101.6 million. That’s how many Americans participate in wildlife, hunting, and fishing activities every single year! And, aside from a shared love of the great outdoors, they all have something in common:
The need to carry a knife.
That’s right, knives are a key piece of equipment for anybody who spends time in nature. With a high-quality blade at your side, you can chop wood for campfires and shelters, gut fish, slice meat, skin hides, and defend yourself against danger. First, though, you have to select the right knife for the job…
That’s where the best OTF knives come into play.
Assuming you buy a high-quality model, out-the-front (OTF) blades are versatile, practical, and, let’s face it, sexy. But with countless options to choose from nowadays, separating the wheat from the chaff isn’t easy. Know the struggle?
Well, this post should help. Check out our guide to the 9 best OTF knives on the market today.
1. Microtech Ultratech D/E OTF Knife
Microtech’s a well-known company in this space that’s renowned for its high-spec blades, razor-sharp cutting edges, and reliable mechanisms. The Ultratech D/E OTF knife’s no exception. It has a 3.4” blade, a 3.1” cutting edge, and a thumb-slide double-action opening system that’s ideal for everyday use.
Now, as always, this Microtech knife isn’t cheap. But as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for! The quality on offer is unquestionable.
Take the materials. Its stainless steel blade (CTS-204P) and aluminum handle combine to establish a sturdy, durable, and lightweight knife that’s well-balanced and highly-effective. You’ll also appreciate its fast-deploying mechanism, the pocket clip on the side, and the glass breaker on its rear end.
2. Smith & Wesson OTF Assist Finger Actuator
Hard to say but easy to use, the Smith & Wesson Assist Finger Actuator OTF knife is another impressive blade from a reputable brand. It’s 8.75” long, has a 3.25” stainless steel spearheaded blade (with or without serrations at the base), and boasts a spring-assisted thumb-slide opening mechanism.
Of particular note is the build quality on offer. Expect the blade to deploy fast and smooth and remain locked firmly in position at the top. It’s sturdy, holds its edge, and has a contoured grip that makes it a joy to hold.
The best part? It’s as budget-friendly as they come and one of the best OTF knives under 100 you’ll find.
Overall, the S&W’s a solid all-rounder at an impressive price point. That said, you do lose out on the functionality of pricier options. For instance, at 6.1oz, it’s by no means the lightest OTF knife on this list and the closing mechanism can be fiddly to operate with one hand.
3. Guardian Tactical RECON-035 Automatic OTF Knife
If you have a bigger budget to play with, then check out the Guardian Tactical RECON-035. Not only is it slick and attractive from an aesthetic standpoint, but it’s also incredibly high-performing. Here are the basics:
It weighs 3.8oz, is 7.75” long, and comes with a 3.38” stainless super steel (Elmax) drop-point blade. The handle’s made from anodized aluminum and the mechanism in play is an automatic thumb-slide that sits on the top edge.
This OTF knife’s very hard to fault and comes with rave reviews from all corners.
A primary reason for that is the deployment mechanism in operation. 3 internal ceramic balls and a steel plate combine to create a smooth, hyper-responsive double-action slide. You end up with a frictionless experience that facilitates both functionality and feel.
4. Hogue Knives Compound Automatic OTF
Got money to burn? Take a look at the Hogue Compound automatic OTF. It’ll set you back almost $400, putting it at the upper end of the OTF spectrum, but the quality on offer is undeniable.
Heat treated and hand-sharpened, the CPM S30V 3.5” stainless knife steel Tanto blade is strong, hard, sharp, and durable. Its anodized aluminum chassis provides an impressive strength to weight ratio (the knife’s total weight is 3.6oz) and the double-action automatic trigger can be operated with ease in either hand. Combine those attributes with a geometric pattern that adds extra grip and you have a winning OTF knife.
Oh, and another feature that warrants attention is the night-vision thumb slide. This ‘Tritium Infused Trigger’ sets it apart from the crowd. Thanks to the luminous bar inside the sliding mechanism, you’ll never have to fumble around in the darkness for it ever again.
5. Benchmade Phaeton Spine-Fire OTF Knife
The Benchmade Phaeton’s another example of a high-priced, high-quality OTF knife. Made in the USA and falling in the same $400 price range, you’ll enjoy a simple design with exceptional construction.
Everything from the drop-point CPM-S30V steel blade (this comes in raw-form or a black DLC finish) to the anodized aluminum handle shouts premium-quality. It packs a flawless double-action trigger mechanism that remains fixed in position. You can deploy and retract the blade with ease, without worrying about the edge dulling any time soon.
We like the texture on the handle too. It’s a sleek, minimalist-style aesthetic addition that does double-duty by improving the grip involved. There’s also a pocket clip designed for deep-carry.
6. Boker Kalashnikov Bowie OTF Knife
The Boker Kalashnikov Bowie is a low to mid-range OTF that’s 8.6” long and weighs 4.75oz. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because the design takes inspiration from the infamous Kalashnikov rifle! Buy this tactical knife and you’ll experience the same combination of budget-friendly functionality you see in the firearm.
Among many positive qualities, its D2 steel clip-point blade is extremely hard-wearing. It’ll hold its edge with repeated use and require less re-sharpening compared to other OTFs. The double-action thumb-slide makes deploying/retracting the blade a breeze.
As you’d hope to see in one of the best double action OTF knives, the blade fires fast, the locking mechanism’s sound, and there’s very minimal movement. If you don’t mind a little extra weight, then the Boker Kalashnikov’s a fantastic cost-effective option.
7. Schrade Viper Tanto OTF Knife
Back to the budget end of the spectrum and the Schrade Viper Tanto offers serious bang for the buck. Designed for tactical use, you get 8.5” of quality, with a 3.38” stainless steel Tanto blade, a plain edge, and an aluminum handle. At 4.5oz, it’s fairly lightweight, and the spring-assisted thumb-slide operates fast and locks tight at the top.
One potential qualm is the single-action design though. Unlike more expensive models with double-actions, you have to press a release button and use the actuator to slide it back into position. This isn’t the end of the world, but it does make the knife less convenient to use- especially with a single hand.
In all other ways, the Schrade Viper Tanto’s one of the best OTF knives for sale under $50 you’ll come across. The pocket clip on the handle and glass breaker on its pommel are extra bonuses that add even further functionality.
8. Microtech Exocet Bounty Hunter OTF
As you know, some parts of America are stricter than others when it comes to OTF knives. California, for example, has all-but banned them! Carrying these knives around is punishable by law…unless you purchase something like the Microtech Exocet Bounty Hunter.
With a blade that’s a mere 1.98” long, it’s so small that it sidesteps the laws here. You don’t have to be Californian to appreciate the Exocet Bounty Hunter though! The premium steel tanto blade, aluminum handle, and double-action automatic thumb-slide stack up to an impressive everyday carry OTF.
The only downside? Price. At $300, you’re paying an awful lot for a tiny knife!
9. TacKnives MTU18DE Double-Action Safety OTF Knife
As a leading brand in OTF sales, we’d be remiss not to include one of our own models on this list! One of the most popular models in our catalog, this double-action OTF knife’s durable, lightweight, and highly functional. Here are a few quick-fire features you’re sure to love about it:
- Blade length: 3.5in
- Total length: 8.5in
- Total weight: 3.35oz
- Body materials: aircraft aluminum and carbon fiber
- Blade material: high-carbon D2 steel
As you can tell, this medium/large OTF knife boasts an array of attributes. First and foremost, those high-quality materials are tough, long-lasting, and guaranteed to stand the test of time. The mechanism’s easy to deploy as well; the blade’s hard and high-precision, and the overall build quality’s second-to-none.
All told, the feel, function, and aesthetics of this premium OTF knife are hard to fault. Oh, and compared to other knives on this list, it’s cost-effective too!
Invest in the Best OTF Knives Possible
OTF knives are ideal for anybody who spends time in the great outdoors and/or needs a versatile blade for everyday tasks. The only downside? With countless options on the market these days, selecting the best OTF knives for your needs is no mean feat.
If you know the struggle, then we hope the suggestions in this article will help. Invest in any of the OTF knives on this list and you’re sure to walk away happy. Ready to buy a high-quality knife of this nature with free shipping and a lifetime warranty to boot?
Click here to see our full catalog of OTF options.