Knife locking mechanisms explained.

Knife locking mechanisms explained.

With a veritable slew of varying locking mechanisms to be found on folding pocket knives, some tactical knives and occasionally hunting knives, some you may be familiar with others not so much, with all the different knife lock types it can get confusing , its handy to be able to identify which is which and allows for safe handling of your knife. Here we have a look at some of the more popular ones your likely to run into.

Locking Liner also known as the liner lock. The locking mechanism is in the liner of the handle, which is where its name derives from. When there is a metal sheet inside the handle it is called a liner. With a locking liner, opening the blade will allow this metal to flex over and buttress against the base of the blade inside the handle locking it in place. Moving this liner aside will release the lock allowing the blade to close. Disengagement of the lock is performed with the thumb by depressing the liner lock usually located in the blade release cavity which allows for that very handy one handed knife action. Locking liners are most often found on tactical folding knives and emergency rescue knives.

The AXIS lock has traditionally been found on Benchmade knives, the AXIS Lock is one of the most intuitive systems locking knife mechanisms around, but describing the mechanism is not as easy. Omega springs tension the AXIS bar against notches in the blade. Pull back on the AXIS bar to generate enough space for the blade to open or close. The Omega springs ensure lockup tension between the stop pin and AXIS bar.

Arc-Lock found on SOG knives is likely the most differing from the original in the class of “locks patterned after the Benchmade Axis Lock” both in terms of design and functionality, though the concept is quite similar. When the blade is opened a piece of metal is pushed into place over the tang (see more on knife tangs here) by a spring, securing the blade, the lock itself travels in an arc with a pivot point directly above the resting position of the lock in its open or closed position. As the knife is opened the lock bar swings out of the way, then drops into place as the blade reaches its stop.

A lock back mechanism is what you see on many classical pocket knives. It’s basically made up of a “spine” on a spring. When the knife is opened, the spine locks into a notch on the back of the blade. To close the knife, push down on the exposed part of the spine normally found on the middle or rear of the knife handle to pop up the part of the spine in contact with the blade. This disengages the lock, allowing you to move the knife blade to a closed position.

Clasp lock This type of knife has no lock or back spring. A clasp lock uses a piece of strong metal at the top rear of the handle. When the blade is opened a post inserts itself into that piece of metal much like a plunge lock. To fold the knife you simply push on the clasp so it lifts the piece of metal until the post clears its hole.

Lever lock this mechanism is a relatively basic one. When the lever is up, it wont open much like a safety. Flip the lever down and it’s ready to go. When you push the lever all the way to the handle, it lifts the stabilizer from the blade, allowing the leaf spring to open the knife. The stabilizer locks the blade in the open position. So push the lever down again to unlock and close it.

Spring Lock  A flat piece of steel kept under pressure by the rivet assembly that holds the blade in an open position. They can be one end springs or two end springs.  One end springs hold a single blade open, while two end springs hold two blades open; one on each end.

Tri-Ad Lock The Tri-Ad locking system is exclusive to Cold Steel. It resembles the lock back in that the tang of the blade fits into a notch along the spine, but there is a stop pin that distributes the pressure from the lock to the spine for extra strength.

Twist (Collar) Lock  Sometimes known as a collar lock, the twist lock requires you to twist a collar ring at the top of the knife’s handle to open and close it. This type is found mostly on Opinel knives. You simply twist the ring until the blade aligns with the vertical slot, so it can open it. To lock it in place, you twist the vertical slot away from the blade.

Framelock The framelock is a variant of the linerlock. Instead of using the liner, though, the frame functions as an actual spring. It is usually much more secure than a liner lock.

Ball Bearing Lock  A compressive lock wedging a stainless steel ball bearing between a fixed anvil and the blade tang. The ball is also utilized to close the blade.