The definition of a switchblade or automatic knife is a folding knife that is spring activated and deployed by a button or lever located on the handle. An assisted knife has the same spring or torsion bar but does not deploy by a button on the handle but rather a thumb-stud or flipper located on the blade. That is the loophole that allows the assisted knives to be legal... Activation from blade and not the handle. From my experience my assisted knives deploy just as fast if not faster than an automatic knife.
So after clearing that up I finally get to my question. Recently Benchmade has released a new knife for 2009 called the Benchmade Barrage. This is their first Assisted Axis lock knife. I absolutely love this knife and have bought two of them. After carrying the Barrage for a couple of days I noticed that I could deploy the blade by holding the Axis Lock back and flicking the knife in a downward motion. By my calculations even though it is marketed as an assisted opening knife because the proper way to deploy the blade it through the thumb-stud, I think that it could be considered an automatic. By pulling back on the Axis Lock you are activating something on the handle and that is the exact definition of an automatic.
What are your thoughts? Is it really safe to carry the Barrage because if the courts get ahold of this they will run with it.
I don't think they should pull it from the production line either... I love the Barrage it is one of my favorite BM.
You made a good point about being able to open most assisted knives by a flick of the wrist... but that is without activating something on the handle. My point was the activation of the axis lock on the handle is the problem. Either way you are right that eventually all assisted knives will be illegal. I don't look forward to that day.
I think you are worrying too much, for this to be an issue you have to use the knife Outside of the way the directions tell you to operate it.
first of all for someone to reach that conclusion they would have to understand that you are operating the knife out of specification and then replicate that, not likely to happen because if it is ever taken from you police to do not generally play with evidence.
Could become an issue? Of course it could but the likelihood is slim to none.
Very interesting and thought-provoking topic, Keelen! I actually own two of the Barrage knives; a full size and a mini. I really like these designs. After reading your description on deployment, I figured that I'd give it a try. I was, of course, able to deploy the blade the same way. So lets get to the issue of whether or not these knives really are "automatics". As an owner of several Benchmade knives, I can actually deploy every single Axis-lock knife the same way as you deploy the Barrage. This, actually, is a long-established deployment "trick" that old-school Axis fans have used for a long time. It also works on the SOG Vulcan and Cold Steel's Recon-1 folders. It is also worth noting that I can deploy the manual Axis knives this way just as fast as I can the Barrage. Now for the difference between this method and a true automatic. I have experience with automatic knives. True automatic knives deploy by just pushing a button. You don't have to "push the button" AND add motion with your arm, wrist or hand. Old-time stiletto fans know this as well. No matter how open-ended someone's interpretation of the existing legal definition, there really is a very simple, very factual and very obvious difference between the knife designs. If we set aside the Axis-flip style of deployment for a minute and really look at the engineering of the Barrage design and the deployment function of the "assist", we'll see that you have to open the blade, with the thumb-stud, to roughly 30 degrees before the assisted-opening function actually engages. Additionally, the same mechanism pushes the blade closed when inside that 30 degrees.
The aspect of a knife opening by gravity and/or centrifugal force is also considered to be within the definition of a switchblade/automatic knife. As such, any knife that can be manipulated by its owner in such a manner, as to utilize gravity or centrifugal force, and does so in the presence of another, would have their knife considered to be a prohibited/illegal weapon by Law Enforcement Agencies. It makes no difference whether the knife has a spring/torsion bar release or activator within the handle, or simply has a thumb stud/plate, or a nail nick. If the action of or around the pivot screw is loose enough, and it can be deployed through centrifugal force with a flick or jerking motion, then it could be considered as a switchblade/automatic knife under the various statutes of most Western Countries.
btw The Hawk Lock featured on some Kershaw and Zero Tolerance models can be manipulated in the same manner as the Arc Lock, Axis lock, and Ultra lock from other knife manufacturers.
The Switchblade law is an outdated piece of legislation passed long after it's relevance by politicians whose good intention was birthed in shortsighted thinking and from a misguided understanding of human nature. It is a law that needs to be completely repealed. Why? Well, just like any potentially dangerous item, a switchblade is an inanimate object. The problem isn't the switchblade, it's the person wielding it. Switchblades can be used by very good people to do helpful and productive things. They can also be used by criminals for acts that are detrimental to the good people of society. Merely "getting rid" of switchblades accomplishes NOTHING GOOD. Absolutely nothing.
The problem with any law is that it only "works" if people obey it. The danger in society isn't from law-abiding citizens; it is from criminals. Criminals, by nature, have an abject disregard for laws. They are a danger to law-abiding citizens and disarming law-abiding citizens only further empowers criminals. So...getting rid of items that are commonly thought of as weapons doesn't disarm the criminal element because they will always have and use weapons. Get rid of switchblades and the criminals will still have them. Even if the criminals didn't have switchblades, they'd have something else. Law-abiding citizens MUST BE ARMED. That is the only way to keep the criminal element "in check"...since it is PAINFULLY OBVIOUS that the government is abysmally ineffective at controlling criminals.
There are good people and there are bad people. It has been this way since the beginning and laws will NOT change that reality. Perhaps the challenge to the good people of the knife-using community isn't to try to convince legal bureaucrats within the government to not see an assisted-opening knife as something different from a switchblade. Perhaps the challenge is to get those same foolish bureaucrats to understand that disarming good people only serves to make bad people MORE POWERFUL. Perhaps what the knife community really needs to do is...to GET THE SWITCHBLADE LAW REPEALED!
As an aside...albeit an important "aside", it is completely unhealthy for a society's populace to be disarmed by the government...for the population of any government consists of dominantly ambitious people. And like the common populace of society, within the government are both good AND bad people. The bad people within government certainly seek to take as much freedom and power away from the common free-person as possible. By doing so, they further empower themselves...and ultimate power is a temptation too strong for any mortal.
Legal here to have full auto or assist, but I don't buy into the whole good/bad people thing sorry. We all have both inside us. We all have the ability to control what comes out. A knife is a tool, I have screwdrivers that are more dangerous. Hell we can all move to NYC and protect ourselves with toothpicks and popsicle sticks! Who's with me!?