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Benchmade Bugout Knife Review

By | January 9, 2020

This EDC folding knife is built to be strong, durable, and lightweight. Ideal for the ultralight hiker/camper as well as everyday carry use, the Bugout is also an apt tool designed to be included in your Bugout kit. With a razor-sharp CPM-S30V stainless steel, satin-finished blade, you have the toughness of 58-60HRC as well as a satin finish, which makes the blade extremely corrosion resistant. Open, the knife is 7.46" in length with a 3.22" long drop point blade. The blade is constructed of flat-ground stock at 3/32" in thickness (or around .090") with ambidextrous thumb studs to assist in deploying the blade.

The interesting part of the knife is how much engineering went into designing a knife to cut down on weight without sacrificing much in the name of function. The 4.22" handle is made from blue Grivory, which is a textured material known for being strong and lightweight. The liners are only large enough to support the bronze phosphor pivot and AXIS locking system, while the open back design of the knife relies on the Grivory polymer. Light jimping on the back of the handle (the length of the spacers) assists in grip and control. The handle is only .41" thick and features a shortened, deep carry stainless steel clip, which can be moved for right or left-handed deep pocket carry. Anodized barrel spacers allow for dirt, moisture, and debris to easily fall from the blade when folded. The shortened clip reduces weight yet does not sacrifice utility or comfort.

It is available in blue, Ranger green, and black handles with chromium nitride coated blade or satin finish. At 1.85oz, it is the perfect weight for everyday carry use, and you will hardly notice it is there.

The Grivory handle features a prominent lanyard hole for use with paracord applications. The Benchmade Bugout is priced right at a starting point of around $120.

Gold Class Bugout

A Gold Class version of the Bugout 535 is also available with similar specs except for a Munin Damasteel blade and ghost blue C-Tek inlays, and smoked gray PVD coated liners, titanium spacers and matching thumb studs. It is also slightly thicker at .45" and a little heavier at 2.10oz. As with other Benchmade knives which get the Gold Class treatment, more hands-on work is done in creating and finishing the knife, with upgraded materials and attention to detail.

The Bugout Family

Like all Benchmade knives, the Bugout 535 is proudly made in the USA, in Oregon City, OR. Each features a manufacturer's limited warranty on materials and defects. Designed for ultralight backpacking and hiking, the Bugout is an ideal EDC knife and a perfect entry knife into the world of Benchmade.

What is a "Bugout Bag"?

For just about anyone who is prepared for a situation when they might have to leave their home, whether it is a prepper, survivalist, or just about anyone who understands the harsh reality that sometimes you have to avoid disaster by taking what you need to survive and heading for a safer location, a bugout bag is crucial. What used to be called "heading for the hills" has evolved into a mindset where your survival depends on getting to a different location which allows you to find shelter, food, water, and safety. If these things are not already established, then they should be able to be crafted with the tools in your kit. Bugout kits are inspired by the kits that pilots during the Cold War were assigned for survival in the event of a crash behind enemy lines. Each should be lightweight as well as versatile and useful.

Some of the items of a typical bugout bag include the following:

  • A good, lightweight, corrosion-resistant knife
  • Water/water treatment
  • Nylon paracord (for repairs, building structures, various uses)
  • Firearm (for hunting, defense, etc.)
  • Soap (for sanitation)
  • Food (usually dehydrated. High-calorie, long shelf-life)
  • Compass (for navigation)
  • Weather gear, blankets, fire starting kits, other essential tools.


Benchmade Bugout vs Benchmade 940-2

The Bugout is similar to the Benchmade 940-2 blade in that both are lightweight folders with jimping on the handles and usually satin-finished CPM-S30V stainless steel blades. The 940-2 has sometimes been called the most Benchmade knife Benchmade makes. Designed by knifemaker Warren Osborne, it also features the AXIS locking mechanism, a reversible deep-pocket carry clip, and anodized thumb studs for ambidextrous use. The 940-2 is a little bit longer with a 3.4" long reverse tanto style blade and an overall length of 7.87" and a 4.47" long handle. The blade stock is a little thicker with the 940-2, but it has no lanyard hole. The 3D sculpted G-10 handle is a more durable and impact-resistant upgrade from the injection molded Grivory polymer handle. Open spacers and very short liners reduce weight, just like on the Bugout. The 940-2 is an update of the 940, which has been around for years. Both knives use bronze phosphor washers, which open like a dream and resist corrosion use after use. Both have similar Rockwell hardness (58-60) and are extremely lightweight and tough. The 940-2 is a little heavier at 2.65oz. It costs a little bit more at $174.25.

Benchmade Bugout vs Griptilian

In comparison to the Benchmade Griptilian, created by Mel Pardue, the Bugout is still lighter and slightly smaller. At 8.07" in overall length, with a 3.45" long drop point blade, the Griptilian is very similar to the Bugout in design and shape and also features the signature AXIS locking mechanism, but it is beefier. The 420J stainless steel liners provide support for the handle, rather than open spacer construction. The Griptilian is also different in that it has a Noryl GTX handle. It too is available in satin-finished CPM-S30V stainless or black matte coating. It does not have a lanyard hole, but is available in a variety of styles and colors, unlike the Bugout, such as serrated blade, Sand, Black, orange, grey or blue handles, and tanto, drop point and reverse tanto blade shapes. Both knives have reversible, tip-up, deep carry pocket clips and are extremely durable and remain sharp for long periods. The base Griptilian starts at around $106.

Benchmade Bugout vs Bailout 537

Though the two are similar in name, and both were designed for everyday carry use and lightweight function, the Bailout, and the Bugout are not so similar. The first thing you might notice about the Bailout is the aluminum pommel which features a lanyard slot for paracord use as well as taking the punishment for use as a hammer or impact device, as you might see fit. Both knives have ambidextrous thumb studs and are crafted from thinner blade stock, but the Bailout is made from CPM-3V stainless tool steel which is known for more hard use/survival/tactical applications. The hardness (54 HRC) is a good tradeoff between impact resistance and edge retention when you are putting your blade through its paces. Higher Rockwell hardness means longer edge retention but will lower impact resistance.

The bailout is also a little longer in overall length, mostly due to the aluminum pommel. At 8.07" open, the Bailout has a 3.38" tanto style blade, which is much different than the Bugout's drop point. It features no jimping but does use the same Grivory handle with minimal liners (only enough for the AXIS lock and bronze phosphor washers and pivot). It is also heavier at 2.05oz but is the same thickness at .41" as the Bugout.

The Bailout also a capable EDC knife and is available with a straight edge or serrated. It has a tactical look with a finish gray blade steel blade and a shortened deep pocket reversible carry clip. The Bailout starts at $144.50.

Best uses

Not only is the Bugout family of knives an essential part of your bugout bag, as the name would suggest, it is also a strong and capable knife for your everyday carry use as well as hunting, fishing, or other outdoor activities. It is also a useful knife for tactical applications, as well as tough enough for use on the job, whether you are a rancher or law enforcement.

As with most Benchmade knives, it is customizable with G10, Carbon Fiber, Micarta, and other handle composites available. Aftermarket scales are available from makers such as Allen Putman, Flytanium, and other makers.

Contact us

Benchmade knives are proudly made in the USA from quality parts and carry with them a reputation for EDC knife enthusiasts which has been strong for many years. is an authorized dealer of Benchmade knives and offers fast, free shipping as well as a satisfaction guarantee. Benchmade knives also feature a limited manufacturer's warranty against parts and materials to give you added peace of mind. Buy your Bugout today!