Switchblades belong to the automatic knives family. They tend to also be known as flick knives, ejector knives, flick blades amongst other names. They are rapid, fast-deploying blades that are handy when time is of the essence. Switchblades eject automatically by a spring when a button, lever, or switch is engaged. Dating back to the 1840s, no doubt would you have seen these knives in action as their use was heavily popularized in movies and tv shows being the weapon of choice by street thugs, gangs, and criminals. This also transcended into reality with the same category of people using these weapons daily, although back in those days, looking back to 30-40 years ago and farther back the laws were more relaxed.
Blade-Release DeploymentSwitchblades can either be front-opening or side opening. This means that when the spring-release is activated the blades open up and when fully extended lock into place for robustness and resilience. Blade-release mechanisms are most usually found on the center or side parts of the knife handle.
Side-opening knives tend to be the most popular types of switchblades. These knives have a button release switch that propels the blade open similar to a folding knife. However, in order to retract the blade, manual tension is necessary to fold the blade back into the frame.
Front Opening knives:
Front opening knives or alternatively known as OTF (Out-the- Front) knives forward-eject their blades right out the front. It almost feels like shooting a bow except for the projectile locks into place when ejected instead of propelling out toward its intended target. Front opening knives can either contain spring release buttons or switches but the major difference revolves around the type of action-mechanisms within the knife: single-action and double-action.
Single-action mechanisms will boast either button-press releases or slide switches. With a button-release mechanism, just like with side-opening knives, pressing the button deploys the blade into a fully locked position. A slight difference is that switches are used only for forward-opening knives. But wait…. If I try to push the blade back in cut myself??? Absolutely and PLEASE do not use your hands to retract the blade back into its enclosure! Single-action knives have a lock-release switch and are then closed by pulling back the lever usually located either on the center or side parts of the grip.
Double-action switchblades, as the name unveils, can operate two separate actions. These knives only use the switch slide as they are able to eject and retract the blade at the flick of a switch. Blades are deployed strictly out-the-front by sliding the switch forward. The same method of operation is then used to retract the blade by sliding the switch back. This mechanism contains a long spring with fire-locks on either side. The fire-locks when activated lock into either the “blade open” or “blade closed” locks depending on the operation and this security system ensures the blade is locked into place when open and closed.
Price tags tend to differ especially between single and double-action mechanisms simply due to the fact that double-actions feature more components. It is also important to note that they are also more prone to increased wear and tear and damage more easily if not properly taken care of. This is definitely not to say that they are not worth it as they provide excellent strength and durability.
If you are a newbie, it may be best to test with a slightly cheaper side-opening or single-action knife to get a proper feel for it before splashing out on a real hand craft!