Automatic knives have gotten a bad rap in the past. That’s because they were formerly known as switchblades. With more states in the U.S. decriminalizing the newly named automatic knives, if you’re a knife enthusiast or simply like the idea of owning an easy-open cutting tool, you need to get one of the high quality switchblade knives on this list.
Automatic knives open without you having to put any effort into implementing the action. With just a pull of a lever or press of a button, a switchblade pops open on command. They were originally designed to be used primarily for the emergency medical techs in the military. However, many other urgent situations call for quick and easy access to severing power. Here are my top picks for the best quality automatic knives on the market.
Top 10 Best Automatic Knives Review in 2023
Kershaw Leek Pocket Knife
If you know someone who thinks automatic opening knives are only for knife collectors, you should show them the Kershaw Leek. It’s compact, utilitarian features and design will have every gardener, hobbyist, and in-country backpacker reaching to grab one of these beauties.
It comes in a range of colors and blade metal hues, so the only problem is deciding which one to get. The point at the end of the smooth bead-blasted finish blade is no-nonsense. The blade also features stubborn edge retention, strength, and corrosion resistance.
The beautiful range of colored handles embellish a lightweight, anodized aluminum bond resistant to scratching or fading. I know some of you will want to get several of these in every color, and the price is reasonable enough to allow you to do that.
- No frills, nice simple lines
- Arrives legitimately razor sharp
- Speed Safe Open Assist
- Manual safety blade lock
- Lack of grip texture means your hands could slip if sweaty/wet
SOG EDC Automatic Pocket Knife
If you’re seeking for a classic-looking pocket knife that just also happens to offer assisted opening, then the SOG Flash II is for you. It has some important features that bump it up a category from the average pocket knife. It has an affordable price tag with proven geometry and blade materials. We like that a lot.
As far as value for money and multi-functionality goes, the Flash II hits the sweet spot. For a smoothly operating assisted open pocket knife with excellent portability, blade integrity, ergonomics, and overall solid construction quality, you should try out the Flash II.
- Low hang pocket clip
- Smooth, easy to use assisted opening
- Lock isn’t ambidextrous
CRKT M16-14SFG EDC Folding Pocket Knife
When you have a look at the CRKT Tanto, the fact that it’s used by Special Forces is not too hard to see. It’s brutish, jagged design is highly functional, and it is considered to be an indispensable cutting tool for anyone in the military.
The Tanto is also a functional automatic knife for outdoor use in general. If you have used only fixed blade knives for heavy duty work and activities before, I can recommend the Tanto because its lock up is very strong.
In addition to its wicked appearance, this CRKT model comes with a solid hinge and a blade that holds its edge well. Both the handle and blade sharpness can withstand a lot of punishing usage. Easily one of the toughest folding knives on the market and the ideal working man’s tool.
- Automatic liner safety
- Designer serrations
- Double hilt blade guards
- G-10 handle
- Lifetime warranty
- Cross guard might be too large for some hands
Tac-force Spring Assisted Open Knife
TAC-Force is a well-respected name when it comes to the manufacture of tactical cutting tools with additional rescue and disaster functionality. This model is an efficient dark grey color. TAC has added extra length to the item so it can pull double duty in many areas.
The TAC X-tra Large has some supplementary weight to it, and this is a good thing, especially with a model that sits so comfortably in the hand. If you’re swinging or cutting towards something, the extra mass gives your hand more heft. Designed to cut through restraining belts and thick materials, it will make light work of anything you catch when hunting or fishing too.
- Solid spring assist
- Serious 4.25² long blade
- Sturdy handle
- TAC features classic design half serration, half smooth edge
- Top tab for push and fold
- Might be too big and heavy for some hands
QSP Folding Pocket Heavy Duty Knife
This model QSP is a prime pocket knife with a black coated blade and classic pocket knife shape. You have the option of using the liner lock and flipper to access the blade, and this makes it both handy and very dependable.
What we also liked about the blade is the elegant curved shape that allows for an easy sharpening experience. The design is non-threatening and user-friendly, making the QSP folder the ideal gift for a family member with outdoor activities at the top of their list. Definitely one of the best pocket automatic knives available.
- Non-slip G-10 handle with finger grooves
- Ambidextrous flipper
- Ball bearing opening is very smooth
- Good little EDC
- A bit basic if you’re looking for a showstopper
Wartech Buckshot Spring Assisted Knife
When you see Wartech’s Buckshot with Thumb Open, Spring Assisted SS Handle, and Classic Inlay Features, you will know what I mean by showstopper. When you bring this beast of a knife out to show your friends, they will want one too. First up, it comes in a wide range of colors and patterns for both the handle and blade.
It’s wide and thick enough to feel like it can’t get lost in your hand, no matter how big. This is an extra bonus if you drop it outside in the dark. The package even includes a belt clip. If you need to extend your finger on top of the blade for more force, the Buckshot will hold it there very comfortably. All in all, an impressive piece of kit.
- Perfect overall 8² length
- Additional belt clip
- Easy jump-out blade access
- 3CR13 SS
- Comes out of the box sharp enough for you to shave
- Right hand thumb drive
Buck Assisted Opening Folding Knife
The QuickFire is also one of the best Damascus stainless steel folders to come out in recent years. Additionally, if you’re not into a knife with unnecessary bells and whistles that add to the cost, the QuickFire is also one of the best budgets automatic knives to get. Straight out of the box, you can feel the overall high quality this model has with its easy to open the blade and exceptional material used in the fabrication.
As with many Made in the U.S.A. products, it comes with a lifetime warranty, as the Buck company has put their money where their mouth is for over 118 years! Don’t be misled by the fact that the QuickFire offers assisted open and fold capabilities because it also makes for a very nifty all-purpose EDC.
- Lanyard eyelet
- Pocket clip
- Non-slip handle
- One-handed open and close
- Excellent field knife
- Opens lighting fast
- Doesn’t come with a sheath
Steinbrucke Tactical Automatic Knife
Steinbrucke is a well-known brand with a lot of expertise under its belt. When you see their tactical spring assisted knife, what design criteria jumps out immediately – besides the exquisite workmanship – is the heavy duty blade.
If you are looking for an easy open and fold spring action knife for survival, camping, hunting, or outdoor activities, Steinbrucke’s Tactical is for you. Part of this knife’s premium design is the super ergonomic handle in aluminum with anti-slip finish.
It stays sharp and never rusts, and for the price tag, it’s easily one of the best automatic knives for the money out there. Great functionality out of all the cheap automatic knives.
- Smooth and serrated blade edge
- Razor sharp
- Multi-function folding gear
- Perfect support cutting tool for outdoors
- Could get lost in the dark outside
SMITH & WESSON Assisted Opening Knife
If you say the name Smith and Wesson to someone at Antarctica, the will recognize the brand. This pocket size 7.5² overall length automatic knife is called the S.W.A.T. and arrives with a razor sharp 3.2² blade weighing just under 4 ounces. The company definitely had EDC in mind when they formulated its dimensions.
In the looks department, the S.W.A.T doesn’t disappoint. The high carbon, black oxide stainless steel blade and matte black aluminum handle with texturing for no slippage, looks as good as it feels in the hand. It really adds to your confidence knowing that the blade won’t slip because of the liner and safety lock security. Lives up to its name.
- Ambidextrous thumb knobs
- Finger flipper actuator assisted opening
- Layard hole
- Easy access pocket clip
- Could feel small in larger hands
Gerber Swagger Automatic Knife
The Swagger looks more like a pocket knife than a standard automatic or tactical knife, but it has the excellent handling and accessibility you’d expect from an everyday carry cutting tool.
The one handed assisted opening and drop point blade edge is further enhanced by the partial serrations. This takes it out of the “use if for whittling” category, and puts it firmly into the best tactical automatic knife one.
With a G-10 composite handle for all conditions grip and durability, the Swagger will be handy for survival, outdoors, and military applications. The black titanium nitride blade coating provides this knife with complete impermeability and anti-corrosive function.
- Accessible price
- One hand assisted opening knife
- Easy to sharpen
- Rust resistant
- Opening can be stiff
Everything You Should Know Before Buying an Automatic Knife
Automatic Knife Law and Regulations
No best automatic knives review would be complete without mentioning the federal laws regarding interstate buying and selling of automatic knives.
If a buyer in one state wants to place an order with a seller in another state, is there a federal law that prohibits the transaction? Using the post office to ship automatic knives across state lines is illegal. However, using individual shipping services or delivery courier services – such as UPS or FedEx – is in compliance with both state and federal law.
Switchblade or Automatic Knife?
Both names work when describing a knife that opens automatically when pressing a button or pulling a lever. The design originates for military and EMT applications when speed is of the essence.
There is sometimes a lot of confusion over the differences between OTFs, automatic knives, open assisted cutting tools, and switchblades. All these terms basically mean the same thing. When it comes to knife construction and knife buying, the many terms to describe an auto knife can be used interchangeably.
With the activation of the release mechanism, the hidden blade is exposed without having to use your fingers to prise the blade up. This is an extremely advantageous action to have for anyone who has sore or injured finger joints.
The reason for so many euphemisms to describe the old fashioned switchblade is because of the Switchblade Knife Act 85-623 (1958). It prohibits anyone from carrying a switchblade across state lines – although you are allowed to carry them in your checked luggage at airports.
Which Automatic Knife Is the Best for Me?
They say that the best knife is the one in your pocket. There’s no worse feeling than patting your pockets down when you need a knife and coming up empty! Some of the features listed below can be used as a guideline when making your decision.
For What Are You Going to Be Using Your OTF Knife?
You should think about the main purpose your knife will have before choosing your OTF. Is it going to be put on display in your den, kept in the glove compartment in the car, or in your back pocket in case of emergencies? Is the knife for self-defense or must it have highly utilitarian applications?
When you think about the knife’s function, it will guide you when you look at which automatic knife design to buy. Once you know what kind of purpose and function your automatic knife will have under your belt, you can move into other necessary features you want it to have, such as style.
This is correlated to the function. Most typically, smaller blades are appropriate for everyday carry tasks and larger or thicker blades are used outdoors and for other heavy duty applications.
Please note that each country or state has its own laws pertaining to legal blade lengths and size. If in doubt, ask your nearest dealer or better yet, if the knife is not available to you online, then that size blade has had restrictions laid on its purchase.
Straight edge blades are characteristically meant as general purpose knife work and cutlery. A straight edge is perfect for hunting and fishing, as they provide you with an edge that sharpens easily and cuts clean and quick. The most famous example of a straight edge is the old fashioned razor.
Fully serrated edges can outperform straight edges significantly when it involves fibrous or spongy materials or substances. Think of how difficult it is to cut a fresh loaf of bread with a straight edge knife, and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Serrations stay sharper for longer, but the downside is that you are best off calling in the professionals to sharpen it once it goes dull.
Partially serrated means your knife will have a smooth, straight edge at the point and serrations closer to the handle. This combination is particularly useful if you’re looking for a general purpose EDC knife.
Tantō shaped knives have two straight edges, with each edge joined in a point. It is easily identifiable by the angular shape or tip. In contrast to its elegant appearance, a Tanto knife tip is very strong. This is due to its spine maintaining the full width right up to near the tip.
Drop Point shapes are very commonly seen on knives used for hunting. The tip of the knife is dropped lower from the spine, via a convex dip or arc. This allows for the tip to be ground out thicker, as it’s separated from the clip point.
Clip Point is the most popular shape seen on a knife. This great, all round format is used on Bowie knives where the blade has a straight cut out concave shape towards the tip.
Spear Point is where the knife has a perfectly symmetrical grind with the tip located towards the center of the blade. The double edge and shape have become synonymous with daggers, stilletoes, and spear heads.
If you see any of these descriptions in the auto knife you want to buy, it will not only indicate its appearance, but also what could be the knife’s functionality.
What Type of Automatic Release Knives Are There?
The release mechanism could be said to be the most important feature in an OTM. Which one you get depends a lot on what type of knife you need. There are four main automatic knife release types:
Firing Button: A very common release mechanism. The firing button releases the blade – whether it is concealed on the side of the handle or inside it.
Lever: A little arm or lever protrudes out of the handle and when activated, the knife pops out. Very handy to use in the dark or at a moment’s notice.
AXIS Pull Release: This is an unusual release type. An AXIS pull release knife has a locking mechanism handle stud on both sides of the knife handle.
Hidden Release: Another hard to find release mechanism. It requires thoughtful design and fabrication. Only you will know how to open the knife. A useful little feature to have.
What Blade Type Materials Are the Best to Have in an Automatic Knife?
When you want to buy any knife, but more so with automatic ones, you will need to ensure you’re getting the right design and style. The materials that make up your knife denote how strong, durable, and resistant to wear and tear it is.
There Are Many Steel Types From Which You Can Choose:
- 400 Series
Most of the materials used to produce knives common and popular for a reason. They are resilient and hard. Blade materials vary considerably, and not all steels are created equal. If you see a blade with 400 Series steel, for example, this type ranges from extremely durable to fairly soft and pliable.
Damascus and D2 steels, on the other hand, are very resistant to corrosion and incredibly durable into the bargain. Materials that make up a knife says a lot about how easy it will be to sharpen, how often you will have to sharpen it, and whether it’s resistant to stains and long term daily usage.
Our list of top automatic knives has been selected with the requirements of everyone taken into consideration. With so many beautifully crafted knives out there on the market, it’s sometimes hard to pick one. If you plan on buying a knife that will last you a long time or one that will sit in the glove compartment waiting for you to use it, always choose a knife that’s a good fit for your hand size and your comfort level.