An OTF knife, otherwise known as an out the front knife is a special kind of everyday carry knife and is in the pocket knife family. These are also called sliding knives sometimes and they have a blade that instead of using a hinge to open up, the blade pops up through the handle. This provides a tactical advantage, especially if you are looking to carry a knife as self-defense. The best OTF knife can be used for many different things as hunters and outdoorsmen use them frequently and security personal carry them for protection.
There are different options available when looking at the best OTF knives, to help you make a smart buying decision we have a nice comparison chart below. We also have more information about what makes a great out the front knife and go into the top 5 knives in more detail as well.
Like most knives in any category, there are different types of knives when it comes to the out the front type. The main thing that separates them is the mechanism that the knife uses to extract the blade from the handle.
Manual OTF Knives
These are the most commonly used types of OTF knives and it works by having the blade parallel to the handle, friction is used to keep it secured. There is usually a button which releases the blade that is on a track. To extract the blade you push the button and then use your finger to slide the blade along the track.
Automatic OTF Knives
The way these knives operate mechanically is virtually the same as the manual version but the main difference being the blade is spring loaded, so when the button is pressed the blade comes out the handle without any manual force needed. Many people think these knives basically shoot out of the handle but the truth is they don’t come out with a crazy amount of power for safety reasons. You’ll also find two different types of automatic OTF knives and they are single action and dual action. The single action versions will open automatically but you will have to manually retract the blade back into the handle, while the dual action versions automatically extract and retract without any manual force needed.
Features To Look For In An Out The Front Knife
All knives are going to be manufactured with various blade sizes, so many times choosing the size of a blade you need is a personal preference and it also depends on what you are needing the knife to do. If you are wanting an OTF knife for self defense you would probably want to go with a smaller blade but if you are wanting to use it for outdoor activities then a larger blade is something that would work well.
Just like there are various sizes of blade for these knives you are going to have different types of blade edges as well, which one is right for you again depends on what you need a knife to do.
These blades are very smooth and most effective when they are very sharp as well. These types of blades are ideal for self defense purposes and general purpose use as well. These blades tend to lose their sharpness over time but if you get a carbon steel blade they tend to not have to be sharpened as often.
Fully Serrated Edge
These blades have what many describe as teeth and are great if you need to cut tough materials like rope, branches, etc. Typically these blades are preferred by hunters, hikers and outdoorsmen. The serrated blade also stays sharper longer than compared to a straight edge blade. These blades are a great multi purpose tool for those that need something that they can use in various circumstances.
Partially Serrated Edge
These type of blades combine straight and serrated into one knife, giving you maximum versatility. Typically the way these look is the straight edge will be toward the end and the serrated edge is closer to the handle. If you aren’t sure exactly what environments you will need to use your knife in then this is a blade edge that is probably best for you.
The shape of the blade plays a vital role in how a knife performs, some shapes are going to be better for knives that are needed for slicing, while other shapes are going to be better for knives that are ideal for stabbing. The different blade shapes are designed with specific purposes in mind.
Tanto shaped knives are very sturdy and incorporates the use of angles. It has two straight edges which join for form a very sharp angle. You’ll find these types of blades in all different types of blade edges as well. These types of blades are ideal for prying and can withstand a lot of lateral force. It can also be used as a solid digger and to scrape, for this reason you will find some not sharpened like the rest of the blade. These are also great knives for penetrating or stabbing, so keep that in mind when looking at these types of blades.
This knife shape is great for an all purpose knife as it can stand up to just about anything, which is why this blade shape is one of the most popular blades on the market. This is probably the most recognizable knife shape and is used for hunting knives and swiss army knives as well. These blades tend to be thicker and very stable as well.
These blades are double edged which gives you the ability to use both sides of the knife, which makes this type of knife a pretty good choice for self defense purposes as it works well for stabbing and piercing. These sometimes will have partially serrated edges on one side. These are many times referred to as daggers also and are versatile blades.
It doesn’t matter much what type of knife you go with if the steel the blade is made from is weak, because the strength of the knife comes from how strong the steel is. Most OTF knives are made with stainless steel blades which is a strong steel and it doesn’t corrode but they do tend to lose their sharpness quicker than other steels. Another common steel that is used is carbon steel which is a strong metal and doesn’t lose it’s edge as easily as stainless steel but it is susceptible to corrosion.
We included the Schrade SCHOTF6 as a great budget out the front knife and like Schrade does they have many different models of a OTFs but this is their best offering. It is a well designed knife that is economical while also being well made. This knife as well as their other OTF knives are not only well made and economical but they are really fast as well. The opening mechanism does take a little time to get used to but once you get the hand of it, it’s truly an ejoyable and impressive knife. It has a 3.6 inch double edged spear point blade that is made of stainless steel and it also has a handy glass breaker on the bottom of the knife handle. If you’re on a budget and looking for a solid OTF knife then this knife is a solid choice.
The Ripcord has a unique and patented design that helps give this knife the strength and stability of a traditional fixed blade knife but can be compactly stored in tight spots as the blade retracts into the handle. This belt has a nice belt clip sheath that also doubles as the system that deploys the knife to engage or disengage the locking mechanism. All you have to do is pull on the back of the knife’s handle and then lift the knife off the locking button. Then to put the blade back into the handle you put the tip into the sheath, while you also set the back of the knife handle onto the release button and slide it all the way down. It takes some practice to get used to but it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it though.
This knife works well for either right or left handed carry and the blade is made of Sandvik 13C26 stainless steel and has a Tungsten DLC coating that helps it retain it’s sharpness better, protects from corrosion and also looks pretty cool too. It has a light weight handle that is made of anodized aluminum with Trac-Tec insert to help give it a great grip. This is a solid knife for those looking for an everyday carry out the front knife.
Coming in as our best out the front knife of 2016 is the Benchmade Infidel 3300BK Automatic. This knife will quickly become clear to you as to why it is the best in it’s class after you hold it in your hands and feel the quality of this knife. It comes from a great company in Benchmade and is made for reliability and strength as it has patented double action mechanics that ensure it does the job over for a long time. It also has a patented Presido style grip that is bi directional that allows maximum grip, even if gloves are being used.
This knife has a spear type blade that shoots out the front smooth every time and the pressure slide button intuitively works better than any other knife in it’s class and deploys very quickly. The blade locks into place once you bring it out with a unique three point retention system that also makes the blade steady and has very little play in the blade. Once your done with the blade the blade retracts in a blur and is just as smooth as it was coming out.
Simply put, the Benchmade Infidel is a knife lover’s dream and is by far the best out the front knife on the market in 2016.
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