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Out-The-Front knives, or OTF as they are commonly called, form a narrow slice of the knives market; but that does not, in any way, mean that they serve any less purpose.
They’re a wicked addition to knife enthusiast’s collection. These automatic, pocket-friendly knives aren’t just good-looking, but highly practical as well.
An OTF knife can be used for opening containers, slicing meat, and most-surprisingly, for self-defense!
OTF knives are very sharp, lightweight, and extremely compact, which makes them an ideal self-defense tool that one can conveniently carry in their pocket or purse.
OTF knives can serve as the ultimate self-defense weapon in the worst situations.
Buying the best OTF knife for yourself can be a challenge as there are only a few manufacturers that are producing them. We’ve listed down some of the top picks for you to choose the one that suits you the best!
Best OTF Knife – Reviews & Buying guide for 2020
Best Overall: Aqua Lung Squeeze Lock Knife
The Aqua Lung Squeeze Lock Knife features a partially-serrated, Tanto blade that brings it to the first spot in our list of the best OTF knives.
The Tanto blade was first developed in the late 1970s, and has been known for its excellent functionality and durability ever since.
The most prominent benefit of the Aqua Lung Squeeze Lock Knife with Tanto tip is its strength. It features a high point with a flat grind that makes this OTF knife a very powerful tool that can puncture even the hardest materials.
The titanium material does not rust which makes this OTF knife by Aqua Lung one of the most durable options available in the market today.
The feature that makes this Aqua Lung OTF knife the best option for self-defense is its squeeze lock system. The blade is enclosed in a sheath and the user can release the blade with just a squeeze of the handle.
The durability, strength, and the ease of use makes the Aqua Lung Squeeze Lock knife the best OTF knife that you can carry with you for the purpose of self-defense.
The blade of the Aqua Lung Squeeze Lock Knife isn’t completely serrated. The partial serration makes the non-serrated edge quite blunt and pretty useless when it comes to handling emergency situations.
The feature that makes this OTF knife stand out among the rest is its multiple mounting options.
It comes with steel barnacle bolts and nuts that allow the user to mount the knife through the fabric or on BC (Buoyancy Compensators) with knife grommets.
It also has hose mounting straps that makes mounting it to the BC inflator hose easy. The sheath has a locking belt clip that allows you to the attach this knife to webbing.
The Aqua Lung Squeeze Lock knife is an ideal choice for divers, owing to the fact that it can be easily mounted on the BC, the blade can be retrieved without a hassle, and the sharp Tanto tip of the blade allows the diver to free themselves of any weeds that they might get stuck to.
Runner Up: Benchmade Fixed Infidel Knife
The Benchmade Fixed Infidel features a blade made from high-performing D2 steel that has been carved into a spear point, making it exceptionally good at piercing.
A spear point blade sharp enough to pierce through numerous things. Its point is slightly lowered that makes way for better control and fine tip work. Moreover, the blade is equally sharp on both sides.
The handle of the Benchmade Fixed Infidel is made from black anodized aluminum (6061-T6 Billet aluminum) that offers excellent resistance to corrosion. The handle of the design makes it super-strong.
The blade is enclosed in a sheath made of thermoplastic alloy that makes it strong enough to withstand temperature extremes and abrasion.
One of the primary drawback that the Benchmade Fixed Infidel has as compared to other knives on this list is that it has a fixed blade. It does not fold and therefore, isn’t as compact and easy to hide as other OTF knives.
In addition, the blade has been finish –coated. The coating starts to chirp or scratch off after hard use.
There are deep ridging on the handle that offer the users a fine and stable grip of the knife. Than handle fits comfortably in the palm, thus, handling the knife isn’t an issue.
Since it is fixed blade knife, the cleaning is simpler and quicker.
The blade is made from D2 steel which is among the strongest types of steels available in the market along with excellent corrosion resistance which adds to its durability.
The Benchmade Fixed Infidel is a highly versatile workhorse and thus, forms an excellent addition to your survival kit.
If you’re looking for a handy and durable knife then the Benchmade Fixed Infidel is a great choice. For someone who is looking for a folding knife that they can carry in their pockets, it might not be that good of a choice.
Alternative: Schrade Viper 3 OTF Knife
If you’re looking for a compact and reliable OTF knife to carry with you at all times, the Schrade Viper 3 is what you should get.
Equipped with a double-edged, partially-serrated blade, it offers excellent performance. A 3.5-inch long blade is super-useful for slicing and cutting. It is quite swift and efficient at its job.
The aluminum handle is textured, which unlike other metallic handles, offers incredible grip and enhances handling. The textured pattern not only provides a great grip but also looks stylish.
The Schrade Viper 3 comes with some drawbacks. Firstly, it is not very lightweight. Secondly, the handle is quite big in size that makes this OTF knife not-so-concealable.
In addition, the blade release button is positioned poorly, at the back end of the knife’s handle that makes releasing the blade a bit inconvenient.
Lastly, the blade is made from 4034 stainless steel blade which is not the best quality steel, putting the durability of the Viper 3 in question.
The Schrade Viper 3 has a pocket clip that lets you carry it in your pocket without having to worry about dropping it somewhere.
The feature that makes the Schrade Viper 3 one of the best OTF knives for self-defense is the glass breaker at the end of the handle.
It makes the OTF knife the perfect survival tool in case you find yourself in an unanticipated situation where there is a need to break through the glass!
If you’re looking for a mediocre OTF knife that you can carry with you in your pocket or purse, the Schrade Viper 3 is an ideal option.
However, if your priority is compactness, you might not find it a great option. It is a bit bulky and heavy as compared to other OTF knives available in the market.
Alternative: NNK NK EDC Folding Knife
The NNK NK EDC Folding Knife is the best deal for you if you’re looking for a easy-on-pocket, reliable, and high-performance knife to carry on the go.
The double-edged blade made from stainless steel offers premium sharpness. The aluminum handle has a rubbery coating that offers a firm grip on the handle.
The push and retract button of this OTF knife by NNK works smoothly. The performance of the button can be improved by simple lubrication.
The ejection is smooth and rapid. The lock keeps the blade in place securely so you don’t have to worry about the knife opening in your pocket.
Many users have complained that the push and retract button is stiff and hard and hat lubrication isn’t an option but a necessity. The knife feels too big which causes bit of inconvenience for many users.
The NNK NK Green EDC Knife comes with a pocket clip but according to many reviews, the finishing of the clip is quite rough. It scratches at the back of the hand when you put your hand inside the pocket.
The NNK NK Green comes with a very useful belt holster that makes it super convenient to carry the knife around, especially when you’re on an adventure trip.
It is an excellent tool for self-defense owing to the fact that it is very easy to use, the blade pops out almost immediately, and has a window breaker at the handle’s end too.
The NNK NK Green is a reliable and affordable OTF knife. If you’re looking for a handy tool that gives you sense of safety and security and doesn’t cost a fortune, it is a great option!
Alternative: NNK Sigil Double Action OTF Knife
The NNK Sigil is a tough OTF knife with a classical look. Its features are similar to that of the Benchmade Infidel but the NNK Sigil is available at a much lower price.
The blade is made from 420 stainless steel that has a high carbon content. The double-edged blade of the NNK Sigil is super-sharp and cuts clean.
The NNK Sigil is a double-action tool which means that it uses a single switch to open and close the blade! How convenient is that?
Moreover, the forward and backward sliding of the knife also makes for easy operation.
The handle has an ergonomic design thus, it fits snugly in the hand and makes handling comfortable. The spring is surprisingly very strong which makes it a very powerful tool!
The OTF knife by NNK is quite heavy which doesn’t suit some people. Moreover, it is quite dull in appearance and thus, doesn’t grab visual attention.
According to some user reviews, the blade comes off-track after some uses but it can be adjusted easily.
To add to the convenience, the NNK Sigil comes with a belt holster. It is equipped with security features that prevents the blade from extending against any item.
The super-sharp blade, the compact design, smooth action, solid feel, comfortable grip, great weight distribution, and an affordable price make the NNK Sigil one of the best OTF knives available in the market today.
If you aren’t willing to spend on a pricey OTF knife but still want some good-enough features, the NNK Sigil might just be the right self-defense tool for you.
It holds great value for the money it is available for which makes it a great option for you if your only purpose is to be able to protect yourself in case of any unpleasant situation.
How To Choose The Best OTF Knife?
Buying an OTF knife for yourself can be a tough choice. OTF knives are available in a wide price range and are equipped with different features.
If you’re planning to keep an OTF knife for self-defense purpose, you have to be sure that you choose the best one. You’ll want the OTF knife to open smoothly and swiftly which is your only chance at defending yourself in emergency situations.
Below are the factors that you should consider when choosing an OTF knife for your self-defense.
The size of the blade you prefer is completely up to you. Usually, OTF knives with larger blades are Meany for heavy-duty tasks. For self-defense, OTF knives with smaller blade size will work perfectly well.
The blade of the OTF knife could be straight, fully-serrated or partially-serrated. Depending on the nature of your work and the level of dense you want, the choice of the blade will vary. For general use, a straight-edged blade does the job well.
The shape of the blade could be any of the following:
- Clip point
- Drop point
- Spear point
Each shape has a different penetrating power. Your choice should depend on your requirements.
Just because Tanto appears to be the sharpest doesn’t mean you need to purchase it. If you think a simple drop point will serve the purpose well, that’s what you should spend your money on.
The steel quality varies from good to best. If you want to keep a OTF knife just for a sense of security, a normal quality steel would do.
However, if you’re a hiker or hunter, you’ll need sharper and stronger blade that only the best-quality steel can deliver.
OTF Knives FAQ
What does the OTF knife stand for?
OFT knives are also known as out-the-front knives. They also go by the name telescoping knives. An OTF knife is a pocket knife whose blade opens and closes through a hole that is present at the end of the knife’s handle.
They’re different from the usual folding knives and fixed blade knives. OTF refers to the basic part of the mechanical operation of the knife where the blade slides in parallel with the handle.
Are OTF knives legal to carry?
According to the Federal Switchblade Act passed by the Congress in 1958, the import and sale of switchblades or OTF knives was to be regulated.
The decision whether the possession and carrying of OTF knives in different states was allowed or not was left on each state individually.
The law isn’t uniform throughout the U.S. Some states have made it legal to carry OTF knives while others have completely banned them.
Before you buy an OTF knife for your use, it is extremely important to check what the law of your state says.
States where it is legal to carry OTF knives
- Connecticut (If the blade is less than 1.5-inches)
- Florida (open carrying allowed with a gun permit only)
- Georgia (If the blade is less or equal to 5 inches but with a gun permit only)
- Kentucky (only open carry is legal. Concealed carry is deemed illegal)
- Maryland (only open carry is legal. Concealed carry is deemed illegal)
- Mississippi (only open carry is legal. Concealed carry is deemed illegal)
- Missouri (only open carry is legal. Concealed carry is deemed illegal)
- New Hampshire
- North Caroline (only open carry is legal. Concealed carry is deemed illegal)
- North Dakota (only open carry is legal. Concealed carry is deemed illegal)
- Ohio (only open carry is legal. Concealed carry is deemed illegal)
- Oklahoma (only open carry is legal. Concealed carry is deemed illegal)
- Oregon (only open carry is legal. Concealed carry is deemed illegal)
- Rhode Island
- South Caroline
- South Dakota
- West Virginia (the carrier has to be 18 years of age or older)
What are the benefits of the OTF knife for self-defense?
OTF knives are an excellent choice for self-defense purpose. They’re easy to handle. They fit in hands much better than the standard folding knives.
They’re easy to carry in your purse or pocket as compared to fixed blade knives. You can grip the OTF knife firmly and adjust it quickly which speeds up your response to any emergency situation.
In situations where you’ve to defend yourself, you don’t have much time to unfold the knife or remove the sheath. This would give the opponent time and opportunity to harm you.
It is where the OTF knives have an edge over others. You simply pull it out of your pocket in a blink of an eye, press the button and there you have it!
How to safely use an OTF knife?
The springs of most OTF knives are quite strong which cause the blade to leave its case with a lot of force almost as soon as you press the release button.
If you’re new to operating the OTF knife, you are at a high risk of cutting yourself since you don’t know for sure where to place your hand or what to expect.
To use an OTF knife safely, you need to be sure that you don’t have any part of your hand above the opening or even near it.
Hold the knife from the handle firmly and press the button down. It will ensure that the blade doesn’t scratch or cut your finger.
The same precaution has to be followed when you’re closing the blade. Before you push the button down, make sure your hand isn’t lingering anywhere near the blade or the opening.
The grip on the handle should be firm to keep the OTF knife from slipping from your hands upon the jerk of blade opening and closing.
The opening and closing of the blade is very swift and you won’t even know what happened. Therefore, to make sure you stay safe during the opening and closing of the knife, make sure you’re vigilant and cautious enough.
Choosing the best automatic knife depends on what you wish to use it for. OTF knives are ideal self-defense tools to carry.
Whether it is in the tool box of your car, your purse, or pocket, an OTF knife is easy to retrieve and use. Carrying an OTF knife might be legal in your state or it might not be legal.
You should take the decision depending on what your state laws say.