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11 OTF Knife Maintenance Tips

The knife industry will grow significantly in the next six years. While the lion’s share of knife products that get sold are for cooking purposes, tactical knives are becoming more and more popular as well. You might even own a tactical knife yourself. But do you know how to maintain your OTF knife? 

Knife care is different for tactical knives than it is for kitchen knives. No matter what sort of tactical knife you have, maintenance is going to be specific and unique, but perhaps the most complicated knife to maintain is the OTF knife.

The OTF knife — short for out-the-front knife, also known as a sliding knife — is a type of pocketknife that opens and closes through a hole at a certain end of the handle. OTF knives are perfect for self-defense, as they’re small, durable, and have a shock factor. A great example of an OTF knife is our Double Action Italian Stilleto

However, due to their more complicated components, knife maintenance for these types of knives is more difficult. 

Thankfully, there’s a solution. 

This article will walk you through 11 tips to help you maintain your sliding pocket knives. 

1. Respect Your Knife 

The first tip for cleaning your knife is less practical and more philosophical — but it’s still just as important. The best way to keep your knife safe for longevity is to make sure that no mistakes occur with it. The best way to make sure no mistakes occur is to treat your knife with respect. 

Here’s a list of a few things you can remind yourself to make sure you respect your knife. 

  • Do not use the butt-end of your knife as a hammer
  • Do not attempt to “show off” with your knife
  • Do not draw your knife on someone unless you intend to use it
  • Do not fiddle with the mechanisms 
  • Do not lend your knife to anyone you don’t trust

2. Clean Your Knife 

While this should seem obvious, many people lose functionality in their knives by not cleaning them. Cleaning your knife means keeping your knife from building up sediment and fading away on you.

Knife cleaning should be done often and done correctly. We recommend simply cleaning your knife with water. However, make sure you do not leave your knife in water for too long, or else it will rust. 

You can also use soap. Soaps that focus on fending off grease are the best options for cleaning your knife, However, make sure that your knife can stand all of the chemicals in your soap before you use it 

3. Know the Right Cleaning Tools 

But just reminding yourself to clean your knife isn’t enough; you need to make sure you’re using the right tool to clean your knife. Never use bleach, vinegar, or baking soda to clean your knife — this will most likely result in damage. 

(The only exception is a knife that’s completely covered in rust, which can benefit from a vinegar bath.) 

You can usually use a cleaning cloth, sponge, towel, or polishing cloth to clean your knife. No matter what you use, make sure you keep a dry towel nearby. Dry off your knife quickly and completely to make sure your knife doesn’t rust. 

Toothbrushes are a wonderful tool for knives with serrated edges, safely and thoroughly cleaning the more dangerous parts. 

4. Keep Your Knife Sharp

Keeping your knife sharp is one of the most important — if not the most important — things you can do for it. Keeping your knife sharp will maintain its performance, and reduce its chance of breaking. 

We recommend using a quality knife sharpener. However, if you’re in a pinch, you can use items such as nail files, car windows, coffee mugs, and leather belts to sharpen your knife. Make sure you place your blade at a ten-degree angle from the sharpening surface and run the blade along in a single, smooth motion. 

5. Tune-Ups 

Just like your car, your knife needs to be tuned up from time to time to make sure it’s running right. Your knife needs to become a part of your everyday routine just like your car. This is a key part of respecting your knife. 

Make sure you remove any adhesive on your knife with an alcohol rub and a Q-tip. Use compressed air to blow away any debris.

For more advanced tune-ups, make sure you find a reliable person to do your knife repair. These are rare to find in-person, so you might have to find a mail-in service. 

6. Oil Your Knife 

Keeping your knife lubricated is important to maintaining a sharp, efficient product. Without knife lubrication, your knife will be more likely to develop a coat of rust, which will ruin its quality. There are many options for knife lubrication out there, you merely have to find the one that’s best for you. 

Generally, you should oil your knife and then wash it. Make sure the oil is washed off completely, and the water is dried off entirely. After the blade is dry, repeat the process; this doubling down will ensure that your knife remains in ship shape. 

7. Know How to Reassemble 

It’s no secret that weapon disassembly and reassembly are extremely important. Field stripping a gun is one of the first things you learn how to do, so it’s a shame that many tactical knife owners don’t know how to field strip their knives. 

Knowing how to disassemble and reassemble your knife is important in cleaning, oiling, and other sorts of maintenance. Unfortunately, disassembling is easier than reassembling. 

Learning how to disassemble and reassemble your knife is important in the process of learning to respect your knife. To be able to tell when something’s wrong, you need to know your knife inside is out. 

8. Know When Something Is Wrong

Speaking of which, it’s very important to know when something is wrong with your knife. Accidents happen, and once you’ve had your knife for a while, problems will start to occur — it’s only natural.

Learning to spot problems is key because using a knife while it’s slightly defective can damage it more. You can think of this as a human body. All of us get injured here and there, but if you don’t go to the doctor, the injury can become worse.

Let’s take a look at some of the signs your knife might need maintenance:

  • It misfires when you pull the trigger
  • The blade doesn’t come out as quickly as it should
  • The blade feels sluggish coming out 
  • Your knife is excessively dirty

9. Understand Special Features

No two knives are the same. It’s important to know the difference between your knife and other similar OTF knives, to make sure you understand cleaning it, oiling it, and taking it in for service when things go wrong. 

For example, take a look at our Double Action Safety Knife MTUB1. This product combines a brass knuckle with a knife. The addition of the brass knuckles will influence all kinds of aspects of knife care. 

10. Store Your Knife Well

Knife maintenance isn’t just about what you do when you’re around your knife — it’s about how you take care of it away from the knife as well. If you had a nice car, you’d make sure you kept it stored in a way that would protect its assets; you have to treat a knife the same way.  

Make sure your knife remains covered, safe from dust and moisture. Make sure you use a carrying pouch if you intend on carrying your knife around. Exposure to dust and moisture can result in clogging and rust. 

Your knife needs a home for the same reason you need a home. The elements will wear away the quality of your knife, so you need to protect it. 

11. Know Your Knife 

The final tip is another tip that’s more philosophical. In a way, it sums up all of the previous tips. Make sure you know your knife. 

Knowing your knife is the best way to maintain it. Knowing your knife means you respect your knife, know how to take it apart and clean it, know how to oil it, store it, and service it, but it also means knowing when to call someone who knows more than you. 

When you know your knife, you don’t get your knife into situations it can’t handle. You’ll be able to get the most out of your product while maintaining its quality.  

Maintain Your OTF Knife

In our dangerous world, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for every respectable, decent person to own an OTF knife. However, these respectable, decent people would have to know how to maintain their knives, so that they work when they need them the most. 

For more information on OTF knives, contact us today.

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