Benchmade Bugout Review: The Lightweight EDC

Last Updated: by Aiden Williams

Benchmade Knife Company has been one of the world’s top knife manufacturers for over four decades. In fact, most Benchmade blades have taken the world by storm, and Benchmade Bugout 535 knife is no exception. Very few knives have made a big splash as this pocket knife in the last decade.

Its arrival in the market in 2017 sent a shockwave throughout the EDC community. With its fantastic blade, deep-pocket carry, and lightweight, Benchmade Bugout knife is an ideal EDC.

This blade can help you out when things turn for the worse. Benchmade Bugout might not fit in hand like most fixed blades, but it can handle numerous quick tasks.

It is a perfect blade for a modern outdoorsman. And it incorporates a sharp blade in an ergonomic and slim handle. This pocket knife can serve as a camping or backpacking knife and even as a weapon, but, I bet you already knew that.

What you might not know is the different features of this knife and what makes it unique.

So, let’s dive into this Benchmade Bugout review…

Our Benchmade Bugout Review

Benchmade - Bugout 535 EDC Manual Open Folding Knife Made in USA, Drop-Point Blade, Plain Edge, Satin Finish, Blue Handle

The Benchmade Bugout Knife is a robust and incredibly lightweight tool that is ideal for everyday carry enthusiasts. Benchmade’s website claims that this unique blade was created for a modern outdoor adventure. It incorporates the lightest and best performing material in a slim ergonomic package.

Benchmade has been making axis knives for years; however, this was the first blade they named Benchmade Bugout. Benchmade Bugout 535 axis knife is the bigger version of the 533BK-1 Mini Bugout.

There are several differences between the Bugout 535 and the mini-Bugout 533BK-1. Bugout 535 comes with a 3.24-inch blade while the 533BK-1 has 2.82 inches long blade.

Bugout 535’s drop-point blade is 0.09 inches thick, and it is made from CPM-S30V steel. Its 3.24-inch blade merges with an ergonomic handle that is made from glass-filled nylon.

For smooth opening and extra safety, the 535 comes with a unique axis locking system. The Benchmade Bugout 535 can be a great addition to anyone’s tackle box, survival kit, everyday carry collection. This pocket knife can handle several tasks, both outdoors and indoors.

Despite its 3.24-inch blade and an open length of about 7.46 inches, this blade is very light. Weighing about 1.86 ounces, Bugout 535 is very easy to carry. Its reversible pocket clip makes it a great pocket knife for left-handed owners. The utilitarian design and lightweight mean that this tool can slice through several objects with ease.

Even though it can cut ingredients when you are out camping, Bugout 535 cannot serve as a kitchen knife. Due to its size, the Bugout 535 is not ideal for hunting trips. Bugout has a slow open and closing mechanism; therefore, it is not an ideal tactical tool.

Features and Benefits

The Blade

One of the main reasons for Bugout 535’s popularity is its blade. With a length of 3.24 inches and a thickness of just 0.09 inches, this blade is perfect for cutting tasks. Its drop-point blade design has a swedge just near the top.

The swedge allows this knife to penetrate any material with minimal effort. The edge of this blade starts with a small flat portion before gradually bending to meet the tip.

This blade is made from CPM-S30V steel. Other than being sturdy, this steel alloy has high edge-retention and corrosion-resistant levels. The CPM-S30V steel is a sturdy material that is relatively easy to sharpen.

S30V might not be as sturdy as K390 or S90V, but it is perfect for this folding pocket blade. After all, most Benchmade Bugout owners rarely use it. S30V is excellent for a blade that will be used to cut ropes, open packages, and cut up apples, among other things.

Even though bugout 535 is a sharp tool, it has a very short blade, which is perfect for a pocket knife. This blade might not have jimping like most modern blades, but it is still effective.

Handle

The Bugout 535 comes with a high-density plastic handle featuring partial steel liners. The primary function of the steel liners is to house the Axis lock’s springs. Bugout’s handle is very thin with fewer scales. The handle thickness is about 0.42 inches.

Typically, the scales of a pocket knife are usually the screws on the metallic liners, but this blade has small liners. Pocket knives with full liners are usually heavy; therefore, the small liners play a crucial role in the overall weight of the knife. However, for a blade that doesn’t do the heavy cutting, the handle is ok.

Bugout has the ergonomics of a full-sized blade. That is because it has a handle of a full-sized knife. It’s handle has a lot of space to grab even for a person with big hands.

The handle’s grivory material is a polyamide-thermoplastic synthetic resin that belongs to the family of nylons. This durable material has excellent heat tolerance, electrical neutrality, and strength. This plastic has tremendous chemical resistance.

Lanyard Hole and Reversible Pocket Clip

Bugout 535 is a folding pocket knife; therefore, it is no surprise that it comes with a decent pocket clip. Benchmade bugout has a short, low-rider clip that looks beautiful. However, it is not the best option for discreet deep pocket carry.

In fact, many users have complained about their pocket knives falling off their pockets. For versatile carrying options, this tool features a lanyard hole. Triangular in shape, the lanyard hole is both weight saving and functional.

Source

Lockup and Deployment

Just like all the folding knives from Benchmade, this blade doesn’t come with a true detent to help keep its blade locked. Instead, bugout 535 relies on its patented Axis Lock. The Axis Locking system is loved by most knife owners, but it has some disadvantages. The two omega springs hold the locking bar up when the blade is opened.

These springs also press the Axis locking bar against its blade when the knife is closed. In theory, this locking system is excellent; however, the springs have a tendency to break up. And if one of them gets damaged, this tool is rendered useless.

The Axis lock is a great invention that is well-designed and easy to use. Bugout 535 can be deployed by pulling the axis locking system and flipping its blade open. Plus, it can be swung open without endangering the user.

Bugout has a strong locking system that features some steel liners and titanium bars pinched between the handle and the blade. Therefore, as long as the springs hold, this locking system can be trusted.

Benchmade Bugout Review Summary

Benchmade bugout is a durable and sharp knife that can slice through most materials. It is one of the lightest folding pocket knives in the market that can serve as a perfect EDC tool. And the good news is that it is straightforward to use and sharpen.

Bugout 535’s axis lock is very reliable, and it locks the blade tightly when in open mode. Bugout comes with a strong 3.24-inch blade that is made from CPM-S30V steel. Its steel blade merges with its grivory handle that is made from glass-filled nylon.

Pros

  • Bugout 535 knife comes with a sharp blade
  • Its steel blade has high edge-retention level
  • High rust-resistant level
  • Easy to use
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to maintain
  • Comes with a reversible pocket clip

Cons

  • It can be too small and light for some people
  • The omega springs holding the lock bar tend to break
  • The handle has fewer scales

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Our Opinion

Despite its unique name “Bugout”, this blade can really help you bug out of worse situations. Bugout 535 is a sturdy knife that comes with a 3.24-inch blade that can slice through several objects. Its sharp pointed tip can pierce through sturdy materials before its blade cuts them.

Even though Bugout cannot handle thick objects or firewood, it is a great EDC blade. Bugout’s blade is made from CPM-S30V steel, which has high corrosion-resistant and edge-retention levels.

For such a sharp knife, the Bugout 535 is a very light tool that weighs about 1.85 ounces. This tool’s thin handle and lightweight plays a crucial role in making it a great EDC knife.

And for easy carry, Benchmade added a reversible pocket clip that works perfectly with both left and right-handed individuals. Thanks to the lanyard hole on this knife, you can attach it to your keys and never have to leave home without it.

Even though many people have complained that its handle has fewer scales, Bugout 535 has a decent grip. The lack of scales is not an issue since this is a pocket knife that handles small tasks. Bugout has a thin and long handle that can fit in anyone’s hand.

Unlike most folding pocket knives that come with long steel liners, this tool has short ones. This plays a crucial role in its total weight. Bugout’s handle is made from glass-filled nylon, which is a durable material with a high heat tolerance level.

Bugout 535 features their patented axis locking mechanism, which is actually loved by many people. This system is straightforward to use and safe. All you have to do is pull the axis lock and flip the blade open without worrying about injuring yourself. In fact, it can hold the blade locked tight when opened and closed.

While the axis lock is reliable, it has numerous drawbacks, and one of the main ones is its massive springs. These springs can lock and open the knife, but they tend to break down easily, which damages the Axis lock. Even though you still can use it without the springs, holding the blade open with your fingers can be dangerous.

Bugout is a small and reliable pocket knife, but for an EDC tool, its blade can be small for some users. So, if you need a big blade, you should look for another model with the same qualities from Benchmade. Bugout 535 has a very short pocket clip, which is not ideal for deep pocket carrying. Therefore, you have to be careful when carrying it, since it can fall off your pockets when you sit down.

 

General User Impressions

According to most reviews, this product is loved by many users, thanks to its lightweight and small size. In fact, some users have branded it “the last everyday carry blade you will ever need”.

Due to its small steel liners, this blade is light, and some people tend to forget that they even have it in their pockets. One of the users with medium-sized hands claimed that he usually wears extra-large gloves when using it. And all his fingers fit perfectly on its handle.

Bugout has a simple opening mechanism, which is very easy to use. Although it doesn’t have the fastest deployment speed in the market, It’s axis lock still stands out. The Axis lock can hold the blade open and closed with ease.

Some users were happy with its corrosion-resistant blade that has a high edge retention level. The blade doesn’t look scary, stabby, or tactical like other knives, so it is perfect for office usage.

Some users complained that this knife was pricey, and they didn’t see the need for paying that much for a light tool. Plus, its handle has fewer scales; therefore, it can get slippery when being used in wet places.

About Benchmade

Benchmade is a renowned American knife producing company that is run by Les and Roberta de Asis. The company produces several types of products, including rescue tools, pens, and knives.

Benchmade began in 1979 as Bali-Song in California. The company changed its name to Pacific Cutlery Corporation in 1988. Benchmade moved to its current premises in Oregon in 1996.

During the early 1980s, this company was known for producing Bali-song-style or butterfly knives. Butterfly knives have been identified with Benchmade Company for years. And the company registered Bali-Song as its logo and trademark.

In fact, their first butterfly blade by Jody Samson won the knife of the year award from Blade magazine in 1979. Benchmade has won over six awards in the last decade alone.

Benchmade has been producing great knives since the 1980s, and some of their products have taken the world by storm. Blades like Bugout 535 became popular with EDC enthusiasts from the first day when it was launched in 2017.

Currently, Benchmade has products for several markets. This includes military, martial arts, EDC, outdoor sporting, law enforcement, and rescue, among others. The fact that they have a blade for everybody is what makes them stand out.

Brand Controversies

Benchmade Company encountered some issues with gun enthusiasts in the United States in 2019. That was after they allowed the police to destroy guns within their facilities.

However, that didn’t go well with the gun enthusiasts who loved Benchmade products. Most of them claimed that Benchmade as a company was against Second Amendment rights.

Therefore, the company had to release a press release stipulating their support for the Second Amendment rights. Benchmade apologized for the confusion and said that they were just helping the Oregon police department.

Benchmade Warranties

Several Benchmade products, especially the high-end knives, come with a lifetime warranty. This means that they will repair and sharpen your blade if it becomes defective and fail under normal usage.

Unfortunately, this warranty doesn’t apply to Benchmade Bugout 535 knives. This warranty guarantees you that their blades can outlive the owners.

The lifetime warranty applies if you purchase their products from authorized suppliers only.

Things To Consider Before Purchasing A Pocket Knife

As someone who loves the outdoors and goes camping regularly, you know the pain of not having a reliable blade. The sharpness, toughness, and efficiency of your knife can make a great difference in your survival trip.

Other than preparing your fish or meat, your pocketknife can also serve as a defense tool. And with a lightweight knife like the Benchmade Bugout, you will always be ready for anything.

Benchmade Bugout is ideal for everyone who loves camping, hiking, and backpacking. It is a perfect everyday carry tool that all pocketknife enthusiasts must-have.

However, since it is a light tool, the Bugout is not ideal for people who need something hefty in their hands. Even though it can handle several outdoor tasks, this knife is not an excellent option for people looking for a knife with a big blade.

As much as the Benchmade Bugout can help you get out of difficult situations, it is not the best combat blade. So, if you need a tactical blade, look for a knife with a very fast deployment mechanism.

Some of the factors you should look out for when purchasing a folding pocket knife include:

  • The knife’s locking mechanism
  • Is it a serrated, plain, or partially-serrated blade?
  • The length of the blade
  • The handle and blade materials
  • The weight and size of the knife
  • The shape of the blade

Product FAQ

What Is This Knife’s Factory Blade Edge-Angle?

Benchmade Bugout 535 knife comes with a 30-degree to 35-degree edge-angle. However, it can be sharpened from anywhere between 10 – 40 degrees, depending on what your plans for the blade are. If it is for slicing the blade angle should be between 10 to 15 degrees and for chopping (35 to 40 degrees).

Does This Knife Come With a Sharp Blade Straight From the Factory?

All blades from Benchmade come with sharp blades from the factory. But, you can fine-tune them to your liking using a knife sharpener.

Does Benchmade Offer Discounts With This Bugout 535 Pocket Knife?

Unfortunately, Benchmade deals directly with the suppliers and not the consumers. So they don’t offer discounts.

Can I Get A Benchmade Bugout 535 Knife With A Deep Carry Pocket Clip?

Unfortunately, this model doesn’t come with a deep carry clip, but you can contact Benchmade directly, and they will send you one for free.

Does Benchmade Bugout 535 Knife Come With A Serrated Blade?

For now, Benchmade has not started producing Bugout 535 knives with serrated blades.

Final Thoughts

Every outdoorsman needs a perfect EDC pocket knife for their next survival adventure. They need a sharp and lightweight knife that can take care of numerous small tasks with ease. But with Benchmade Bugout 535, you will be ready for anything.

Bugout 535 is a durable and high-quality folding pocket knife that comes with a very sharp blade. And the fact that it is the lightest folding pocket knife in the market is a bonus.

Bugout is an ideal EDC tool that can compete with the high-end folding pocket knives. It’s perfect design and lightweight makes it a perfect everyday carry knife. Please click here to check out Benchmade Bugout 535 knife.

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