Our testing team loves almost everything about the Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585. A standout even among the other high-quality options in our best pocket knife review, its dimensions and features strike a balance that we all could appreciate. It slides virtually unnoticed in the owner's pocket but provides ergonomic support for the user to apply plentiful pressure to the blade. Testers loved the assisted-opening blade, brilliantly positioned pocket clip, and smooth, intuitive blade lock. The Mini-Barrage is well suited to the discerning backcountry user who will carry and keep track of this high-quality, expensive piece of equipment. Those who appreciate quality will be pleased with a lifetime of service from the tool and Benchmade as a company. They stand behind their knives and will sharpen your Mini-Barrage 585 for a small fee whenever you want. We have tested this knife continuously for five years and can report that our assessments still hold.Editor's Note: We updated this review for Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585 on August 25, 2022, with additional data from our in-depth testing, a closer look at value versus performance, and suggestions for other comparable products that may better suit your needs and budget.
Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585 Review
Cons: Pricey, blade lock mechanism not intuitive
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|Pros||Incredible blade quality, assisted open, perfect combination of compactness/functionality||Light, simple, well-made, full size blade, full-function||Excellent blade quality, solid construction, great grip design||Beautifully constructed, assisted open, good value||Small, portable, well-constructed|
|Cons||Pricey, blade lock mechanism not intuitive||Expensive, low profile handle, flexy plastic construction||Heavy and bulky, assisted opening requires some force||Slender handle makes it hard to apply even pressure, thin blade is fragile||Not made for heavy-duty use|
|Bottom Line||Immaculately constructed knife in a form-factor that is easy to carry and large enough for virtually every task||For a full-function, full-size pocket knife, this is as light as it gets, and is the premier option for all sorts of human-powered adventures||This top performer has a large blade and ergonomic handle for big cutting jobs and all-day use||A slender, svelte pocket knife with great materials and a reasonable value||A tiny, multi-function pocket knife|
|Rating Categories||Benchmade Mini-Barr...||Benchmade 535 Bugout||Kershaw Link||Kershaw Leek||Victorinox Classic...|
|Blade and Edge Integrity (30%)|
|Construction Quality (20%)|
|Other Features (10%)|
|Specs||Benchmade Mini-Barr...||Benchmade 535 Bugout||Kershaw Link||Kershaw Leek||Victorinox Classic...|
|Weight||3.4 oz||1.9 oz||4.7 oz||3.1 oz||0.8 oz|
|Blade Length||2.8 in||3.0 in||3.2 in||2.9 in||1.4 in|
|Blade Material||154CM stainless steel||S30V stainless steel||CPM 20CV steel||Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel||Proprietary Stainless (between 440A and 420)|
|Handle Material||Plastic||Grivory||Anodized aluminum||410 stainless steel||Plastic|
|Blade Style||Drop point, straight||Drop point, straight||Drop point, straight||Drop point, straight||Drop point, straight|
|Blade locks closed?||Yes||No||No||Yes||No|
|Opening Style||Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud||Ambidextrous thumb stud||Assisted, flipper||Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud; back-of-knife finger tab||Fingernail|
|Lock Mechanism||Proprietary (Axis)||Proprietary (Axis)||Liner lock||Frame lock||None|
|Carry Style||Pocket clip and lanyard hole||Pocket clip and lanyard hole||Pocket clip, Lanyard hole||Pocket clip and lanyard hole||Keyring|
|Closed Length||4.0 in||4.2 in||4.4 in||4.0 in||2.3 in|
|Overall Length||6.9 in||7.4 in||7.6 in||7.0 in||3.8 in|
|Thickness (w/o pocket clip)||0.6 in||0.4 in||0.5 in||0.3 in||0.4 in|
|Other Features or Functions||Lanyard hole, modular clip||None||Lanyard hole, modular clip||None||Scissors, nail file, small screwdriver, tweezers, toothpick, key ring|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Benchmade Mini-Barrage, as the name suggests, is indeed a little smaller than a standard, "full size" pocket knife. However, our testers agree that it strikes the perfect balance of compact carriage and ergonomic structure. The Benchmade brand makes excellent blades and has for a long time. Like many assisted opening knives, the blade can also be locked closed. There's a learning curve to properly engaging and applying the mechanism that locks the blade closed. This product is also a sizable investment. To realize the value of this high-tech tool, we recommend treating it like any piece of technical camping equipment. Don't lose it.
Blade and Edge Integrity
While it's true that all modern pocket knives come with adequate steel, we must note that the metal and construction of the Mini-Barrage blade is above par. Benchmade puts lots of care into every design. The blade arrives polished to a sheen. The experience of cutting with a brand new (or newly factory-reconditioned) Benchmade Mini borders on sensual.
The edge and sides of the blade seem to propel themselves through delicate and durable tasks alike. Never in our half-decade of testing, whether cutting soft and corrosive things like tomatoes or robust and inert items like sun-faded climbing rope, did the Mini-Barrage blade show a single sign of weakness. The blade is just the right length to whittle on a stick or slice through a block of cheddar.
The blade's "depth" lends stability and confidence in extended usage and heavier tasks. It is a little "beefier" than your typical pocket knife of these dimensions. We like the deeper blade. We also like the steel options.
It comes with either 154CM (as we tested it) or the more expensive S30V blade steel. We've used other Benchmade knives with their S30V blade and can vouch for it. That being said, our testing with the "lesser" steel for a long time now yields no complaints from our team.
Each knife we reviewed fell somewhere between good ergonomics and portability. In short, smaller knives are more portable, while we've found that larger knives (to a point) are more useful in hand. Each of our testers found that the Mini-Barrage 585 struck the perfect balance for every day, pocket-clipped usage. It isn't the smallest, nor is it the largest. The rounded, elongated-in-profile handle fills a clenched fist and sturdily delivers force to the blade's leading edge. Gentle curves on the handle leave no major pressure points to the user.
While Benchmade uses flashy and reliable materials and equips the Mini-Barrage with a smooth-operating assisted opening function, the pocket clip's location and modular design stand out. The Mini-Barrage can be configured for left or right pocket carry. When stored and clipped to the edge of a pants pocket, you can pull the knife out and the blade deployed in one smooth motion.
While self-defense types will look to this feature as a safety benefit, the actual benefit is purely pedestrian usage. Trust us when we say you will use the knife far more often when you fully embrace the convenience of this simple design subtlety. Some others take this modular pocket clip feature a step further, offering left and right-hand options as well as "tip up" or "tip down" pocket carry, depending on which set of holes you screw the pocket clip into. We've found the options on the Benchmade Mini Barrage to cover the utility most need and wish for.
Finally, the Mini-Barrage's assisted opening function works intuitively while the locks (locking the blade both open and closed) function smoothly and reliably. There is an initial learning curve to disengaging the lock that holds the blade closed. Thankfully, if you don't need that feature, you can leave it unlocked without inconvenience. Most of the assisted opening knives we have tested have locking blades.
Like its performance in the Ergonomics category, nothing about the Mini-Barrage's portability stands out. It isn't the smallest or lightest knife in our test. It is far from the thinnest. However, it seems to strike the perfect balance of size and function.
If you carry a smartphone in one front pants pocket, a small set of keys and Mini-Barrage in the other will balance out your stance and equip you for anything a day out and about might require. Unlike the other scoring metrics, other products have clear advantages over the Mini-Barrage.
For ultimate portability, whether your pocket space is cluttered or you don't justify carrying around a full-size pocket knife, other options are much much smaller. Some of these smaller knives have more features for day-to-day use.
The best-designed equipment comes out of the package ready to use and never again prompts another thought about its construction or durability. With assisted-opening springs, dual thumb studs for blade opening, Benchmade's proprietary Axis blade lock mechanism, and a tab for locking the blade closed, the Mini-Barrage solves some potential failure or annoyance points in a small package. The miniaturized machinery proves to be durable and reliable. In none of our testing have we had any trouble with the performance of any of the Mini-Barrage's features.
Indeed, the other Benchmade knives in our test offer competitive construction quality. What we find notable about the Benchmade products is that they manage to be strong and durable without feeling heavy.
The Mini-Barrage is a simple knife. The blade is the feature; nothing else is necessary. But adding to the value of any Benchmade knife, the company offers their generous and industry-leading "LifeSharp" service to all knife owners for a very affordable fee. Just return your knife whenever you wish. It will be returned to you sharpened and polished to like-new condition.
Should You Buy the Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585?
The Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585 is an excellent, precision-crafted piece of equipment. Although expensive, those willing to make the initial investment will not be disappointed. We are betting that the Mini-Barrage will serve most consumers very well, especially if those consumers take advantage of the possible customizations Benchmade enables and keep up with regular maintenance. We heartily recommend this knife.
What Other Pocket Knives Should You Consider?
While the Mini-Barrage is our top-scoring product, others do come close. In a close-scoring field like this, one of the other top-scoring products may likely be a little better for you. The value and performance of the Kershaw Leek is unsurpassed and well worth your consideration. Specialty knives like the Petzl Spatha will appeal to backpackers and climbers alike – especially those shopping on a dirt-bag budget.
— Jediah Porter
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