For the uninformed, OTF knives are a type of switchblade – that is, an automatic knife which deploys the blade ‘automatically’ on pressing a button or switch. Specifically, the OTF knife is a switchblade where the blade simply comes ‘out the front’. Now, the distinction versus Spring Assisted Knives is that with a switchblade or automatic knife the blade’s natural position is open, and it’s being held closed by a locking spring mechanism that’s released with a button or switch. The button allows the stored energy of the spring to propel the blade out from the handle. In contrast, the natural position of the Spring Assisted Knife is closed and there is no pressure being exerted upon the blade which has to be deployed by some manual action (i.e flipping) by the user which is then assisted by a spring.
In general, there are two types of OTF knives: single action and dual action. Single action means that only the deployment is powered but the blade has to be forced back into the body manually. A dual action OTF means that both the deployment as well as the retraction are powered, usually by pushing and pulling the same control switch in different directions.
With that, here’s a list of some of the better OTF knives on the market today.
The Infidel is a dual action OTF meaning the switch pushes it out as well as pulls it in, and unlike a lot of OTF’s the switch is mounted on the handle rather than the spine. This is a more natural action for your hand (similar to hand placement for deploying a folding knife via a thumb stud or hole) and gives you a more solid grip when the knife fires open. A series a milled “steps” in the aluminum handle aid grip. The blade itself is D2 tool steel, satin finished and flat ground on both sides for a double-sided dagger shape. The deep carry pocket clip (inscribed with The Infidel…) is configured for right had tip down carry only. Although it’s pricey at typically over $400 retail, the Infidel has been in production for ten years now and is a well-known favorite of those who serve in the military for its robust build quality and dependable, easy deployment.
MICROTECH COMBAT TROODON
The Combat Troodon is the mack daddy of Microtech’s OTF lineup, the biggest, baddest, beefiest offering with a price ranging from “ouch” to “are you serious?” and a staggering array of options and finishes to suit any taste. The name comes from a bird-like dinosaur that lived during the Cretaceous period and was one of the first discovered in North America, similar in shape to various raptors. It’s the larger version of the “regular” Troodon, with a 3.8” blade versus the original’s 3”. Like the Ultratech featured earlier in this list, the Combat Troodon series shares a handle design but has a variety of blade shapes suited to different uses. The handles are made of 6061 T6 anodized aluminum in a variety of colors with a carbide glass breaker on the butt that anchors the pocket clip in the right hand tip down position. You can get a combat Troodon with a dual edge dagger grind in plain or partially serrated edge, or there are also single-edged Bowie and Clip Point variants.