At a recent gathering with shooting buddies I was struck by a certain commonality – other than the obvious shared enjoyment of firearms, we all had one other thing in common; we all carried a pocket knife or, to use the modern term, an EDC (for, of course, Every Day Carry ). Realizing that shooters also often were aficionados of the blade I thought there may be an appetite amongst the readers of Rifletalk.org for an article about two of my favorite “going into town” EDC’s:- the Spyderco Paramilitary 2 and the Benchmade 580 Barrage.
Before getting into the meat of the article I should explain what I mean when I say about these two knives being my “going to town” EDC’s – living on a farm as I do there is often the need for a more robust knife and so my regular daily carry is either a fixed blade Ka-Bar or, if it’s a folder, either of the Spyderco Manix2 XL or the tank-like Zero Tolerance 0200 Military. A trip to the feed store or similar town chore does, however, usually dictate that I carry a blade that isn’t so much of a pocket hog as the Manix or ZT and so therefore the PM2 or 580 gets to take a drive with me.
Both of the PM2 and the 580 are knives produced from well-established, quality knifemakers. Spyderco is based out of Golden Colorado while Benchmade was originally from California it has, since 1990, been homed in Oregon. Both companies have well-deserved reputations and produce a variety of edged products besides folding knives. Naturally both of Spyderco and Benchmade have an online presence and can be found at : https://www.spyderco.com and http://www.benchmade.com
While it is certainly possible to buy quality knives made in countries other than the United States both of the PM2 and the Benchmade 580 are made in the US.
Besides the American-made PM2 and the Manix 2 XL I have a number of other Spyderco knives: I have the excellent and US-made Spyderco Military model which I often carry and I have two knives from their value line which are made in China. Of these Chinese-made knives I have the quite large ‘Persistence’ and the smaller ‘Tenacious’ and I find both of them to be really rather good and usually recommend them as ‘value buys’ to someone who doesn’t want to spend over $100 on a knife. I find all the Spyderco knives to be well packaged, sharp from the factory and irrespective of locking mechanism used to lock up tight with no play or wobble.
The PM2 is visually a beautiful knife but more than that it is a knife that just feel right in the hand. At least for my hands the ergonomics were just perfect.
Marketed as a mid sized EDC I think with an overall length of 4.8″ (a 3.4″ blade) and a weight of just 3.75 oz it to be just about the perfect size for carrying in a pair of jeans and isn’t out of place in chinos or dress slacks.
I am a real picky person when it comes to fit and finish and I’m happy to say that in the case of this PM2 I was totally satisfied – it was perfect out of the box and, yes, it arrived really very sharp.
The PM2 blade is made out of one of the newer super steels – S30V – which is an excellent material that stays sharp, is rust resistant and isn’t too hard to sharpen. Blade shape is the classic Spyderco drop point. A very comfortable choil and thumb jimping makes the knife feel really at home in my hand.
Opening and closing the PM2 is easy and fast – almost as fast as an assisted opening – and the oversized, 14mm, Spyder hole allows for this to be done with gloves on. Locking up is super tight and achieved by way of a compression lock.
If there is a downside to this knife it isn’t apparent to me – if I really had to think of something to complain about then I’d say that the blade point might be a little thin for some applications but, really, I’d be stretching to say that and what I’d really be saying is that the knife isn’t suitable to be used as a pry bar.
For any cutting, slicing and, yes, defensive or tactical needs you’re likely to throw the way of your EDC the PM2 has to be considered amongst your shortlist of knives There is a lot of hype around this knife and quite often it isn’t in stock anywhere but in the case of this knife I think the hype and popularity to be fully justified. A cautionary note though – please be aware the popularity of this particular Spyderco knife leads to a preponderance of fakes and counterfeits on Ebay and Amazon so do be careful and buy from reputable dealers ( I got ripped off very recently from a company out of Florida that sold me a second PM2 via Amazon and which, when arrived, was revealed to be a pure fake !).
Note – Fake Knives Abound. Fake with cheap liner lock on the right
The Benchmade Barrage 580 Axis Assist is actually the Fourth one I’ve owned. My original is now retired and sits in the glove box of one of the pickup for emergency use, another other is used by my wife who appreciates the one hand opening and the third is my alternate EDC to the PM2. Number 4 is a collector that I like to take out and play with now and again.
Introduced at SHOT in 2009 the first thing that came to my mind when I saw the 580 was ‘classy’ – this is a knife that to my eye at least exudes taste and refinement.
The 580 blade is made out of the very good 154CM steel which, while arguably not as good as the S30V used in the PM2 is nevertheless a very, very good material. Measuring 3.6″ the blade style is a modified drop point. There is no jimping on this model.
The blade handle is made out of a lightweight nylon like substance called Valox which looks nice but, honestly, feels a little bit cheap if I have to be really picky.
Blade deployment of the 580 is where this knife really shines – wickedly fast and snaps into place with a quite audible ‘click’. The lock up turns this knife into basically a fixed blade so strong is the Axis mechanism. While blade deployment is impressive ( or scary if you are afraid of such things ) closing it takes some practice – it isn’t difficult but needs practice to make one-handed closure perfectly smooth. For a while I almost exclusively carried the 580 model and found it to be at equally at home in the pocket of a pair of jeans, 5.11 Tactical pants and the trousers of a suit ( yes, a suit – one of those things usually associated with ties and well polished shoes ). To prevent any ‘accidental discharge’ there is a safety on top of the spacer that can be employed by those concerned about such things
Which do I prefer ? It’s a real tough question as both of these knives are excellent but they are quite different. The PM2 is classic Spyderco and is thought by many to be the ultimate all-round EDC whereas the 580 while a bit longer and heavier seems a bit more delicate but we have put our 580’s to the test here on the farm and they are pretty capable at everything we have asked them to do. Cutting, slicing and stabbing tasks have all been carried out without a hitch.
Deployment of the 580 is unbeatable but it isn’t really discrete and it does take up a wee bit more pocket space than the PM2 though the smooth nylon handle is likely easier on material than the grippier G10 of the Spyderco. Both would make short work of any everyday task though maybe the PM2 would be better as a weapon if you had to use either as a defensive tool. At the end of the piece if I absolutely had to choose I think when it comes to a ‘going out’ EDC that the PM2 gets the nod by a hairs breadth. Thankfully I own both so I can pick according to my mood !
Next time I’ll take a look at the two folders most carried when I’m here at home – the Spyderco Manix 2 XL and the Zero Tolerance 0200