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The Ultimate OTF Knife Buying Guide

Wouldn’t you love to have the perfect knife in your pocket or back at all times? When it comes to everyday carry, few items are as useful as a pocket knife. Whether you are spending time outdoors, on the job, or in your garage or workshop, you’ll find yourself always reaching for a reliable knife. But with so many different types of knives available, how do you choose the right one? Most people should go with an OTF knife, otherwise known as an out-the-front knife.

These are incredibly handy and versatile, concealing the blade inside the handle when stored in your pocket. And with the click of a button or press of a switch, you’ll be cutting in a moment’s notice. No folding or fidgeting necessary. In fact, most knives sold these days are assisted-opening knives, showing you how popular these types of knives have become.

Ready to grab the best OTF knife that money can buy? Wondering what factors go into buying a knife that is perfect for you? Keep reading to find out now. 

Why Opt for an OTF Knife

First off, it’s important to know why you want to get an OTF knife in the first place. Do you know what differentiates them from other types of pocket knives?

OTF knives, or Out The Front knives, deploy a blade automatically, with one hand, at the press of a button. These are unlike traditional pocket knives that require the use of two hands to pull the blade out of the handle.

They were originally designed for military applications, where the ability to open a use a knife with one hand could save a life. For example, troopers jumping out of a plane who are experiencing a parachute failure. They would need to cut away the parachute, while falling through the sky, in order to deploy their second parachute. 

OTF knives also differ from other one-handed knives, such as switchblades, which deploy their blades out the side of the handle. With an OTF knife, the blades slide forward out the front of the handle, making it less likely to nick yourself with the blade. 

Today, OTF knives are used widely as EDC knives, as well as during outdoor pursuits such as camping, hunting, or fishing. Sound like something you need? Here are the key factors when it comes to choosing an OTF knife. 

Single Action vs Dual Action OTF Knife

When you’re in the market for an OTF knife, one of the first decisions you’ll want to make is single action vs double or dual action. With a single action knife, the spring mechanism inside the handle will only work to deploy the blade.

This means you have a one-handed operation to begin using the knife. But you’ll need to manually push the blade back into the handle once you are finished using it, with two hands.

A double-action OTF knife will deploy, and then retract the blade using the button or switch. This makes it a one-handed knife.

Consider your use cases when deciding which type of spring mechanism to choose. If you plan to use the knife while performing tasks that occupy your other hand, you’ll likely want a double-action knife.

But if you are purchasing a knife for general use, you may not need the double-action. 

Blade Type

You’ll find OTF knives that come with either a single-edged blade or a double-edged blade. Those considering a general-purpose knife often choose a single edge blade.

It offers a reliable cutting surface while also providing extra safety. With one side that isn’t sharp, it’s less likely to cut you on accident. Plus, the point tends to be a bit sharper than a double-edged knife.

But if you know what type of tasks you will be performing on a regular basis, and know a double-edged blade will serve you better than choose one. You’ll just need to practice additional knife safety skills

Blade Length

As with any type of knife, blade length is a key consideration. We produce large OTF knives with blades as long as four inches or more. Our medium-sized knives typically come with blades between 2.5 and 3.5 inches in length.

We also offer mini OTF knives. These mini knives come with blades that as small as 1.94 inches.

Those looking for a daily carry knife able to handle simple tasks like opening mail or parcels, or making simple cuts on the job, will enjoy the benefits of small overall packages. 

Knife Weight 

Most OTF knives are already lightweight. However, a few factors determine the total weight. The blade length, the handle size, and the handle materials can all add weight.

Some people prefer larger handles with grip holds for specific cutting applications. These are going to be a few ounces heavier. And they will add bulk to your pocket.

Button Type

OTF knives typically have three different blade release mechanisms. A button is available for a simple push activation.

A switch is available, as well as a lever you can move. They’re all simple to use, but you’ll find your preference pretty quickly. 


The knife handle offers the most options when it comes to choosing the perfect knife. Materials, color, grip, texture, size, shape, and even custom graphics all make a difference.

Metal handles are heavier but the most durable. They are usually made with zinc alloy. For a classic look, you can choose a handle made of wood. It features a beautiful wood design with a smooth finish.

Some knives come with a completely smooth finish which feels great in the hand but can be slippery when wet. Others have a textured finish to allow safe use during any conditions. 

Aside from standard OTF knife handles, we also manufacture OTF knives with a brass knuckle handle. These handles are made from aluminum for a strong, lightweight handle.

You may also find knife handles containing other features or accessories. Since we design knives for EDC, the goal is to be able to carry them around anywhere and everywhere. This means most of our knives have a built-in pocket clip to ensure you are never without your trusty knife.

Colors and Design

Most OTF knives come with a black handle. However, for those looking for something with a little more flair, other colors or designs are available. 

One of our popular OTF designs includes an American flag handle. Solid color options are available, as well as a camo pattern. You can also find knives with black handles and colorful hardware to add minimal contrast. These options are available in our Distinctive Collection


As a valuable member of your EDC essentials, knives already serve a ton of different purposes. Not only can they open packages at a moment’s notice, but you can use them to remove splinters, cut fruit or cheese, and many other things.

Not to mention, they are easily one of the most useful tools you can carry on all your backcountry adventures, as they can help you to cut paracord when needing to set up a shelter, process fish you are going to cook, and a whole lot more.

But if you’re looking for an even more functional OTF knife, you can choose a knife with a money clip handle, replacing the need to also carry a wallet on occasion. 

Safety Features

At TacKnives, we make sure all our knives are user-friendly and safe to hold and operate. All of our knives come with a built-in safety feature that prevents the blade to fully deploy when something is obstructing its path. 

When this happens, you’ll need to manually reset the blade before it becomes fully functional again, preventing accidental deployments.

Our knives are also equipped with a glass-breaker at the bottom of each handle, should you ever find yourself in an emergency situation where breaking a glass window is necessary. 

Flawless or Containing Character

When purchasing an OTF knife, you can choose between a brand new knife at full price, or opt for one with a bit of character for a lower price. Our Scratch and Dent Collection are those knives with minor cosmetic blemishes, such as scratches, imperfect paint, dents, dings, and other visual issues.

The functionality of these knives is not affected. They are otherwise in perfect condition. When purchasing from our Scratch and Dent Collection, you’ll enjoy a 50% discount. Though due to the nature of these knives, all sales are final. 

Many will find that a scratched knife, or even a used knife, works well for their purposes, knowing that it’s going to get scratched up anyways. But EDC enthusiasts often prefer to have brand new knives in perfect condition, knowing they are the only person to have used them.


Because the blade of an OTF knife comes out automatically at the push of a switch, they are considered switchblades. There are only a handful of states that have banned the possession of automatic knives. A few others have put restrictions on factors such as blade size. 

But most US residents will have no issues carrying these on their person, so long as they follow responsible practices. 

Finding the Perfect Knife for Sale

Finding the best knives isn’t hard. Once you know you’d like to get your hands on an OTF knife, simply purchase from a trusted manufacturer.

TacKnives has been producing the highest quality OTF knives since 2014. We design our products in-house and test each batch rigorously. Our knives are relied upon by outdoor enthusiasts, recreational and everyday users, and collectors. 

They last forever and stand up to other brands that charge far higher prices than we do. But our goal is to make quality OTF knives available to anyone.

Plus, we offer free shipping, easy returns, and an international warranty. If you are ready to order the perfect knife, check out our most popular knives here

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