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Of all the types of knives available, the balisong is certainly is a unique one. Also known as a butterfly knife, Batangas, fan knife, and Manila folder; this unusual knife is popular for its handles concealing a folding blade and rotating around it.
This unique design paves the way for a multitude of tricks or hand movements. Their artistic and creative use has become even more visible with the ever-lasting use of social media as people have become even more inspired to discover the latest and fun-filled sport of ‘flipping’.
They have been in the market for an exceptionally long time since their origin 1200 years ago in the Philippines. Considering the huge period of existence, their use has re-defined right from being considered as a self-defense product to now meant for ‘fun’ and ‘performance’.
Quality brands have come up with balisong knives of excellent standards, which appeal to both practical users and collecting enthusiasts. However, it is essential to take care while using them, as they could be intimidating.
What are Balisong Knives?
Balisongs are gravity folders featuring two nearly symmetrical handles. A latch replaces a switch or button meant for opening the blade. It resides on the tip of one handle and clasps onto the other. This section keeps the blade in closed or open mode. Unlocking the latch opens the blade via inertia.
All butterfly knives have identical core features. However, they are of two types namely, trainers and live blades. The latter ones are sharp-edged knives, while the former ones are dull and represent the feel of the latter.
Trainers are ideal to start practicing without the risk of cutting.
Note: A balisong with a live blade is prohibited legally in several states and foreign countries. This makes trainers a reliable alternative to get started with flipping. We have already discussed the legality of butterfly knives.
Best Balisongs in 2021
This is a high-quality flipper made in the U.S.A. for those who are seeking an affordable fighter. Its unique point is that it is made based on the feedback from actual flippers.
It is a fighter knife that comes with a bowie-style, clip-point 4.6-inch sharp blade made for only experienced users. Made using the Sandvik 14C28N steel, the blade features a full flat grind and heavy stonewashed finish rendering great edge retention, corrosion and wear resistance, low maintenance, and excellent performance.
Relying on dual KVT bearing pivots for super-easy operation, the open and close mechanism of this blade is hassle-free. The cycling is pretty smooth. A fine double guard adds to the overall security while in use. The blade’s design is such that the top bears more weight to flip smoothly.
The skeletonized handle is also made using stainless steel and contributes to quick flipping. Its contoured round bevels facilitate easy movement when in your hand. The holes improve traction and contribute to firm grip without introducing deceleration.
Coming to the latch, it is rounded to keep its catching at bay. It comes with a positive stop to keep the contact with the blade away. However, there is no pocket clip.
Here is Lucha in action
Boker Plus 06EX227 – Best Budget-Friendly Balisong
This tactical balisong from the Boker Plus collection is admired for its smooth glide as a flipper to ride on the bearings for a quick trick or action. With a steady squeeze, the spring-loaded latch pops up to facilitate one-handed, fast deployment.
The solid G10 scales, as well as stainless steel liners, ensure balanced weight for quick usage, while the steel blade takes care of powerful cutting performance, ease of maintenance, and longevity.
Composing the 3.5-inch harpoon razor-sharp blade, the satin-finished, compound ground D2 tool steel strikes a perfect balance between cutting performance and durability.
The flat tip with the swedge makes up for a superb piercing performance; whereas, the saber ground area gives the strength required for slicing cuts. The balanced weight and bearings at the pivot points result in smooth and rapid action.
This cold work tool steel is known to resist corrosion more significantly than most steels having a high amount of carbon. It is also known to provide a good mix of wear resistance and toughness.
The steel liners form a strong base for the contoured G10 scales on the handle. While they contribute to a more contoured sense, the X grinding delivers traction and a secure grip while flipping. This butterfly knife also comes with a 4-position, tip-up, pocket clip for convenient carry.
Watch 06EX227 in action
Benchmade 85 Bali-Song – Highend Butterfly Knife
The 85 is the latest addition to Benchmade’s balisong collection. It is a competition-ready, premium model reflecting the top craftsmanship. Of all the admirable features, you will just love the stainless-steel bearings, as they are the ones responsible for notably smooth flipping.
Possessing one-piece two titanium handles, a drop-point blade, and a magnetic latch with through-hole refined fuller to match the look and feel, this knife flips effortlessly. The blade is made using S30V stainless steel and possesses the drop-point style reflecting a mellow recurve.
This design maintains the knife’s weight toward the tip to ensure controlled and quick flipping. The curve on the blade’s point, the stonewash finish, and the schematic fuller give a simple and elegant look to the blade.
Each handle is milled from titanium, a material known to deliver lightness and strength to ensure quick operation. The latch is great, which makes this knife an EDC model, unlike most premium flippers without a latch.
Overall, this butterfly knife is the epitome of elegance and toughness and all of this comes at a hefty price.
Watch 85 in action
Bear & Son Butterfly Knife 114AB
Bear and Son company manufactures affordable butterfly knives with prices ranging anywhere from $30 to $150. Their 114 series comes with different blade tip styles, blade steel, and blade length.
The 114 AB is a mid-range knife. In case you try to use it as a first-time user, the weight and momentum of the blade will slice your fingers quite easily. Yes, the blade is that sharp! Otherwise, it is a light and lasting butterfly knife to have at an affordable price.
Made in the U.S., this knife comes with a 4-inch closed blade made using 440 stainless steel. Its edge is hollow ground, while its tip is draped in the tanto style for quick piercing. The 440 steel is known for rendering a sturdy blade with a remarkably high edge-holding ability. Thus, you need not worry about the loss of sharpness now and then.
The 5-inch handles are made using zinc and are coated with epoxy powder to ensure sturdiness when in use. The handles feature a skeletonized design to reduce weight. You can expect a great combination of weight and balance.
When opened, the flipper rotates quite smoothly, which is a much-wanted feature. Then, the latch lock ensures that the blade is held firmly in its place. The clasp somewhat feels tight in the beginning and the swing is slightly slow. However, once you break it in, the swinging motion seems to be better than most other butterfly knives.
This 5.6 oz. balisong is made using the highest quality materials and comes from a brand known for its initiatives to give affordable but stylish tools.
Watch 114AB in action
This, bigger bro of Benchmade Balisong 32, is a classic build from top to end. The latter was a hit, but some users did not like its compact size. Then the brand came out with a larger and lighter version, the Benchmade 51.
This 3.3 oz. flipper features eye-catching scales, black G10 handles, a pocket clip, blue-anodized liners of titanium all of which join a durable spear-point blade made using the D2 tool steel. The patented-liner spring means of latching makes opening the blade a breeze and locks it perfectly.
The latch never stops functioning, and its spring-loaded mechanism makes opening the blade a quick task. The 4.25-inch crown-modified blade is just ideal for slicing. Further, it is sharp enough to be used as an EDC knife.
This balisong is lighter but sturdier than usual, to which the titanium handles contribute significantly. The overall look due to the beautiful finish is attractive enough to make it stand apart in the crowd, but the design adheres to the traditional butterfly knife. This is commendable.
Although a bit expensive, this one has a short pocket clip and is likely to be slippery when used with a wet or sweaty hand.
Watch 51 in action
What to Consider while Choosing the Best Butterfly Knife
For selecting the best balisong, it is important to consider the factors that tend to affect your selection. So, let’s check them out!
This is the first factor to consider even before you look into the available models. The fact is that several jurisdictions treat butterfly knives as switchblades due to which they are illegal to own, carry, or use. This is the major reason why many people cannot use balisongs. So, you first need to ensure that it is legal to have a balisong in your area or in the area where you will be using it.
We have already discussed the legality of balisong knives.
If you wish to buy a balisong only for fun, it is wise to invest in a cheaper model or on balisong trainer. Flipping a moderately-priced knife is as fun as flipping a high-end one. On the other hand, a high-end model is for an experienced flipper who now wishes to learn more fluid actions.
Butterfly knives can have one of the two types of construction, namely, pin and screw. The former has a pin where the blade meets the safe and bite handles. This prohibits you from adjusting the tightness of any handle and swinging the knife freely.
However, a screw construction eradicates this issue by allowing you to adjust the handle’s swing. Almost all high-end models have this type of construction. On the flip side, the screws can automatically readapt, affecting the overall flexibility. However, it is easy to repair this.
A balisong should be balanced. The handle’s weight and that of the knife should be balanced for enjoying flipping actions. Flipping enthusiasts will also need symmetrical handles. However, they would not prefer a model with curved handles, as it is just not good for flipping.
Although beautiful and reliable, a curved balisong is not balanced. This means it cannot ensure smooth flipping. Further, it has offset pivots to impact the performance of some tricks. So, the best balisong for enjoying flipping actions is the one having straight handles.
For a beginner, a lightweight model with an extended length of grip is reliable while flipping.
A 12-inch knife is considered great, but it is not so with a butterfly knife. A longer blade is hard to manage or flip. The same issue applies to a little blade. So, the best-closed size is around 5 inches, and the ideal open length is around 9 to 10 inches.
The best length depends on what is comfortable in your hands. A few fans prefer long models, while some prefer short ones. Nevertheless, flipping a long or bulky balisong can be risky for small hands.
Balisongs are made using a variety of stainless-steel alloys differing in strength or hardness. However, you should choose sturdy steel, stays sharp for long, and is reliable for slicing daily (if to be used as EDC). Note that you will be paying more than usual for a sharper and stronger blade.
The most reliable handle materials are steel, titanium, brass, carbon fiber, and aluminum. Your selection should be based on the kind of flipping tricks to perform. Both titanium and steel have good weight and provide the best handles, the former is lighter and stronger. Consider titanium for rough uses, as it does not break upon falling.
This is essential for a smooth flipping action. The smoother the rotation, the better is the performance. All parts of a balisong tend to contribute to smooth rotation.
The handles of most butterfly knives possess a solid piece for concealing the blade, whereas, the rest come with two different pieces. The latter ones come with space once the latch equips. This is then filled with barrel or blocked spacers.
Both are considered good but you need to see the size. If not of the same size, the two parts will be unparalleled and will affect the balance. Too big spacers can interfere with how the tool feels when in your hands.
Fast blade deployment, intimidating nature, and easy blade concealment inside two handles make a balisong ideal for self-defense. If are just starting flipping, do start with butterfly trainers. If you are looking for a budget-friendly balisong go for the Boker Plus 06EX227.
Hi, I am Jay. I am the creator of Knife Guides, your one-stop site for everything related to knives. I am a computer engineer by profession, knife aficionado by passion. Here I work with a group of people who’ve always had a passion for knives and blades. Over the years we’ve kind of become experts and decided to share our knowledge and ideas. I am also an avid hiker and enjoy offshore gamefishing.