Everyday Carry

Benchmade 485 Valet Review

Bernard Capulong

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Benchmade Knives can be found in the pockets and collections of those new to EDC and blade enthusiasts alike for their thoughtful designs, build quality, and cutting edge technology at many price points. They’ve been making specialist and everyday carry-friendly pocket knives for decades and are often quick to come up in discussions of the best EDC knife companies to consider. We were excited to see their new 485 Valet, a sub-3” slim folder with M390 supersteel and Benchmade's signature AXIS lock, so we reached out to the company. Benchmade was generous enough to send us a sample of this highly EDCable folder to review for you. It certainly has the makings of an ideal everyday knife on paper, but how does it fare for daily use?

The Specs

Blade Length: 2.96 in.

Closed Length: 3.73 in.

Steel: M390

Handle Material: Contoured Grey G10

Weight: 2.18 oz.

Design, Fit & Finish

At just 6.69 inches open, the 485 Valet is not a large knife by any means. But design cues like its smooth lines, contoured G10 handles, drop point blade, and almost disproportionately thin 20mm width create the illusion of a much longer knife.

In reality, the 485’s size puts it easily into an ideal EDC range. Better yet, the cool grey handles with a woodgrain-esque texture make it well-suited as a gentleman’s knife too. Its slim profile caught my attention the most. It comes in even more compact than another popular small AXIS lock folder, the 556 Mini-Griptilian, while offering an uncommon M390 steel.

Left-handed EDCers would also appreciate the ambidextrous thumb studs, reversible tip-up deep pocket clip, and of course, the AXIS lock. Other than the ribbing on the G10 backspacer, everything on the 485 is sleek and smooth — meaning no jimping on the spine for added grip.

Overall, the fit and finish is up to par on the Valet. Its clean textures and smooth lines do well to represent the intended aesthetic here.

Performance & Operation

Given how smooth and clean the Valet looks and feels, I was sadly disappointed to discover those qualities were missing in actually opening the blade. So much so that it detracts from the pleasure of using the knife in an unavoidable way.

It seems the pivot on the knife is too “sticky.” Other knives simply fly open, while some are better opened with a smooth, controlled glide. The Valet doesn’t glide right out of the box, and in my experience the only way it’ll “fly” is with a considerable amount of force behind the thumb flick.

The thumbstuds here are actually smaller than other Benchmade knives (I used a 940 for comparison when testing) to better fit the proportions of the rest of the knife. When flicking the knife open, a considerable amount of force is required to overcome the pivot friction. Combine the necessary force applied to a small thumbstud and you get an uncomfortable amount of pressure wearing into your thumb each time you want to use your blade.

I tried to adjust for this by lubricating the pivot, which helped to some degree, but I couldn’t get it close to buttery. I tweaked the Torx screw at the pivot a little, but loosening it to where the knife could drop out when disengaging the lock caused an unacceptable amount of blade play. In the end, I settled on resorting to flicking forcefully every time, rather than swinging after pushing down the lock.

For those of you unfamiliar with how the AXIS lock works, there’s a “pin” or “bar” that held in place by spring tension to keep the blade from passively swinging out from between the liners. “Studs” on both ends of the pin extend beyond the handle for ambidextrous operation, using your thumb, index finger, or both. Pushing these studs “down” overcome the spring tension, moving the pin out of the way for the blade to swing out. A second pin stops the blade from overextending.

Like the thumbstud on the blade, the studs on the AXIS lock are also smaller and hard to get a grip on. The spring tension on the lock seems excessively tight as well — using just your thumb to disengage the lock is labored and uncomfortable (my thumbs turn white from the pressure doing this). I got much better results using both my index and my thumb together to evenly pull the AXIS lock down, but it would be nice to be able to do deploy with my thumb alone (without wearing it out).

But once the knife is open, it feels good in hand. I couldn’t find any potentially uncomfortable parts of the knife other than maybe the pocket clip, as the smoothness of the handles really come into play.

Its 2.96” blade gives plenty of cutting edge and usable belly for everyday tasks without feeling unwieldy. The M390 steel, as expected, holds an edge long after repeated use. It’s a tough, corrosion resistant “supersteel” used in surgical instruments. I’d say its this knife’s standout feature.

I mentioned earlier how the Valet’s compact profile was its biggest draw to me, but I realized it’s not its biggest strength. The issue with having such a thin handle was closing the knife especially.

Since there’s very little surface area to grip onto, I worry about my finger tips getting caught in the blade’s path. My hands are not particularly large either, so for EDCers with bigger (and maybe clumsier) hands, this could be problematic, especially considering how unreliably sticky the pivot is. I wouldn’t feel comfortable trying to forcefully shut this blade to overcome the pivot, or even if it’s loose, swinging it by the AXIS lock to get it closed when the handle is so narrow.

Using just your thumb to disengage the lock pulls the bar unevenly, so in most instances you’re better off using two fingers… but often I needed to use my index finger to push the blade in by the spine because the pivot was too sticky. It’s not one of those knives you can enjoy flicking open and closed.

Carry Options

Fortunately, I can say the Valet performs well in the pocket. Its super deep-riding pocket clip makes the most of its small size, such that it benefits its carryability rather than hinders it. The one caveat is that the screws used on the pocket clip are not countersunk, so they protrude quite a bit. They’d often catch on my jeans pocket and the knife would either not sit as deep as it should, or it would wear out the denim. It might not happen to everyone depending on what they’re wearing, but having flush screws would improve how smoothly this knife dips into the pocket even further.

Pros & Cons


  • Premium M390 steel and good blade geometry

  • Extremely deep pocket clip

  • Ideal EDC size/pocket presence


  • Labored, uncomfortable deployment

  • Unforgiving pivot results in either sticky opening or blade play, forcing you to settle for the lesser of two evils

  • Awkward, potentially dangerous ergos when closing the knife

  • Non-countersunk screws on the pocket clip sometimes catch/damage pant fabric


The Valet’s design has many qualities going for it that would tempt many to invest their $170 in this EDC. It’s got a unique steel, sleek aesthetics, and an unobtrusive presence in the pocket making it ideal for EDC. While delivering on fit and finish in the 485, Benchmade uncharacteristically missed the mark in execution of the deployment of the knife. If you don’t typically flick your knife open or often deliberately use two hands/fingers to use your blade, you might enjoy the Valet. For a knife at this pricepoint, I’d think carefully on whether the size and M390 steel can make up for the less than perfect pivot. I really wanted to love this knife, but I just don't think it's going to work between us. 

Maybe it will for you.

BUY ($163)

Disclosure: The manufacturer of this product sent this sample at no charge per our request to be reviewed. It does not, however, affect my opinion of the product.

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Who Likes This (33)

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Discussion (4 total)

Robert David Brewster ·
I bought this knife for myself, being drawn to the sleak design and M390 steel. Ive been carring it for about a two weeks now. First off I noticed the opening to a bit sticky too, not the smooth buttery action I expect from Benchmade. The lock when closing also seemed a bit tight. I figured oil and a little time would fix the issues, but only helped minimally. What I do like is the way this knife feels in my hand and it's really sharp. It remains so after a few weeks of light work. It also sits comfortably in my pocket, I like that alot. I love Benchmade knifes, but was a little disappointed in the 485 Valet. Its still a great, cool knife but if money is an issue I would shop around a bit more before dishing out the $200 dollars for it, especially if your the type of guy who likes to play with his knife, and flip it open again and again like me.
Mike ·
Beautiful knife.
Bruce Satow ·
If I could flip it open easily by holding the lock open and then letting it lock into place, or open it quickly with the thumb stud and then letting the blade fall closed by holding the lock open, then you have a winner, but the way it operates, given the review, make this knife a no buy for me.
Randy Baker ·
If it doesn't snap open authoritatively then I'm out. I'll stick with my trusty Kersaw Ken Onion Leek. It's a bit smaller and far less costly and it's saved my bacon so many times.