Pocket knife aficionados should definitely have a quality OTF knife in their arsenal. They’re discreet, fast, light, and highly effective tools for self-defense and EDC. But, what is the best out the front automatic knife? Keep reading, and you’ll be given a tour of 11 outstanding OTF knives on the market.
An OTF knife is a type of switchblade. The abbreviation stands for “out the front”, which simply describes the mechanism by which the blade is deployed. OTF knives occupy quite a small niche in the knife market, and options may not be as many as, say, throwing knives. But their popularity has steadily risen over the years.
When it comes to legality, the same rules apply as with the switchblade. The OTF is, therefore, considered legal in many countries and jurisdictions. Only a few states in the US have outlawed its possession and sale.
If you love pocket knives, you will appreciate the reliability and versatility of quality automatic knives, and it will certainly be a great addition to your collection. But with so many options, which one do you pick and why? Let’s tackle this understandable dilemma head-on, with reviews for 11 of the best OTF switchblades for sale.
The Top 11 OTF Knives on the Market
There’s something special about buying a pocket knife. Maybe it’s the power it puts in your hands, or maybe it’s just the excitement of buying something new. But what really matters is getting the right knife.
Take a look at our reviews of the 11 best OTF knives to get started.
Microtech is arguably the most popular automatic knife manufacturer in the game right now, and it doesn’t disappoint when it comes to OTFs. The Microtech Ultratech is its benchmark OTF knife, and it comes with an excellent build and beautiful appearance. In a few words, it is everything you would expect to find in a Microtech knife.
One good thing about Microtech is its tendency to produce knives in a wide number of varieties. Following this trend, the Ultratech comes with a staggering number of options, including different sizes and a host of colors and patterns.
If you prefer a classy look, perhaps the dark stonewash blade or carbon fiber will tickle your fancy. But if you’re not afraid to take risks, the zombie tech may just be the right option for you. This knife may not be cheap, but its craftsmanship is worth every penny.
If you’re looking for the best OTF knife for the money, the AKC F-16 takes the cake. Inspired by the F-16 jet, it weighs slightly over three ounces and is 8 inches long with a 3.375-inch blade. Just like its Italian counterparts, you will be impressed by the double action knife’s overall quality.
Its black aluminum handle includes an inlay for a firmer grip, and the thumb-slide mounted on the side deploys and retracts the blade seamlessly. Luckily, you don’t have to fret over durability because the 440A blade allows for easy maintenance. Although expected, the blade play on the F-16 is very minimal.
Overall, the knife fires hard, and its fit and finish is way better than you would get anywhere else at that price range. We recommend it to anyone looking for a good double action OTF for performing light duties.
The best blade is the one you have on you, as they say. If your budget doesn’t allow for a buy-it-for-life quality switchblade, then set your sights on a Lightning OTF knife. It won’t represent peak knife-making, but it costs less than lunch for two and will prove trusty in a pinch.
Specifically, we consider their Elite D/A Automatic Dagger the best OTF knife under 100 dollars by a fair stretch. It’s reasonably proportioned at 8 inches long overall, featuring the standard 3.25 inch drop point blade. It feels solid in the hand with a sturdy aluminum build and grippy textured surface.
The blade ejects via side-mounted thumb slide, with updated dual-action performance that is smooth and fast. It also features a fuller ground into the sides, further shedding weight and enhancing speed. Despite the low price, the Lightning Elite DA OTF knife ships with a 100% manufacturer guarantee against defects. Not a bad overall package for a fraction our other recommended OTF prices.
The Hogue Compound is designed by the great Allen Elishewitz, and he unapologetically takes design risks. At first glance, you will notice the beautiful organic-shaped handles lined with an unusual scale-like finish. These come in a variety of color options, including green, gray, dark earth, and brown.
Hogue has earned quite a reputation over the years for its state of the art craftsmanship, and it has not disappointed here either. The blade is made from high-quality CPM-S30V, which is one of the best-powdered steel the market has to offer. Its double action deployment and retraction are seamless and feel natural. Although fairly new on the market, this knife shows a lot of promise.
If you’re looking for something unique, the Smith and Wesson M&P OTF is your best bet. Here, you get a spring-assisted OTF with the quick deployment of an automatic. We doubt you will find another model with a similar deployment method.
You don’t need to worry about quality because the blade is made from AUS-8 stainless steel, which is strong and rust-resistant. And that’s not all; the spear-pointed blade allows for an extremely sharp point while the aluminum handle is light and fits nicely in your hand.
To top things up, a tip-down pocket clip and a glass breaker are fitted along the handle to maximize the knife’s functionality. Your safety during usage is guaranteed by the sliding safety that prevents accidental deployments.
A smaller knife is more discreet and will easily bypass the legal hurdles that may inhibit a larger one, and that’s exactly the advantage you get with the Microtech Exocet OTF pendant. It is only 5.625 inches long and has a blade that measures 1.98 inches. But make no mistake; its size does not affect its quality and sturdiness.
First, its blade is made from CTS 240P stainless steel that is lined with a stonewash finish. Secondly, it features an aluminum handle that is anodized for toughness and durability.
And then, you will get a wider-than-normal frame that will give you a better hold. As a bonus, the matte gray pocket clip (which also doubles as a money clip) on this little guy is wide, making your mini OTF knife more secure in your pocket.
With a blade length of 3.95 inches and a total length of 8.95 inches, the BenchMade Infidel leans on the larger side as far as size is concerned. But it weighs just 5 ounces, making it lightweight for an double action automatic knife in its size range.
It is a popular option in law enforcement and military circles, but no one is saying you cannot enjoy a little taste of the US marine experience.
The Infidel will cost you a few more bucks compared to the average OTF, but it will give you value for your money. Its doubled-edged spear-pointed dagger blade is made from high-quality D2 tool steel that is known for its hardness and extreme durability.
Additionally, the handle is comfortable in hand, and the switch at the center feels natural during deployment and retraction. As usual, BenchMade brings its A-game with this one.
BenchMade’s upcoming 4850BK-1 OM is much shorter than the Infidel. With a total length of just 5.88 inches and a blade length of 2.475 inches, it’s incredibly sleek and discreet. Although its blade is made from Crucible CPM-S350V, which is an upgrade from the D2 steel blade in the Infidel, it costs considerably less as well.
The blade comes with a clip-point shape, and you can get it in two versions: Blue or black anodized 6061-T6 billet aluminum, both priced the same.
Though the 4850BK OM comes in the usual aluminum handle, the slider switch fitted on the side is an inherited trait from BenchMade’s now-discontinued Precipice series. The knife is also designed for ambidextrous tip-down carry, making it suitable for left-handed people.
Are you looking for an OTF switchblade specially designed for combat or professional use?
The Venom 3TR supersedes all expectations. Its price may be a bit on the higher side but is justified by its military build construction that makes it suitable for multi-purpose use and enables it to withstand heavy usage.
We were impressed by the high-end 440C stainless steel that has high corrosion resistance and edge retention. It will give you more cutting power with its partially serrated double-edge that also features a tough tip for easy piercing.
But our favorite feature on the Venom 3TR is its rapid assisted deployment mechanism. While it may look standard, it is far smoother and faster than your conventional models. In case you doubt the knife’s quality, it is made in the US, and each unit is tested before delivery.
The Microtech Combat Troodon is everything you would want to see in an OTF knife and then some. But are you brave enough to wield it? It is the largest of the Microtech’s knives and is 25% larger than the standard Troodon. The knife comes in a whopping 9.5 inches total length with a handle length of 5.75 inches but still manages to feel slim and comfortable.
In classic Microtech fashion, the combat Troodon is available in a wide variety of handle colors, OTF blade styles, and finishes. Although it can be pricey, you can tell you have got your money’s worth based on its high-quality materials and superb build.
The blade is made from high-quality CTS-240P stainless steel, while the handle is made from anodized aluminum for a sturdy frame. Don’t forget that the lock-up is pretty solid, giving you close to zero blade movement.
The BenchMade Phaeton OTF is entirely made in the United States. Although it takes the subtle approach when it comes to design, its overall construction is exemplary. We love the S30V steel blade because it has high corrosion resistance, edge retention, and easy sharpening ability.
Aluminum is the material of choice for the handle and is anodized for hardness and durability, giving you a sturdy frame while still being lightweight. Its top scale is slightly textured to give you a firmer grip and to add a bit of style.
The siding button mounted on the spine of the handle seamlessly releases and retracts the out the front blade, allowing you quick blade access that is smoother than what you would get on any other knife in its price range.
What to Consider Before Buying an OTF Knife
The truth is that there’s nothing like well-made OTF automatic knives. But, what will work well for your neighbor might not be a good fit for you. Look out for the following things to pick the best out the front knife for your needs.
Of course, the blade is the most important part of your knife. If it’s made of substandard material, it won’t matter how great the other features are. Stainless steel and carbon steel are some of the most popular materials here.
Size of the Blade and Overall
Choose an appropriate blade size, depending on the task you’re using it for. A mini OTF knife will serve you well indoors, while a large blade is more suited for outdoor activities. Some countries have adopted regulations on which blade sizes you are allowed to carry, so consider the legal environment too when choosing a size.
Single Action vs. Double Action OTF Knives
Double action OTFs use a dual-action mechanism that allows you to deploy and retract the blade automatically with just one hand. With a single action, you will have to pull the blade back manually to recharge.
Most OTF’s come with either straight or partly serrated edges. Unless you want a knife for a specific special purpose such as cutting twine, you may not need a fully serrated OTF. A straight edge will serve you best if you want a knife for self-defense or hunting, but a partly serrated one will offer you the best of both worlds.
While there are many pocket knife blade types, OTF typically have two options: a single edge or double edge. A single edge is the most suitable choice for all your usual cutting. It is safer because it avoids unintentional cuts, and you can push your finger against the blunt end to exert more pressure. A double edge is best suited for combat or self-defense.
Most of the best OTF knives are available at high prices. But unless you want a specialized blade for combat of professional use, you can always find a good one at a favorable price. Cheap OTF knives with double action, on the other hand, are available–but may not last you very long. Strive to find a good balance between price and quality.
OTF Automatic Knives – Final Thoughts
With so many options, choosing the right OTF knife can be a daunting task. But the basics remain the same. A good OTF should be made of high-quality material if it is to stand the test of time. You must also consider edge design, blade type, size, and the deployment mechanism.
We hope your search for the perfect OTF knife will be a lot easier now that you know what to look out for. Whether you’re looking to defend yourself or you simply need a cutting tool, there is a knife to fit your purpose and personal preference.
Has an OTF ever saved your life or helped you out of a sticky situation? Which out the front knife do you swear by? Leave us your thoughts in a comment below!