Barrage Blade Play Okay?

Discussion in 'Benchmade Knife Company' started by CCK, May 28, 2015.

  1. CCK


    Feb 25, 2015
    Hi Folks,
    I have a question regarding what is considered a normal amount of blade play in a Barrage.
    My daughter just gave me a new Barrage 580S. It is very nice, nice blade and design, and the one-hand opening is very cool. This knife is new, and there is noticeable side-to-side blade play, and a barely noticeable amount of up-and-down play, when the blade is opened and locked. This is not a loose, rattling blade, but with the blade open it will move without too much applied pressure. This is more play than my Buck or other locking blade knives I have, but this is the first knife I have had with this type of one-hand opening action. I assume that Benchmade checks their knives before they send them to retailers (in this case R.E.I.), and I assume that there will be some play with this style of knife, but I would like to know what is considered normal. I don't want to be a P.I.T.A. and send it back if it's normal, but while the amount is not enough to make the knife inoperable and it's still locking up okay, it seems like a bit more than I would expect in a high engineered and made knife.
    Any thoughts or experience to share on this?

    Thank you!
    Last edited: May 28, 2015
  2. Hair


    Nov 9, 2005
    A little side-to-side play on an Axis lock is acceptable, and normal (not desirable, but it doesn't hurt the function of the knife). Unlike some other lock designs, such as the liner and frame lock, side-to-side play does not effect the lock-up on an Axis lock.

    I've owned 8 Axis lock knives (currently still have 4), and more than half of them had some side-to-side play when new. You can try tightening the pivot screw; this will almost definitely get rid of the play, but may also make the knife harder to open. Usually you can find a "sweet spot" where there is minimal play, but the knife is still easy to open and feels "loose". If you cannot find that sweet spot, I recommend allowing a small amount of play and using the knife for a while. As the washers and blade wear in to each other (they get more polished with use), they will allow you to run the pivot screw tighter (to eliminate the play), but will still feel loose and open freely.

    Axis lock knives tend to wear in, rather than wear out. They usually aren't very good out of the box (I've had some that were downright gritty and had a lot of play), but when they wear in they are amazing. Sometimes it only takes a day or two, sometimes a couple weeks. Once they break in, they can be set to open VERY smoothly, but will have only very little to no blade play.

    Even if your knife always has a small amount of blade play, again, it has zero negative effect on the knife, so it isn't a bad thing, just a minor annoyance if you are used to "testing for blade play". Testing for blade play is important on some locks as blade play can cause the lock to fail, but it is not an issue with the Axis lock.

    IMO, an Axis lock knife should open and close easily with a "loose and smooth" feeling so that the blade will fall open or closed due to gravity when the lock bar is pulled back. Side-to-side play is a non-issue unless it is extremely noticeable to the point that it can be felt when using the knife, rather than grabbing both ends and looking for blade play.

    I'll digress a bit here, so feel free to skip it if you already got the information you need...

    I love Benchmades and feel that for $100-$200, they are the best pocket knives, period. But even at $200, they are still production knives. They cannot hand check every knife and very little hand finishing goes into them (this is true of their competitors as well). If they did check every knife and hand polish the washers and blade/pivot area, they would be much more expensive. A lot of Benchmade fans are just used to having to fine-tune their knives, even sometimes taking them apart and hand-polishing the washers to allow the knife to open smoothly with no play. I wish it wasn't the case, but the same can be found in any knife around the same price. I've had many Spydercos, Bucks, Kershaws etc... with the same issues. When you buy a lot of them, you'll get some with blade play (which sometimes can be fixed) If you want a knife that is perfect out of the box every time, spent $350 or more. I think the Axis lock is so good that it is worth having to fine-tune new knives. I have owned a Sebenza. It was perfect (in terms of fit and finish), but I sold it and I much prefer my 710 as an actual tool. I've had many cheaper knives with no blade play, too, but it isn't like every example of those models are the same; production knives are not consistent, sometimes you get a good one, and sometimes you don't. Sorry to digress, I am not trying to get defensive, just giving some perspective.
    Last edited: May 30, 2015
  3. wiredbeans


    Apr 5, 2015
    +1 on Hair

    Most of the axis lock Benchmades have pretty thick washers, it's a good thing and it makes the knife feel like it's on ball bearing, all my Benchmades have this tiny side to side play, it does require break in to smooth out the play.

    You can speed up the process by loosen the pivot, add a few drop of windex or one spray and then torquing down the pivot to very stiff that you actually have to force it open, now open and close for a 100 times to mash them together. After that you start backing out the pivot 1/4 turn at a time and repeat open close for 20-30 times each time. You will know if you are almost smooth, then back it out 1/8 turn and repeat open close until it's glass smooth and without play. I like to run it just slightly tight so it doesn't drop freely but requires a slight shake and allows me to still whip it open and close easily and smoothly.

    The only 1 I got that's bang on perfect with no play and glass smooth is the North Fork with textured gray camo G10 handle; I think I lucked out on that one.
  4. CCK


    Feb 25, 2015
    Thank you. I will try breaking it and see if that helps. I would say that it is much more than a tiny bit of play. I may just send it in to Benchmade to check it and adjust it as it's new and I don't want to void any warranty by working on it myself. The action is very smooth and fast on this knife.

  5. Fred Sanford

    Fred Sanford Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 3, 2006
    What Hair said is spot on. Well said.
  6. adamg01


    Dec 8, 2013
    Out of my 3 BM's, my 943 is the only one that I can call the lockup solid.
  7. Brummie

    Brummie Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 13, 2007
    Sending it in may not help. Benchmade don't consider a bit of bladeplay to be an issue and are likely to send it back to you just the same way. At least that's been my experience with this model, which you can't adjust without dis-assembling, as you say.
    marrenmiller likes this.
  8. Krissig12


    Sep 11, 2013
    I've found that to fix side to side play, the best thing to do if adjusting the pivot doesn't work is to buy aftermarket standoffs. I think the science behind this is that the factory standoffs or backspacer aren't perfectly sized and it means that the liners aren't perfectly perpendicular at the pivot resulting in extra room for the tang to wobble to either side. If for example the spacers weren't wide enough, then there would be a very slight isosceles "triangle" formed between the back of the knife and front, the base of the triangle being at the front. And this would result in there being more space on either side of the tang on the front side of the pivot, giving the blade room to wiggle side to side.

    My most recent BM was a mini ritter m390, and I couldn't for the life of me find a sweet spot between tightness and bladeplay. But when I got aftermarket cf scales and standoffs for it I no longer had any blade play issues.
  9. MatthewSB


    Feb 1, 2013
    I wouldn't consider side to side blade play "normal", even on an Axis lock. I've had, and used, a handful of Axis lock knives and none of them had any blade-play, at least not after I adjusted them properly after they were broken in.
  10. jkarp_53


    May 25, 2006
    While all of my knives lockup as designed, each is different as expected; So finding that sweet spot can be a challenge. But once done, I would rather have a little blade play compared to none at all.
  11. Grimy Outcome

    Grimy Outcome

    Apr 10, 2020
    Dead thread but just wanted to give my experience fixing blade play while keeping action some what smooth.
    Step 1 tighten pivot screw to we’re it is almost not able to open
    Step 2 open and close the knife 100 to 200 times
    Step 3 back off the pivot screw until you have the desired smoothness

    this removed a good amount of blade play I’d say it is 98% locked up with 2% of play
  12. ram229


    Jun 21, 2009
    Who doesn't like a good zombie thread. My Mini Barrage had up and down play since day one. Went back at least 5 times and still has it. The only other knife that had up down play like this is the POS SOG Trident.
  13. soc_monki

    soc_monki Basic Member Basic Member

    Apr 5, 2019
    Only one of my Benchmades has any play, and that is my Super Freek. Up and down actually, none side to side. And only if you really try to make it have play. It's the pivot, slightly undersized, which I will remedy when my new G10 grip pivot gets here. I'll just swap the grips pivot over and all will be well! Otherwise, it doesn't hamper the knife at all and like I said, you really have to put some muscle into it to make it have play.

    Most of mine have started life out of the box too tight, and some even had a little up and down play. I adjusted the pivots slightly looser, and a few flicks and the up and down play went away (axis lock wore in). All but my 950 Rift are super smooth and easy to open and close. The Rift just hasn't been used enough so it's a little tighter than the rest.

    My customs and my rescue Crooked River all came from Benchmade adjusted perfectly. I guess warranty knives and customs get a little more hand massaging before going out the door?

    Either way, I love my Benchmades. You can pry them from my cold, dead hands.
  14. marrenmiller

    marrenmiller Basic Member Basic Member

    Apr 6, 2017
    I sent a custom shop barrage in for a bit of vertical blade play and all Benchmade CS did was tighten my pivot to be way too stiff and remove the safety without asking me. On a side note, this was after I had to sand and polish the curved blade tang, as they didn't do that at the factory so it ground awfully on the lockbar during opening and closing...

    In the 8 or so Benchmades I've owned, it seems that about half of them have had slightly undersized pivot barrels, and this can lead to a small amount of vertical play that isn't unsafe but that is annoying to have on an expensive knife. You can check this yourself by holding the axis bar back and trying to push and pull on the blade. Some move and some don't, and Benchmade won't replace the pivot either way if yours is slightly too small.
  15. ram229


    Jun 21, 2009
    The blade play sounds different in my particular knife. To me it almost seems like the lock bar isn't fully engaging the blade. If I sling shot the axis lock it stops the blade play.
  16. sharp_edge

    sharp_edge Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 30, 2015
    To the guy saying none of your benchmade folders has any blade play, try again and hard.

    Among the 15 or so BMs that I have/had, all of them have SLIGHT side to side blade play If I try really hard, which frankly I think is normal with the Axis lock.
    Nbrackett likes this.
  17. soc_monki

    soc_monki Basic Member Basic Member

    Apr 5, 2019
    If you meant me, no they don't have play. I could loosen the pivot and induce play, or I can grab the blade at the tip and really crank them to get play (and I have on several manufacturers knives). Under moderate pressure there is no play. Then again, what is moderate for me would be weak to someone else, or way too much to another.

    Now when the knives are unlocked yes, I can initiate blade play side to side. When locked up they're good and tight though. Or at least tight enough for me.
  18. sharp_edge

    sharp_edge Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 30, 2015
    Yeah - blade play on Axis lock is really relative. That's all what I am saying, nothing negative though.
  19. soc_monki

    soc_monki Basic Member Basic Member

    Apr 5, 2019
    I think it's relative on any locking knife, and not always a problem to the function depending on lock type. A frame or liner lock I would not accept. Lock backs can have some play. Axis locks as well. All of mine are solid though, except for the too small pivot on my Super Freek. Still has solid lock up and perfect function though.

    Love the knives though... If I didn't I wouldn't have 9 of them! :D

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