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.
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.
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.
The factory edge on this knife virtually jumps through ripe tomatoes. And with Benchmade's "LifeSharp" program, they'll tune it up as often as you want and as long as you own it.
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.
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.
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.
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 all sorts of damage. The lock works reliabl
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.
The pocket clip of the Mini Barrage in action. It comes from the factory equipped for right pocket carry and right handed deployment, but it can be configured for the opposite side as well.
None to note.
The Benchmade Mini-Barrage is almost overkill for fishing usage. However, if you carry a knife for every day carry anyway, why not one that will slice almost effortlessly?
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 from Benchmade as a company. They stand behind their knives and will sharpen your Mini-Barrage 585 for a small fee whenever you want.
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
- Cost - $115.00 ($30 less than the 585)
- Blade length - 3.45" (.55 inches longer than the 585)
Mini-Barrage 585, Half Serrated
- comes in a plain edge and a half serrated edge
- Cost - $155.00 ($10 more than the 585 plain edge)