The golden standard for an everyday carry knife is one made by Benchmade.
Even the name, Benchmade, speaks to the quality of the knives they produce.
Handmade products are well made, but each product made varies.
Factory-made products are consistent but lack the finish and polish of handmade products.
The name “Benchmade” refers to a blending of the two processes; the components are made with a high amount of precision but the final assembly is done by hand.
Each Benchmade knife is a labor of love and technology that stands out above other knives.
The extremely lightweight Bugout 535 outdoor knife is no exception.
Benchmade says the Bugout’s audience is the “modern outdoor adventurer.” Chances are that covers both you and me, but I actually feel as if they’ve missed the mark a little bit.
I’ll get into why later, but to me, the Bugout is best for ultralight campers and city folks who can’t or don’t want to carry around a heavy blade and who want to spend extra money to save as much weight as possible.
It’s also good for people who want a lightweight backup to another knife, which brings me to the next point.
Who the Benchmade Bugout Isn’t For
I don’t feel as if the Bugout is a good bugout knife. Nor is it a good survival knife.
Basically, this is an ultralight knife. While it can handle more demanding tasks than it looks like it should be able to, it’s limited in that potential.
So if you’re looking for a knife that can stand up to heavy survival tasks such as batoning, check out the Alternatives section near the bottom of the page.
- Blade Length: 3.24″
- Overall Length: 7.46″
- Closed Length: 4.22″
- Weight: 1.85 oz
- Blade Material: CPM S30V Stainless Steel
- Blade Shape: Drop-point
- Handle Material: Grivory
- Misc: Reversible pocket clip
The Bugout by Benchmade‘s most alluring feature is its light weight. The whole thing weighs under 2 ounces, and it’s not the 1.99 ounce “under 2 ounces” you sometimes see.
It weighs 1.85 ounces.
That’s very impressive for a 3.24″ blade!
That “gray” looks awfully tan to me, Benchmade.
When closed, the length is only 4.22″, so this is a very efficient use of space. You can attach it to your backpack and you’d never notice.
The handle, made from grivory plastic, is 0.42″ thick.
There’s an ambidextrous AXIS lock, as to be expected of a Benchmade knife, but there’s no opening assist. It is, however, smooth enough that it opens as if spring-loaded with the slightest flick of the wrist.
There’s a reversible pocket clip that hides the knife reasonably deep within your pocket.
You can replace the pocket clip with a titanium version, if you like.
What I Liked
But don’t let that fool you. This knife cuts, slices, and carves with the best of them.
I love the AXIS lock because of how smooth it is to use and how you can close the knife without sticking your finger in the blade’s path.
Also, I like the blue handle. You won’t lose the knife when you set it down on a log then it falls into the grass.
What I Didn’t Like
Despite the name designed to lure in bushcrafters and survivalists, the Bugout lacks what it needs to be a good survivalist knife.
The lightweight handle works for medium tasks, but I wouldn’t trust it with anything strenuous, such as batoning through a log.
Also, the AXIS lock is a weakness around sand and mud. It’s both easy to get dirty and hard to clean, and good luck putting it back together anywhere except on a well-lit workbench!
Finally, an outdoors knife that lacks jimping?
Those little ridges on the spine of the blade can greatly help your thumb control the blade, so I’m rather confused as to why an expensive outdoor-focused knife lacks them.
Honestly, I can’t recommend the Bugout as a bugout or survival knife.
I can, however, recommend it as an EDC knife. It’s rather great at that application, though a bit on the expensive side.
It’s perfect for ultralight hikers who may need some light or medium tasks performed in the woods.
But unless every ounce matters, look at one of the alternatives.
Concealability: 4. It’s relatively small, though not as small as the Mini Griptilian. It is, however, almost a full ounce lighter.
Durability: 3.5. So long as you don’t expect it to perform heavy tasks, the Bugout is durable. Until you need to remove the handle for cleaning.
Fighting Ability: 3. This isn’t designed as a fighting knife. If you want to hunt with it, strap it to a stick and make a spear. Interested? Learn more here!
Utility: 3.5. The blade length and quality is excellent, but don’t expect this knife to hold up to heavy tasks.
Overall: 3.5. If you are trying to shave off every ounce possible, bump this up to a 5. For the rest of us, there are other, better options.
So, the Bugout is a good EDC knife and is perfect for ultralight campers. What about everyone else?
On the other hand, some people want a knife that can hold up in actual bugout situations. For a survival knife, you may want to check out the ESEE 6, which is the opposite of the Bugout in several ways.