Benchmade Bugout Review: Getting A Handle On The EDC Icon

Benchmade Bugout Review: Getting A Handle On The EDC Icon
Lightweight and highly functional, the Benchmade Bugout has made a reputation as among the best EDC knives available today.

Is there a perfect EDC knife? If not, the Benchmade Bugout will do until perfect shows up.

When it comes to EDC folders, without a doubt the Benchmade Bugout is the king of the hill.

Its compact profile and just-right length make this model a popular hit with knife guys. It is all made in the USA with excellent fit, finish, and—perhaps key to EDC—Benchmade has cut its weight to the bone. Furthermore, the blade steel is premium level. In short, the Bugout is geared to go the distance.

So, if you haven’t yet checked out this icon, it’s high time you did. Because, if you take your everyday carry seriously, you owe it to yourself. We’ll lay a foundation for the knife in this article.

Bugout Blade

The Bugout is offered in two sizes—the Model 535, the company’s standard-sized version boasting a 3.2-inch blade, and 533 Mini, which pars the blade down to a very manageable 2.8 inches.

Benchmade Bugout Open
Standard-model Bugouts sport CPM S30V steel blades, however, S90V and M390 are available on higher-grade models. Photo: Marty Stanfield

The base models Bugouts use premium CPM S30V steel, a steel that is used widely for high-end factory knives. This is mainly due to its ability to hold an edge for an extended period, longer than most blade steels. Additionally, it is highly resistant to stains and corrosion.

As for the blade profile, the Bugout is a modified drop point and is highly adaptable to many tasks. Nicely, Benchmade outfits the knives with thumbstuds on either side of the blade, permitting ease of opening with either hand.  

Getting A Handle On The Bugout

The handle of the base Bugout is made from molded Grivory, making the Bugout a very lightweight folder. The standard size tips the scales at 1.85 ounces and the Mini at 1.5 ounces. Benchmade offers other handle material options, including anodized aluminum, carbon fiber, and CF Elite (a glass-reinforced nylon synthetic material that is lightweight and stiff).

Benchmade Bugout Spines
Given there is a thriving aftermarket for Bugout scales, the sky is the limit on the knife’s handle. Photo: Marty Stanfield

And if you have to have custom, there are aftermarket scales for the knife in a host of materials—titanium, copper, brass, bronze, G-10, and Micarta. In turn, you can truly have a one-of-a-kind feel and look to your Bugout.

Bugout Action

The Bugout uses Benchmade’s critically acclaimed Axis Lock crossbar lock, hailed by many as ultra-strong yet extremely safe because you don’t put any fingers in the path of blade travel. Add on to this, it’s easy to unlock with either hand, and you have a naturally ambidextrous across the board. The lock is simple, just pull back on one of the exposed lock bar ends at the back of the handle and then rotate your blade closed. Internally, two Omega-shaped springs provide constant tension for the lock bar on the blade tang to ensure positive lock engagement.

Benchmade Bugout Axis Lock
The Bugout is outfitted with Benchmade’s rock-solid Axis Lock crossbar lock, which has the added benefit of being ambidextrous. Photo: Marty Stanfield

As for other odds and ends, the handle’s checkering does a great job of preventing your hand from slipping. A deep carry, fold-over pocket clip carries the Bugout deep in your pocket and can also be switched to provide easy carry for left-handers. Integrated lanyard hole permits the use of Paracord for a lanyard if you are into that sort of thing.  

Using The Bugout

In use, the Bugout hits hard in spite of its ultra-lightweight stature. The flat ground blade bites in and is very effective. Opening mail, opening packages, peeling an apple, cutting up hose, cutting cardboard, or stripping wire—the Bugout won’t break a sweat. Perhaps the best way of thinking about the knife is as a minimalist working folder.

The higher grades of the Bugout have carbon fiber handles and milled aluminum handles, paired with S90V and M390 blades respectively. These upgraded blade steels offer high-performance cutting with excellent edge holding. The higher-grade handle materials give a bit more heft to the Bugout as well as an enhanced, high-tech appearance. It only makes sense to have upgraded blade steel with upgraded handle material. 

Benchmade Bugout Closed
Overall, the knife is lightweight, rugged and more than capable of tackling most task. In short, it’s dang near the perfect EDC option. Photo: Marty Stanfield

Even with the base model’s S30V, you still pack plenty of muscle for those long-cutting jobs. I like how thin the Bugout’s blade stock is combined with the flat ground blade bevel giving it plenty of bite to it. 

Some knife folks favor not a high performance without the bulk. I get it, it all makes for a comfortable everyday carry folder. For those of you who favor these kinds of knives, the Benchmade Bugout is for you. You have a high-end blade steel with a proven and popular blade lock, with a no-frills handle design. 

MSRP for the full-size Bugout starts at $180 and varies up from there depending on handle material and blade steel. There is also a Mini Bugout which scales the size down some to an even more pocket-friendly size.

Go here for more information on the Benchmade Bugout.

Bugout Model 535 Specs
Blade length: 3.2″
Blade thickness: 0.090″
Overall length: 7.4″
Weight: 1.85oz
Blade material: S30V
Handle material: Grivory

Mini Bugout Model 533 Specs
Blade length: 2.8″
Blade thickness: 0.090″
Overall length: 6.5″
Weight: 1.5oz
Blade material: S30V
Handle material: Grivory

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  1. My Bugout and Bailout sucked. Rough action, poorly made. Benchmade was not willing to do anything for me. I carried a Griptillon on my last 2 deployments to Iraq, it is a Great knife, I still carry it. This company needs to start making great knives again and stand behind their products.


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