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The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Knife Openings by

When choosing a new EDC knife, it’s important to consider every aspect of the tool. How a knife opens is one of the most crucial things about selecting the right knife. There are many different opening mechanisms when it comes to folding knives, but here, we will cover the most common.

Flipper: The flipper opening mechanism involves a tab attached to the base of the blade located on the spine of the knife handle when closed. This tab allows your pointer finger to find the tab for easy opening, even when not looking. Most “flipper” knives contain ceramic ball bearings which make the opening action effortless. Others are spring-assisted. A good example of this is the Kershaw Conduit. The springs located in the liner cause the knife to “spring” open when gentle pressure is applied to the flipper tab.


Thumb studs: Located at the base of the blade on either one or both sides, thumb studs are just that. Small studs which allow you to open the knife by applying pressure with your thumb in an upward direction on the small post. Most of the time, this mechanism is also spring-assisted, allowing the blade to pivot effortlessly. The thumb stud opening technique is a time-tested, crowd favorite.


Nail nick: Commonly found on classic folding knives, and made popular by both Buck knives and Swiss army knives, the nail nick features an indentation running along the spine of the blade. Opening a knife using the nail nick involves both hands as one hand opens the blade with the other holding the handle. Although not as easily managed as the flipper or thumb stud, the nail nick is as reliable as it is classic.


Thumb Hole (Spyderco): Made famous by Spyderco knives, the thumb hole involves a hole cut in the blade near its base. The user opens the knife using either their thumb or middle finger and “flicking” the blade open. This method of opening has been affectionately dubbed the “Spidey Flick” by Spyderco enthusiasts.


Automatic Button: Now we come to the automatic mechanisms. These knives open with the press of a button. This action is one-handed, making it ultra convenient to use while working on various projects. The automatic button mechanism is found on out-the-side automatic knives like the ProTech Godson. Pressing the button opens the knife automatically with the help of a coil spring which wraps around the knife’s pivot. The blade locks into place effortlessly, allowing the user to stay focused on the task at hand.


Thumb Slide (OTF): This automatic opening mechanism is most commonly used on out-the-front knives such as the MicroTech Ultratech. As the name suggests, users use their thumb to push the slide on the side of the knife’s handle to eject the blade out of the front end of the grip.

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