When it comes to selecting a pocket knife, the old moniker “you get what you pay for” often rings true. Stemming from the Barrage Family Series, Benchmade’s Mini Barrage 586 provides a high-quality option for buyers seeking a compact folding pocket knife. Prices range from around $140 to over $200 for this model, depending on material and engraving selections.
Like all Benchmade knives, the Mini Barrage carries a lifetime warranty service that covers manufacturing defects and guarantees free sharpening service for the lifetime of the knife. It can be difficult to sharpen hard, expensive steel correctly, so this sharpening service comes in handy for those who are not comfortable doing it themselves.
Benchmade offers three different handle materials for the 586, and each one comes with a corresponding blade type (in other words, each handle has one blade type and is not customizable):
- Valox, a lightweight plastic resin material that offers the lowest price out of all three options. Because it is a low-cost option, its finish is less luxurious than others’, but failures in the handle material are covered by Benchmade’s manufacturing defect warranty. This option comes with 154CM steel.
- G10, which Benchmade describes as “An extremely durable makeup of layers of fiberglass soaked in resin, then highly compressed and baked.” Because the base layer is fiberglass, it is more durable but more expensive than Valox. It weighs a bit more, but not to the extent of feeling cheap — it gives the knife more control and balance in the hand. This option adds an additional fee to the price of the knife. G10 comes with CPM-S30V steel.
- G10 and Aluminum, which is an additional cost compared to just the G10. The upper half of the handle near the blade is made of aluminum, while the bottom half is G10 — this gives the knife extra durability and control closer to the blade, and results in a rather unique look. Benchmade calls their aluminum “aircraft grade,” but that’s really just a fancy way of saying that it’s some kind of aluminum alloy. This mixture of materials is only available with M390 steel.
Ultimately, handles are not usually the parts of knives that fail — that honor belongs to blades and springs. Nonetheless, more expensive handle materials generally feel better in the hand and provide a longer-lasting, more luxurious finish than cheaper materials. Your choice in handle depends on your particular needs and tastes, so compare the differences yourself to see — and keep in mind that each handle is matched with a blade type.
Like the handle, the blade comes in three different flavors for different situations. The differences are outlined below:
- 154CM (58-61 HRC), which is described as having “well-rounded characteristics including good edge retention, overall toughness, and corrosion resistance.” In other words, it’s a good general-purpose blade and will suit many needs well, but none perfectly.
- M390 (60-62 HRC), another high-quality steel with great corrosion resistance and edge retention. Although it’s a great option for plain-edged blades, it is not offered in a serrated option, so those looking for a serrated blade should choose one of the other two options.
- CPM-S30V (58-60 HRC), which is especially good for outdoor activities like camping, cutting rope, and sharpening other objects.
HRC Refers to the hardness of the blade, with higher values being harder. In general, harder blades hold their edges better and are more durable, but are more difficult to sharpen and are less resistant to blunt-force impact such as being dropped. Benchmade covers sharpening for free, but their warranty does not cover accidental damage, so be careful when handling the blade.
Each blade is available in either a satin or coated finish, depending on tastes. The black-coated option come with an additional fee, and it is a higher-quality coating than that of cheaper knives. It doesn’t flake off or peel, but it can get scratched more visibly than the satin finish, depending on use.
The Mini Barrage dimensions are as follows:
Blade type: Drop point
Blade Finish: satin
Blade Edge: plain
Blade Material: M390
Mechanisms: AXIS Assist with locking mechanism
Handle: G10 with aluminum bolsters
Blade Length: 2.91”
Overall Length: 6.91”
Closed Length: 4”
Total Weight: 3.87 oz
The average width for an adult male hand is 3.3 inches, and an adult female hand is 2.91 inches. This gives both genders, on average, ample grip room to safely hold the handle without intruding on the blade or having fingers hanging off the end. However, people with larger hands may find this blade difficult to handle properly in certain applications — it may be wise to find a four-inch long object and grip it with your hand to get a feel for the handle side.
While the handle is indeed compact, its ergonomic shape and weighting make it more usable than the raw numbers may suggest. It should also be noted that the ability to apply “plentiful pressure to the blade” for situations where additional cutting force is needed. And, indeed, the handle has a rather pronounced groove for the index and middle fingers to rest in while handling the knife, so users with good handling technique should not have issues.
The Benchmade 586 receives universal acclaim from the knife community. The only con is the price and the somewhat annoying mechanism that locks the blade in place when the knife is closed. All-in-all, the blade quality is top-notch, and it holds an edge well. The overall build quality is superb and there is no looseness or ergonomic flaws, save for the thumb ramp being slightly too shallow. The blade seems to be on the heavy side, though this can be either a pro or a con depending on the intended use.
Although they classify it as a tactical blade, its steel and ergonomics make it useful for many everyday situations beyond just self-defense. The knife is great for everything from cutting rope to cutting apples, and it’s superior edge retention ensures that it stays sharp unless it’s rubbed against concrete or something similar. The serrated edge provides additional utility for certain situations, but like all serrated edges, it can be tricky to maintain and care for. That’s certainly a reason that the lifetime sharpening warranty can come in handy.
There have been a few complaints related to small ergonomic nags, which are present on every pocket knife ever released, depending on the user — but overall, Benchmade seems to have found a good balance between size and usability with the Mini Barrage.
Anyone in the market for a compact, high-quality knife would be doing themselves a disservice to not check out the Benchmade 586 Mini Barrage. The selection of blades, handles, and blade finishes is second to none, and the warranty gives peace of mind for such a large purchase. It is important to ensure that the size of the knife is right for your particular needs and applications, so compare with similarly-sized objects or knifes to get a feel for it.
If, in the end, the knife doesn’t meet your needs, Benchmade does offer a return policy — just beware the 20% restocking fee.
- Top-shelf knife sharpness, hardness, and overall quality
- Built like a tank, with a lifetime defects and sharpening warranty
- Unique looks and generally praised weight and proportions
- Unique looks can be divisive
- Some find the ergonomics troublesome, related to the weight or grips
- Expensive, as far as pocket knives in general go