An OTF, or out the front, knife is a unique type of pocket knife. Sometimes called a telescoping or sliding knife, these knives contain a blade that comes through a slot in the handle. Unlike traditional pocket knives that swing open, the blade is safely hidden in the handle until taken out for use. They have a number of different applications, from hunting and outdoor activities to security and protection. Either way, there are a number of different options available. Before making the investment, there are a few things to consider.
Types of OTF Knives
There are a couple different types of OTF knives available. The difference between these types of knives is the mechanical function that is used to extract the blade.
Manual OTF Knives
Manual knives are the most common. The blades are parallel to the handle and use friction to keep it in place. There’s often a small button and track attached to the blade. To extract it, finger pressure must be applied to overcome the friction. The blade is then free to slide along the track and come out of the handle.
Automatic OTF Knives
These blades travel along a track in a similar fashion as manual knives. However, there is a spring drive and button mechanism to release the blade. This causes the blade to extract without having to manually extract it with finger pressure. Contrary to popular belief, these spring mechanisms don’t have enough power to overcome a lot of resistance. This makes them safe and practical. There are single action and dual action automatic knives. Single action knives will open automatically, but require manual insertion. Dual action knives are automatic on both functions.
OTF knives come in a variety of blade sizes. Before purchasing a knife, one should take into consideration the size of blade they will need. Traditionally, larger blades are reserved for outdoor activities and heavy duty jobs. Smaller knives are often suited for smaller tasks and can be carried in a pocket. While it is a matter of preference, proper blade size for a task can make all the difference.
Much like blade size, the type of edge can determine its effectiveness with doing particular tasks. Buyers should think about the main uses for the knife and choose accordingly.
Straight edge knives are smooth and sharp throughout the length of the blade. They cut cleanly and can be sharpened quite easily. They are a great option for hunting and general outdoor activities.
Fully Serrated Edge
These knives are a great option for cutting rope or other tough materials. Hikers and mountain climbers can benefit from having them in their pocket. The entire length of the blade is serrated, allowing users to make aggressive cuts. They also stay sharpened much longer than straight edges.
Partially Serrated Edge
These knives contain the best of both worlds. Half of the blade is serrated while the other is straight. Generally, the serrated half is closest to the handle. This is the most versatile option. It can be used for a number of different tasks, making it an all around great knife.
Blade shape can play an important role in the strength and integrity of the knife. Again, the shape can be chosen based on the main uses of the knife. The different shapes are designed to improve function, flexibility, and durability.
Tanto shaped knives have a unique shape that incorporates angles. It incorporates two straight edges that are joined to form a sharp angle. Whether it is partially serrated or completely straight, the blade is instantly recognizable due to the unique shape. Because of the angular design, the blade is quite sturdy. The spine of the blade has a consistent thickness until it reaches the angle, where it then tapers to create a sharp point.
Drop point knives are incredibly common in hunting knives. The tip is lowered by a convex arc. Instead of a straight blunt top, the tip tapers and drops towards the point. The arc the drop point creates helps in its durability. It ultimately allows the blade to be thicker.
Spear point blades are double edged, allowing users to take advantage of both sides of the blade. Many spear point blades contain a straight edge on one side with a partially serrated on the other. The two sides drop and taper to create a fine point. Design wise, these blades are commonly recognized as daggers. They are incredibly versatile and have increased functionality compared to other shapes.
A knife is only as good as the steel it is made of. Generally, OTF knives are made from stainless steel. This is an alloy that contains varying percentages of chromium and carbon. Manufacturers can alter the carbon and chromium amounts in the steel to get different properties. Buyers should find a knife with strong steel. Generally, higher quality steel blades have a higher content of chromium or carbon. This makes them tough, easy to sharpen, and long lasting.
Schrade Viper 3
At the lower end of the price spectrum, the Schrade Viper 3 is an affordable, yet robust OTF knife. It has 3.5 inch blade that is extracted via a spring mechanism. The release button is located near the bottom of the handle and has a safety feature. The blade itself has a spear point design with straight edges on both sides. It’s a great economical choice for hunting and general use at less than $40.
At around $120, the Kershaw Ripcord is a bigger investment. However, it is made from high quality materials. It contains a strong, 3.25 inch blade that is coated with tungsten for durability. It has a drop point straight blade that can be used for a variety of applications. It is a manual OTF knife with a unique locking system. Finger pressure is required to deploy the blade. Upon extraction, the blade locks with the strength of a fixed blade knife.
Raven Crest Tactical Spartan
This knife is one of the pricier options at over $200, but it contains high quality materials and a smart design. The knife is an automatic OTF. A simple switch extracts the ultra sharp blade. The nearly 4 inch blade has a tanto design with both straight and partially serrated edges. The blade is ultra durable, containing high amounts of carbon. It’s a great investment that will withstand whatever is thrown at it.