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Hands-on Gear Review
Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585 Review
Cons: Expensive. Blade-closed lock mechanism requires a learning curve.
Our testing team loved almost everything about the Benchmade Mini Barrage 585. 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 blade can also be locked closed, which is perhaps the only aspect of the knife that we found to be a bit annoying. There's a learning curve to properly engaging and applying the mechanism that locks the blade closed. As the most expensive knife in our test, it is a sizable investment. To realize the value of this high-tech tool we recommend treating it like a piece of technical equipment. Our testers recommend the Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585 for anyone ready to invest in quality construction and service and then treat this knife like your smartphone or wallet. It'll be just as critical to your daily life, and just as easy to lose.
To compare to other knives that we tested, reference our Best Pocket Knife Review.
RELATED: Our complete review of pocket knives
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
The Benchmade Mini Barrage 585 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.
The Benchmade Mini Barrage 585 was the cream of the crop in our pocket knife test!
Blade and Edge Integrity
While it's true that all modern pocket knives come with adequate steel, it must be noted that the metal and construction of the Mini Barrage blade is above par.
Benchmade puts a great deal of care and work into each and every design. The blade arrives polished to a sheen. The experience of cutting with a brand new (or newly factory reconditioned - see the section on "Value" below for an explanation of Benchmade's LifeSharp program) Benchmade Mini Barrage 585 borders on sensual. The edge and sides of the blade seem to propel themselves through delicate and durable tasks alike. Never in our testing, whether cutting soft and corrosive things like tomatoes or tough 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," somewhat greater than our Best Buy selection Kershaw Leek, lends stability and confidence in extended usage and heavier tasks.
Each knife we reviewed fell somewhere on the spectrum between good ergonomics and portability. In short, smaller knives are more portable while larger knives are more useful in-hand.
Each of our testers found that, for everyday, pocket-clipped usage, the Mini-Barrage 585 struck the perfect balance. It isn't the smallest, nor is it the largest. The handle fills a clenched fist and sturdily delivers force to the blade's leading edge. Gentle curves on the handle leave no pressure points to the user. While Benchmade uses flashy and solid materials, and equips the Mini-Barrage with a smooth-operating assisted opening function, it is the location of the pocket clip and its modular design that really stands out. The Mini-Barrage, just like big cousin Benchmade Griptilian 551, can be configured for left or right pocket carry. When stowed and clipped to the edge of a pants pocket, the knife can be pulled out and the blade deployed in one smooth motion. While self-defense types will look to this feature as a safety benefit, the true benefit is in 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. 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 with no inconvenience.
The best designed equipment comes out of the package ready to use and never again prompts another thought to its construction or durability. The two Benchmade knives in our review easily floated to the the top of the crop in our Construction metric.
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 a number of potential failure 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.
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, again, 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 it, will balance out your stance and equip you for anything a day out and about might require.
None to note.
The Mini Barrage 585 is the most expensive knife in our test. You get what you pay for, but in order to realize that value one must keep track of the knife for a long time and keep up on maintenance. Whether you sharpen it yourself, or employ a professional service, realize that the Mini-Barrage, just like all knives made, requires periodic tuning of the blade edge. No knives, no matter what the manufacturer says, will hold a usable edge indefinitely. Furthering the value of any Benchmade knife, know that they offer their generous and industry leading "LifeSharp" service to all knife owners for a very affordable fee. Simply return your knife whenever you wish. It will be returned to you sharpened and polished to like-new status.
The Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585 is an excellent, precision-crafted piece of useful equipment. Those willing to make the initial investment will not be disappointed. We heartily recommend this knife.
Other Versions and Accessories
Benchmade Griptilian 551
Mini-Barrage 585, Half Serrated
— Jediah Porter
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: September 20, 2016
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