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Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585 Review

Immaculately constructed knife in a form-factor that is easy to carry and large enough for virtually every task
Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585
Photo: Benchmade
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $155 List | Check Price at Amazon
Pros:  Incredible blade quality, assisted open, perfect combination of compactness/functionality
Cons:  Pricey, blade lock mechanism not intuitive
Manufacturer:   Benchmade
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 13, 2021
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 20
  • Blade and Edge Integrity - 30% 9
  • Ergonomics - 20% 8
  • Portability - 20% 7
  • Construction Quality - 20% 9
  • Other Features - 10% 0

Our Verdict

Our testing team loves 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 Mini-Barrage is well suited to the discerning 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 now tested this knife for five years, continuously, and can report that our assessments still hold true.

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Awards Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
Price $155 ListCheck Price at REI
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Pros Incredible blade quality, assisted open, perfect combination of compactness/functionalityLight, simple, well-made, full size blade, full-functionBeautifully constructed, assisted open, good valueSharp looking and cutting, good materials, inexpensiveSerrated blade portion, carabiner carry option, lightweight, good blade steel
Cons Pricey, blade lock mechanism not intuitiveExpensive, low profile handle, flexy plastic constructionSlender handle makes it hard to apply even pressure, thin blade is fragileLess-than-ideal pocket clip orientation, sharp stowed edges wear clothingRudimentary construction, primitive lockback
Bottom Line Immaculately constructed knife in a form-factor that is easy to carry and large enough for virtually every taskFor 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 adventuresA slender, svelte pocket knife with great materials and a reasonable valueA budget knife that leads its price range in performance and downright impressive qualityThe best knife we have tested for rock, ice, and alpine climbing
Rating Categories Benchmade Mini-Barr... Benchmade 535 Bugout Kershaw Leek Sanrenmu 7010 Petzl Spatha
Blade And Edge Integrity (30%)
9.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Ergonomics (20%)
8.0
7.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
Portability (20%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Construction Quality (20%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Other Features (10%)
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
Specs Benchmade Mini-Barr... Benchmade 535 Bugout Kershaw Leek Sanrenmu 7010 Petzl Spatha
Weight (ounces) 3.4 oz 1.9 oz 3.1 oz 3.2 oz 1.5 oz
Blade Style Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Straight Drop Point, hybrid straight/serrated
Blade locks closed? Yes No Yes No No
Opening Style Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud Ambidextrous thumb stud Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud. And back-of-knife finger tab. Ambidextrous Thumb stud Ambidextrous thumb hole, ridged traction ring
Lock Mechanism Proprietary (Axis) Proprietary (Axis) Frame lock Frame lock Lock back
Carry Style, in addition to loose in pocket Pocket Clip and lanyard hole Pocket clip and lanyard hole Pocket Clip and lanyard hole Pocket Clip and lanyard hole Carabiner hole
Blade Material 154CM stainless steel S30V stainless steel Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel 8Cr13MoV stainless steel Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel
Handle Material Plastic Grivory 410 stainless steel Stainless Steel Nylon
Blade Length (inches) 2.8 in 3.0 in 2.9 in 2.7 in 2.7 in
Closed Length (inches) 4.0 in 4.2 in 4.0 in 3.7 in 4.2 in
Overall Length 6.9 in 7.4 in 7.0 in 6.5 in 7.0 in
Thickness (w/o pocket clip) (inches) .6 in .4 in .3 in .4 in .5 in
Other Features or Functions None None None None None

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 a piece of technical equipment. Don't lose it.

Performance Comparison


While the handle is slightly down sized, it still fills a loosely...
While the handle is slightly down sized, it still fills a loosely clenched fist. The contours and size fill the users hand and allow the application of significant pressure.
Photo: Jediah Porter

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 lots of care and work into 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 further explanation of Benchmade's LifeSharp program) 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.

The Mini Barrage is a great pocket companion for all sorts of...
The Mini Barrage is a great pocket companion for all sorts of day-to-day and handy-person tasks.
Photo: Jediah Porter

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 definitely vouch for it. That being said, our testing with the "lesser" steel, for a long time now, yields no complaints from our team.

The factory edge on this knife easily slices through stubborn rope...
The factory edge on this knife easily slices through stubborn rope. And with Benchmade's "LifeSharp" program, they'll tune it up as often as you want and as long as you own it.
Photo: Megan Seel

Ergonomics


Each knife we reviewed fell somewhere on the spectrum 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, for every day, pocket-clipped usage, the Mini-Barrage 585 struck the perfect balance. 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, it is the location of the pocket clip and its modular design that stands out. The Mini-Barrage can be configured for left or right pocket carry. When stored 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 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 that most need and wish for.

A series of photos documenting the assisted opening function of the...
A series of photos documenting the assisted opening function of the Mini Barrage. Note that the spring eventually pulls the blade out ahead of the users thumb. In short, you just need to get it going and the spring does the rest.
Photo: Jediah Porter

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. Most of the assisted opening knives we have tested have locking blades.

This is the exact Benchmade Mini Barrage that we have tested since...
This is the exact Benchmade Mini Barrage that we have tested since 2016. It keeps work well with little wear and no damage shown.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Portability


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 will balance out your stance and equip you for anything a day out and about might require.


Unlike in the other scoring metrics, there are products with clear advantages over the Mini-Barrage. For ultimate portability, whether your pocket space is indeed cluttered or you don't justify carrying around a full-size pocket knife, others are much much smaller. Some of these smaller knives have more features for day-to-day use.

Pocket clipped carry is the best way to keep your knife handy. The...
Pocket clipped carry is the best way to keep your knife handy. The Mini Barrage holds on tight for storage and then deploys quickly and easily.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Construction Quality


The best-designed equipment comes out of the package ready to use and never again prompts another thought to 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.

Detail of the mechanism that locks the knife CLOSED. With an...
Detail of the mechanism that locks the knife CLOSED. With an assisted opening blade, this function is crucial. This way, in a crowded pocket or tousled purse, the knife won't inadvertently come open and inflict damage. The lock works reliably.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Other Features


This model is a simple knife. The blade is the feature, with nothing else.


The Benchmade Mini-Barrage is almost overkill for fishing usage...
The Benchmade Mini-Barrage is almost overkill for fishing usage. However, if you carry a knife for everyday carry anyway, why not one that will slice almost effortlessly?
Photo: Jediah Porter

Value


The Mini-Barrage 585 is expensive. You get what you pay for, but to realize that value one must keep track of the knife for a long time and keep up with 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 knife, 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. Just return your knife whenever you wish. It will be returned to you sharpened and polished to like-new status.
The plastic might get a little scuffed, but a Benchmade blade will...
The plastic might get a little scuffed, but a Benchmade blade will hold up for a long, long time and through many sharpening cycles. Our extensive testing of this very knife backs that up.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Conclusion


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. While the Mini-Barrage is our top-scoring product, others come close. We are betting that the Mini-Barrage will serve most consumers very well, especially if those consumers take advantage of the potential customizations Benchmade enables. However, in a close-scoring field, it is also likely that one of the other top-scoring products may be a little better for you. For this investment, investigate at least a few of our top-scoring knives before you "pull the trigger."

Jediah Porter