Knife Review: Benchmade Bugout 535-3

An even lighter, premium version of the already ultralight Benchmade Bugout, yes, that’s right. Join me in this is detailed review of the Benchmade 535-3, the special super-ultralight Bugout. Now, you say Carbon Fiber, I say Carbon Fibre, but let’s not worry about that (I might use either or both), and this is why the 535-3 is even lighter, as it has Carbon Fibre handles with the minimal steel inserts milled into them. The 535-3 is the Benchmade Bugout – Plus!

Review Videos

Starting with a short format sixty second review:

Onto a full video review covering many more details:

A few more details:

What’s in the box?:
Very well presented in a foam lined box, the Bugout comes in a cloth bag that you can use to help keep the pocket fluff at bay. A clip/handle protector card also gives you information about the Benchmade Axis lock that the Bugout uses.

A good look round the Bugout 535-3 – Things to look out for here are:
The Bugout uses a mini deep-carry steel pocket clip, that is removable and can be fitted on either side. Blue highlights on the spacer/lanyard hole and thumb stud, play beautifully off the black Carbon Fibre adding to the premium feel of this version of the Bugout.
Ultralight construction means there is only the one spacer and otherwise clear space through the handles.
One side of the pivot bolt is capped, and the torx screw head on the other side only. Torx screws are used throughout for the construction.
Looking in closely at the axis lock bar and how it moves as the blade is opened. The Bugout, despite being a lightweight knife, is also known for being tough, and the use of phosphor bronze washers adds to the robust and reliable build.
There is something about this particular blue and how it sings on the ambidextrous thumb studs.
And then we have the Bugout’s slim, flat ground blade. No weak points, and very ‘slicey’ (should be a word if it isn’t) with a very useful shape. The smooth plunge line ensures maximum strength and exposed heel-edge provides easy maintenance and a useful rear-point (there isn’t a sharpening choil, but the end of the edge closest to the handle is unobstructed and easy to sharpen). This detail is something I look for in all knives, but especially an EDC knife.

The Blade and Handle – Detailed Measurements:
For full details of the tests and measurements carried out and an explanation of the results, see the page – Knife Technical Testing – How It’s Done.

The blade is made from S90V steel.

The Factory edge up close:

Followers of Tactical Reviews will know my views on factory edges, but to recap:

Anyone using a knife will need to sharpen it. That first factory edge is just like the first tank of fuel that a new car comes with (or first charge of the battery).
A good factory edge is a ‘nice to have’ but not a ‘make or break’ for a good knife, as you will be putting your own edge onto it soon enough.
The factory edge does however indicate the care a knife maker has put into the final finish.
It is for this reason Tactical Reviews measures factory edge sharpness and specifications, and includes this information in the detailed technical testing.

As a further look at the factory edge, this section has been added to include some high magnification photos of the factory edges.

Please be aware that these images were taken with the knife straight out of the box without any stropping and they do have some manufacturing residue visible on the edge.

What is it like to use?

The Bugout is a modern classic and has gained much favour and recognition. This is actually the first Bugout I’ve owned (not the first I’ve handled), so prior to this period of review testing I did not have much experience of using a Bugout. I’ve not been disappointed at all, quite the opposite.
With the 535-3 being the lightest Bugout to date, an already ultralight knife, it sits like a feather in your hand. The Carbon Fibre feels so light, comfortable and warm to the touch, you don’t want to put it down. How can it be so strong and so light?
Benchmade have also got the blade geometry spot on. Using a thinner blade, but not too thin, makes it slice exceptionally well. The exposed heel of the edge (similar to when a sharpening choil is used) makes sharpening of the entire edge easier. I find this secondary ‘point’ a very useful feature for fine work.
Shown here in my XL-glove-size hands, there is enough handle for a firm grip, while the overall knife is compact enough (and very slim) to forget you are even carrying it.

It’s proven its worth with all sorts of random jobs. Here a chandelier replacement candle tube being trimmed to length, and then its been out with me dealing with anything and everything else life has presented.
This edition with the Carbon Fibre handles has been making it so difficult to put down. It want’s you to carry it, it wants you to use it.
I hope this will remain a permanent part of the Benchmade Bugout line-up as it really is superb.

Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

What doesn’t work so well for me

Nothing to see here.
(There is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ knife, but I have nothing to complain about.)

Things I like

Super-Ultralight and slim.
Smooth, warm, comfortable Carbon Fibre handle.
Slim, strong blade.
S90V steel.
High-end fit and finish.
Deep carry clip.
Demands to be handled and carried.

Knife Review: Benchmade 112S H2O (Dive Knives 2016 – Detail Review)

This review provides further details for the Benchmade 112S H2O which could not be included in the Dive Knives 2016 – Mega Test Review

 photo 10 H2O angle P1200651.jpg

The Blade and Handle Geometry:

Most knife specifications have a basic description of the blade geometry, but in this section I will be taking a more detailed look at geometry and balance.

Using a set of gauges and precision measuring equipment including a Vernier protractor, callipers, fixed radius gauges and the unique Arc Master adjustable radius gauge (the one that looks like a crossbow).
 photo Knife measuring P1180483.jpg

These measurements have been tabulated and are presented along with other blades.

Key aspects such as the primary bevel angle, grind type, blade depth, blade thickness, length, weight are detailed, along with balance information.

The ‘Balance relative to the front of the handle’ tells you if the knife will feel front heavy, or if the weight is in your hand (a positive value means the weight is forward of the front of the handle). The ‘Balance relative to the centre of the handle’ indicates how close to a ‘neutral balance’ the knife has in the hand.

In the case of full convex grinds the approximate centre of the grind is used for the primary bevel angle estimate.

The measurements are presented alongside some of the other knives from the Dive Knives 2016 – Mega Test Review

Please note the Benchmade 112S is incorrectly named the 112B in the table.
 photo Dive Knives Parameters 1 of 3.jpg

A few more details:

Benchmade’s nicely presented box.
 photo 01 H2O boxed P1200611.jpg

Taking the lid off the box gives your first view of the sheathed model 112S H20 diving knife.
 photo 02 H2O box open P1200616.jpg

Included are the sheathed knife, a single rubber strap and a leaflet.
 photo 03 H2O box contents P1200618.jpg

The strap, which can be used for a calf strap or arm strap has a quick release buckle.
 photo 04 H2O strap P1200622.jpg

A closer look at the plastic buckle and the rubber strap’s adjustable and fixed ends.
 photo 05 H2O strap buckle P1200628.jpg

The sheathed 112S H2O is a very neat package.
 photo 06 H2O sheathed P1200632.jpg

There is an essential drainage hole at the bottom of the sheath.
 photo 07 H2O drainage P1200636.jpg

On one side of the sheath is a very neat and functional release lever which holds and release the knife.
 photo 08 H2O retention P1200641.jpg

Looking in a bit closer you can see the metal pivot made of 316 Stainless Steel and hidden inside is a zinc-plated music wire spring.
 photo 09 H2O retention close P1200643.jpg

And here it is, the 112S H2O knife.
 photo 22 H2O angle P1200687.jpg

Featuring a blunt tip designed for safety and prying, there is a plain edge near the tip and a serrated edge closer to the handle.
 photo 11 H2O blade tip P1200653.jpg

Two sizes of scallop are used for the serrations.
 photo 12 H2O serrations P1200655.jpg

The plunge line is nicely radiused to avoid stress concentrators, especially important as the blade is designed to pry.
 photo 13 H2O plunge P1200659.jpg

A first finger indentation combined with a grippy rubber handle, makes the 112S very sure in the hand.
 photo 14 H2O handle P1200661.jpg

Surprisingly missing from some dive knives, the 112S has a lanyard hole.
 photo 15 H2O lanyard P1200663.jpg

On the spine is a small protrusion; it is this that the retaining clip locks onto to keep it secure in the sheath.
 photo 16 H2O retention hook P1200667.jpg

Part of what makes the 112S look strange, but yet which gives it its excellent cutting power is the chisel grind used for the main edges. This is the back of the blade and it is essentially just flat steel.
 photo 17 H2O blade back P1200673.jpg

The rear of the serrations.
 photo 18 H2O serration back P1200676.jpg

And of the plain edge.
 photo 19 H2O edge back P1200677.jpg

Also included in the blade design is a line cutter hook. This too is a chisel grind and is cut the opposite way to the main edges (back to front instead of front to back).
 photo 20 H2O cutting hook P1200680.jpg

Looking along the blade from the flat side.
 photo 21 H2O reverse anlge P1200684.jpg

What it is like to use?

Coming from a well respected knife manufacturer, the 112S had a lot to live up to. One of the stranger looking knives, it might not be one which you drool over and ‘must have’. However there is purpose behind every design detail, and its cutting test results speak for themselves. Only shears equalled the cutting score of the 112S, that is quite some achievement. See the Dive Knives 2016 – Mega Test Review for more information.

Another key feature of the 112S is the sheath and the retention system. As long as you mount the sheath so that your hand falls onto the handle and your thumb onto the release lever, the drawing of the knife becomes completely natural. Your thumb presses the lever as you grip the knife and the knife can be easily withdrawn. I have found that if pulling on the knife too early, the release lever can’t ‘let go’ of the knife and you have to push the knife back into the sheath to allow it to release the lock. I particularly like that there is a slight friction fit of the knife into the sheath, so even with the lock released, it doesn’t just fall out.

For a good knife steel (N680), the 112S performed very well in the corrosion testing. Here is the raw result of this testing, but actually a lot of this rubbed off with a cloth, leaving only really the outer ring of the corrosion. Less easy to see, there is some corrsion near the handle rubber, but overall for what really constitutes complete neglect, the 112S did not suffer any significant corrosion.
 photo Benchmade corrosion P1220994.jpg

One concern I had was about only a single strap being provided, and this was for two reasons. Firstly was comfort of fit – with two straps you don’t need either to be too tight, but secondly and perhaps more importantly, in case a strap snapped, was cut, or became snagged on something, once that single strap has failed you could lose the knife.

 photo 23 H2O with strap P1220134.jpg

However, my concerns over comfort proved not to be realised at all, and the strap is a good quality so felt secure enough. As long as you check its condition regularly it should be reliable.

In the Dive Knives 2016 – Mega Test Review I did express a preference for one of the knives on test, but that was in relation to a general purpose backup knife. If I were expecting a lot of cutting work, then the Benchmade 112S would jump right up there and would be my pick of the bunch as a quality cutting and prying tool.

Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Excellent cutting performance. Only a single leg strap.
Great ergonomics for knife and sheath. Slight concern over the corrosion resistance of the ‘music wire’ spring used for the sheath lock.
Sheath is easy to use and secure.
Strong prying tip.
Very good corrosion resistance.

 photo H2O feature P1200700.jpg


Discussing the Review:

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