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Review Benchmade 535 with Rogue Blade Works CF scales

Discussion in 'Knife Reviews & Testing' started by scottc3, Jun 30, 2018.

  1. Boker + Urban Trapper Petite Ti

    0 vote(s)
  2. Al Mar Falcon Ultralight

  3. Boker Plus Urban Trapper

    0 vote(s)
  4. Benchmade 535 Bugout

  5. Spyderco Chaparral Lightweight

  6. Benchmade 470-1 Emissary

    0 vote(s)
  7. Spyderco Native 5 LW

  8. Benchmade 940 series

  9. Kershaw Dividend

  10. OKC RAT 2

    0 vote(s)
  1. scottc3

    scottc3 Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 11, 2014
    Thankful for this forum, I try to contribute wise thoughtful, useful information. Here's my first review. If you know of a production knife below 3oz you like but don't see listed, holler, I might learn something. There are several knives below about 20 bucks, or with geometries too thick, that I am not interested in that others might find interesting, post em.

    I've been chasing lightweight since gifting a BM470-1, believing I am completely served in the 4 to 7oz range by other Benchmades. I bought a set of Rogue Blade Works (RBW) carbon fiber scales with embossed logo and a Benchmade 535 bugout off of the exchange after trading emails with RBW to clear up my understanding of acronyms he used at etsy.

    I carried the stock bugout for a couple weeks and was stunned by how much slicing edge I got for 1.85 ounces, and it fits my 2XL hand. I was impressed enough at this point in my usage to think that maybe gifting the 535–GRY is a winning proposition. After a failed attempt to install the RBW scales one evening, I put it aside until I could get another set of hands to help.

    I did note that one of the Omega Springs was lifted up off the frame cassette, by eye, approximately a little over an eighth of an inch; It looked like that spring was interfering with installation of the keyed pivot stud. Both washers had one face with wear marks burnishing through the surfaces creating uneven bright circular scratch patterns. This occurred because the inside face of the frame cassette steel, roughly finished, wore through the phosphor bronze washer surface. I saw a picture of another units frame cassette before I disassembled mine, and knew I could get new washers and dress the steel with a stone if the current washers feel hinky.

    I put the Rogue Blade Works carbon fiber scales on last night with the help of one of the sons. He not only lent a hand but also tried a new technique to keep the lock open. Instead of pushing the lock open with an appropriately sized flathead screwdriver (instead of just using your left hand for those with only one good hand), he stuck it through the opening in front of the lock, pinning it open, resulting in different spring responses to wiggling the screwdriver. RBW's scales really up the game for my 535 with less than a 10th of an ounce penalty! Still incredibly light, but now rigid. The action has been improved running like the rest of my Benchmade's (710's, 940, 810...). Does not need resharpening yet with regular around the house use, though the factory bevel is wider then it needs to be. Rogue's embossing increases traction over his smooth ones, but I'm a traction nut and wonder what their new wave pattern would provide?

    In swapping the scales, I use Wiha bits and a quality "M & M" jewelers screw driver set. The technique comes from watching the tubes: taking the pivot screw side scale off, installing the first scale with screws loose; flipping it over to push off the pivot stud removing the blade and washers; install the next scale with loose screws and use a jeweler's screwdriver (business card or the like) to push both washers into alignment. I use the dregs from bottles of 5/30 synthetic automotive oil transferred to a pinpoint oiler to stick the washers. I splurged and bought a set of blue titanium screws from bladeswelove which I used AFTER completing the scales swap with the OEM screws. It is worth noting that the anodized titanium screws appear to have a couple more threads than OEM.

    CONCLUSION: Early on when the bugout was in OEM form I titled this review "BM535 Bugout-Game Changer", but changed it because I added the Rogue Blade Works carbon fiber scales and bladeswelove titanium screws. I was then and am now strongly impressed with this 535 roll your own custom. The stock 535 is good to go and highly recommended in its category. Comparing it for lock, tinker-ability / ease of assembly (for me translating to solid engineering), steel, sharpening choil, handle length, geometry, and of course weight with the knives I find interesting makes me think a new generation of ultra-lightweight has been produced. The geometry is wonderfully slicey, the axis lock as trustworthy and as proven as a lock back from my perspective. And, from my perspective as an old gearhead, the only problems I have heard seen and read about can be chalked up to rookie mistakes, doofus's, and lack of mechanical aptitude and or patience. This is my first Benchmade s30v, although I have gifted three.

    Of course in the future we will see factory, exclusives and limited run options no doubt. I vote for utility carbon fiber traction, 0.09" m390, spydie hole or, a thin neodymium block in scale with plate pin kit for the pockets instead of clips (or just Benchmade / 511 type collaboration shirt/pants). I have grown accustomed to clips to the exclusions of lanyards and pocket carry for anything below about 6 ounce.
    Our scale, Amazon recommended XY8006, when configured to weigh up to 21.6oz/600g, reports to the thousands position. Below, are the results of my homework, playing with weights and comparisons of knives, scales and clips off and on.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    OEM stock as 1.85 (52.45g) on BKC;
    BM535 owner reports 1.9oz OEM and 2.0oz with RBW-CF;
    The tubes= i have seen OEM BM535 from 1.87 vacillating to 1.88;
    EDC Gear Reviews weighed his w Rogue cf scaled bugout that settled to 1.96 on his scale - w no clip? (screenshot of weighing);
    jtknifelife gets 1.96oz with RBW-CF n oem clip;

    Reported by Rogue BladeWorks w oem clip = 1.96oz,
    “and a tiny bit less then OEM w RBW-CF clip swap.”

    My calculation=BM535CF w RogueBW CF scales & clip =1.873oz
    OEM BM535, s30v, 0.90”, 3.24” 4.22”L =1.858oz vs
    BM535CF w RBW CF with OEM clip 1.9465
    Add 12/16/18 OEM BM535GRY-1 stats ditto 535 above, but = 1.881 average accross 5 measures.

    Custom BM535 W RBW-CF w/o OEM clip = 1.824oz

    RBW CF clip = 1g = 0.0353oz (oz rounded up), RBW weighed OEM clip =3g= 0.102oz, my BM535 2 OEM clip screws = .011; 2 grams saved by switch to RBW CF clip = 2 grams or 0.07055 ounces OEM clip = 3grams vs RBW clip = 1gram, saving 2 grams= 0.0705oz; 940-1501 OEM clip w 3 screws=0.177;
    ______List of knives of interest (purple) and own/gifted/weighed and mic'd with RCBS dial calipers-red______
    • Boker + Urban Trapper Petite Ti =2.75” 0.08", ~0.20 behind bevel, VG10, 3.375"L = 1.105oz
    • Al Mar Falcon Ultralight AUS8 3.15" 0.08, 4.00"L = 1.25oz, weighed by Nick Shabazz on the tubes as 1.47oz
    • AG Russell Seki city FeatherLite K-93 General Purpose pattern AUS8-A @3.0”, 4”L, VG10 RC60-61, 0.11” = 1.447oz
    • Boker FR Mini Frame 2.875", 0.07", VG10, 3.5"L, = 1.47oz
    • Boker Plus Urban Trapper VG10, 3.5”, 0.10 = 1.78oz
    • OEM weighed BM535 s30v, 4.22”L, ~0.25" behind bevel =1.858oz (0.542oz or 15.36g less then Native 5);
    • 535gry-1=1.881
    • BM535 w RBW-CF+OEM clip = 1.946oz
    • Spyderco Chaparral Lightweight CTS-XHP 2.8”, 3.6”L, 0.08 = 2.0oz
    • BM470-1 Emissary, 3”, Handle 3.9”L, s30v 0.90”, ~0.20" behind bevel =2.1oz
    • Spyderco Native 5 LW, 4”L, 2.95”, s90v/s35vn .125” = 2.4oz
    • 940-1 s90v 3.4”, 4.47”L, 0.120” = 2.44oz
    • Zero Tolerance Sinkevich 0450CF, s35vn, 3.25", ZT, 0.12", 4.125"L, = 2.45oz
    • BM940-1501, m390 w no thumb studs, ~0.30" behind bevel =2.541oz (.578oz or .667 > 535CF+ CF clip)
    • Al Mar Eagle Ultralight AUS8, 2.75” = 2.6oz
    • OKC RAT 2, 3” D2 0.90 = 2.75oz
    • Kershaw Dividend 3”, m390/s35v = 0.90 = 2.8oz
    • BM555-1 s20v g10 = 2.91” 0.10 (BM555-1 s20v custom shop grivory = 2.56oz) = 2.9oz
    • Spyderco Manix 2 LW C101POR2 - CPM-S90V, 0.125, = 2.90oz
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2018
  2. holo07

    holo07 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 21, 2008
    great review i am sold on the bugout only thing i carry now a days. If they ever make a g-10 or open the bugout to the custom shop it will bring on more buyers. I think alot of people don't like the ugly blue handles.

  3. Evany


    May 7, 2007
    I have the wave pattern version of Rogue's CF 535 scales. The stock 535 really impressed me, but I like it so much better with these scales. Right at this moment and for the foreseeable future, I feel like I've found the perfect folder. I do wish there was a version in M390 or similar, but the S30V blade has performed surprisingly well so far.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2018
  4. scottc3

    scottc3 Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 11, 2014
    Evany, The wave pattern was what I was saving for when the embossed ones became available on the exchange. Bird in the hand is better then 2 in the bush for upland game and knives:). I would not mind 0.08 thick as m390 is scalpel steel... s20v would be fine in my world. Holo07, nice dye jobs. Where did the silver thumb studs come from?
    Today I found a 1.447oz Seki city AG Russell FeatherLite K-93 AUS8-A with General Purpose Blade pattern for a buck at an estate sale and AG's fuller pattern deployment hole would work on the Bugout, but the carbon fiber would need trimming. I could add embossing or pay the pro that installs AG's fuller pattern deployment hole. You gotta spend 5 minutes listening to AG walk through his FeatherLite K-93. I'll take a pic when modded and post it.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2018
  5. scottc3

    scottc3 Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 11, 2014
    I want to have extra Omega spring wire on hand when I inspect and maybe dress my BM535 cassette frame inner faces and washers (along with tuning an old 710). Going to use needle nose pliers wrapped with an appropriate amount of extreme tape to shape the small anchor that wraps the studs, large omega curve, and a piece of furniture grade ash with an appropriately sized hole drilled for shaping the 90 degree anchor, which I will snip down and dress to length afterwards. I will report and post pics.

    The 535 OEM Omega spring wire is reported by another BF member “bakergh” to measure 0.021, OEM Mini Grip is reported as 0.025 (Wilkins offers Large Grip after market Omega springs). Here is where link takes you-

    The preponderance of evidence is that few owners have one of the pair of Omega spring break, but I see an opportunity for my boys. So, I just received three 10 foot pieces of surplus piano wire ($11.5x for 30 feet), which is the best throw away wire I could think of whose original purpose was to maintain exacting tension under high stress, repeated stretching and banging, albeit in environmentally controlled circumstances: yes honey I put it against an inner wall away from the windows. They measure 0.020, .024, .029.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2018
  6. scottc3

    scottc3 Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 11, 2014
    Almost one month follow-up- just as one of the standoffs on my 940–1501 has a speck of ano missing, both of my 535 thumb studs has specs missing. Not a problem for me, but I wonder what kind of anodization and clear coat was used on all my sport bikes to keep that ano spotless. I mean, bug guts, rain, sun, tree sap, chemical cleaners, helmet knocks, you get the picture; way harder on that stuff than my knives suffer.

    Last night I watched Slicey Dicey's comparison between the Spyderco native 5 and the bugout, and besides the fact that the comparison should have used Spyderco's Chaparral LW, my ears heard something familiar as he opened and closed his 535.
    There is a distinct rubbing when opening with the right side thumb stud, the word dragging seems less accurate, and gritty it's not. When I open the knife using the lock, the noise is not present, ever. There is no noise when closing, but if the lock is not fully disengaged and I don't use ANY English, but let it drop shut, the blade will stop closing at about 60°, if open is 0°. At that point of stopping, it is exactly just before the blade jumps back into the frame. For me, it's not a big enough problem to adjust the pivot because I use english. Lockup is still tight with no play in any direction. I figured I would run it this way for a while longer before disassembly and poking around.

    The blade is still copy paper slicing, opening stuff, food processing, cleaning stuff off other stuff sharp, but not push cut. In the process of honing three other knives last week, I put the 535 on the sharp makers fine stone at 40°, gently. From experience, I figured I would feel for apex smoothness, and hone the edge. With 20 passes on the corner of the rods it got a skosh sharper. This 535 is still wearing a too wide bevel after coming back from the previous owners OEM tune and Lifesharp. I'll set the bevel on the KME after reassembly.

    This unit, first production run 462, has had three owners. The last one installed Rogue BladeWorks CF scales, then put the 535 back to stock form and sent it in to the mothership for service. Knowing this history ahead of time, my buying expectation was that, from personal and documented community experiences, I was buying into known ISO qualities, of USA engineered design, materials and QC **, of heirloom quality, from an established company with exceptional customer service (by 2018 standards).

    ** (think no soft screws or parts that don't fit, correct torque, great heat treat, no assemblies not accounting for disassembly, along with QC sometimes not meeting expectations from a portion of the spectrum of buyers: grinds / centering / factory assembly).

    These qualities could be called the tinkerers confidence index :)
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2018
  7. Bucketz21


    Mar 3, 2013
    thanks for this, i don't know why some of this is so hard to find online. i only own a bugout for weight, so in looking for custom scales every gram it puts on is really important. so THANK you for this accurate weight at least. width im assuming is not affected or negligibly so? will have to keep looking for G10 info. was really considering dyeing mine because the rigidity isn't as important as the weight, but .1 i think would be worth looking at. I'm curious, do you have any video? i'm a little curious what the action looks like, though i'm sure that varies by knife, i'm really curious how the sounds have changed. i have both a love for and hate of that plasticy bugout sound, so i'm curious. i'm thinking somewhere in between the orgasmic anthem sounds and the clunky plastic 154 and grivory griptilians, but really no clue. anything you can relay is appreciated
  8. somniloquist

    somniloquist Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 9, 2007
    I just received my 535 and I am very impressed. Unlike many, I really like the bright blue colour scheme and it will help me to find it if I drop it in the woods. The closest knife I can think of to this one is my 707 but this one is lighter, longer and has better blade steel and probably a more practical blade shape. I guess I can sell the 707 now!

    I own a couple on the list above (940-1, Urban Trapper, 555-1) but the 535 seems very purposeful to me somehow and an excellent balance of weight, quality and utility. I think this is the best design that BM have cooked up in a long while.

    One other suggestion that comes to mind for those looking for a slicey, lightweight folder is to have a look at the Spyderco Urban. I snagged a K390 bladed example a while back and that thing cuts and cuts. The weight is somewhere around 2oz, you get the excellent wire clip and the ergonomics are excellent (for me at least).
    scottc3 likes this.
  9. scottc3

    scottc3 Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 11, 2014
    "THANK you for this accurate weight at least."
    I'm glad it's useful for you. Are you backpacking, racing, or escaping gravity :). What I have not done yet is weigh the stock scales, or our Rogue Blade Works carbon fiber scales. When I disassemble the bugout for pictures and a tuneup I will report those numbers. Here is the weight for two G10 scales for Benchmade's 535 Bugout. The first report is 0.55oz for Putnam's G10 scales only, the second is a picture and report of a Bugout with the OEM clip and Rogue’s G10 from Blade forums member "m.and" at 2.125 ounces:


    "do you have any video?...i'm really curious how the sounds have changed."
    Funny, weird, strange thing happened as I continued using my Bugout. One morning, in 100 plus degree weather and fires and smoke everywhere, I opened the 535 with the thumb stud and it was as quiet as using the lock. Hmm, soot as a lubricant maybe? So, open shut, open shut, open shut; on round 3 or 4 or whatever, I get that dragging sound again. About a month later I go to use the bugout, and now it is as quiet as using the lock every time. So, it becomes like a game: I'm in the car, got the mail, use the 535, quiet quiet quiet. It seems from this experience that it has broken in and no longer has that dragging sound. That's cool because it's way less irritating when every time you open your Benchmade it doesn't sound like it's dragging. That is a good thing.
    You can go poke the tubes to listen to that sound. A couple examples I offer are the aforementioned Slice Dicey and Pete from Cedric and Ada:
    ~15:30, , Native 5 LW VS Benchmade Bugout, Slicey Dicey

    ~!5:53 , The Benchmade Bugout EDC Pocket Knife Review, Cedric & Ada Gear and Outdoors
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2018
  10. scottc3

    scottc3 Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 11, 2014
    I agree the Bugout really has balance. I keep staring at my 940 and wondering if I could get it down to 2.2 ounces with custom work...
    Wish there were more positions/selections allowed in the survey tool, that way I would add Spyderco's K390 Urban variant. Don't know if K390 is readily available, but a Spyderco Chaparral with K390!
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2018
  11. sabre cat

    sabre cat Basic Member Basic Member

    Jul 4, 2014
    Why don't you list Benchmade's 531 in your survey? It is closer to the Bugout than any other knife on the market. At 2.1 oz. and G10 scales it is hard to beat.

    Between the 531 and the 535 Bugout, I would have to say the Bugout is the better knife. It is more comfortable in its ergonomics and it offers slightly better blade steel. In its OEM form, it is also the better buy. However, if you upgrade the Bugout with aftermarket scales, the cost exceeds the 531. Even REI's exclusive 531 with green G10 scales and S30v steel cost less than an upgraded 535.

    Pair the 531 with a deep carry clip and you have a folder that carries better than the stock Bugout, is stiffer than the Bugout, and does not need costly scale upgrades.
  12. scottc3

    scottc3 Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 11, 2014
    saber cat, Agree with you- For unkown reasons the survey tool only allows 10 items / questions, so I had to make cuts. As a discontinued model the 530 / 531 was not included, and also for lack of this survey tool (guess I could have used another web tool and linked it back- duh on me). Roger's (knifeworks) bmknives.com had both in stock, though he only has a 530 today. I did not buy the 531 or REI version (like the G10) because I do not like the grind.
  13. sabre cat

    sabre cat Basic Member Basic Member

    Jul 4, 2014
    Wait, the 531 is discontinued? Since when?

    I know that the 530 is gone but its news to me about the 531.

    UPDATE: The 531 is still available; only the 530 is gone. I called CS at Benchmade to find out.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2018
  14. scottc3

    scottc3 Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 11, 2014
    Sabres cat -
    I was wrong, the 531 is current production and in stock at both of Rogers storefronts (knifeworks and bmknives). Thank you for mentioning another Benchmade lightweight, this one in sweet 154cm reported as 2.10oz.
  15. sabre cat

    sabre cat Basic Member Basic Member

    Jul 4, 2014
    Yeah, it's pretty sweet. It offers a way to partially deploy the blade if you pull the Axis Lock to the rear; something the Bugout does not offer.

    Also, it's available in S30v, just like the Bugout. Just purchase the REI exclusive with green scales. Even then, it still comes in for less than a 535 with aftermarket scales.
  16. scottc3

    scottc3 Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 11, 2014
    Zach's Stuff on the tubes show Allan Putnam G10 scales as 1.984 oz, guessing Rogue G10 within a hundredth or so. Rogue's micarta measures 1.973, and a stock BM535GRY-1 at 1.880 which is exactly 0.001 different then what I get for my
    OEM GRY-1=1.881oz.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2018

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