Educate me on out-the-front automatics


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The Wiry Irishman
May 28, 2013, 12:07 PM
In just over a month, the repeal of my state's ban on automatic knives will be taking effect. I'm thinking I'm going to celebrate by picking one up. Currently all my practical knife needs are met by two different fixed blades, so this would most be a "hey, this is neat" type of purchase with no real purpose in mind. Specifically, out-the-front automatics have the biggest cool factor to me. However, being more of a fixed blade guy, I don't know much about them. How strong is the mechanism? Does the design hold any potential for practical use for work or self defense, or are these more of a "opening chip bags and trimming loose shirt threads" type of design? How does the mechanism and overall design vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and knife to knife? Any other relevant facts or opinions would be appreciated as well.

To put these questions in a little context, I haven't decided what I'm going to get yet, but currently the Microtech Ultratech is the most intriguing.

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JShirley
May 28, 2013, 12:43 PM
Microtech makes good, if pricy, stuff.

As far as practicality, I carried a Spyderco Embassy (http://www.cutleryshoppe.com/embassyautomaticc121p-s30vplainedgebladespecialprice.aspx) automatic much of the time while in Afghanistan, this most recent deployment. Worked fine, though it wasn't supposed to be carried as carry-on luggage on the many military flights I made (neither were any blades over 3", or automatic weapons, or rifles with barrels under 16"- though the most common single weapon was the M4, which is short-barreled and selective! I think whoever wrote the pre-flight briefing doesn't actually know anything about military weaponry).

John

GCBurner
May 28, 2013, 02:06 PM
The Out The Front mechanisms are kind of cool, but they are nowhere near as sturdy and reliable as a side-opening mechanism.

Il Duca
May 28, 2013, 02:12 PM
In the field of production otfs, Microtech wins hands down. They have been making them for lots of years and they do it right. That's also why they're so pricie. Sure there are lesser makers offering otfs, like the newer HK models but if you have handled a MT you would likely be disappointed by something like that, I know I was.

The Ultratech is a solid knife that will handle light-moderate edc usage. I prefer the handle shape and size of the standard Troodon or UTX-85 over the Ultratech but that's individual preference. Now otfs in general are not what I would call rock solid. The design calls for there to be some play in the lock up. If it was dead tight the mechanism wouldn't function properly, so all otfs will have a little blade play, usually just enough to notice- shouldn't be sloppy.

If you want something that will put a smile on your face every time you use it, get an otf. If you want the best, get a Microtech.

RussellC
May 28, 2013, 02:39 PM
Talk to Jeff at the cutlery shop.com.

You want the Benchmade Infidel. very nice. Tough as any folder. as far as folders I like the Benchmade Adamas 2750 automatic for an all out brawler, and was designed with rangers in mind. I do believe you could kill, skin and eat a dinosaur with this thing! Extremely powerful spring, it can jump out of your hand if you limp wrist it.

Just cant go wrong with Benchmade, Just an opinion for my use, I like Benchmade better than Microtech. Look at both, either will be a good choice. The Infidel, (full size not the mini) will make your OTF putter flutter! Performance as well as an extremely bad ass look!

Russellc

blueskyjaunte
May 28, 2013, 03:20 PM
By way of disclaimer: I own some OTFs. I own even more side-openers. I own lots of non-auto folding knives as well.

That said: a folding knife is just a fixed blade that is already broken. :)

A side-opener is a folding knife that is less reliable. After all, there are more parts to break (springs DO break).

An OTF is a super-complicated "folding" knife with lots of little fiddly bits and a big gaping hole for gunk to get into and foul up the works. I have had this happen with both Microtechs and the Benchmade Infidel.

In summary, an OTF is a great toy. Something for the "gee-whiz" factor. It's fun to snick open and closed. But a tool it is not.

When I carry an OTF (which is infrequently) it's IN ADDITION to a reliable knife.

PS: If you get a Microtech, be aware that if anything ever goes wrong with it, you're on your own unless the dealer you bought it from steps up. MT has the worst customer service in the cutlery industry.

hso
May 28, 2013, 09:50 PM
I'd agree with this, "But a tool it is not.", except for the Trodon from MT. The DKW Sandshark OTF was terribly tough, but as a dagger blade I don't think of it as a work knife.

I handled the first MT and Dalton OTFs and many many others and the only "working" knife was the Trodon (maybe the MT Ultratek) because it was overbuilt. As I said, the Sandshark was remarkably tough, but good luck finding one and then for under $2,000.

OTOH, I generally agree that they don't serve as working knives very well so I'd go with something small in a double action auto that just fits in the "KEWL!" category like the UTXs so you're not tempted to break it trying to use it as a utility EDC.

herrwalther
May 29, 2013, 03:35 PM
OTFs are a nice mechanism to show off and a potential defense weapon. However the mechanism is much weaker than a side automatic folder since in order for an OTF there are lots of little parts inside that need to be balanced and as such very easy to knock out of calibration. I have a Benchmade Infidel I bought at BAF that sat in my pocket most of the time. One day it fell out of my back pocket, 2 feet to the tile floor. Nothing on the outside was broken but the mechanism was no longer calibrated and it would not open. The only plus to this story is Benchmade fixed it for free and paid for shipping both ways. Although it did take them two weeks.

olderguns
May 29, 2013, 03:50 PM
I have a microtech ultratech one edge plain the other fully serrated I carry it daily because it‘s so cool, but for heavy use I also carry a buck110 auto-conversion .

Il Duca
May 29, 2013, 04:02 PM
Just a side point here. I would NOT recommend an otf as a defensive knife. The mechanism is too sensitive to put up with blood or other bodily fluids getting into it. Also, while I've never had one of my MTs misfire, I'm sure it happens every now and then. I wouldn't want to rely on a mechanism in a pinch. I'd be much happier with something like a waved Emerson or a fixed blade if I HAD to use a blade as a defensive weapon.

maxyedor
May 31, 2013, 03:21 AM
I've been lusting after a Benchmade Infidel purely because my State doesn't trust me with one because a spring loaded blade will make me want to murder kittens, or something like that.

A LEO friend has an Infidel (LEOs can be trusted and are thus allowed to carry them) and it's just freaking cool. Not as reliable as any of my folders, but has enough cool factor that the exact second it's legal for me to own, I'll buy one.

cja245
May 31, 2013, 03:43 AM
I'd be looking at either a Protech or a Microtech. Also the lightning OTF is pretty decent for the money if you just want to check one out on the cheap.

I'm more of a balisong guy myself. The clickity-clacks are more entertaining than the in-outs

olderguns
May 31, 2013, 10:06 AM
I agree the Lightning OTF is pretty cool if you just want to see what a otf knifes feels like I‘ve have three of them and no misfires out of hundreds of actions, plus at bladeplay you can get a Kydex neck sheath thats keeps it handy.

grter
May 31, 2013, 01:03 PM
I have heard the out of production DKW (Desert Knife Works) Sandshark is one of if not the toughest OTF knife but they are now pricey collectables.

The OTF is generally an inferior design when compared to side openers and almost any other design they look cool and are very fun to play with.

They can be quite useful as long as you know their limitations and don't push them past or expect them to exceed the capabilities of their design for too long.

Remember the mechanism is very prone to getting jammed by any debris such as pocket lint or anything else that can find it's way into the front slot for this reason and by nature of it's weaker design I would not ever want to consider this a viable self defense or combat weapon despite what stupid idiotic Hollywood movies suggest (Rebels without a cause a gang movie and other flashy jazz movie screen crap.)

These idiot films are what inspired idoits to pass the useless switchblade laws (I woud rather run away from a bad guy armed with a cheap crappy switch blade than a one with a machete or a glock.)

The Wiry Irishman
May 31, 2013, 08:32 PM
Thank you everyone for your responses. I'm thinking the Ultratech is the way I'm going to go, or possibly one of the smaller Microtechs if the Ultratech doesn't carry well in a dress pants pocket. I've found some other more tempting designs out there, but the Ultratech is already scraping the top end of my budget. Like I've said before, pretty much all my practical knife needs are met by my fixed blades, so it wouldn't being seeing anything approaching heavy use. My fixed blades don't carry well in my work clothes, so I'm thinking this would be more than suitable for the all the blade needs I may encounter in a typical office environment. You know, opening your snacks, trimming loose threads off your shirt, etc. I haven't been particularly interested in side folding autos since they don't really do anything a normal unassisted side folder can't. This mostly a "kewl factor" type of purchase, so I think an OTF will meet my needs quite well.

the count
June 1, 2013, 11:00 AM
One thing to keep in mind....

While here in NC automatic knives are OK to carry around in general, the types which are considered to be 'dirk or dagger' are not. And most OTF knives would be a dagger if both side of the blade are sharp and that would include most Microtech OTFs.

herrwalther
June 1, 2013, 04:28 PM
I've been lusting after a Benchmade Infidel purely because my State doesn't trust me with one because a spring loaded blade will make me want to murder kittens, or something like that.

You will be happy with the Infidel. I bought it on name alone and ended up going back to Benchmade numerous times for the warranty. Have broken my Infidel a few times and they have always fixed it for free. Shipping included. And their OTF mechanism is much stronger than other brands I have used.

iflyem1
June 2, 2013, 01:20 AM
I'm not a fan of OTF knives. To me they don't seem that reliable! Nice toy, yes, bet my life on it, no.

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