OTF knives are a truly remarkable type of blade that is rare, unique and performs like no other. However, all of this means that they are a bit difficult to acquire, especially if you want top-notch quality and performance. Luckily for you, we will help you find the best OTF knife, and we will provide the buyer’s guide you can consult at any given moment.
What are OTF knives, and are they legal?
OTF stands for out the front, and it refers to the mechanism a knife uses to deploy the blade. In simpler terms, the OTF knife is a type of switchblade where the blade itself comes out from the front. A significant difference compared to standard switchblades, which comes out to the side. OTF knives are also known as sliding knives.
The best OTF knife should be a powerful and versatile tool that can be used for self-defense, hunting, cutting, and anything else you can think of. Thanks to the blade deployment, the knife will be small, lightweight, and powerful.
Now you know that OTF knives are a type of automatic / switchblade, and you can deduce that the same rules and regulations apply to them. This means that OTF knives are usually legal across the world, and they are not considered as a weapon. They are a type of pocket knife.
In the United States, only nine states consider these knives illegal. In other states, they are completely legal and can be used and carried freely. So yes, you can carry your OTF knife and use it when needed.
2020’s Best OTF Knives Reviewed
Venom 3TR Combat Out the Front Knife -Best OTF double action knife.
The knife we tested is stunning, made to meet the highest expectations, and it is more useful than you may believe. The main difference is in the fact this unit is made for combats and professional usages. Now you will see why.
Rapid Assisted Deployment
The mechanism may look standard, but it is far from that. It is faster and smoother than most other models have and optimized explicitly for advanced usages. You will understand why the first time you use the knife. It feels special.
There is no need to add that a mechanism is a heavy-duty unit that can withstand rain, sand, mud, or anything else, and it will stay 100% functional. Only the best components are used.
Another reason why we believe this is a high-end knife is the blade of length 3.9 Inches. Obviously, it is made from durable steel, and it will maintain its sharpness perfectly, but it is also double-edged with
Tanto Partial Serrated Edge. Thanks to this type of blade, the knife is more capable and more useful. It is more dangerous for possible attackers. The maintenance is slightly above average.
Tested before delivery
Each knife is made in the United States, and it is properly tested before delivery. We loved this small addition, and we know that it is a game-changer for some users. After all, you will be creating that the knife you ordered is functional to the smallest point.
- Double edge
- Rapid Assisted Deployment
- Each unit is tested
- Advanced features
- Attention to detail
NNK Sigil Double Action Knives Outdoor Knife Tactical Knife – best OTF knife for the money
At first glance, the knife gives you an impression of a tough build reflecting the classical black look. Although this knife is not that popular, its features are such that it deserves to be in any tactical arsenal. It is similar to the Benchmade’s Infidel. However, the only difference is that it is far cheaper than this model.
When you take it in your hand, it gives a well-made, tough feel along with a highly-sharp touch. So, just be careful in touching the edge! The tool is a dual-action knife, which means you only have to slide a switch to open or close it. The slide occurs backward and forward. It is easy to operate this knife!
The sharp blade is double-sided, cuts clean, and is made up of sturdy 420 high-carbon stainless steel. The safety gear in the blade prevents it from extending against any item.
Reflecting on the ergonomic design, the handle snugly fits the hand. Although not a thumb-buster, the spring is surprisingly strong.
- Super sharp
- Solid feel
- Good weight distribution
- Smooth action
- Comfortable grip
- Super affordable
- A bit heavy for some users
Smith & Wesson M&P 1084315 Flat Dark Earth Spear – Cheap Single action OTF knife
Smith & Wesson by BTI Tools 1084315 Flat Dark Earth Spear is probably the best OTF knife if you want to own something unique. The biggest difference compared to other models is the deployment mechanism, and it will be explained below.
Hybrid deployment mechanism
These mechanisms are scarce, and the chances are low that you will find another model with the same technology. The difference is in the retractable operating method. You deploy the blade as usual, but when you want to retract it, you will pull a piece of nylon.
The S&W OTF knife itself is handy and a desirable variation. It is better than the single-action mechanisms, but not so good as dual-action ones. That’s why it is called a hybrid mechanism.
AUS-8 stainless steel
AUS-8 stainless steel is a common material for most knives. It is sturdy, rust-resistant, and it can be used for all kinds of applications. The steel is reasonably lightweight, which makes it ideal for switchblades. Some of the most expensive units are made from this steel.
The blade has a spear point, and you know that we prefer this design. It makes the blade deadlier and more appealing to use. At the same time, it makes usage effortless, which isn’t the case with dull blade points. The point is extremely sharp.
- AUS-8 stainless steel
- Spear blade
- Deployment mechanism may be an issue for some.
- Handle feels cheap
Schrade Viper 3, OTF – Best budget OTF Knife
Schrade Viper 3, OTF, is a worthy alternative to all models mentioned above. We liked the sleek design and a nice blade. The knife feels solid and strong, but it is also very light. The mechanism is above average, and the price is very affordable.
You will want to hear about the safety mechanism. It is mounted on the back of the knife, and it is effortless to use. The mechanism is reliable, as it should be and can be activated with a single hand, although you will need some time to get used to it.
There is no need to explain this but stunning. The design of this Schrade OTF knife is excellent. Both the blade and the handle are black, and the knife feels and looks like a weapon, despite the fact it is a small switchblade.
We hope to see this model in different colors soon. It will make it more versatile and probably add importance to it. At the moment, only the black version is available, and it may be the best choice for most of you.
The blade is slightly different than the others we tested. It is perfectly sharp, and it will cut through anything. It is also made from durable steel and immune to rust and corrosion. Be careful while using the knife, and always read the manual before you start.
Maintenance is kept to the minimum standard for all stainless steel blades.
- Safety mechanism
- Value for money
- Ideal size
- Single action mechanism
- One color only
HaoMing Knives Camping Tool – Cheap double action OTF knife
Are you looking for an economical but reliable OTF knife for the first time? If yes, then this knife from HaoMing could be your best choice. There is not much to play with the blade due to its minimal profile. However, it is yet a functional one!
The blade is quite sharp. Its quick deployment and retraction mechanism are truly tight. The blade closes and opens smoothly with a solid click but does not result in an accidental opening at the time of being clipped or dropped.
The clip is held onto the knife via the integrated glass breaker without any screws. The exterior has a non-slippery rubber-like layer that is thick to stay there for a long time. The blade is released to the clip’s opposite side and faces downward. Thus, when clipped, no waste goes inside.
- Visual appeal
- Sturdy build
- No loud spring vibration
- Nothing identified yet.
MTN Recon OTF Double Action Safety Knife -Best budget OTF knife
Now we want to present to you the best-looking knife on the market. It is made to last, and it is made to impress all of you. Honestly, the knife looks much better in person than on a picture. As we have just mentioned, it is beautiful and useful.
The blade is made from 440c steel, which is stronger than usual. This made it possible for it to stay thinner and decrease the overall weight (3.35 ounces) but to be extremely strong and useful. The blade is super-sharp, so we would recommend it for the advanced users only.
The mechanism is dual-action, and we believe you know what this means. Add this feature to the overall design, and you have an outstanding OTF knife that can be used anywhere for any purpose you have in mind. And yes, the mechanism is reliable and considered as one of the best on the market.
The handle itself is a masterpiece. It is made from a select type of aluminum that feels different than any other. It offers a decent level of grip, and it is super-strong. Precisely this is the reason why we can add that the knife is made for heavy-duty operations.
The handle incorporates a lever used to activate the mechanism. It feels very nice, and it is comfortable, although the level of grip is significantly lower. We would like to see rubber or silicone pads on it in the future.
- Five versions available
- Dual-action mechanism
- Small and compact
- Low grip handle
update: MTN knives are out of business now
MTN Double Action Out The Front Safety Knife Black – Affordable option
Double Action Out The Front Safety Knife Black is the best OTF knife, and we hope you will have the same conclusion. The knife is well-made, it is strong (the blade and the handle), and it is an advanced model. You will like using it for anything you have in mind.
Probably the most significant advantage is the deployment mechanism. It is a dual-action, meaning you can deploy and retract the blade by pressing/pulling the lever. This makes usage easier than ever before and also adds a huge safety benefit.
We should add that the mechanism is a heavy-duty, and it has been tested adequately on each unit before delivery. We tested our model countless times, and there were no complications or issues.
Yes, you get a glass breaker as well. A difference compared to similar knives is the size of the glass breaker. It is massive, and it is capable of breaking a car window within a second. This is a small yet very needed and useful feature we all liked.
Another significant benefit of the knife is the design itself. It makes the knife strong, and it feels robust when used. This primarily refers to the mechanism which doesn’t make any sounds while carrying the knife. Also, the handle feels stronger than usual.
- Dual-action mechanism
- Glass breaker
- Pocket clip
- Strong construction
- One version available
- Poor packaging
update: MTN knives are out of business now
Best Mini OTF Knives in the Market
As the name suggests mini OTF knives are tiny knives with the out the front mechanism. These knives are so small and can be put in your keychain. Mini OTF knives are mostly under 2.5 inches hence, in most states, these are legal, unlike the standard knives.
Strix RHK-1 Mini OTF Pocket Knife
Small and compact design – Available in a compact size and a lightweight profile, this pocket knife is excellent when you need a blade in any circumstance. It weighs not more than 10 grams and measures 45×7 millimeters.
Durable materials – The blade is razor sharp, so be careful when you try it out. It is easily replaceable if it goes dull over time, yet it is likely to last for years. After all, you are not going to use it for everyday tasks. Furthermore, the casing is made of rugged aluminum.
Convenient design – The blade works like a classic cutter. You slide it out, use it, and slide it back in, so you can store it safely in your pocket. Other than that, the knife comes with a keyring, so you can also keep it with your keys.
- Easy to replace the blade
- Compact design
- Lightweight profile
- Comes with a keyring
- No lock for the blade
- Difficult to find a replacement blade
Ry-Tac Mini Keychain Double Action OTF Knife
Multipurpose profile – This knife is more than just a sharp blade. It also makes a good firecracker knife, not to mention the keyring. In fact, it might be wiser to keep it attached to your keys to avoid losing it due to its compact size.
Appearance and style – The knife is tiny but large enough for a plethora of different tasks. It measures 5.25 inches in length. When the blade is all out, it adds another 1.95 inches to its length, so you can use it for all kinds of activities. It is hydro dipped in a carbon fiber pattern for good looks and durability.
Sharpness – The blade is razor-sharp. Try it out on a useless item around you, but remember – it can hurt you if you do not pay attention while you use it. Since you are less likely to use it on a daily basis for random tasks, the blade does not require sharpening.
- Compact appearance
- Good looking design
- Retains its sharpness for ages
- Firecracker and keyring
- Finding replacement blades could be difficult
Rise Mini Keychain Double Action OTF Knife
Small and compact – The knife is small and can easily fit inside your pocket. The blade measures about two inches when fully out, so it should be enough for all kinds of applications – including camping needs or small repairs.
Easy to use – The knife features a small button on one side. It is attached to the blade, so sliding it in or out is extremely simple. It does not have a lock for the blade, so you must be careful not to accidentally open it in your pocket.
Convenient – The knife features a clip hole by one of the corners. You can hook a keyring in and attach it to your keys, your belt, or anywhere else.
- Comes with a clip hole
- Easy to slide in or out
- Razor-sharp edge
- Durable stainless steel blade
- The blade needs tightening every now and then
RISE Mini Keychain Double Action Knife Tanto Blade
Good grip – The knife features a solid handle, as well as a textured design. The textured handle ensures the knife is less likely to slip out of your hand, even if they are wet or sweaty. After all, given its size, it does not have other types of protection, such as a guard.
Sharp edge – The edge is extremely sharp. Make sure you do not touch it to try it out. It is suitable for all kinds of applications. You can use it on your fishing trip, while camping or for small repairs around the house.
Convenient design – The design is intuitive and makes this knife extremely convenient. It has a clip, so you can hook it up to your keys or your belt. You can slide the blade in or out without too much hassle – just use the button.
- Features a clip
- Sharp tanto blade
- Nonslip grip
- Durable metallic construction
- You might need to tighten the blade every once in a while
How to Choose the Best OTF Knife for You
Source: Dave Merrill
All of us want the best OTF knife only because it will be easy to use, practical, and strong utility. To find and purchase the best unit, we need to consider many things. Let’s call those things factors to parameters, and now we can start listing them.
The material of the blade
The blade is the most critical part of any knife, and OTF models are no different. If the blade is inferior in quality, it is irrelevant which type of handle, additional features, or the price that the unit has. This refers to all knives.
The materials to look for are stainless steel or carbon steel. Any other mixture of metals is weaker and won’t provide excellent performances. This means that the blade will chip, break, and become dull within minutes.
Stainless steel is a cost-effective option. It is easy to get a unit with this metal, it can be very durable, and it will look nice. The maintenance is simple, as well. Carbon steel, on the other hand, is more expensive, stronger, and requires more maintenance. Be free to choose the type of metal you are comfortable with.
Deployment mechanism – Single action vs. Dual-action OTF Knives
Here we have two main types. First of all, the deployment mechanism refers to the system that will deploy the blade from a resting position. A button or lever controls it, and it will activate the blade when pressed.
You can choose between single action and double or dual action mechanisms. A single-action type will be able to deploy the blade only. You need to use manual force to place it back in the handle. A dual-action mechanism will deploy the blade and also retract it in the handle.
We prefer double action OTF knives. They are a bit more expensive, complex to make, prone to malfunction but more useful, easier to use, and safer as well. You risk cuts while retracting the blade manually!.
Example for single action OTF knife : Smith & Wesson M&P 1084315 Flat Dark Earth Spear
Example for double action OTF knife: Venom 3TR Assisted Combat Knife (Double Edge)
For ordinary knives, the handle can be made from all sorts of materials. After all, it needs to be strong and lightweight. This is partially true with the OTF knives. Yes, a handle should be both of the just mentioned things, but there is a catch.
A handle will be under a lot of stress when using the knife. There are springs inside it, and there are a lot of vibrations. If the weak handle is present on the knife, it will get more vulnerable in the future.
Weak handles can affect the deployment mechanism and can prevent it from operating. They can also break and be unable to protect the user from the blade.
The best handle is made from aluminum. This is a durable metal that is very resistant to vibrations while maintaining the low weight of the knife.
A safety mechanism is entirely different than the deployment mechanism we mentioned earlier. In general, it is used as an addition to preventing the blade from accidental deployment, and it deserves your full attention.
If you accidentally open the blade, you can injure yourself due to strong springs present in the action mechanism. A safety mechanism will prevent that, and it is a mandatory feature for all beginners.
You can find a model with or without this feature. We prefer a model with it because it comes without any drawbacks, yet the glass breaker is there when you need it. You can remove it if you want, but there is no need for that.
A good thing is a fact most knives of this kind include glass breakers. We can add that they are almost standard with the knives of this caliber.
Tip of the blade
For most of you, the tip of a blade is irrelevant when looking for a new knife. After all, it isn’t something that will significantly change the functionality of a knife. The case with OTF knives is the opposite, and here’s why.
The knife with OTF design will be used to stab an object or anything you want to cut while the action mechanism is deployed. If the tip of the blade is dull, it will fail to inflict the damage. That’s why we recommend you, models, with spear tip design. They are simply the most effective.
This is a rare accessory you won’t get with most of the knives available on the market. The reasons for that are obvious. The blade is located inside the handle, so it isn’t exposed. As such, you don’t need a sheath in most cases.
If you still want a sheath, keep in mind that it needs to be suitable for an Out the front knife with a closed blade. This is the natural position of the knife, and it should be carried only in this form.
It is another little feature we like and probably you will as well. A pocket clip is essential, especially if you know that a sheath isn’t included in the package. It will help you transport the knife, and it will be within you at all times.
We were impressed with the quality, the mechanism (double action), and the attention to detail, and the affordable price of Venom 3TR OTF knife. We believe most of you will be entirely happy with this choice and will use the knife for decades. If you are looking for cheaper alternatives, try OTF knives from HaoMing or NNK.