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Last Updated: February 2, 2019
2013 and 2014 marked pretty quiet years for Benchmade. Not a whole lot of interesting stuff rolled off their shelves. The Volli was my favorite and has proven itself to be an excellent knife. Beyond that there wasn’t a whole lot to report.
Buy the Benchmade Valet at BladeHQ
Benchmade’s 2015 SHOT Show releases actually looked pretty strong. The 485 Valet was one model that caught my eye. Perhaps most surprising was that the knives became available about a week after the show. Gone are the days of lusting over pre-production tools at SHOT only to find them released sometimes years later. Initially I was going to hold off on acquiring a Valet, but all it took were a couple positive affirmations from Tony regarding his knife and I had a Valet en-route to my office.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The Valet has an overall length of 6.69″, a 2.96″ blade, and it weighs 2.18 ounces. The knife compares favorably to the Benchmade Mini Griptilian although it’s much sleeker. The low profile handle and spear point blade were innately appealing. This is a slim every day carry (EDC) piece that easily doubles as a gentleman’s folder with a more modern flair.
The Valet’s packs plenty of cutting edge, a high flat grind, and a sturdy tip all into a sub 3″ blade. The blade is ground thin and it almost cuts like classic slip joint (not a bad thing). I had no trouble zipping through boxes, bags, and all the little stuff that comes across my path. Everything from sliding between the folds of an envelope free a cable bill to de-boning chicken thighs for a stir fry.
Benchmade went with Bohler M390 stainless steel for the Valet. I have been putting M390 through its paces between this Valet and my ZT 0620. Heat treated to 60-62HRc, M390 is a super steel with superior edge holding abilities, yet it is still easy to maintain. I have been putting the Valet through it’s paces, and I’ve been happy with the results. I sliced up a big stack of cardboard in an informal “cut test” and managed to wear the edge down a bit after a while. I ended up sharpening the knife on the fine stones of my Sharpmaker. After just a few passes I could tell the edge was coming back, and I was able to quickly restore the edge to hair shaving, paper slicing performance. M390 is also very corrosion resistant.
M390 is apparently very expensive (on a podcast Tony and I determined that it appears to sell for 3x as much as a more normal steel). Given the option I would have selected a S30V or 154CM version if it meant a substantial reduction in purchase price, but I appreciate that Benchmade is interested in offering a premium product.
Handle, Ergonomics, and Pocket Clip
The Valet has a sleek gray handle with smooth G10 over milled out stainless steel liners, and a gray G10 backspacer. Handle construction is typical Benchmade quality. The G10 is contoured (3D machined) has been nicely finished. The steel liners are flush, and the backspacer sits solidly in the middle. I like the gray. It’s different, but nothing crazy. This isn’t a big handle, but it’s well made.
The Valet is a small knife and it feels like a small knife. I’m able to get a full grip on it, but there isn’t much room beyond that. It’s perfectly fine for little EDC tasks. There is no jimping, or much in the way of notable ergonomic features. The little knife sits in your hand well enough, and is more than adequate for normal use. I did not find the smooth G10 to be “slippery” and did not have any issues using the knife normally.
The pocket clip is a nice stainless steel deep carry clip. It buries almost completely into the pocket and is discrete. The handle is drilled and tapped for ambidextrous tip up carry. I like this clip and I think it works well.
The Valet also carries really well. At under 3 ounces and you quickly forget the knife is in your pocket. Perfect as either a discrete primary EDC or a lightweight backup knife.
Deployment and Lockup
This is an axis lock knife, with thumb studs. Usually, that would be all I need to hear, but I am concerned that this time Benchmade may have tried to do too much with too little. The positioning of the thumb studs and axis lock feels cramped. The axis lock is smaller than on other axis lock knives, and the thumb studs sit very close to the handle. The knife looks cool, and it certainly works, but it isn’t the most comfortable knife to open and close repeatedly. I’ll be curious to see if anyone shares that opinion with me.
Lockup on my knife is good. Out of the box there was a tiny bit of horizontal blade play, and a little more developed after a month of use. Pretty much all of my axis lock knives have a little play in them unless I tear them down and loctite the pivot. I know some people aren’t fans of the axis lock (too many moving parts and small springs to break), but I have always liked them. This one is smaller than I’m used to, but it still works.
Benchmade Valet Review – Final Thoughts
I am a little divided on the Valet. On one hand, it is a really slick little folder. I have been getting more and more into gents folders for daily carry, and visually this one ticks a lot of boxes for me. I like the smooth G10 handles, and the thin flat grind and spearpoint blade are excellent. My knife came well finished, and I didn’t run into any major QC issues that some folks have reported on first run Benchmades.
But a couple things turn me off on the Valet. The fiddly “landing gear” (small thumb studs placed very close to the knife and small axis lock) is my biggest concern. I would not recommend this knife for people with larger hands. I’m not Andre the Giant, but the position of the lock and thumb studs seems too tight for repeated use (or the mindless flicking open and closed of pocket knives while watching TV). Certainly this could be a “Your Mileage May Vary” thing. This is a beautiful knife, but I think BM leaned a little into far into “form over function” territory on this one.
I also think the price is also worth mentioning. $170 is a large sum for a small knife. I would have loved to see the Valet on the tail end of $150, and not on the tail end of $200. I realize that M390 is expensive material, and I think that folks who really appreciate a premium steel will have an easier time justifying the cost. Personally, I am not convinced this steel is worth the extra money.
But I don’t mean to end this review on a down note. The Valet potentially has a lot to offer. If it fits your hand well then there is little left to complain about. The Mini Griptilian is still my go to small Benchmade, but the Valet could be a worthy upgrade if it fits your hand and budget.
- HIGH-QUALITY: The M390 premium stainless steel blade offers exceptional cutting ability, wear resistance, and corrosion resistance. The G10 handle is durable, impervious to moisture, and stable under extreme temperatures.
- WELL-DESIGNED: Benchmade's AXIS lock is exceptionally strong and fully ambidextrous. The 485 is a manual knife that can be opened and closed with one hand.
- COMFORTABLE: The 485's lightweight design and contoured handle make it comfortable to hold and use. The reversible pocket clip offers ultimate accessibility.
- VERSATILE: The Valet 485's drop-point, utility blade style and all-around functionality make it ideal for everyday carry and use.
I recommend purchasing the Valet at Amazon and BladeHQ. Please consider that purchasing anything through any of the links on this website helps support BladeReviews.com, and keeps the site going. As always, any and all support is greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.
Another great review. I always look forward to the email notification that there is a new read available.
I got my buddy into knives recently, and he started with Spyderco (because I am a good friend, ha) and was happy with them. I brought my 707 on day to give my PM2 a break and he fell in love with the Axis, a lock I don’t care for. He ordered this knife and I handled it quite a bit, but I couldn’t get comfortable with it, and I could figure out why. Slick little piece that is undeniably attractive and a nice slicer, but…
That being said, you nailed it man. The axis and thumb studs are awkward and not as natural feeling as on some other knives. Thanks for clearing that up for me, and as always thanks for taking the time to give is excellent reading material.
My pleasure – writing the reviews and working on the site has always been fun for me (and a good excuse to check out new knives). Glad this was helpful and seems to coincide with my concerns that the knife is too small and tightly laid out to work comfortably. It’s a shame really because I really like other aspects of the Valet.
Judas D'Winter says
Thank you for the review on this one. I was on the fence with this model and the primary reason was i felt it might be to small for me. You confirmed it!
You are very welcome! I wish it wasn’t so, but I think this knife is too small. Well, the placement of the axis lock and thumb studs at least. Unfortunate.
Earl Sweatpants says
Benchmade makes one heck of a knife, no argument there. However this model looks kind of similar to a lot of other Benchmades I’ve seen. This blade looks a lot like my Mel Pardue folder, as a matter of fact. So acknowledging that Benchmade has been a tad “tried and true” lately is spot-on.
I’m always a little wary of the newest “super steels” too, as there’s always a “new” one popping up every few years at which point the previous super steel drops in price significantly. While I’m sure this is a terrific knife, IMO it seems like one that’ll be an $80 knife a few years from now when the next big new thing comes along.
Thanks for stopping by, Earl. Always a pleasure. Yes this knife borrows from many of the tropes of classic knife design. Not a bad thing in my opinion, it is a handsome little blade and I don’t mind another spear point folder necessarily.
I agree on the super steel comment.
I’ve had the Valet for a few weeks now and have found it to be great knife. While I expected it to be a smaller knife when I ordered it I was shocked when I opened the Benchmade pouch and saw just how small it is. That being said, with blade:handle being relatively close it doesn’t seem like I’m sacrificing much by using a knife of its diminutive size. I quickly got over the fact that this knife is devoid of any jimping but I still have mixed feelings about the cut-out for the thumb studs. They definitely serve the purpose of allowing easy access at the thumb studs but I feel the cut-out could have been less abrupt providing a more comfortable grip. This, however, would give it more of a tactical feel than a gentleman’s folder feel…
It is great to hear from someone else who has been using the knife. Glad you are enjoying yours.
I’ve had this knife for a couple months now and really like carrying it. I have medium hands so haven’t had any issue with opening it either with the thumb stud or simply pulling back on the Axis lock stud and flick it–works very well. The blade is really holding an edge, without needing re-sharpening so far (I did use a strop first thing on getting the knife). And it carries very discretely with the deep pocket clip. I’m very happy with this one and carry it more than any of my other knifes since getting it.
Thanks for stopping by. Glad you like your Valet and didn’t run into the hand issues that I had (which were pretty nit-picky, but I wanted to disclose them). It’s really a slick little knife and I agree that the M390 blade is just awesome. Holds an excellent edge.
Enjoy yours in good health!
As a note, many people forego the thumb stud. Instead, pulling back on the axis and flicking it open. Same for close. How does the Valet work in this regard, for its size.
This method works and I have used it with good success. Thanks for the question.
Bud Widdowson says
Great review and spot on comments. I have carried my 485S now for about a week. For me it is a keeper. I usually carry a larger knife but some days this is all I need. I love the size and feel of this knife. However I agree that it is a little bit difficult to deploy. I think the chamfering on the handle edge should be complete and not stop just before the thumb stud indent. This little “point” of material between the chamfered edge and the stud cutout are all that is keeping me from getting a good purchase on the blade. Also, I can appreciate that this blade steel is pricey, but I would be much happier with a more affordable steel and paying about $50 less for this little knife. For me it is ALMOST a perfect alternative to my usual 940S-1 EDC.
Thank you. Glad you are enjoying your 485 and that it’s a keeper. I think we see eye to eye on this one. Slightly easier access to the thumb studs and a cheaper (but still serviceable) steel like 154CM would make this even better in my book. Take care.
In your verdict you expected the Valet to be sub 150. But this price seems to be a taste of things to come. The new minigrips are out with G10 and cpm 20cv blades for the same price. Owning a minigrip there was nothing about the handle that i liked. I have been eyeing the north fork knife as well. So when I came across the Shinola wood handle Valet I was sold.
Yeah, these Benchmades are pricey, and the prices only seem to rise. I have a full size G-10 Grip and for whatever reason I felt like that knife, while still expensive, seemed to be worth the price with it’s beautiful sculpted handles and nested liners. The Valet is more of a slab built knife, with less bells and whistles, so I’d still like to see it under $150. But that’s just my opinion. The Valet is still a great little knife.