Automatic knives, also known as switchblades, open automatically with the press of a button or pull of a lever. Designed primarily for military, police and EMT duty, the speed of an automatic knife is ideal for emergency situations. Automatic knives are restricted in many areas, so be certain to consult your local laws before purchasing.
About Automatic Knives
Best Switchblade Knives
Written by Blade HQ Staff Writer Andrew Hamilton and Logan Rainey on 11/11/2019
There's nothing like a dialed automatic knife. To make this list, these switchblades have to hit like a freight train and the quality has to be on point, too. We've compiled this list with the best auto knives from Kershaw, Boker, Benchmade, and more that are sure to tickle your fancy.
Find a review from one of our customers after the specs and details of each featured knife.
1. Kershaw Launch 4 Auto
The Kershaw Launch 4 may be diminutive, but it packs a big punch. It is a member of the famous Kershaw Launch Series and features a minimalist design and sleek aluminum handle scales. This knife is the perfect auto for your EDC rotation or bugout bag and is even California-legal. You won’t regret picking up this little guy.
- 5.10" Overall Length
- Cali Legal CPM-154 Drop Point Blade
- 6061-T6 Aluminum Handle Scales
- 1.98 oz. Weight
- Made in USA
Rodney R. says…
"Exceeds my expectations. Of the many knives I have bought from Blade HQ, this one caught my eye. I just got it today, and it has already exceeded my expectations. While it is more expensive than my Shrade and Boker knives (which I love and use constantly), it is feather light, tight, has a fast action, and it is beautifully designed. In a word, the Launch 4 is elegant."
2. Buck 110 Automatic
For around 40 years, if a man needed to clean a fish, open an envelope, or slice an apple, the Buck 110 was the ultimate and only choice. Buck did the world a real solid by releasing the 110 Automatic. There’s no better modern classic than this Idaho-made brute.
- 8.625" Overall Length
- 420HC Clip Point Blade
- Ebony Dymondwood Handle Scales
- 7.10 oz. Weight
- Made in USA
Jacob E. says…
“Like many people, I have a long history with the Buck 110 as I was gifted a well-used one by a relative when I was around 12. My taste in knives has moved on to more modern designs since then, but I am so glad that I picked this auto version up. I love the classic aesthetic with the modern mechanism. And the best part is, it is still a Buck 110 through and through. Overall great knife.”
3. Boker Kalashnikov Automatic
The Boker Kalashnikov kicks like a stallion and its dependability is off the charts. You might be tempted to treat this affordable, bargain-basement switchblade like a beater, but this thing has got the feel and ergos of an automatic knife at least five times more expensive.
Check out our Boker Kalashnikov Review for a deep dive into this knife!
- 7.625" Overall Length
- AUS-8 Dagger Point Blade
- Aluminum Handle Scales
- 3.70 oz. Weight
- Made in Taiwan
Mark G. says…
"This is another in a long line of autos I own and have owned, and it's hard to believe the quality of this knife for the price. Really hard to believe... Every aspect of this piece is spot on. The opening action is very strong, the lockup is solid as can be, and the edge does super fine paper ribbons right outta the box. I will indeed pick up a few more of these both for myself and probably as gifts. Grab at least one. You cannot go wrong and will not regret it.”
4. Protech SBR Automatic
The Protech Les George SBR is a scaled down version of the popular Rockeye design. This sweet automatic knife features a razor-sharp CPM-S35VN blade and an ergonomic aluminum handle. Pictured is the Blade HQ exclusive SBR Desert Warrior with a copper finished blade and OD green knurled handle. Be sure to check out our Pro-Tech SBR Review for more information on this great automatic knife.
- 6.50" Overall Length
- CPM-S35VN Drop Point Blade
- Aluminum Handle
- 3.05 oz. Weight
- Made in USA
Brad K. says…
“I love this knife...the way is looks and the functionality. Perfect size for EDC. Carry's small but plenty of knife to handle any tasks. Seems the copper coating may be different than the rose gold that I have on my Godfather but it’s still nice. Noticed that there is a bit of friction when slicing through things because of the coating. Will see if that changes with age. Overall very happy with purchase.”
5. Gerber Propel Auto
This fast and sleek automatic knife is built to handle the rigors of day-to-day life. Its slender design fits well in the pocket and leaves room for other EDC gear. The Propel Auto features a black oxide coated CPM-S30V blade (yes… that’s for real!) and grippy G10 handle scales. The snappy push-button action features a unique plunge lock and safety switch. This American made bad boy makes a great addition to any collection!
- 8.52" Overall Length
- CPM-S30V Tanto Blade
- Aluminum Handle
- 4.70 oz. Weight
- Made in USA
Ian B. says…
“I'm a land surveyor by trade and I won't go into the field without it. I have used it for cutting, prying, scraping, stabbing, and many other things I cannot think of at the moment. It always opens, stays sharp, and will not slip out of my hands. The easiest knife to open for me without taking off my gloves. 10/10 I want one of every blade style.”
6. Benchmade 4300 CLA Automatic
A ‘Best Knives’ list is basically heretical if it doesn’t include at least one Benchmade. Honestly, there were a bunch of awesome switchblade automatics to choose from… You could go with the Stimulus, AFO II, or the Presidio II and it’s really only down to personal taste. The 4300 CLA is purpose built automatic knife made for everyday and tactical duty alike. It's the knife that does it all, and a must-have on this list. If you love Benchmade as much as we do, be sure to check out our Best Benchmade Automatic Knives article!
- 7.85" Overall Length
- 154CM Drop Point Blade
- G-10 Handle
- 3.43 oz. Weight
- Made in USA
Jason W. says…
“After carrying the Benchmade Mini Reflex everyday for several years, I decided it was time for a new EDC and boy did I choose the right one for me! The CLA is perfect in size, weight, action and just a beautiful piece of work. If your looking for a new EDC, this one is JUST RIGHT.”
7. Boker Plus Strike D2 Automatic
If you like the Kalashnikov but prefer your switchblades with a little more belly and a safety slide, this Boker Plus Strike is an incredible option. Textured aluminum handle scales and a prominent finger choil keep your locked in place. Dollar for dollar, these Boker Strikes automatic knives punch way above their weight and now come with a D2 blade.
- 7.875" Overall Length
- D2 Drop Point Blade
- Aluminum Handle
- 4.79 oz. Weight
- Made in Taiwan
Jared S. says…
"The quality of the Bowie D2 Boker is great. I have a few Boker AKs and all are great except for the paint on the blade will drag if you cut something substantial but this stonewash finish is really nice. Love D2 and ordered the strike on day one and am very satisfied.”
automatic knives overview
With so many amazing manual knives on the market today, it can be easy to overlook automatic switchblade knives. In situations that require wearing gloves, do you really want to be fiddling around with that thumb stud or flipper tab? I didn't think so. Any knife lover can find the utility they need with our best automatic knives picks above. Buy with confidence. These knives are primed and ready to put in work.
Don't delay. The time is now. We've got some epic deals on all the automatic knives that fill your dreams every night. Make it happen; unbox your new EDC! For all Blade HQ updates, follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
How To Choose An Automatic Knife
Written by Blade HQ Staff Writer Logan Rainey on 12/4/2020
Pictured: Gerber 06 Auto, Benchmade Mediator, Boker Kalashnikov, Kershaw Launch 4
From Italian Stilettos to tactical folding knives, the automatic knife has been one of the most iconic knife types since its inception. Most automatic knives function by utilizing a spring mechanism to deploy the blade with lightning-fast precision. If you’re new to knives or looking to add an automatic knife to your collection, this article may be well worth your time. In it we will break down some see aspects of choosing an automatic knife. Let’s get to it!
Folding vs. OTF
Pictured: Benchmade 9400
When considering an automatic knife, there are only really two types: folding and OTF (out-the-front). Without getting too into the legal limitations of either, it’s important to note that certain laws apply to owning and carrying an automatic knife, and it is up to YOU as the consumer to know your local knife laws before carrying or purchasing an automatic knife. Now that we have that out of the way, a folding automatic knife is just like it sounds; it’s just like a regular manual folding knife, but instead features a button/switch to deploy the blade by means of a spring-loaded mechanism inside the handle.
An OTF automatic knife on the other hand features a blade that fires from the top of the knife rather than the side (check out our “How to Choose an OTF Knife” article to learn more). Once you’ve decided which style of automatic knife you want, we can get into some other important aspects. For the sake of this article we’ll mostly refer to folding automatic knives.
Pictured: Boker Kihon Auto
When it comes to automatic knives, there are a few different styles to consider. Tactical automatic knives are fast, precise, and durable so they can perform well under high-stress situations. Everyday carry automatic knives draw inspiration from tactical knives, but tend to have more flash and finesse than their tactical counterparts.
Either way you slice it, the automatic knife you choose has to fit your personal style and taste. For some of us it doesn’t make much sense to carry a beefy automatic knife like the Gerber Auto 06, but something like the Benchmade 9400 auto might offer the same excitement while being easier to carry regularly.
Pictured: Boker Kalashnikov
Pictured: Pro-Tech Strider
The next consideration to make when choosing a folding automatic knife is its size. In some places a big automatic knife is a no-go. They’re typically designated only for military and law enforcement and aren’t legal for civilians to carry. In these places (we’re looking at you California), they allow some automatic knives but limit them to their size. If folding automatic knives are legal in your state, lucky you!
You can pick your knife based on your size preferences rather than other limitations. The size of your knife will dictate how you can or can’t use it. Bigger knives are built for harder tasks, where smaller knives are built for more precise tasks. The choice is yours, but we suggest finding the one that fits your hand and how you plan to use it best.
Materials and Construction
Pictured: Protech SBR
Quality is everything when it comes to automatic knives. The better they’re assembled and designed, the longer they typically last and the better they perform. When considering which automatic knife to buy it’s important to think about how hard you use your knives and what you expect from them in terms of performance.
If you’re gentle on your knives, you may enjoy one with softer blade steel for easier sharpening and a painted/anodized handle. For those who are hard on their knives, a blade with more durability or better edge retention and a rugged handle may be a better option. Like manual folding knives, automatic knives feature handles made from metal, polymers, and composites, and can be found with practically every blade steel under the sun. Figure out what you plan on doing with the knife, then choose the best materials you can afford.
Pictured: Pro-Tech Godson
That brings us to our last topic: Price. Budget constraints and limitations can be a real challenge if you love knives as much as we do here at Blade HQ. With so many different awesome knives to buy, it can be hard to pick and choose which ones to buy. When it comes to automatic knives, there are some amazing knives in every price range. On the low end knives like the Boker Kalashnikov and Boker Strike feature amazing construction and great actions, but the materials may be a little lower quality and not last as long as more expensive knives.
For mid-priced automatic knives, the Kershaw Launch Series and Protech Sprint are a great way to get an awesome knife without completely breaking the bank. On the high side of things, the Microtech Stitch and the Benchmade Mediator are truly remarkable knives, but you have to pay a pretty penny for them. If your budget allows for it, we always suggest getting the best you can afford when buying an automatic knife. More expensive autos have better tolerances, more precise locking mechanisms and more durable materials. But if you’re just looking to add a fun automatic knife to your growing collection, you can’t go wrong with one at a lower price.
Pictured: Pro-Tech SBR
Purchasing an automatic knife is one of the most exciting things you can do as a knife enthusiast. They’re unique and badass! If you’re new to knives or adding your first auto to your collection, the most important thing to consider is the thing that means the most to you. For some of us, we don’t care about the look of the knife as long as it gets the job done, and for others looks are everything. Choose the knife that makes you happiest and you’ll be in a really good spot. Until next time, thanks for reading! Check out some of our favorite automatic knives in the video below, then browse our full selection of awesome automatic knives!
Final Say and the Law
Whether you call them automatic knives, switchblades, OTF knives, or even Italian Stilettos, this category of knife is always expanding. Microtech, Benchmade, Gerber, SOG, Buck, Spyderco, and Boker are just a few of the brands that produce solid automatic knives. As you consider getting your own automatic knife, make sure to check with your pocket knife laws in your area to see if carrying a switchblade is legal or not.