OTF knives: Easiest deployment for combat?

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by TTv2, Apr 22, 2021.

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  1. TTv2

    TTv2 Member

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    I'm sure that someone's going to skip reading this first post and say, "Oh, a fixed blade is really the easiest..." but I'm not talking about fixed blade knives, I'm focusing this discussion on folding knives or knives where the blade is stored in the handle in some way.

    So, I was watching John Wick (I know, terrible to use a movie as the bases for a real life thought) but I noticed that the character was using a lot of OTF knives in the movie and I'm sure much of it has to do with them looking cool, but it got me to thinking that between an OTF and a assisted open linerlock or lockback that the OTF may be the more reliable, easier, and faster knife to deploy under stress.

    Am I right? Is that the whole appeal to the OTF knife is the way it deploys is superior to flipper?
     
  2. Obturation

    Obturation Member

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    I don't see otf knives as superior , just fun and cool to play with. I'm no expert though.
     
  3. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    I guess if you focus on non-fixed blade knives and ignore any thing other than speed/ease of deployment, OTFs are hard to beat.

    But then you had to go and add "...for combat" to your question. Maybe we can get someone who has experience with a variety of OTF knives. In spite of their speed/ease of deployment, the OTFs I've messed with didn't really seem like something I'd want to use for combat.
     
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  4. WrongHanded
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    WrongHanded Contributing Member

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    I don't know about combat, but when it comes to opening letters, nothing is faster than an OTF.

    Except a fixed blade. ;)

    I would trust a more traditional locking folder design (assisted or auto) over an OTF in any kind of hard use role, including combat. If you look at the OTF design, you'll see why. A faster opening knife is only superior if the blade stays in the open position.
     
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  5. ms6852

    ms6852 Member

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    I but be getting very very old. Please educate me, what is OTF?
     
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  6. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Member

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    Out The Front.
     
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  7. Mk-211

    Mk-211 Member

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    The problem with OTF knives is that the spring isn't that strong. Along with the locking mechanism being weak, leads to failure and the blade being shoved back in.

    Not the first knife I would consider for combat. If you're fighting so close that you need a knife, you have some serious problems!

    Would it be quick, yes but an assisted knife is also very quick. If I had to rely on it, I would want the best one made. That and I would hope that someone had placed a call for QRF and they were pulling up as I was reaching for the knife.
     
  8. jdh

    jdh Member

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    Unless you are talking an OTF in the price range of a house payment or two, of which I have not been so fortunate to do anything without fondle and drool on, I would pass. As young soldiers in Germany some of us learned the hard way why the German soldiers were so willing to trade off their issued OTF knives. After a couple dozen activations the spring became so weak the blade barely came halfway out. You learned to flick your wrist as you hit the button. It helped but wasn’t enough to fully lock the blade open.

    I would never give more that a pack of smokes for one myself. And that was only if it looked freshly issued.
     
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  9. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    For a folder type knife (typically carried in the strong side pants pocket) I prefer knives with a pocket clip and the Emerson wave feature. These open when pulled from the pocket, and are legal in most places that it is legal to carry a knife, VS switchblades and other "automatic" knives. My personal favorite is the Emerson commander. Spyderco also makes knives with the wave, and I have even modified stock spydercos by cutting the thumb hole into a wave.
     
  10. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Member

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    Absolutely.

    They make GREAT movie props...but their practicality as such? Meh.
     
  11. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    It is my opinion that the use of switchblades in the stage play West Side Story lead to the anti switchblade laws of the late 1950's. All those young men dancing to music, pulling out their switchblades for dramatic effect, made great play/movie making. All those viewers, fearing being cut! Oh, those evil switchblades.

    Greatest problem I have had is with the blades of liner lock flippers opening in the pocket, or between the pants. Have one hole in a pair of jeans, and one cut finger. This is what AG Russell said about it:

    Purchasing and carrying a knife with the clip in a Tip-Up or Tip-Down position is a personal choice, depending on the ergonomics of the knife & opening method of the blade that you choose.

    There are however, times when Tip-Up carry should be avoided. Knives that do not have a bias to closure (a spring pushing the blade closed) such as liner-locks & frame-locks can be dangerous to carry Tip-Up. If the blade opens in the pocket, even very slightly exposing the point of the blade, and you push your hand into the pocket to retrieve the knife a cut can result. I have had knife owners show me scars resulting from very bad cuts that happened because of this very situation.

    Under the same circumstances if carrying the knife Tip-Down, the hand has a tendency to close the partially open blade and not contact the exposed point.


    We advise that if you are carrying a liner-lock or a frame-lock in your pocket, that it be with the clip at the pivot end of the knife so the blade is in the tip-down position when clipped to the top of your pocket.

    We sometimes build these knives with clip position options for right or left-handed carry and with a choice of tip-up or tip-down. The concept in these instances is to allow the user the choice. Sometimes, for various reasons, the user may want to carry the knife in places other than at the top of the pocket. When we provide these options, we deliver the knife with the clip in the right-handed, tip-down position.


    Ultimately, the knife you carry and how you carry it is your choice.


    It is wise to be aware of the dangers associated with your choice.


    If you are relying on a knife to save your life, maybe you should step back and run away. If you are wrestling, you might be in real trouble no matter what knife you have.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 27, 2021
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  12. 1942bull
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    1942bull Contributing Member

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    I do not consider an OTF knife as suitable for combat. A folder with a locking blade is a much more reliable option. It it has a rapid opening design, it can be deployed very rapidly.

    This is my EDC folder: a Ka Bar Warthog with a tanto blade.

    E5C514C2-F448-43D3-AC34-982FDDFC9DE4.jpeg
     
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  13. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    1) Reliability - Nope. You can have an OTF fail simply by dragging on the way out keeping it from locking in place.
    2) Easier - In some cases, yes, but others, nope.
    3) Faster - Faster than an assist, no faster than a side opening auto, BUT you don't have to worry about the knife "helicoptering" out of your hand like side openers.
     
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  14. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Why? OTF's lock open so what are the specific reasons?
     
  15. chute2thrill

    chute2thrill Member

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    Another vote for the emerson wave feature over any otf, I just have a cheapie chinese Kershaw Emerson but the function is flawless.
     
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  16. Speedo66

    Speedo66 Member

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    I've had a few and what I like about them is generally they're ambidextrous. As a left handed person you don't have to worry which side the blade is opening on.

    I've had a couple of Microtech OTF, excellent quality, but not inexpensive.

    Combat, no. Unlike in the movies where when pressing the front of the knife up against someone the blade will penetrate them as it opens, the reality is the opening spring is really not that strong. If the blade touches something on the way out that usually means it's not going to fully open and lock.
     
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  17. lemaymiami

    lemaymiami Member

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    I like movies, particularly action movies where the players at least look competent with whatever weapon is in hand... but that's the movies and part of growing up for me was learning to laugh at most of what the movies portray...

    In real life any edged or pointy object can do real damage if you really need it to... but it won't be pretty... Not once in all the stabbings and cuttings I encountered on the street was there ever a an auto knife involved ( or any well made knife at all... ) - and in the serious incidents the victim and all of the witnesses never saw the blade being used - and they were looking at the action up close... In most cases the victim didn't even realize they'd been stabbed or cut until it was all over... For many years I carried a simple Henckels lockback folder (the exact same pattern as a Case Sodbuster in the large size - only with a thin carbon steel blade and cherry wood scales..) as the back-up to my sidearm and I can report that I was very glad it was never needed or used to do anything more than sever seatbelts and heavy duty Flex-Cuffs.

    Yes you can use a folder in a combat situation - but for me -it would have to be because I didn't have access to anything better.... As my Dad used to say - you have to get entirely too close to use a knife...

    The most amazing thing I've seen recently has to be that sad street fight where the officer had to use his sidearm - the amazing part to me is that the video clearly captured that knife as it was set to kill or injure horribly... Hope the officer involved has lots of support since he's going to need it... in spite of his action that clearly was in defense of a victim at real risk...
     
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  18. 1942bull
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    1942bull Contributing Member

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    There can be problems that arise in the mechanisms that allow the knife to spring out and pull back over time. Of course that can be fixed. But what happens if it fails just when you need it to defend yourself? That is a problem you will not have with a folder.
     
  19. Bazoo

    Bazoo Member

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    I've had experience with several microtech OTF knives and the benchmade infidel. A couple models of them are sprung such that they have positive tension on opening, such that if pressed against something when opened they will still deploy when the blade clears the obstruction. Most are not that way. But if they do get caught on opening you just flick them and they snap open.
    I like the benchmade. It locks securely in both open and closed. You can stab it into a board if desired. If you disassemble one and see how it works you gain some trust in it. Benchmade is a fine OTF knife.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2021
  20. TTv2

    TTv2 Member

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    Well, not all OTF's are made the same. I have in my possession a Schrade Viper (pictured below) and if you look below the release button, you'll see a nub, which is part of the blade, that's exposed outside the handle. What this does is if for any reason the blade does not lock into place upon deployment, you take your thumb and push it into the locking position. Now, it's not ideal to have that nub sticking out because if you have any part of your hand in the way of it that can cause a failure to lock, but you at least do have the ability to manually lock the blade into place. Not saying this is the best OTF knife ever, but not all designs have to follow the Microtech pattern or price (the Schrade cost me about $45.)

    SCHOTF8TB_Front_Sept2014.jpg
     
  21. TTv2

    TTv2 Member

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    I figure some of my thoughts are worth putting in now. My basis for creating this discussion is when I think about the possibility of having to rely on a knife for self defense, my figuring is that speed and ease of deployment are key. My two linerlocks that deploy with my index finger require me to place the knife in a position where after I've activated the deployment, once the blade is locked into place, I have to fiddle with the knife and reposition it in my hand. Now, that only takes maybe a quarter of a second, but under stress and when I'm trying to do it quickly? IDK.

    Compare/contrast that to the OTF where my thumb is deploying the blade, once it's locked, I've pretty much got an effective grip to use the knife for defense. No delay, no potential under stress to accidentally drop the knife or position it wrongly in my hand.

    So, I'm not trying to say that an OTF is the best, but I see an advantage to it, for me at least, in a defensive use. For pretty much any use other than opening a letter or a box that was delivered a lockback or linerlock would be much better.

    After all this though, I'm starting to see why a fixed blade is preferable.
     
  22. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    I am far from an expert but do have some practical experience from MBC and force on force. The fastest non-fixed blade I personally have seen is the Emerson wave karambit. Carried tip up in the front of the strong side pocket, it is a nearly foolproof draw and comes out in a positive grip and ready for action. The troubles are that it is awfully hard to find someone to train you on it, and also that it might be tough to convince a jury that it was made for anything but fighting or larping.

    The second fastest, in my experience, is a standard Emerson or Kershaw with the wave. Its primary trouble is that when it works it really works, but when it doesn't, the failures can be spectacular. When you are just popping it out to open a box it seems simple, but when drawing it while a blackbelt is running you down it's easy to toss it across the room half opened. My plan, prior to Covid's interference with damn near everything, was to get one of the Kydex holster/sheaths which clip into the pocket and interact with the wave to ensure that the blade fully opens whenever the knife is withdrawn. I expect that if it works as advertised it will be the answer for any serious knife man, at least as far as fighting folders are concerned.

    As for front openers, I have not yet seen them used in any serious capacity and do not expect to. What I have not seen is a lot, of course...
     
  23. TTv2

    TTv2 Member

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    Well, I think that a lot of that has to do with the cost involved with the well known name brand OTF knives. If more OTF knives could be bought for under $100, I'm sure they'd be seen more often.
     
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  24. Yo Mama

    Yo Mama Member

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    Fine motor movement is gone in an emergency. No way you are manipulating a manual like you hope. Anything that folds will have to have deliberate action.
     
  25. Yo Mama

    Yo Mama Member

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    For op, gravity knives into otfs were designed for paratroopers to cut themselves free if needed with one hand. That's it. Not to fight as a primary weapon in any way. They are not stealthy, make noise, and at times debris clogs up the internals. John Wick is a great flick, but yeah it's mostly Microtech getting good pr.

    That said, there is nothing like a quality otf for normal edc chores.

    rS7V5dZ.jpg

    I carry otf far more often vs manual, so much easier and thinner in the pocket.
     
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