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What Is an Out the Front Pocket Knife? Its Uses, History, and Benefits

out the front pocket knife

What does camping have in common with opening boxes? Both actions are done easily with one knife: The out the front pocket knife.

With all the different types of knives available to you, why should you get an out the front pocket knife over another? There are several useful benefits and historical reasons why this knife should always be in your pocket. 

What Is an Out the Front Pocket Knife

The out the front (OTF) knife is a pocket knife with a blade that slides open and closed by extending the handle’s front. The blade extracts by a button or switch.

The blade is fixed and slides parallel to the handle. This knife is also known as a sliding knife or telescoping knife. OTF knives come in a variety of forms. 

Single Action

The single-action OTF knife’s blade automatically deploys with a spring. However, the blade requires manual force to place it back in the handle.

Double Action

Double action knives provide automatic blade deployment and retraction. No manual effort is required to take out and put away the blade.

Out the Front Pocket Knife History

The first OTF knife was patented in 1860 and was designed for those who needed a one-handed knife. The lightweight and hands-free technology was a game-changer.

Several different versions of the knife popped up on the market, such as single action OTF knives and dual-action OTF knives. People were able to choose the OTF knife that suited their lifestyle.

Out the Front Pocket Knife Uses

OTF knives are incredibly useful. Your OTF serves multiple purposes and is a handy tool to keep around depending on your lifestyle needs.

Box Cutting

Straight blade OTF knives make excellent box cutters. The act of box cutting often requires one hand free. Thankfully, OTF knives only require one hand, making box cutting much easier.

Letter Opening

Smaller OTF knives are perfect letter opening tools. Holding your letter in one hand and your OTF knife in the other makes is efficient, especially if you’re opening multiple letters in a short period.

Camping Tool

OTF knives are versatile camping tools. From rope cutting to splitting wood, you’ll often find yourself needing a knife while camping. This knife is also ideal for outdoor survival situations, such as self-defense against an animal.

Window Breaker

OTF knives are excellent window breakers because they’re durable. These knives typically offer a window breaking tool at the end of the handle. This feature makes this knife great to keep inside your car in case you need to break open your window. 


With its one-handed capabilities, OTF knives work well in self-defense situations. The blade is sheathed within the handle and instantly deployable, making it easy to retrieve in emergencies.

Out the Front Pocket Knife Benefits

There are plenty of helpful benefits provided by OTF knives. Each unique component adds to the overall appeal of the OTF knife.

Quick Deployment

The blade of an OTF knife deploys quickly and easily. Quick deployment is essential in emergencies. It’s also useful all around and makes working with the knife more efficient.


OTF knives have the capability of opening with just one hand. This is ideal in high-stress situations where you need to deploy a blade quickly.

It’s also ideal when you’re expecting your other hand to be busy. Plus, the majority of knife-needing activities require one hand free.


OTF knives are very lightweight and easy to carry in your pocket. The lightweight features are ideal for daily carriers who need to use a knife often.


If you’re looking for versatility, OTF knives are the knives for you. These knives perform well in many different situations, from camping to box cutting.

Are Out the Front Pocket Knives Legal?

For the most part, OTF knives are legal to carry in many states because they only require one-handed operation. Knives that require two-hand use are typically illegal.

However, several states have banned automatic switchblades:

  • New Mexico
  • Washington
  • Montana
  • Minnesota
  • Pennsylvania
  • Maryland
  • Virginia
  • Delaware
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • Hawaii

Other states have specific restrictions, but not an overall ban. In some cases, private ownership is legal and open carry is not. It’s vital to check whether your state allows your knife before purchasing one.

Best OTF Knives

Looking for the perfect OTF knife might be overwhelming at first. There are so many options to choose from—each option has its own benefits. It’s easiest to break your choices down by size.

Large OTF Knife

The Large Double Action knife is a sight to behold. At 8 inches, its a large and hearty knife that works well in any situation. It’s fully automatic and offers rapid deployment. Plus, it comes with a window breaker and pocket clip.

Medium OTF Knife

This Damascus Steel OTF knife is seven inches, making it the perfect medium-sized knife. This is a double-action knife that expels and retracts the blade at the push of a button. A medium-sized knife is ideal for situations that call for a more durable knife, such as camping or self-defense.

Mini OTF Knife

For tasks like box cutting and letter opening, the Firecracker Mini is a solid well-priced choice. The blade has a recurved point, and the overall length is just below two inches.

Keep up Your Knife Knowledge

Having an out the front pocket knife provides a big quality of life boost. Not only is it useful day-to-day, but it’s also efficient and easy to use. Whether you choose a large knife for large projects or a small knife for everyday tasks, you’ll feel safer knowing you have such a versatile tool in your pocket.

TacKnives offers a high-quality selection of OTF knives and more. Browse our selection and start your knife collection today.

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  1. […] Are you interested in learning the uses, history, and benefits of OTF pocket knives? You can learn more here. […]

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