Benchmade 535 Bugout Knife Review

For this Benchmade 535 Bugout knife Review, it will be pitted against other every day carry knives that I have used in recent years. You all know the story, we carry a knife on us nearly at all times. We use this wonderful tool for a range of activities; from cutting your steak, to using the drop point to adjust that a rifle scope.

Blade Material

The versatility of an EDC knife leads it to some abuse your fillet or skinning knives don’t see. Manufacturers have been leaning on improved alloys and hardening processes to help edges remain sharp. I carried a SOG Twitch II in AUS 8 for years. While I was happy with the durability of the blade, I never felt it was razor sharp. The sharpening sequence for AUS8, with dull results will push me away from AUS8 indefinitely.

Nemo has the Buck Vantage in 420HC Stainless, which has been razor sharp every time I’ve used it. I know the blade sees a ceramic steel from time to time, but has not needed to be run through a full sharpening cycle. The way Buck composes their alloy and hardens it yields a sturdy edge without a difficult to sharpen special alloy. This brings us to the soup du jour of this post, the S30V Benchmade 535 Bugout.

Being familiar with S30V from Nemo’s Benchmade Saddle Mountain Skinner reviewed previously here or my SOG Huntspoint Boning knife also previously reviewed here, I knew the alloy was a good one. This Bugout in S30V has great edge retention that responds well to a touch up. To date I have used this 535 for all sorts of things knife purists would find offensive. The good news about the sweeping array of uses is it has provided me a window into edge durability. I have yet to touch up the blade, and the factory edge remains impressively sharp.

Initial Impressions

My initial thoughts when I handled the knife pertained to the very light plastic body. I was suspicious of the minimal weight after such prolonged use of the heftier Twitch II. All of those concerns so far have been proven to be unwarranted. The lightness of the design and body are welcomed when you are packing it around every day. There is also no spring or assisted opening mechanism, further reducing weight.

The last unassisted knives I carried were the Gerber Paraframe TI, and the 5.11 Tactical EDC DTP. The Gerber was worked in well and is still tight to open. The 5.11 was included when I purchased some pants and was easier to open than the Gerber, but still tight. The 5.11 was AUS8 steel and had similar blade constraints to my Twitch II. I was nonplussed when I lost it in Elk Camp this past year.

I appreciate we are adding $100+ to the cost of the knife when comparing them to the Benchmade. The non-mechanized opening on the Benchmade is so smooth and free, it really doesn’t need an assist. A light push on the the thumb stud, and you’re in business.

The clip is on the correct, non pivot end. This means you don’t need to rotate the knife in your hand once you pull it from your pocket. This seems silly, but it matters. The 5.11’s, Gerber’s, and the Kershaw’s have it wrong in my opinion. The clip on the Benchmade while not a “deep carry” does have a massive top slot. The large opening and gradual taper fit into even bulky pocketed pants without a fuss. The Benchmade clip also can be moved around for a left handed carry.


So far this Benchmade 535 has been great, outside of the bright blue color and the optional green doesnt suit me either. It will be interesting to see how this ownership matures. I sent my SOG Twitch II back several years ago for a failure with the opening mechanism. SOG had great customer service, and I received my knife back repaired. In addition to my repaired knife it had a new clip and a fresh edge. The rumor on the street is Benchmade service is also superior. I would be okay not finding out how good their service really is. If there are any breaking developments, I will be sure to post them here.

What knives do you like? Do you have a steel preference? Comment below, and be sure to check back for updates!

P.S., as with all of our reviews, we are not sponsored by anyone, nor have we received any products from manufacturers or retailers for review. These products are what our research and personal preference lead us to purchase with our hard earned dollars. Now and always, we are the champions of common sense, mid-range gear.