When it comes to knives, consumers have many options to choose from depending on the style of knife they are interested in. The same can be said for OTF knives. OTF, or Out-the-Front knives, are popular knives for camping and hunting as well as for self-defense or as a backup knife to keep handy. And, as with many kinds of knives, users will want to consider blade length, handles, and blade types when making a selection.
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Check out our list below for a summary of our results. If you are interested, check our detailed summary in the article below.
Best OTF Knife Under $100
- Gerber Covert Knife
- Gerber Mini Covert Fast Knife
- SOG Flash II Knife
- SOG Folding Knife
- Aqua Lung Squeeze Lock Stainless Knife
Best OTF Knife Under $50
- Snake Eye Tactical Punisher
- Gerber Paraframe II Knife
- STRIX RHK-1 Mini OTF Pocket Knife
- Pole.Craft Folding Tactical Knife
What is OTF Knife?
The OTF Knife, which stands for “Out of the Front” knife, is a folding knife with a blade hidden inside the handle. OTF only refers to the mechanical operation of the blade, where it slips parallel to the handle. When you’re in a tight space, having this knife on hand is beneficial because the blade deploys straight to the front rather than to the side.
OTF knives have been around since the 1900s but remain popular since they are safe to carry around and can protect the person with just a single push of the button.
There are three types of OTF knives in the market: single-action, double or dual-action, and manual. Single-action OTF knives utilize a spring mechanism to open the blade, which must then be manually closed. Double-action OTF knives make use of a spring mechanism to open and close the blade. Lastly, there are manual OFT knives without a spring mechanism. They use a sliding button to open and close the blade.
Another type is called a gravity knife, which operates without the use of a mechanical system. The blade is deployed by simply pointing it to the ground and pressing the release button. The blade is drawn out by gravity, which explains its name. OTF switchblade and gravity knives are restricted offensive weapons. They are also known as white weapons.
Things to Look for When Buying an OTF Knife
There is no such thing as the best OTF knife. What may be the best option for some may not be the best choice for you. Purchasing your own OTF knife depends on your personal preference. With the number of available OTF knives in the market, choosing the right one can be a great challenge.
It will be easier if you understand the things that should be considered when purchasing. Listed below are some of them.
When purchasing an OTF knife, the blade is the most important feature to consider. Other features won’t matter if the blade is made of substandard materials. The most popular materials are stainless steel and carbon steel.
Determine what you’ll be using the OTF knife for. For outdoor use and other heavy-duty tasks, larger blades are recommended. Smaller blades, on the other hand, are better suited for daily use. Some states have laws governing the size of blades allowed for possession.
There are three types of edges that you can choose from: straight, fully serrated, and partially serrated. The standard for knives and cutlery is the Straight Edge blade. It is ideal for hunting. It cuts clean and it is also easy to sharpen.
A fully Serrated blade on the other hand is advantageous when cutting fibrous materials such as ropes. It leaves a ragged cut because of its aggressive edge. Its sharpness lasts longer than a straight edge, but it is much more difficult to sharpen once it has become dull.
Lastly, the Partially Serrated blade offers advantages from both straight and fully serrated edges. It is ideal when used for general purposes.
There are four blade shapes to consider; the tanto, drop point, clip point, and spear point. The Tanto has an angular shape and is very strong because of the spine that maintains its full width. The Drop Point pattern is characterized by a convex shape and is found on a variety of knives but is most commonly found on hunting blades.
Clip Point is the most popular blade shape. A concave or straight cutout towards the tip distinguishes it. Lastly, the Spear Point has a symmetrical grind with the tip that is located at the center.
A double-action mechanism allows you to deploy and retract the blade automatically, while a single-action requires you to pull the blade manually.
How the OTF Knife Works
The blade of an OTF knife is concealed on the handle until the switch is triggered. Its mechanism is based on a spring that lies on the metal plate inside the handle. At the end of the blade is a disc that acts as a smooth guide out of the handle. The blade is held in place by hidden latches at the bottom and top of the handle when it is deployed or retracted. It serves as a lock within the handle, preventing the blade from moving. The blade has notches that work with the small latches to keep it in place.
The thumb slide is attached to the metal plate, which is then attached to a spring. As you push the thumb slide, the entire metal plate moves, pushing the latches out of the way and allowing the spring to contract, propelling the blade out of the front. The latches would then lock the blade in place, preventing it from going back in.
When you pull the thumb slide in the opposite direction, the same process occurs. The plate then moves backwards, stretching the spring, and the latches retract the blade in the same way as mentioned earlier.
Best OTF Knife Under 100
Finding the best knife may be a challenge and if you are on a budget, listed below are OTF knives under $100 available on Amazon.
Gerber Covert Knife
F.A.S.T. technology is used in the Gerber Covert Knife, which emphasizes ease and speed. It is designed to have a quick deployment of the serrated, tough titanium coated blade. The G-10 handle made up of fiberglass provides a secure grip in all circumstances. The blade has a length of 3.7 inches and measures 8.7 inches when opened. The knife has a dimension of 5x5x5 inches when closed and weighs 4.9 ounces. The Gerber Covert Knife is supported by a limited lifetime warranty.
Gerber Mini Covert Fast Knife
SOG Flash II Knife
The sharp pocket knife weighs 3.1 ounces and its grip is made up of Glass-Reinforced Nylon (GRN). It is one of the most reliable fast blade systems that can be opened singlehandedly. It has a quick-release mechanism, and the stainless-steel blade is secured by the Piston Lock. All repair and replacement requests for the SOG Folding Knife are considered.
SOG Folding Knife
The ultralight daily pocket knife features SOG Assisted Tech (S.A.T.) for one-handed opening and a Lockback feature that secures the blade. Its hardcase coating is made of Black Titanium Nitride that is scratch and peel resistant for extra protection, and its handle is made of stainless steel. All repair and replacement requests for the SOG Folding Knife are considered.
Aqua Lung Squeeze Lock Stainless Knife
Best OTF Knife Under 50
If you are on a tight budget and opt to go for a cheaper but reliable OTF knife, here’s a list for you to check on Amazon.
Snake Eye Tactical Punisher
Gerber Paraframe II Knife
The knife supports dual thumbstuds for easy one-handed opening and has a stout pocket clip that keeps the knife handy. The Gerner Paraframe II Knife has a dimension of 0.75×5.5×9.5 inches and weighs 3.52 ounces.
STRIX RHK-1 Mini OTF Pocket Knife
Pole.Craft Folding Tactical Knife
The knife is stable and reliable. You just have to push the slider to quickly deploy and retract the blade. Its internal structure can withstand repeated wear and tear that makes it long-lasting. The knife has a moderate weight of 10.2 ounces and a dimension of 6.18×2.36×1.54 inches that makes it easy to operate. The handle is oxidized by the surface of a high-hard alloy aluminum which in turn provides an anti-skid effect. It is equipped with belt clips and high-quality nylon sleeves. It ideal to carry every day. A lifetime warranty is also provided.
XIEWENDAN Double Action Knife
Is OTF Knife Legal?
Before purchasing an OTF knife, you must first learn about the existing laws in your state. Because OTFs are easy to hide, they have the potential to cause injury. The “Federal Switchblade Act”, passed by the United States Congress in 1958, governs the importation of switchblades into the country as well as cross-border sales. The possession of OTF knives, as well as any appropriate legislation, is up to each state. As a result, the laws are not uniform. Switchblades are legal to own and carry in most states; however, some states completely ban them, while others have stricter requirements and implementing rules.
Some states permit the possession of an OTF knife but do not allow the sale. The use of mail to purchase OTF knives from another state is prohibited by Federal Law, but you can still go to a state where selling is legal to purchase the item.
The general rule with OTFs is that if you intend to use them for legal purposes such as hunting and defense, then you don’t have to worry about anything. The laws aim to address the violence and crimes attributed to OTFs since they are easy to conceal and can be deadly. Montana is a “libertarian” state with strict gun laws. It banned switchblades in the entire state. Having state-imposed laws on OTFs are understandable because citizens’ safety is the top priority.
Are OTF Knives Good for Self-Defense?
OTF knives are very safe to use provided that the user is also careful. Automatic knives are easy to control since they have a steady grip shape that prevents slipping. Using an OTF knife as a self-defense weapon is a good option when you find yourself in the middle of a dangerous situation.
The knife is perfect for close encounters since it is compact, sharp, and lightweight. An automatic knife is superior in every way with its sharpness that cannot be matched by other knives. With its small size, it can fit in your pocket or purse, making you ready anytime for a worst-case scenario.
Are OTF Knives Worth It?
OTF knives are not just attractive to look at but also very practical. It offers a wide variety of use making it ideal for any situation. In constructing OTF knives, reliability and durability are carefully considered since they must withstand frequent use and harsh conditions.
Because of this, strong materials are used in making these knives such as stainless steel and aluminum.
Considering OTF knives’ strength, durability, and usability, purchasing it is not a waste of money and opting for an expensive one is worth the amount.
It is a good companion in any situation making it a great investment after all.
How to Oil an OTF Knife?
OTF knives require continuous maintenance due to their mechanism that relies on the spring, and some people idly fire it even when not necessary. Overuse, as well as frequent exposure to dust and dirt, make it vulnerable to damage, which in turn affects the mechanism of the knife. This may result to misfire or not firing at all. And in emergencies, the blade may not deploy when you need it to, putting your life at stake.
Learning how to clean your knife properly is very important.
- Blow compressed air into the opening of the knife. This will get rid of any lint. If you use the knife to cut tapes, use rubbing alcohol to clean the tape residue.
- Put rem oil in the knife’s opening. You may spray it onto the blade and allow it to run down. Check if all of the parts are lubricated by deploying and retracting the knife several times.
- Lightly blow the excess oil out of the knife with compressed air.
It is important to keep the knife lubricated. But, keep in mind that too much lubrication can trigger dust and dirt buildup and result to malfunction.
Featured Image Source: Belcobla @ Flickr