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August 27, 2009 Comments (0) Blades & Tools

Benchmade 585 Mini-Barrage Review

MiniBarrage006c

Benchmade’s New Triple Threat!

Let’s jump in and take a look at the new Benchmade 585 Mini-Barragea great tool for just about any venue!


 

 

It’s that moment when you feel your heart skip a beat and it’s when those first couple of beads of sweat start squeezing out of the pores on your forehead.  It’s that little wash of adrenaline–not much mind you–that alerts you something isn’t right.  That’s what I experienced recently when I realized that I hadn’t seen or used the Benchmade Mini-Barrage in a couple of days.  I received a demo unit of the Mini-Barrage a couple of months ago for review, and it quickly became part of my every day carry for handling just about any tasks for which a folding knife is intended.  But, when I realized that I couldn’t find the Mini-Barrage, there was a sense of loss I wouldn’t have expected.  I don’t mean to blow this out of proportion.  I’m not talking along the lines of the loss of a pet, but the loss of a fine working tool that I liked very much and had quickly become a natuaral extension of my hand.  Yes, I have lots and lots of knives.  Usually if I can’t find one, I just grab another to do whatever I need done.  I don’t worry about them actually being gone.  I just figure they’ll turn up at some point.  And, it wasn’t even so much the fact that I thought the Mini-Barrage had disappeared forever either.  It had to be here somewhere.  I just wanted it back in my grubby paws so I could use it!

MiniBarrage003aThankfully, I found it a couple of days ago.  I get boxes with products for review all the time, and there’s always bunches of packing materials and plastic wrap.  It was when I was throwing some of that stuff away that I found it again.  The gods were smiling on me.  Having it back in my hand was like coming home.  With the sculpted and grooved handle slabs, it’s an easy and firm purchase on the grip for whatever chore you’re doing.  It just feels right.  Additionally, it’s also sized just right as well–for a couple of reasons.  First, in West Virginia, folding pocket knives cannot have a blade length exceeding 3.5 inches when carrying in public.  That really limits a lot of folks because there are some great folding knives out there with blades in the 3.5 inch to 4 inch range.  So, from that perspective, the Mini-Barrage is perfect for public carry since it’s blade length is just 2.91 inches.  But, let’s face it, for about 95% of the things you’re going to do with a folding knife (tactical work aside), that blade length is just fine.  The second reason it’s sized just right is for personal preferences.  Recently, I’ve gotten a couple of great folders that are extremely robust tools, but the handle and blade lengths are such that it takes me just a bit longer to get them open when using just one hand.  That’s because I can feel my hand having to shift up the grip slightly to fully complete the opening arc causing to lock the blade in place.

MiniBarrage004aThe size of the Mini-Barrage is perfect for me for one-handed opening because there is no shifting, and because of one other little thing.  The Mini-Barrage is a spring assisted opener, and it’s a doozy!  If you look up the word “barrage” you’ll read definitions like “explosion”, “onslaught”, and “overwhelming force”.  They nailed the name with this one.  Just a quick flick on the thumb stud and the 154CM blade slams open and is good to go.  It blasts open with such authority, I keep waiting for the word balloons we used to see on the old Batman TV show to appear.  You know the ones, “BAM!” and “POW!”.  No kidding.  The 585 Mini-Barrage opens as fast as any automatic knife I’ve seen or used, and once it’s open, it’s locked into place with Benchmade’s proprietary Axis-Assist lock which is held in high regard throughout the industry.  It’s a rock solid mechanism that assures strength and integrity for the entire package during use.

The sub-header for this article calls the Mini-Barrage a Triple Threat.  Tthat description has been used quite a bit by others, and sometimes too loosely when talking about specific products.  That’s not the case here.  I refer to it as a Triple Threat because it easily makes the transition throughout all three aspects of what I would consider daily life.  You’ve got work, casual time at home, and then you’ve got dirt time.  The compact form factor of the Mini-Barrage and its aesthetics makes it a folding knife that you can keep with you at work without unnecessarily worrying the natives.  It’s fairly lightweight and easy to tote around without getting in the way.  The same thing goes for when you’re puttering around the house or garage when you’re more apt to use it anyway.  There are some knives that you have to make a conscious choice to use and carry, and sometimes have to make accommodations for when you’re packing your pockets with other items.  The Mini-Barrage flies in under the radar in that regard, and you just don’t think about it being there until you need it.

MiniBarrage002aAnd, then, you’ve got those rare hours where you can get out into the outdoors to play around and the Mini-Barrage fits into this environment as well as any other folder out there.  In fact, I think the Mini-Barrage can make inroads into a quite a few more outdoors sectors than several folders that are out there.  Because of its smaller size, strong action and locking mechanism, it would be an ideal primary knife for people such as ultra-light packers, mountain bikers, climbers, and others.  These are the groups who will need a quality cutting tool from time to time, but their outdoors activities don’t revolve around using a knife or other cutting tool for the majority of their time.  And, because their particular sports require minimal gear, the Mini-Barrage would fit that niche quite nicely.  With its drop-point style blade, it’s a versatile tool that can hand a good variety of tasks that most of these folks would need done.

Even for those of us that like cutting, chopping, and blazing our way through the wilderness, a folder still has its place out on the trail with us.  Everyone that I know has always has a folder on them (if not three or four) even if they’ve got a large camp/chopping blade on hand.  And, that’s for good reason.  I’m not going to whip out the 13 inch blade Khukri to cut open packages, do fine wood work, and prepare dinner—unless I absolutely have to.  When making a shelter or improvising in other ways, it’s always great to have a smaller blade on hand for cutting cord, notches, or for cleaning and dressing game.  Having the spring assisted mechanism in place is a great bonus, because you can deploy the Benchmade quickly with one hand while keeping hold of your work with the other.

MiniBarrage001aWhether you’re a lefty or a righty, you can configure the 585 either way for tip-up carry in the pocket and the .100 inch thick blade has ambidextrous thumb studs for the opening process.  I like the fact that it has the 154CM blade.  It’s one of my favorite steels since even I can bring somewhat of a decent edge back to it when it’s needed, but it’s still a bit of a premium steel just the same.  The pocket clip is very strong and provides a very secure grip when you’ve got the Mini-Barrage stashed away.  All in all, I would say the usual quality is found in the Mini-Barrage that’s found in other Benchmade Knives.  But, I might go so far as to say that it’s a better blend of features overall than I’ve seen in a while.  Maybe that’s just because of my own personal preferences or needs, but it’s quickly risen to the top of the pile when I’m looking for a blade to take with me just about any place I go.

Over the past two months, I’ve spent time outdoors in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and here in West Virginia.  Just about that whole time, I’ve had the Mini-Barrage with me.  I’ve always got several knives on me at any given time, mainly because I’m usually doing reviews. But out of my own basic rotation of tools, I found that I used the Benchmade Mini-Barrage far more than the others combined.  (I will mention that when it came out of the box, it was put to the shaving test and passed with honors!) Unfortunately, that means I have reduced the razor-sharp cutting edge down to something less than outstanding, but it’s held up very nicely with everything I’ve thrown at it.    As some might tell you about myself, I sometimes use pocket knives in unorthodox ways, and the Mini-Barrage has performed beautifully, and far better than what I should expect.

MiniBarrage005aAside from the normal warranty that takes care of any defect issues for the original owner, Benchmade has their LifeSharp Warranty as well.  For as long as you own the knife, you can send it back in to have Benchmade bring it back to its razor sharp factory edge.  All you have to do is send your knife with $5.00 to pay for shipping.  For someone like me, that’s a great deal!  I am sharpening challenged, so I may lean on Benchmade over the years for my blades if I don’t get my technique down any better than it is right now.  And, for those to whom it matters (myself included), the Mini-Barrage is made in the U.S.A.  The MSRP is $120.00, but we’ve found the Benchmade 585 Mini-Barrage online at reputable sites for under $85.00.  Excellent!  Who says you can’t get a great product for a great price that’s made right here in the states?

Now that I can think clearly, without the adrenaline from my semi-panic mode at the thought of possibly losing the Mini-Barrage, I think I can give a fairly objective opinion about the package overall.  The only negative with the package is not really a problem with the knife itself.  I am a bit leery carrying it into unfamiliar jurisdictions because of its spring assisted one-handed opening feature.  It works so well, it worries me that an uninformed LEO would take it for an automatic knife–which it’s not.  There is no button or switch to deploy the blade which is required for a knife to be considered automatic.  But, there are some LEO’s that aren’t up on all the finer points of the law.  While the vast majority of peace officers out there do a fantastic job and are well-intentioned with their actions, it’s still worth being aware of this possible issue.  With the controversy that’s brewing at the national level over knives that can be opened with one hand, I’ll just say you should be aware of the laws in your area.

The Mini-Barrage is a terrific package given its intended role.  It’s an unobtrusive folder that can be carried just about anywhere without any  “pocket planning” and it has a very robust construction considering it’s smaller size and weight.  With premium materials including the 154CM blade and the functionally positive grip sculpting, you can tell a good deal of thought went into putting this ensemble together.  I am very impressed with it and can see that it will get lots of use and carry time down the road.  No, my life won’t fall to pieces if I ever do happen to lose it in the future.  I’m getting ready to order a backup model now–just in case!

Visit: www.benchmade.com

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