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What Is an OTF Knife and How Does It Work?

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A knife can be both a tool and a weapon of self-defense. It is also one of the oldest tools that our ancestors have managed to mold and use by their own hands. A pocket knife is just the latest iteration of the concept. The biggest problem with carrying a knife around is its compactness. Fortunately, with innovative and creative mechanisms, such a thing is more than easy to figure out. One of these mechanisms is the OTF (out-the-front) knife. Here’s what you need to know about its purpose, nature and usefulness.

  1. What is an OTF knife?

The simplest way to describe an OTF knife would be to say that it’s a knife that emerges from the front of the handle after its holder activates a switch. Due to the fact that this is one of the most common knives in use, the chances are that every single person has either seen or held one. However, not a lot of people are familiar with the delicate mechanics of this extraordinary tool. While it belongs to a group of automatic knives, OTFs are unique in more than one way.

Most common automatic knives are gravity knives, which are held in such a manner that the blade simply drops out of the handle under the influence of gravity (hence the name). A snapping or a flicking motion can also be used to deploy the blade. Seeing as how this mechanism is quite simple, it’s quite reliable. Traditional switchblades, on the other hand, are often opened from the side. Where the OTF knife is different is in the spring mechanism. This means that you do not have to position your grip or move the knife in order to produce the blade. 

  1. The parts of the mechanism

Another thing worth discussing is the mechanism. In order for the mechanism to be reliable, the blade needs to have a degree of stability in both its positions. The main spring, therefore, has two hooks – a fire-closed hook and a fire-open hook. Together with a machined lock actuator, stop pin/fire closed pin and a blade-closed lock, the mechanism can achieve its purpose with ease. Finally, a glider (with the anti-rattle spring) is there to help you control the position of the blade. 

  1. The history

In the past, carrying a knife or a dagger in public was widely accepted. This is why there was (for the most part), no need for automatic knives – which is why the history of these blades starts as late as the 1860s. The reason for the development of the knife was sheer practicality. You see, it’s somewhat harder to produce a switchblade while your hands are occupied (for instance, if you’re holding something with both of your arms). This is why an OTF knife is more pragmatic, seeing as how you can safely produce the blade using a single finger. As far as the light-duty knives go, an OTF knife is the pinnacle of pragmatism.

  1. A wide choice

Another reason why OTF knives are so popular is due to the fact that there’s a wide range of different mechanisms and styles for you to choose from. Sure, it’s a tool and the emphasis should be on functionality; however, why not use the fact that you have a wide selection of OTF knives to browse. These automatic knives also differ in shape, as well as the fact that some of them have a serrated side/section. This can be used to add an extra bit of functionality to the blade in question.

  1. Picking the right one

Another major factor is the quality of the knife in question. Here, you need to read a thing or two about the type of steel used and its quality. The next thing to look at is the mechanism. For instance, when it comes to the quality of the mechanism, you have the one with the button, a switch or a lever. If you’re looking for pragmatism, the one with a thumb switch is the easiest to handle. The reliability of the knife also depends on the lock mechanisms. So, what you need is a mechanism that holds the blade securely both when closed and opened.

  1. Why do you need an OTF knife?

There are many reasons why you would benefit from an OTF knife. First of all, as we’ve described, it’s quite pragmatic. Second, it’s incredibly handy for the purposes of self-defense. You see, an OTF knife is the size of a keychain and its shape is even more compact. It’s like carrying a pack of gums that you can transform into an efficient self-defense weapon in a matter of moments. The best thing is that you probably won’t even have to use it. The very fact that you are armed and ready for this occasion may serve as a powerful deterrent.



While it is true that you do not have to know much about a tool in order to use it, the more you know, the more reliable it is in your hands. Once you understand the mechanism, you will stop fearing it and, if there’s an issue with it, you may be able to rapidly resolve it.

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