In 2017, Benchmade released the Bugout, which quickly became one of the best-selling EDC knives. According to Benchmade, “The Bugout was designed for the modern outdoor adventurer, incorporating the lightest, best performing materials in an extremely slim yet ergonomic package”. I would say the design idea came to fruition beautifully. 

Now, I didn’t hop on the bandwagon right away. My average knife at the time cost $50 or less, so the thought of spending $180+ seemed a bit crazy. After all, the knives I had did what I needed them to do, and I didn’t have to stress if I lost or broke one. 

When spending time outdoors, the Benchmade Bugout makes for a great companion. It is lightweight and easy to carry, making it solid for hiking over long distances.

Fast forward a few years, and I wound up talking myself into buying a Bugout. I figured if I was going to get one, I might as well order a custom one so it’s just the way I wanted. I used Benchmade’s interactive custom knife builder and ordered it straight from the source.

opening a box with the benchmade bugout knife
Many of us carry knives daily for utility use. While Benchmade’s quality might seem to be overkill for such a common task, the Bugout handles opening boxes with ease.

It’s accompanied me on many adventures, helped me complete countless tasks and has held up great from a functionality and finish perspective. But, is it worth the price tag? Let’s take a closer look to help you decide for yourself.

Finer Details of the Benchmade Bugout

Due to the large success of the original Bugout, Benchmade has come out with several models. Some have different handle materials, blade steel or hardware finishes. The one we’re looking at today is a custom version of the standard 535 model. 

benchmade bugout handle and pocket clip for edc
The deep-carry pocket clip on the Benchmade Bugout ensures the knife remains discreet when carried.

It features a drop-point blade made out of S30V steel, that has a black Cerakote finish. When it comes to knives, the steel used for the blade is extremely important. S30V is regarded as one of the most versatile dollar-for-dollar steels out there. It has a really nice balance of corrosion resistance and edge retention, and is also not too difficult to sharpen the knife yourself. You may find better steel options, but you’ll have to be prepared to see the price of the knife jump in return.

bugout knife thumb stud and axis lock folding folder
Benchmade uses a thumb stud and Axis Lock on the Bugout folding knife. Both of them are machined with steps to improve traction when used.

One aspect of the blade itself I’ve been extremely impressed with is the Cerakote finish. It shows barely any blemishes or scratches after the last couple of year’s use. I’ve had my fair share of pistol slides Cerakoted, and half of them have looked pretty rough after a couple of training sessions. 

The “Grivory” scales that make up the handle are essentially a very strong plastic made out of nylon mixed with fiberglass. While they are durable and very lightweight, they do have a bit of flex to them. Some people have complained that they are able to “push them together” in the center. I can attest that is true, but I’ve never had it cause any issues. 

benchmade bugout size grip scales
The scales of the Bugout are rather smooth with minimal checkering in the center of the faces.

Lastly, let’s touch on the hardware. Benchmade’s Axis Lock system is my favorite of any blade lock on the market. Unlike the common liner lock or frame lock, you never have to put your fingers in the way of the knife to close it. You simply use the ambidextrous thumb studs to disengage the spring-loaded bar, and the blade drops shut to a folded position.

The mini deep-carry pocket clip is minimalistic and helps keep your knife discreetly tucked. Its black oxide finish does show wear easily, but winds up developing a nice patina. 

While all of the features look great on paper and in photos, the main point of a knife is to cut, right? 

Blade Style Drop-Point, Cerakoted
Blade Steel S30V
Blade Length 3.24 Inches
Blade Thickness 0.09 Inches
Open Length 7.46 Inches
Closed Length 4.22 Inches
Handle Material Grivory
Handle Thickness 0.42 Inches
Clip Position Tip-Up
Clip Finish Black Oxide
Clip Type Mini Deep-Carry
Locking Mechanism Axis Lock
Weight 1.85 Ounces

A Knife Is More Than Just Looks

Remember, the Bugout isn’t meant to be an off-grid survival knife like a fixed-blade Ka-Bar. With that being said, I’ve never run into an “everyday task” that it wasn’t able to handle. From electrical cords to boxes, zip-ties to meat and everything in between, it’s handled it all. 

cutting cat-5 ethernet wire with the benchmade bugout knife
The author easily sliced through Cat 5 ethernet cable with the Bugout knife. Cutting wire may not be the best use for a blade like this, but many of us have been in a pinch and needed to do it.

I’ll admit, the edge on mine has seen much sharper days, but it’s still chugging along fine. If you’re not comfortable sharpening your own knives or simply want it done professionally, Benchmade offers a LifeSharp guarantee where it will re-sharpen your knife to a factory edge for free, for the life of the knife. 

When using it to cut, the contour of the handle paired with the slightly checkered texturing does help to maintain control, but could be improved. Especially when needing to apply extra pressure or when cutting in wet conditions, I think even some slight texturing on the edges of the scales in addition to the faces would be nice.

Due to its positive features, in addition to its size and weight, it’s become one of my most carried knives. Coming in at only 2.1 ounces (since I added a couple of aftermarket parts) and a thickness of only 0.42 inches, you essentially forget it’s in your pocket. I have plenty of other items in my pocket(s) at all times, so the lighter and thinner, the better. 

cutting paper with benchmade bugout edc folding knife
As delivered, the Benchmade knife sliced through paper easily. At the end of the testing, the author found the blade would still cut paper, though not quite as cleanly.

On a side note, I know I titled this section “More Than Just Looks”, but let’s be honest, who doesn’t love to customize their gear to make it look better? Glow Rhino makes tritrium thumb studs and lanyard plugs. They do add to the aesthetic of the knife, and also help you find your knife in the dark. 

Final Thoughts on the Folding Knife

If you’ve made it this far, you can probably tell I’m happy with my Bugout overall. After all of the time I’ve spent with it, I can honestly see why the price tag is what it is. I’ve had and still have plenty of other more affordable knives that simply have not held up like this one. Additionally, they are not as comfortable to carry. 

benchmade bugout folding knife review
Even if you are not in a “bug out” situation, the author found the Benchmade knife is a good value for a range of uses.

If you’re in the market for a new EDC knife to help you tackle your simpler everyday tasks plus a little more, I would definitely suggest checking out the Benchmade Bugout. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. 

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