Benchmade Bugout Review: A Misleading Name

Introduction

This knife needs little introduction – sure, I have other knives, but this is the one I carry the most. I’ve featured it in literally every EDC update, and it’s my favorite knife, so I think it’s about time I got around to giving my review.

Clearly, mine’s been blinged out a bit – I’ve got carbon fiber scales and I’ve replaced the screws with blue anodized ones. The carbon fiber scales have less flex to them than the stock plastic scales, but as I’ll discuss later on, this should mostly be a moot point. 

Assessment of Value

First, let’s quickly talk about value. For some reason, I thought this knife went for like $100. But apparently the MSRP is actually $150 which is not a price I can recommend purchasing the Bugout at. They’re literally using plastic for the scales – which isn’t inherently wrong – but just isn’t conducive to what they’re asking for it. So yeah, I’d recommend it at around the $100 price point, but I can’t recommend paying the Butterfly tax for one at $150. And as always, I highly advise checking out the secondary market. 

The Good

Alright, let’s dive into the good stuff. There’s a couple things I really like about the Bugout, and first is the weight-to-blade ratio. The Bugout is incredibly lightweight and the blade has ample length for the good majority of tasks. Conversely, my Sebenza 21’s just a bit too heavy for me to carry on a daily basis, especially with shorts, and my Spyderco Dragonfly II lacks blade length. I think the Bugout’s greatest strength for most people will be the balance it strikes between pocket-space and utility. 

Next thing I’m a fan of is the deep-carry pocket clip. As most of you guys know, I’m a college student so I’d rather keep the fact that I carry a knife on the down-low. Just in general, even when I’m not on campus, I think that this is an underrated feature. At the end of the day, a knife is a tool for me, and I don’t need people misconstruing it as an open threat. So if you’re in college or live in an urban environment, a deep-carry pocket clip should definitely be a consideration. 

Without a doubt though, my favorite part of the Bugout has to be the Axis lock mechanism. This is partially on a functional basis, and partially on a “It’s just flipping fun to flick this thing” feeling. From a functional perspective, it’s brilliant for several reasons. One, it’s very newbie friendly. I’d argue most people will figure out how to work the Axis lock faster than they will a liner lock. It’s just how most people’s brains work. Two, you don’t have to worry about getting your finger cut which is a very real concern if you have less steady hands or you’re using your opposite hand. And three, there’s just so many ways you can flick the knife and close it. Check out my YouTube video if you want to see a demonstration! Something really cool is that the Axis lock inherently aids in that last bit of travel. And if you want to get that really silky, smooth action I recommend loosening the pivot screw just a wee bit – it makes a huge difference. 

The Bad

Enough shilling the Axis lock mechanism because at the same time I’d argue that the Axis lock is the Bugout’s Achilles heel. With more moving parts to fail, yeah, it’s not going to be as reliable as some traditional mechanisms. There’s two springs that the Axis lock employs, and eventually they will wear-out and snap; I’ve already had to replace one of them. 

The final drawback for some people will be the blade steel which is CPMS30V. This is an upper mid-tier to sort-of-premium steel, but it could have been better. It’ll definitely wear fast if you’re chopping up even just cardboard, and I had a coworker who showed me his totally dull Bugout.

The Verdict

And to this effect, the Bugout’s name is a sort of a joke – definitely DO NOT buy the Bugout if you’re looking for a survival knife or for anything hard-use. But from an EDC standpoint this is a stellar knife if your knife usage centers mostly around just opening up packages and the occasional cutting task. This is where my usage mostly lies, and heck, I don’t think I’ve ever even sharpened the knife. I mainly went for the carbon fiber scales just for the aesthetics. And personally, I don’t think you need them to get utility out of this knife if you’re using the Bugout like I am, but they sure are nice to look at.

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