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The Knife Guide: Types of Switchblades


Do you find the different types of switchblades confusing? Knowing the various types can help you choose the right knife you can be comfortable with.

You might be planning to add a few more to your collection. Even so, an understanding of the various types of switchblades can help you. This way, you’ll be able to categorize your knife collection better.

All switchblades, or automatic knives, share the same quality. These knives allow you to conceal the blade inside its handle without difficulty. Classifications depend on how the blade retracts and how releasing mechanisms differ.

You’ll choose better if you can match the specific type to your needs. You should also consider the most comfortable way of handling the switchblade. Without further ado, here are the two types of switchblades you can choose from:

Side-Opening Folding Knives

The first one is a side-opening type of switchblade. It has its opening mechanism located to the side of the handle. It’s comparable to a regular folding knife, which pivots from a specific side.

What’s the most obvious difference between a traditional version and this switchblade type? It’s the spring mechanism.

Pushing a button can disengage the lock. This allows the spring to release the blade in a swift motion.

What Makes Side-Opening Types Better?

A side-opening switchblade is more convenient to use. At least, when compared to a traditional folding knife. You don’t need to wield both hands to pull the blade out.

In certain outdoor activities, you can use your free hand to hold the object. Then, you can release the blade with a simple press of a button.

This switchblade is helpful in extreme situations like holding down a rattlesnake. It allows you to maintain your grip without fumbling to release the blade.

A side-opening automatic knife is more beneficial compared to the other type. The following are its advantages:

  • Cheaper
  • Easier to sharpen
  • Safer to carry
  • More durable

These side-opening switchblades are great for utility use. However, some people also try to use them for other purposes. For instance, if you use it for self-defense, you will find this knife restricting.

What Disadvantages Should You Expect?

One of the disadvantages of this type of switchblade is its lack of versatility. However, you can also expect a couple of other inconveniences. If you decide to get a side-opening switchblade, it may be:

Uncomfortable to Fold Back

You need to use both of your hands to conceal the blade. During the process, it can become awkward to hold the handle. You also need to keep your fingers away from the path of the blade.

Single-Edged Only

It’s a great choice if you’re only using it for cutting. It may have some light puncture capabilities. However, you’ll experience resistance if you use it to stab all the way through.

Hard to Hold All the Time

You’ll need to keep one side free from obstruction for you to be able to release the blade. You can only grip the knife well once the entire length of the blade is out.

If you’re used to handling regular folding knives, you won’t find these too limiting. The easy mechanism that pulls out the blade is leagues better than using both hands.

Why Should You Choose this Type?

If you’re planning to use a switchblade on a camping trip to cut ropes, then side-opening knives could work well. Single-edged switchblades are very sharp, even if it’s on one side only.

It’s great for slicing or cutting softer stuff like veggies or fish. The flat side also gives you better control, allowing you to place a finger on it for precise cutting.

Since it has a sharper edge, this is the best switchblade for utility work. If you’re cutting boxes, wires, and other stuff, you’ll find that the edge of the blade has plenty of bites.

Out-The-Front (OTF) Switchblades

An OTF switchblade is like a boxcutter. Its blade comes out from the tip of the handle (or the front if you’re holding the knife forward). Since the blade jumps out from the end, you can achieve a better grip the whole time.

OTF automatic knives come with double-edged blades 99% of the time. There’s a lesser risk for injuries because of the safer way it deploys the blade.

Compared to a side-opening type, OTF switchblades are more versatile. It’s a little more expensive too. However, its versatility makes it worth the extra cost.

You’ll find artistic designs in OTF switchblades when it comes to a knife collection. Italian stiletto, in particular, is always a double-action OTF automatic knife.

What are the Advantages of an OTF Switchblade?

Using an OTF automatic knife allows you to perform more tasks. This is due to the blade having no restrictions of being single-edged.

The method of deploying the blade makes it safe enough for both single and double-edged blades. Due to this, it has several advantages over the other type of switchblade, including:

Effective Self-Defense Weapon

You need to have a tight grip on your knife in emergency situations. This is to prevent your opponent from taking away the knife from you.

An OTF allows you to hold it well even before the blade comes out. You can also execute slashes from both directions because it’s double-edged.

The Blade Has Many Uses

You’re not limited to a simple cutting. It can also help in tasks that need stabbing or puncturing. You can also use it for opening containers, cutting meat, or puncturing a hole.

OTF Is Ideal for Different Conditions

Since it’s easier to handle, you can use OTF knives in various conditions. If you’re doing carpentry or construction tasks, you can pop the blade out with ease without using your other hand. Even when diving underwater, you can use an OTF knife to cut seaweeds.

However, this type of blade is illegal in some states because of how effective it is. If you’re planning to get a switchblade, it’s best to consult your local state law first.

OTF switchblades are further classified into two types: single action and double action:

Single-Action OTF Knife

A single-action OTF automatic knife performs only a single “action” for you. That is, it pops the blade out with a simple button press. However, you’ll have to retract the blade yourself by hand, compressing the spring.

Its springs are more robust compared to the double-action OTF version. This means it can deploy the blade faster, usually in less than a second.

Since there are fewer moving parts, there’s less possibility of parts breaking down. A single-action OTF knife can last longer than its counterpart.

Double-Action OTF Knife

Double Action OTF knives are more expensive, but the price is more than worth it. The convenience this switchblade offers justifies the cost. There’s almost no effort involved aside from holding the knife well.

“Double-action” refers to the ability to deploy and retract the bade using its own mechanism. All you have to do is push a button.

The button toggles the operation of the spring. When it’s first pressed, the spring inside will loosen up its coil to pop the blade out.

Pressing the button again causes spring tension. It moves the blade to its original, concealed position.

Due to its simple operation, double-action OTF knives are accessible to everyone. It works well with so many tasks, including garage work or home improvements.

It’s also well-suited for outdoor activities. For instance, it allows you to set up camp without fumbling over with your knife.

Performing DIY tasks with a double-action OTF switchblade is easier. It requires less effort than single-action OTF knives. You can do more in less time because you’ll not tire your hands faster.

Which Type of OTF Knife Should You Choose?

When it comes to functionality, both single and double action OTFs are identical. Their big difference is the mechanism itself. Choosing between the two comes down to how much money you can shell out.

If your budget is tight, you can go with a single-action OTF knife. However, if you want more convenience, you can save some more and buy a double action OTF instead. Picking a specific type of OTF knife is only the beginning.

If you want to buy a quality one, there are other key elements to consider when choosing the best OTF knife for you. Factors can vary from the quality of the blade to the weight of the handle. 

Choosing the Right Type of Switchblades

Now you have a thorough understanding of the types of switchblades. You should be able to choose one that matches your needs with great ease.

Do you need help in choosing high-quality knives? Contact us today, and we’ll help you choose from our range of knives. Check out our collection and find what best suits your needs.

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