How Do OTF Knives Work?

If you are interested in knives, then chances are you have heard of an OTF knife at some point in your experience. But how do these knives work? 

How Do OTF Knives Work

OTF knives are a kind of switchblade that uses a special mechanism to push out the knife, which makes it possible to release the blade with one hand.

In most cases, OTF knives are used in outdoor activities, such as hunting and camping. But how does the main mechanism work and what separates OTF knives from common switchblades?

In this article, we will take a look at the mechanics of OTF knives and how they can be used in your everyday life…

What Are OTF Knives? 

OTF knives (otherwise known as out-the-front knives) are a kind of automatic weapon that uses a button to push the blade from the handle. 

While some have compared these knives to box cutters, there is so much more to learn about this particular blade and its various uses.

For example, OTF knives are considered to be a kind of automatic knife, which means they share similar components to switchblades and butterfly knives. 

In contrast to butterfly knives, which have to be held a certain way to activate the blade, OTF knives are operated using a mechanism located on the handle.

While most switchblades will surface from the side of the hilt, out-the-front knives will come out at the top of the handle, which is how the weapon earned its name. 

How Do OTF Knives Work? 

When it comes to using an OTF knife, the blade will be concealed inside the handle, where it will remain until it has been activated. 

To control the blade, you will need to press the button or lever on the side of the handle, which will activate the mechanism and produce the knife.

Like firearms, OTF knives come in both single action and double action models, which can make it harder to return the blade to its original position. 

Single action OTF knives need to be closed manually once the blade has been activated, as the mechanism needs to be compressed for the next session.

However, double action OTF knives feature a device that compresses the mechanism as it opens, which makes it easier to close. In certain cases, it is even possible to close the knife with the same button used to open it. 

How Do You Use OTF Knives? 

Once the blade has been opened, it will function like any other automatic knife, which means it can be used for a host of applications.

In most cases, OTF knives are used in outdoor activities such as hunting, camping, and fishing. However, it is also possible to use the blade in handiwork and other mundane efforts. 

Of course, the main benefit of OTF knives is that they can be operated with one hand, which makes them easier to use in certain situations. For example, you may need to cut some material while securing it with one hand. 

Why Own OTF Knives? 

In contrast to other automatic weapons, OTF knives allow the user to maintain a firm grip on the handle while opening the device.

Thus allowing the user to operate the blade as soon as it has been released. For this reason, out-the-front knives are desirable in complex situations such as hostile work environments and self-defense. 

OTF knives are also suitable for those with reduced grip, as the handle allows them to hold the blade while operating the mechanism.

If you are interested in purchasing an OTF knife, we would recommend a double-action model, as these are easier to use and can be closed with the same buttons. 

Can You Own OTF Knives? 

Automatic knives first rose to prominence during the second world war, when it became clear that the military needed accessible blades to deal with faulty equipment.

In most cases, soldiers would use the knives to cut through the shroud lines of their parachutes, which were prone to malfunctions. 

As the need for automatic knives increased, more OTF knives were being produced, which led to their widespread circulation.

However, times would eventually change and new laws and restrictions would be introduced to control the rise in knife crimes. Since then, these laws have become more lax, although there are still many states where out-the-front knives are banned. 

In most cases, the possession of an OTF knife is allowed if the carrier has a disability. While in other states, common possession is considered legal.

Because of this, there are now many well-known knife manufacturers that have been producing quality blades for several years. 

These include notable names such as: 

  • Benchmade 
  • Smith & Wesson
  • Schrade

What Other Automatic Knives Are There? 

OTF knives are only one member of the automatic knife family, which also includes other notable models: 

Gravity Knives 

Sometimes known as butterfly knives, these blades are some of the oldest automatic knives available, as they date back to the 1800s. 

How Do OTF Knives Work (1)

In contrast to the other automatic knives we have mentioned, butterfly knives use downward force and hand motion to activate the blade, which then locks into place once it has been opened.

To return the blade, you have to press a switch on the side of the handle, which returns it to its original position. 


Of course, switchblades are now considered the mascot of automatic knives, as they were one of the first to ever be produced. 

Like out-the-front knives, switchblades can be opened via a button located on the handle, with the blade protruding from the side. However, there are some switchblades that require a certain amount of force to be activated. 

Final Thoughts 

OTF knives are one of the most famous automatic weapons in the world, which use a special mechanism to activate the blade. 

While some OTF knives require you to close the blade yourself, there are others that can be sealed with the same button used to activate it. In most cases, these knives are used in outdoor activities and can be kept on your person for an accessible blade.

Matthew Osborn

Matt is an entrepreneur who has created and successfully exited multiple companies and brands. Now, he dedicates his time to Legionary, where he produces content on guns, family, and freedom.

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