June 21, 2008, 10:56 PM
My brother was in town this week and as usual had a new knife to show me. They're almost always benchmades and usually autos. Got me to thinking. My CRKT with a carson flipper is pretty much as fast to open as his auto. What is the advantage of the auto. I know why he carries one, just so he can carry an auto, but is their any real advantage?

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June 22, 2008, 07:34 AM
These days it hard to tell. Back when it was backspring folders and switchblades the switchblade was obviously the quickest.

Then along comes thumb holes and thumb studs and speed of opening became a goal for some makers. Then Blackie Collins and Ken Onion come up with the assisted opener (Ken did it because he was making switchs and the Honolulu LE irritated him when they warned him about switchblade laws, while Blackie did it because he just invents things) and the race is truly on for ease/speed of opening.

June 22, 2008, 08:43 AM
no advantage for me, spring/ auto/ switchblades are illegal in VA, so I take out the spring and basicly make them a folder you open by pressing the button and flip the blade. Its fast and locks up tight with the original mechanism

June 22, 2008, 08:46 AM
Well, they're definately quicker than the old Barlow flip. (Anyone remember how to do that one?) I've never owned one, do the springs wear out after time? The ones my brother totes around are very nice knives, but when you can get the same model, sans auto, for so much less I'm not sure I see the advantage. I'm just starting to look into the various mechanisms of opening, some are pretty interesting.

The Tourist
June 22, 2008, 01:07 PM
Switchblades derive from before our Southern Struggle for Indepence as a tool for women and seamstresses who needed to hold a stitch in place while snipping the rest of the thread. The knife could be opened with one hand.

I am of the portion of the generation that saw the last of students living "The West Side Story" existence as a young teenage boy. I wore a "team jacket" in those days, and I kept my hands in the side slash pocket. To the world I was just another teenager keeping his hands warm. In reality, I had my right hand wrapped around a real-deal six-inch Sicilian switchblade.

Obviously, this was a braggadocio among wound up hormonal boys. But having said that, it was a comfort, and who knows how many fights it spared me from bullies who knew the cost.

Today, we have one-hand openers with studs, holes and discs that allow the thumb to easily rotate the blade to lock open. We have assisted folders, although I believe the end is coming for those items in court test cases. From the beginning, an assisted folder was built simply on semantics, and in truth a torsion bar is a spring.

There are some real and determining factors in the use of one-hand folding knives. I use these ideals every day.

Let's face it, LEOs are going to be a part of my life, deal with it, get over it. A tone-deaf cop with bifocals is never going to miss 700 pounds of loud chrome screaming past his squad car. So, I wave to LEOs, I get to know them. I approach them when they are parked by a curb and ask them questions. (Most recently regarding the death of one of their sons.)

Many could be potential clients.

Another aspect is gray hair. Not a career move many of you might choose, but it pertains to the severity of the encounter. I once showed a police officer some samples of automatic knives while I was pulled over for a speeding ticket. Last year I walked over to the home of a new young LEO neighbor, and showed him three automatic knives in his foyer.

My point is that I appear friendly and break down barriers at every opportunity.

Does it work? Well, I have Stage II pipes on a 2004 Dyna, and I've never gotten a ticket for noise. In fact, I've never been pulled over. I once waved to cop as I passed him.

It's the man, not the metal, always has been. And in the end, a switchblade is metal.

June 22, 2008, 06:45 PM
Well now don't get me wrong. While I personally don't see any need for an auto, I've long desired a Sicilian knife. Not to carry mind you, just to play with while watching The Outsiders. Some knives are legend, not always for laudable reasons.
When I first started looking at the assisted openers I too figured that their days were numbered. It's only a matter of time before the wording of the law is changed to rein them in.

The Tourist
June 22, 2008, 06:50 PM
I've long desired a Sicilian knife

...and how much would you pay for this knife, little boy? Would you consider yourself a wealthy man...

June 22, 2008, 07:03 PM
And that is the rub ain't it. While I have found many paki copies that were within my budget, the real deal (as so often in life) is priced beyond my grasp. If only I were the one who wrote orders instead of executed them. But one day, oh yes, one day...

And I was going to respond to your "little boy" jest the way my father taught me, but it would have been most deliciously low road and more than a bit of bragging.:evil:

The Tourist
June 22, 2008, 07:10 PM
bit of bragging

You're corresponding with a tinker who is a biker (and knowing the chance for tall tales is quite high, if not assured) and you try to pass off an even bigger fib?

Yikes, I was born, but not yesterday.

Besides, you can get a nice six-inch Sicilian stiletto with real horn and brass bolsters for about 150 bucks. Now granted, I paid nine dollars for mine in 1967...

June 22, 2008, 07:26 PM
O.K. now I know were all getting old when we talk about buying 9 dollar knives in 67, and wearing team jackets, and west side story. not to mention gray hair, but to stay on thread okie stay with your carson flipper, by the way when I went into the army in 66 I took a stiletto and a Edge brand Bowie with me Still have the bowie lost the stiletto in the nam

June 22, 2008, 07:40 PM
Forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest. That sums up my view on the appeal of autos. Today, consumers can purchase one-handed openers that have all the advantages of automatics minus their dubious legal status. Now, an automatic is a "fun" knife to possess, but I really do not see any practical advantage to one after the "Spyderco revolution" in one-handed openers.


June 22, 2008, 10:05 PM
you try to pass off an even bigger fib
Hey, I'm a shooter, hunter, fisherman, writer, hillbilly, not to mention Okie. What makes you think I would tell a fib?:D

What I do is an artform.:neener:

The Tourist
June 22, 2008, 10:10 PM
Bikerdoc, I have some old stilettos, think of them as old photos.

Their real value is not the knife they are today, but for the feelings they evoke from times in our youth.

Why did I build Black Betty to look, sound and handle like my 1971 Super Glide? Why, because that was a great time in my life. Sure, a Gold Wing might get me to Sturgis and back without tightening a bolt, but the "yawn factor" would certainly destroy the vacation.

BTW, thanks for your service. I have been a free man my entire life. I appreciate the work of others. Welcome home.

June 23, 2008, 12:32 AM
I don't suppose stilletos are going to evoke any feelings from youth...but I want one. Cause they look cool and because I read the Fleming James Bond novels. There is a reason I've wanted a 6" Ti-Lite for a long time- the automatic stilleto is a symbol of power, almost- the original weapon of gangsters and a symbol of rebellion, kind of like baggy pants, 2x two large shirts, bling, and the Glock .40 are today, except the stilleto (along with the rest of the greaser gear) is, as Obi Wan would say,

"An elegant weapon, for a more civilized age."

Eleven Mike
June 23, 2008, 01:06 AM
A cheap Sicilian style switchblade makes a great letter opener. :)

Tourist, do you ever mention to your LE buddies that an automatic knife is of more use for a defender, than for an attacker?

The Tourist
June 23, 2008, 01:19 AM
Tourist, do you ever mention to your LE buddies that an automatic knife is of more use for a defender, than for an attacker?

Alas, if that was the only misconception about knives we'd all be pretty lucky. For something as simple as a device that's pointy on one end and a handle on the other, I hear more BS and urban legends on knives than about any other consumer product.

I must hear the "knife to a gunfight" joke at least once a month. And as you can guess, it's by a guy who's never seen a serious wound. Truth be told, within contact distances of your average townie, I'll pick the knife everytime--assuming I'm the one who sharpened it.

There's a lot of misundersandings and plain misinformation on alloys and HT. Unless you live in a rain forest, I'd choose vanadium and molybdenum over chromium every time. If offered a chance, I'd choose a Japanese laminate over anything.

The true tragedy of steel is that there are samples of swords in museums made of metal we do not know how to reproduce now. Lots of info has been lost to history.

In the end, it's the man not the metal. Jerry Vancook with boy scout pocketknife is the most dangerous man in the room.

June 23, 2008, 03:41 AM
Steel isn't strong boy, flesh is stronger. What is steel compared to the hand that wields it? Look at the strength in your body, the desire in your heart, I gave you this! Such a waste. Contemplate this on the tree of woe.

Everything I needed to know about life I learnt from Conan movies.

June 23, 2008, 04:07 AM
I'm waist deep in this stuff just listening and I think I should invest in a shovel.

To the original poster: Automatics are alluring because they're taboo. Even if they're taboo for outdated and completely made up reasons. Honestly, I've never seen an automatic open faster than a fixed blade or even any of the "assisted" openers. They just do it with a cool "shnick" and a button push.

June 23, 2008, 10:33 AM
It's only a matter of time before the wording of the law is changed to rein them in.

That thinking doesn't help KnifeRights and AKTI, and even the individual manufacturers, in their fight to keep bureaucrats and politicians from making first this style and than that restricted or illegal. Matter of fact, I'll toss the old "If you ain't a member of the NRA then don't complain when they come for..." down. If you're reading this and you're not a member of AKTI and/or KnifeRights, why not?

The Tourist
June 23, 2008, 12:17 PM
That thinking doesn't help KnifeRights and AKTI

I don't think anyone is jumping ship, but we cannot afford to ignore the big white bear in the middle of the room. The lefties will sooner or later do a full court press on our knives. Look at England.

In California you can be arrested, prosecuted, fined and jailed for an auto over two inches in length.

However, I can go out into the middle of the street in my town, and shriek at the top of my lungs, "I'm carrying a huge switchblade!" and most folks will simply tell me to keep the noise down. Nobody really cares here. Is that fair? Are people in California held to a higher standard?

Of course, we all know their issues on the subject of pistols, rifles, exhaust systems and now assisted opening knives. But the day is rapidly coming where Kershaw openers will be universally illegal, and we better prepare now.

June 23, 2008, 08:21 PM
I ain't saying it's right, but it's coming. It won't even look like a new law, just a rewording of a law already in place. The masses have already shown they are okay with a ban on "switchblades" in most areas. The differences between autos and assisted openers are difficult to find. Makes no sense, but the masses seem to believe that autos are somehow more deadly than an old buck knife. The makers of the assisted knives know they are skating the edge on this one, possibly hoping it forces some changes in the laws. Perhaps it will in some places. Places like Oklahoma where there are more than a few folks, probably a few lawmakers even, who still carry a knife in their pocket daily who know one blade is pretty much like the other. But in places like California, where it's just a matter of time until they outlaw frowns, those assisted openers will end up linked to global warming and seal pup slaughter.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
June 24, 2008, 06:45 PM
If autos were the same price as AOs, I'd buy some. But as it stands, they have only the slightest miniscule advantange, if any, over a good AO, so I surely don't see the point of paying 2-4 times as much (particularly when law enforcement could technically arrest me for carryone one, even though I'm licensed to carry a loaded handgun - an absurd situation in my view).

I *really* dig Kershaw AOs - have owned 7 and counting....

The Tourist
June 24, 2008, 06:59 PM
My belief on switchblade laws that they provide law enforcement with another tool to get dangerous people off of the street. We still sell tens of thousands of automatic knives per day. We have switchblade factories in Washington State and Florida, that I know of. (I do not know where Pro Techs are made.)

But right now, if I get loud, a cop shakes me down and finds a Kershaw, it's a call on the line. The cop will probably tell me to go home, and not get caught out again during his shift.

When assisted opening knives finally become illegal (my guess is within the year), the cop can arrest the actor on the spot for a switchblade.

The lynchpin of the assisted opening knife defense is the wording of law, stating "a button on the handle." Obviously, a Kershaw, for example, has no button on the handle. But it does fall under the wording, "or some other device." This is my point, a torsion bar is a spring.

I had a sheriff tell me this: "If a citizen ran up to my squad car, stating that The Tourist had a switchblade knife, I wouldn't even bother getting out of the car. I would first ask if he was threatening anyone."

That about sums it up. It is my belief--while not being a lawyer because of self respect--it is your conduct that is the crux. I think it was in 1958, and I think it is now. My wife has owned a Boa for about six years plus.

June 24, 2008, 07:06 PM
It is my belief--while not being a lawyer because of self respect--it is your conduct that is the crux.

Here's the thing: why demonize any object? Conduct should ALWAYS be the important thing. It shouldn't matter if I have any weapon less than a nuclear weapon, as long as I don't use it against people who have not threatened me with harm. You're starting down that slippery slope with the "valuable tool for law enforcement" idea.

John, for the children. :rolleyes:

The Tourist
June 24, 2008, 07:10 PM
I'm not sure anyone here is demonizing the knife. I think the legislation is coming, like it or not.

Yes, I wish knife lobby groups were a tad more proactive, but in the end I wonder just how successful even the best lawyer is at defending a switchblade. It is my guess that we now use the term "automatic" to distance ourselves from the negative connotations of the original knives.

I also notice that THR advertises a lobby on the non-weapons page. We ought to push that like we push the NRA.

June 24, 2008, 08:22 PM
What I am saying is that comments like
My belief on switchblade laws that they provide law enforcement with another tool to get dangerous people off of the street seem to give at least tacit, and perhaps even explicit approval for at least some weapons control laws.

And that is a dangerous thing from an ally. Why not just use other actions of "dangerous people" to get them off the street? If they are dangerous people, they must have done why are they "on the street"?

June 24, 2008, 09:35 PM
Autos are fine as rescue knives, for rescuing other people. They are usually activated by a button, a button that when your heart rate is over 160 BPM you will not be able to feel. At this point you experience vasoconstriction or the pooling of blood into the thoracic cavity. One of the effects of vasoconstriction is the loss of dexterity and sensitivity in your fingers.

They also require an extreme grip change between the opening grip and using grip.

Now I think OTF autos are just kewl as hell and was gifted a microtech. It serves no purpose other than to show it off.

The Tourist
June 24, 2008, 10:45 PM
they must have done why are they "on the street"?

You do know you're talking to a biker, don't you?

What you call the act of "peaceful assembly" is applied to us as "loitering." In many jurisdictions our very rags are illegal. Did you ever get arrested for wearing a New York Yankees T-shirt? Depending on who I park my bike next to, I could be tried--and convicted--under RICO.

If I went to class at the UW, I was a "Badger." But if I put on my rags to leave a class, I was a thug. And on, and on, and on...

The truth is that the definition of "law abiding" changes from LEO to LEO and from moment to moment. Like it or not, that Kershaw can get you busted.

June 24, 2008, 11:45 PM
The lynchpin of the assisted opening knife defense is the wording of law, stating "a button on the handle." Obviously, a Kershaw, for example, has no button on the handle. But it does fall under the wording, "or some other device." This is my point, a torsion bar is a spring.

This is a common misconception.

It's important to read all of the law.

For WI -

Wisconsin - 941.24. Possession of switchblade knife. (1)
Whoever manufactures, sells or offers to sell, transports,
purchases, possesses or goes armed with any knife having a
blade which opens by pressing a button, spring or other
device in the handle or by gravity or by a thrust or
movement is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor...

Ok, so the requirement is that the you press something in the handle. Every auto has something "in the handle" that you have to press to trigger the blade release.
No assist has anything in the handle to press to release the blade. Every assist has to be opened with a thumb stud on the blade, flipper on the blade, saucer on the blade or something on the blade. Not the handle.


Because the two guys that came up with the idea did so because they hated the switchblade law (Blackie and Ken hated it it enough they invented a new mechanism.). Why did the manufacturers adopt their designs? Because they had their legal staff and outside consultants and Washington State and New York State wrote opininions that the assisted opening mechanism did not meet the definition of a switchblade under the law.

Any knife can get you busted. The arresting officer applies the law, or misapplies, as they decide to. The DA interprets the law and brings charges or not. The perception that an assist is a switchblade is incorrect under the law, but the same error made here gets made by officers and prosecutors and requires us to work to change those perceptions.

Luckily there are two organizations that are working to help protect our rights in this area.

American Knife and Tool Institute has been around for nearly 10 years. They're viewed as the "NRA for knives".

Kniferights has been around for only a couple of years, but they're much more in your face than ATKI.

Before you give up hope, look at what the two organizations have accomplished. California law that specifically excludes one hand openers from classification at switchblades. This sets a precedent for all other states. Florida law that specifically excludes switchblades from classification as ballistic knives, also setting a precedent for all other states. Arkansas law that removed 3 1/2" blade length from weapon classification. Court briefs and expert testimony that have gotten charges dropped and cases thrown out of court on their technical merits.

Can you be arrested for having the "wrong" knife on you? Sure you can. What's the "wrong" knife? Any knife the officer wants to say is wrong. That's why we need organizations like this.

The Tourist
June 25, 2008, 12:46 AM
Any knife can get you busted. The arresting officer applies the law

Exactly. Unfortunately, I believe that jurisdictions are going to crack down on semantics in their way to "close loopholes." To many, an assisted opening knife is a loophole.

If you really want to bend your noodle, check the legalese spelled out in the "exemptions" portion of the law. Read about how "common carriers" are exempt in their normal course of business. Additionally, it does not spell out hard and fast limits on how switchblades can be transported.

I talked to an anti-switchblade LEO one time in a spirited debate. (BTW, most LEOs are bored to tears over having to act like they oppose autos. All of the ones I've met loved playing with them.)

So, this anti-auto cop and I debate, and I show him my cutlery resellers license. Clearly, I'm legit. He nods. I proffer that handling, sharpening and repairing all knives is covered under the terms of my license. He nods. I further add that switchblades are knives, and included in the classification of "all knives." He nods again.

Then I close the deal. I tell him that I'm a proven common carrier, licensed to do business, and exempt from the beginning in statutes covering switchblades knives. And within that exemption, the only stipulation is that I do so "in the regular course of business," no parameters on modes of carry. Yikes, I sell to cops.

I reach into my sharpening case, take a brand new switchblade out of a box, and right in front of him clip the knife to my right front pocket. I ask the LEO honestly if he can arrest a common carrier doing business.

Despite his desire to prove me wrong, he admitted that under statute, I had broken no laws.

June 25, 2008, 12:55 AM
To many, an assisted opening knife is a loophole.

And they'd be wrong, but that won't stop some from thinking it is.

You walked the officer through the letter of the law. He admitted that his original position was incorrect, but that doesn't mean that he has to be comfortable immediately with giving up an idea he'd "know" to be true for however many years. He might grudgingly admit that you were correct. He might parse the situation so that you, or someone exactly in your position, were the only one little bit of ground he'd give in his mind, but you showed him his previous "reality" was incorrect. Perhaps he eventually accepted all of your argument, both intellectually and emotionally. Perhaps not. But his prejudice was eroded by your logic.

Assisted openers have been challenged as switchblades more than once already by local legal officials. So far logic has ultimately prevailed when it's happened, but not without a struggle of some sort. Luckily, most DAs and AGs at the state level have already been approached by the manufacturer's legal teams to get a clear ruling that assists are not autos under the definition.

The Tourist
June 25, 2008, 01:05 AM
approached by the manufacturer's legal teams

Yes, I remember when the first bit of trouble hit Michigan, and Ken Onion himself got involved in the case.

(He stated that the idea for assisted opening came from an old oil can from the 1930's that could flip open. His idea had no connection to switchblades, at all.)

My fear is this thing we call "the doctrine of the reasonable man." In other words, when presented with evidence, what does the reasonable man think?

More than once, when I have flipped open my wife's Boa, some one in the crowd has commented, "I thought switchblades were illegal."

To most folks, even people who like guns, a knife that "pops open" is a switchblade.

The logic escapes me. If a switchblade is dangerous because of the speed at which it can be produced to cut, then a fixed blade knife must really be dangerous! No matter how fast a switchblade opens, it cannot beat the time of knife that doesn't need to open.

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