How do OTF Knives Work?

OTF knives or more commonly known as Out-of-the-front knives belong to the automatic knives family. They have been growing in popularity for the past 50 years and continue to do so with an extensive range available on the market. The blades are no different than other knives and come in combinations of single or double plain edge, serrated edge, tanto, and other finishes. Out-of-the-front knives as the name suggests fire open only through the front. These knives can be used across all domains of everyday life, for personal or professional use. They are ideal as they can be operated single-handedly and be savvy time-savers. OTF knives are firm favorites amongst hikers, fishers, military personnel and other emergency service users such as EMT’s and police.

How do OTF knives work?
Just like all other EDC knives (exception for fixed blade knives) the blade is concealed within the handle. Contrary to folding knives which are operated manually, OTF knives are automatic and when activated the blade springs open through the front and locks into place. There is usually a button or slide switch that activates the internal mechanism to allow the blade to eject.

Single Action or Double Action?

OTF knives can either be operated by a single-action or double-action mechanism. 

- Single Action
OTF knives with a single action mechanism can only perform a single function. These knives have a release button that ejects the blade. They are speedy and ferocious as they are deployed in seconds. However, in order to return the blade into its enclosure, a lever needs to be pulled back thus requiring the use of both hands. It is important to take extra care to avoid injury when manually retracting the blade. The benefit of single action OTFs is that they are typically less pricey as they are less complex to their counterparts. Less parts mean less wear and tear which means they are more durable and resilient to last longer. 

- Double Action
The double action, as you guessed it, allows two functions; eject the blade and pull it back in. There is no need for manual or two handed operation. They are operated by a slide switch that is found either on the main side of the handle or the top side. They are engineered to provide speed and practicality to operate with your thumb. These are great if single-handed operation is crucial. Double action OTFs are higher priced as they come packed with more mechanical parts. This can potentially lead to quicker wear and tear and can break more easily depending on usage. Blade deployment may be slower than single action OTFs.

Both types of ‘actions’ have pro’s and con’s that may prove to be key factors when deciding which OTF knife to purchase. It is always a great idea to define your needs when choosing which knife to buy. Single action OTFs provide speed and efficiency whilst on the other hand double actions provide more precision and practicality with single handed use. Always make sure to check your local laws as OTF knives tend to have stricter laws due to their automated operation.