Today we’re gonna be looking at two kings of the ultra-light pocket knife scene. The Benchmade Bugout versus the Spyderco Para 3 Lightweight. Despite the difference in price we can see these two knives being cross shopped very easily as they sport some of the same elements to appeal to folks looking for high-performance cutting in a package that won’t weigh you down.
Both feature slim synthetic handles. The Para 3 Lightweight is formed with Spyderco’s famous bi-directional FRN texturing. This pattern provides plenty of traction in the wet or when doing sweaty work and it helps to keep your hands secure on the knife. The Grivory handles on the Bugout are even slimmer – 0.4 inches compared to 0.45 on the Spyderco – which means that it’ll live in your pocket even easier.
It does have a diamond checkered pattern on each side. It gives you some texture but it’s not quite as much as on the Spyderco. There’s just enough length for a four finger grip on this knife, at least as far as my hands are concerned, but if I were putting either of these through heavy work I’d prefer the handle on the Para 3. The increase in thickness is slight but noticeable, but even more than that, the extra length that handle affords you thanks to the full-size finger choil allows for a better purchase overall. Black is the only color available right now with the Para 3 whereas the Bugout gives you options for Blue or Ranger Green.
When it comes to EDC, these blades are both versatile enough for a wide range of uses. Both combine a straight edge and a little bit of belly that’s not too aggressive. They’re perfect for general utility.
The blades on these two knives follow the precedent set by their handles. The Bugout’s is a little bit thinner. It is not quite 3/32 of an inch thick compared to being just over 1/8 inch thick like the Para 3. Both will slice very well though thanks to the full flat grind on the Para 3 and the almost full flat on the Bugout. Ultimately, you’ll be able to cut a little bit longer with the blade on the Bugout though. It’s made from S30V steel and it has more sharpened edge than the Para 3 as well.
That blade on the Para 3 only features about two and a half inches of cutting edge although it honestly feels like more than that when you’re using it, likely due to that full grip and the broad profile. The CTS-BD1N steel on the Para 3 won’t hold an edge as long as the S30V on the Bugout but remember, it is noticeably cheaper to buy the Para 3 and will be easy enough to keep sharp.
The only other thing to note about the blades is that Bugout is available with a partially serrated edge if your needs warrant it, but for EDC and ease of sharpening, we much prefer the plain edge versions.
Another nice thing that ties these two knives together is the parity of their locking mechanisms. Both the Compression Lock on the Para 3 and the Axis-lock on the Bugout allow you to open and close the blade safely without moving your fingers into the path of the blade, keeping your digits safe.
They both also enable you to flick the blades open and closed very easily just by holding the lock back and twisting your wrist. If you prefer to open your blade more deliberately the Bugout comes with an easy pair of dual thumb studs sporting a nice anodized color that really looks good against the blade.
The Para 3 opens just as easily with a wide thumb hole that works well and left or right-handed use. One thing to note, if you are left-handed the Axis-lock will likely be easier to operate in southpaw configuration thanks to that lock bar that goes all the way through the handles and is accessible from either side.
One last thing is that both of these knives feature a deep carry pocket clip. The Para 3 features Spyderco’s wire clip and the Bugout features a folded metal clip with a gray finish to match the blade that won’t reflect like a shiny black or metallic finish can. Both of these options are subtle and will be unobtrusive in use. They don’t really call attention to themselves which is great for discretion and urban environments.
Which would you buy?
For lightweight knives with a lot of capability the Benchmade Bugout and the Spyderco Para 3 lightweight get a lot of things right. Both would make a phenomenal ultralight EDC but picking a winner is tough. Do you go for the more affordable Spyderco or the Benchmade with more premium steel? Be sure to let us know in the comments which one you would carry and what swayed your decision.
In the meantime, if you want to get your hands on either of these knives click here to head over to KnifeCenter.com