Locking Mechanisms of a Knife

“The fool cuts himself with his own knife” – French Proverb
It is said because sometimes people fail to understand the mechanism of the knife and it does more damage to them than to target. That’s why when buying a knife, along hundreds of features, options and styles to choose from, you should also keep an eye on Locking Mechanisms. They are of importance while selecting the ones which suits your needs and preferences. Here is an overview of the most popular knife locking mechanisms you will encounter with today’s pocket knives.

Locking Liner
The basic principle is an integral locking bar within the knife liner being stress-bent, enabling it to spring into position behind the rear tang of the blade when the blade is opened. The locking bar wedges against the rear of the blade, locking it open until you physically push it clear and close the blade (locking-liners are made either right- or left-hand specific). What makes the locking liner a popular mechanism in survival knives is that it can be achieved with one hand or even just a thumb, making it quick, easy and hassle-free.

Axis Lock
Benchmade Knives designed what they call the AXIS locking system. A locking technology that has ambidextrous use, AXIS gets its function from a small, hardened steel bar which rides forward and back in a slot machined into both steel liners. The bar extends to both sides of the knife, spanning the liners and positioned over the rear of the blade. It engages a ramped, tang portion of the knife blade when it is opened. The bar rests on top of the tang of the blade, so it can’t close. The rod must be pulled back to the side again for the blade to free up and close.

Lock Back
One of the very first folding knife locking mechanisms and probably is the most popular too. This style of lock has a spring-loaded locking bar with a tooth at the end. The tooth falls into the notch cut into the blade tang and is held there under the spring tension. A cut out in the handle spine houses the release for the lock. These locks generally require 2 hands to unlock and close. When opened, the spring loaded small locking liner locks against the blade to keep open.

Frame Lock
Custom knifemaker Chris Reeve Invented the “frame lock” to be his updated version of the liner lock. The frame lock functions like the liner lock however, instead of utilizing a separate lock bar, it uses the actual frame which is also spring loaded to hold the blade in place. The frame lock functions like a liner lock, except it uses a partial cutout of the actual handle, not a liner, to lock the blade in place. When the blade is opened, the spring loaded frame lock slides over and presses against the blade locking it in place. It works in much the same way as the liner lock in that you must press the “frame bar” to the left to release the blade to fold back into the handle.

Arnab Ganguly

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