An assisted opening knife is a type of folding knife that uses an internal mechanism to finish the opening of the blade once the user has partially opened it using a thumb stub attached to the side of the handle. When the knife is in its closed position, the user applies manual pressure to rapidly get the blade mechanism into a locked, open, and ready to use position. This type of knife is easily confused with a switchblade knife, which can also be opened automatically just with the push of a button.
The user of an assisted opening knife needs to open it about a quarter of the way before the mechanism opens it the rest of the way. This is why some assisted opening knives are legal in some states while most states don’t allow switchblades. People don’t like the fact that you can just press a button and gravity will do the rest. With an assisted opening knife, a little more work is required.
What to Look For in an Assisted Opening Knife
Along with choosing the right blade, another very important thing to consider is the locking mechanism in your assisted opening knife. This is what keeps the blade open and prevents it from snapping down on your fingers during use. There are several different types of locks that your assisted opening knife can have. Among these different ones, there is the liner lock, the slipjoint, the lockback, the mid lock, the frame lock, the ring lock, and the lever lock.
For the liner lock, the liner is only able to go back to its old position when manual force locks it into place. If the user wants to disengage the lock, they have to manually move the liner to the side in order for the blade to come back down.
The slip joint locking mechanism is commonly found on pocket knives but does not actually lock the blade into place. The blade is held in place by tension from a spring or flat bar. Once pressure is applied against the blade it can move back to the closed position. If you’re looking for a knife to use for tough situations, the slip joint mechanism may not be your best bet. It would be safer to go with a liner lock or a lock that you cannot accidentally hurt yourself with.
The lockback mechanism is one of the basic and earliest locking mechanisms. A locking arm is molded with a hook that fits into a notch on the back of the blade behind the pivot. When the hook is dragged by tension, the knife locks with a snap.
The mid lock can be one of the strongest locking mechanisms available. They have refused to buckle under hundreds of pounds of pressure. The release mechanism is in the middle of the handle spine near the end of the knife. Using the frame lock is actually pretty safe. It’s released by applying pressure to the frame.
The frame lock is positioned with the liner in word and the tip at the bottom of the blade is released by applying pressure to the frame.
The ring lock is the cheapest, easiest to use, and long lasting locking mechanism. It is one of the most popular, and works when the owner turns a ring wrapped around the pipit of the knife to a position where a break in the ring allows the blade to open. When the blade is open, the ring needs to be turned again in order to close the blade.
The final locking mechanism, the lever lock, is blocked by a pin near the pipit bolster. When the pin is through the hole, the blade is locked either open or closed. Lever locks are mostly used on switchblades because of their fast opening and closing mechanism.
Deciding on the Number of Blades
First thing is first; let’s decide how many blades you want your knife to have. You can either get a single-blade pocket knife, a multi-blade knife, or a Swiss Army Knife. The single-blade pocket knife comes in many shapes and sizes. Their best quality is their simplicity. Single-blade knives have a design of one large blade rather than multiple blades. The knives usually have a locking mechanism and are strong and sturdy for work. They can also have spring opening mechanism which allows them to pop open a lot faster. The disadvantage of this type of blade in particular is its lack of variety. The blade is perfect if you’re looking for an all-purpose knife, but keep in mind that this knife cannot saw through wood.
A multi-blade pocketknife allows you to do the job of two or three. You can carve a piece of wood with one blade and skinny fur-bearing animals with the other. You won’t get as much strength or ability with a pocketknife with one blade.
The Swiss Army Knife typically has a very sharp blade and normally comes with various tools such as screwdrivers, a can opener, clippers, and many others. The attachments are hidden inside of the handle of the knife through a pivot point mechanism. The handle of a Swiss Army knife is usually red and bears the cross logo of the coat of arms of Switzerland, where the knife originated. The Swiss Army Knife is very popular because you can bring it with you anywhere and it can be used in multiple scenarios.
Deciding on the Edge of Your Blade
While choosing the edge of your blade, keep in mind that you have three different options. You can either get the plain blade, the fully-serrated blade, or the partially-serrated combo blade. The plain blade does not perform well on wood or rope, but is great at shaving and skinning animals. One of its major downfalls is the inability to perform pull cuts, which uses the full length of the blade in a continuous pulling motion to produce a smoother cut. The single edge allows you to have more control and better accuracy in making cleaner cuts. A fully-serrated edge is perfect for hard-cutting and sawing. Its advantage is that it does a better job with cutting tougher materials due to the knife’s serrations. The only downfall of a fully-serrated knife is that they are more difficult to sharpen than other knives without serrations. They are also clumsier than plain blades due to their jagged cuts.
By using a partially-serrated combo edge, you will be getting the best of both worlds. It still gives you that flattened blade tip to make push cuts, but it still gives you the more jagged edge closer to the handle for performing any sawing as well. The partially serrated combo edges are the most popular because they allowed you to use rigorous cutting as well as using it on daily tasks.
Choosing Your Blade Length
If you are getting confused and still do not know what blade you want yet, have no worries. There are many choices in blade length and price range. For choosing your blade length, you can either choose a small blade under 2.75 inches, a medium blade within 2.75 to 4 inches, or a large blade which is over 4 inches. The small blade is good for light everyday carrying and for basic tasks such as cutting string or opening boxes. They aren’t as strong or versatile as larger blades and often won’t lock into place, which makes them more prone to failure during extreme use.
A medium blade is used for pretty much any task. You can use it for small things, heavy duty things, and anything in between. There aren’t too many disadvantages to this blade, although some states may ban knives larger than 2.75 inches. That is why it is best to be familiar with the knife laws in your area.
If you want to go with a larger blade over 4 inches, keep in mind that this is more of a self-defense knife. Again, it’s important to look at your local laws on carrying a knife blade larger than 2.75 inches. The large blade will be heavier and bulkier and less discreet.
Another key factor that many people take into consideration when purchasing knives is price. As far as pricing goes, it depends on what exactly you are looking for. Many knife depots have sales, but the smallest plain basic knife typically goes for about ten bucks. Another thing to take into consideration is the handle of the blade, which can easily bring the price up. You need to keep in mind the handle type, blade length, blade edge, and thickness.
For less than $30 you can get a working a knife that gets the job done. If you are looking within a range of $30 to $65, this is where most people who need a knife for daily everyday tasks ends up. You can get everything you want within your price range. The knives usually last for a long time and an advantage is they do not to cost you a lot of money just in case you need to replace one after excessive use.
If you are looking into a higher range around $100 you can get a higher end model made with better materials. The materials are improved and tend to be shinier. Once you go above $100, you start to see even higher-quality materials, such as mother of pearl handles. This is mainly because a lot of people want to get customer quality handles and blades. For $250, there is a huge variety of knives to choose from. Blades in this category are often seen in the premium steel and unique handle material. If you are looking to purchase another type of handle, there are many types to choose from:
- Mother of pearl
Top Assisted Opening Knives
There are a lot of great assisted opening knives on the market. Here are three of the best that come to my mind:
The Blur is not only my favorite assisted opener knife, but also my favorite pocket knife in general. It has a relatively modest price, and is of uncompromising quality. Kershaw makes great knives, and the Blur is definitely the kind of knife that will last for decades if you care for it properly.
Schrade Viper OTF
When many people think of assisted opening knives, they think of knives whose blades come straight out of the front of the handle instead of swinging out like a traditional pocket knife. If you want an OTF blade, you certainly have that option, and the Schrade Viper OTF (pictured above) is a great knife will perform well in this role.
Zero Tolerance 0350
If you are willing to spend a little extra money and get a knife that is made to last and has all of the bells and whistles, look to Zero Tolerance. The ZT 0350 is an incredible knife that may cost twice as much as the Blur, but also brings to the table things that the Blur simple doesn’t have.
If you’ve made it this far, you now know the majority of things to know about picking out the perfect knife and blade to fit your needs. It may seem like a lot of information to take in, but once you know what you want to use your knife for, it really makes the process a lot easier for you. Choosing a pocket knife can be a confusing venture for a first-time buyer. Whether purchasing a pocket knife for oneself or as a gift, it is important to know that you are buying the best pocket knife for the job at hand. Always remember to check your knife laws in your state to be sure that you meet the knife requirements as well.