arc until the blade is fully open. A thumb stud is very easy to use, which is its biggest advantage. Some people complain that the stud gets in the way because it does protrude off of the handle. Another issue with the thumb stud is that it does put your finger in close range with the blade when you are opening your knife. There have been plenty of reports of someone slicing their finger when they were using a thumb stud to open their knife.
The knife is also equipped with the AXIS-Assist lock. A patented Benchmade exclusive, AXIS® 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 that 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. It engages a ramped tang portion of the knife blade when it is opened. 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. Easily opened, quickly and with one hand; this evolution of the AXIS® includes a spring that helps to fire the blade into the open position once the user pushes it beyond a certain point manually. The AXIS® lock also has the added benefit of “suck-back,” which encourages the blade to stay in the closed position. AXIS® Assist knives also feature integrated safety lock systems.
The blade on this knife measures in at 2.91 inches long with a blade thickness of 0.100 inches. The handle measures in at 4 inches long with a handle thickness of 0.57 inches. The overall length of this opened knife measures in at 6.91 inches long. The knife weighs in at 3.87 ounces.
The Barrage® is the first to feature the AXIS® Assist. They offer quick, one-handed opening and can be operated equally with either hand. The blade is strong, durable, and very rust resistant. The finish is satin, which is traditional and will never go out of style. It also helps with the corrosion resistance. The drop point blade is tough and all purpose. The light grey handle is very durable and low maintenance. You can pick up this knife today at BladeOps.