TYPES OF KNIVES
With all the different types of knives today, it can be easy to get lost in the seemingly endless information. Lucky for you, this knife type guide will walk you through the basics!
The five basic types of knives are:
Now, let's dive into the different types of pocket knives:
Manual folding knives have a blade that folds inside the handle, covering the cutting edge. Many of these types of knives have a locking mechanism that keeps the blade in the open position. All manual knives feature a mechanism to keep the blade closed and safe in your pocket.
This picture shows the detent ball that is used to keep a blade in the closed position. It is the most common type of “stay closed” mechanism and works by the detent ball moving along the blade as it closes. The detent ball then settles in a small hole in the blade when it is fully closed.
Folding Knife Uses
Yep, you guessed it. Most people use a type of folding knife for everyday carry (EDC). Common uses include everyday tasks like opening boxes containing newly acquired knives from Blade HQ, showing off to friends, or cutting into their favorite cheese wheel (we prefer Pepper Jack). They’re just plain handy to have around.
Spring assisted knives are a type of folding knife that flips open with a little assistance from the user. These knives have a spring or bar inside that puts tension on the blade, so when the user opens the blade to about 30 degrees, the blade then flips the rest of the way open. They often open with a flipper or thumb stud.
Spring Assisted Uses
Spring assisted knives came on the scene as a knife that opens faster than a manual, but would circumvent the strict Federal Switchblade Act of 1958 that governs push-button automatic knives. Because spring assisted knives open with a flipper or thumb stud, they typically are not considered automatic knives or switchblades in many legal jurisdictions. Many people use assisted opening knives like they would manual opening knives, but they fidget with them more. There’s something sweet and satisfying about that blade flipping open on a spring assisted-- the sound, the lockup, the quick action-- it’s dreamy.
Automatic knives, or switchblades, have blades that flip open with the push of a button. There are also variations that open via a lever or switch on the handle. The two basic styles of automatic knives are side opening and Out The Front (OTF).
Side opening automatics have a blade that comes out of the side of the handle when a firing button is pressed. This snappy action makes the blade accessible quickly.
Side Opening Uses
Side opening automatic knives are designed primarily for the military and first responders like police and firefighters. What do all these have in common, you ask? Emergency situations happen all the time and when someone is trapped in a sinking vehicle, seconds count. Automatic knives are designed to open speedy fast for people with speedy needs.
Because of their rich history in Hollywood’s portrayal of urban street violence in the 1950’s, automatic knives face many harsh restrictions around the US. Consult your local laws before purchasing an automatic knife.
OTF, or Out the Front, knives have a blade that exits out the front of the knife. We know: hard to believe from the name. OTF knives are a style of automatic knife because they use a button to activate a spring to automatically open the blade.
Two types of OTF knives:
OTF knives are great for lighter use and normal EDC. OTF blades come in different shapes, but many people are drawn to the dagger blade style (blades that are sharp on both sides).
Just remember, because OTF knives and switchblades are often misunderstood, it’s important to consult your local laws before purchasing one of your own.
Fixed blade knives are just that; the blades on these knives are attached to the handle and cannot be folded. Popular types of fixed blade knives:
Fixed blade knives vary in size, shape, and materials, which is why there are so many uses for different types of these knives.
Fixed Blade Uses
There is truly a fixed blade knife for every situation. Smaller neck knives can be great for concealment. Machetes are great for cutting large plants and trees. Many fixed blades also make great hunting knives. Bottom line: you can find a fixed blade for whatever you’re up to. Just make sure you’re not up to no good.
Butterfly knives, or balisong knives, have two handles that pivot around a blade. These knives are very popular for flipping and recreational use.
Butterfly Knife Uses
Although butterfly knives can be used like other knives, their main use is for recreational flipping:
Don’t worry, if you want to get into flipping without losing a finger, that’s where butterfly knife trainers come in. These trainers have dull blades that won’t cut anything and are perfect for beginning flippers.
KNIFE STYLES THAT FIT MULTIPLE TYPES
Let’s preface this section by saying it’s going to get a little confusing, and that’s okay. We’ve gone over knife types, which are the manual, spring assisted, automatic, fixed, and butterfly. Now we’ll go more into knife styles.
A style of knife is like a category, such as hunting knives, OTF, throwing knives, etc. Some styles are made as multiple types, which leads us to this section. Let’s dig in, shall we?