Knives are an essential tool to pack for your survival. Not only is it a good tool to have when out on a camping trip, but it can actively save your life in self-defense situations. And possibly one of the most well-rounded knives that you can keep for various situations are OTF knives.
They are quick on the draw and are usually as big as sheathed blades, making them incredibly versatile. So if you want to get the best OTF knife for various activities, you have come to the right place. Here is a full guide on buying a knife and a collection of great ones.
The Best OTF Blades to Buy
- Benchmade Infidel
- Piranha Rated-R Tanto
- Benchmade Autocrat
- Schrade Viper 3
- Microtech Exocet Dagger CA
- Smith & Wesson
- Guardian Tactical RECON-035
- Microtech Ultratech
- Microtech Combat Troodon Knife
Do you want a blade that is better at puncturing than slashing? In that case, the Benchmade Infidel is just perfect for you. And with a double-edged needle point blade, it can still be very effective for slashing. The blade also features a very simple yet ergonomic design on the handle, which gives it a very comfortable grip overall.
Speaking of the handle, it also features a deployment switch in a completely different location, allowing you to grip it more confidently. The infidel also features a total height of 7.10″, with 3.10″ going to the blade alone. The D2 Tool steel used in the knife ensures that it will work just fine in most situations and will be exceptionally tough.
Piranha Rated-R Tanto
Piranha is another name in the OTF industry that specializes in creating these knives. With years of experience under their belt, the Rated-R Tanto is another great addition to their lineup of knives. And as you could guess by the name, this OTF knife features a tanto blade, which is very resistant to corrosion thanks to its stainless steel coating.
The textured aluminum handle offers an incredible grip even with sweaty hands. The double-action mechanism is smooth and quick, ensuring you’re never at a disadvantage in a tactical situation. The titanium pocket clip at the back ensures that you can keep this knife safely inside your pocket.
The Benchmade Autocrat is very similar to the infidel, with its similar needle point blade matched with the uniquely placed deployment switch. However, where it does manage to differentiate from the aforementioned OTF knife is in its material.
Given its price, you would expect nothing less than the absolute best materials, which feature the elite CPM-S30V steel. This steel is the most well-rounded one we have ever used, with it being able to hold a sharp edge for a long time while being fairly easy to sharpen.
It also features a dual-action mechanism, which means you can both open and retract the blade with a single button. With a total length of 8.75,” it can be difficult to handle for some, but it is easily the most premium knife on the list.
Schrade Viper 3
One of the most popular knives among hikers and campers is the Schrade Viper 3, as it offers the most bang for your buck. The knife features a fairly competent spring mechanism, which is good for the price but generally jarring when you come from a double mechanism.
Even if they cheaped out a little on the mechanism, the real money went into the blade and its design. Its futuristic design matched with the dark carbon blade gives it a unique look. And as for the 3.375″ stainless steel blade, it is remarkably sharp and can hold its edge for a long time, which is why most hikers tend to keep it on them.
Microtech Exocet Dagger CA
The Microtech Exocet Dagger is one of the most portable OTF knives on the market, with a total size of just 5.6″. Its name comes from that of a French missile. And much like a missile, it carries a lot of punch in a fairly small package. The aluminum blade is just 0.06″ wide and almost 2″ long, while also having a dagger style.
The black aluminum handle remains just 3.9″ in length and 1.50″ in width. Despite the smaller size, it features a fairly good grip, making it a good backup knife in emergencies.
Behind the Exotec is also a clip that makes it easier to carry, which you can also use as a money clip.
Smith & Wesson
Smith and Wesson might seem out of place here, seeing how they are the most popular firearms manufacturers in the world. That said, they have been making their way into other types of weapons, specifically that of OTF knives.
Their entry is a reasonably priced tanto blade, with an individual length of 3.25″. When retracted, the handle has a comfortable size of 5.5″, making it just the right size for any activity you might have in mind.
It also features an AUS8 material throughout, which allows it to retain a very sharp edge. And with the aluminum body, it is fairly nice to grip but is a little on the heftier side. If you’re looking for a lightweight blade, this one isn’t it. It does have an aluminum handle, though, which contributes to a fairly amazing grip.
Guardian Tactical RECON-035
Guardian has produced some incredible knives over the years, with one of their best ones being the Tactical RECON-035. And two of its stand-out features include its fast speed and smooth mechanism. Just the sound it makes when opening is reason enough to buy it.
The premium mechanism also ensures that the blade doesn’t jam after extensive use. This consideration alone shows that the guardian can make a good knife ready for extensive use. You can find the deployment switch on top of the handle rather than the side.
It also features a blade length of 4″ with an overall length of 7.75″. As for the handle, it is aluminum with carbon fiber, which makes it especially good to handle and grip.
This is the second entry by Microtech in this list, but it is one of their flagship models: the Ultratech. This OTF features a dagger design that is sharp to the touch and is generally much better at the draw. Furthermore, you can both slash and puncture at a threat with its versatile design.
The Ultra tech features a 6061-T6 aluminum handle, which is durable and very comfortable to grip. The handle houses the double-action mechanism inside, making it quick on the draw and generally very easy to use.
With a total length of 8.50″, the blade is fairly long at 3.44″ with a very sharp edge. And given its fairly low price, it is one of the best knives you could own.
Microtech Combat Troodon Knife
The final entry in our list is the Microtech Combat Troodon Knife, made for people using it often. The first thing to stand out about it is its handle, which features a fairly ergonomic design and grooves in the faces to increase grip.
With a total length of 9.50″, it can be a little heavier than most people would expect. The blade itself is 3.80″ long, giving it excellent reach in tactical situations. Furthermore, the serrated edge also means that it’s very sharp, if not a little difficult to sharpen.
It is a very stylish knife and features the most premium materials. So make no mistake when saying that this is an exceptional knife, especially thanks to its blade. Of course, the price very much reflects this premium quality.
Things To Consider Before Buying An OTF Knife
Before we can move forward and suggest the best OTF knives that you should choose, it is worth talking about the different things that you should consider first. Various aspects of an OTF knife can make it a deal-breaker for some, which is why looking at these considerations can help you make a more informed decision.
For the most part, this is a very subjective feature, seeing how you might usually carry these knives in a pack or as part of a set. Therefore, consider if you will be carrying this blade as a pocket or survival knife on you, or will you be taking it with you in your bag. Furthermore, people who are more adept at using knives will rarely need a pocket clip on their knives.
All in all, if you want to be carrying this knife on you at all times, it would be a good idea to choose one that comes with a pocket clip for easier carry.
Unlike most other knives, the various US states have laws that ban OTF blades. Most of these states are also the ones that have much stricter gun laws. If you happen to live in one of these states, the chances are that owning the knife could be illegal, let alone using one.
Government officials believe that the primary focus of OTF knives is that of a weapon, which is why they particularly scrutinize it. Be sure to check your state’s legislature to find out if you can legally own and carry these OTF knives.
One of the downsides of buying OTF knives over regular ones is the increased probability of accidents. Specifically, since it features an automated mechanism, there is a real chance that the blade could eject, even when you are carrying it. And even though it is very rare, it is still plausible. Therefore, you need to choose an OTF blade with a safety lock.
The lock can save you from possible injuries to you or your family, and it is generally a good thing to have. You should get an OTF knife with a safety mechanism if this is your first time buying one.
There are three different types of OTF blades that you can buy: Single-action, dual-action, and manual. The single-action knife features a spring mechanism, which can push the blade out. But to retract it, you will have to slide it in manually. The dual-action blades also feature a spring mechanism, but they can retract and open the blade with a single button. Finally, the manual features a slide on the handle, which you will push and pull to open or retract the blade.
None of these changes how the knife functions, but it can make you faster on the draw, which is something to consider.
Similar to most types of knives that you buy, there are different edges, each for different uses. You can find these knives with a tanto, needle point, spear point, and even drop point blades. However, the most common is easily the needle point blades.
Of course, your choice of the blade also comes down to your use of it. If you will be slashing or cutting with it more often, a tanto or drop point is the best choice. But if you will be poking and puncturing with the blade, then the spear and needlepoint blades are the best choice.
Price is usually the most important factor to consider when buying an OTF knife, seeing how it can get fairly expensive. A specific brand like Smith and Wesson matched with premium quality material can usually make a blade expensive.
However, you should also understand that the mechanism of these knives is not necessarily cheap to manufacture. Therefore, the higher the price for an OTF knife, the better the quality guarantee. Be sure not to buy cheaper OTF knives with sharp blades, as they might compromise the mechanism.
How to Properly Care for Your Blades
Knives, especially OTF ones, need maintenance regularly, which ensures that they are in working condition when you need them. Here are a few ways that you can take care of your blades.
Clean It after Use
The first way to reliably keep your blade in good shape is by cleaning it. You should be cleaning your blade instantly after using it, as you don’t want any residue going into the mechanism.
Be sure to wipe the blade clean, as water might damage the mechanism within. If the residue manages to stick to the blade, avoid using bleach or other types of harsh chemicals. You could use mild soap to try and remove the stains.
Lubricate It Often
The mechanics of the knife itself also need care, as you don’t want it getting jammed during a dangerous confrontation. Regularly oil its parts so that the sliding motion is smooth and fast and protects it from rusting. You can use any type of oil and rub it up and down your blade. You can also use WD40 as a lubricant, as it can also go into places where the oil cannot. Gun oil is also a very good alternative.
But if you’ll be using your knife to cut food as well, then you should be using non-toxic, food-grade lubricant.
Sharpen the Blade Frequently
Finally, the best way to keep your blade sharp at all times is to sharpen it often with a proper grindstone. You can look up plenty of videos online that can teach you how to sharpen a knife, especially serrated steel ones.
OTF knives are an incredible addition to any survival kit and can be very useful in situations where your life depends on them. The best part is that they offer all the benefits of a fixed blade and folding knife without their downsides. It is durable, tough, hard, sharp, quick on the draw, and easy to carry. So when you’re choosing your favorite OTF blade, be sure to choose one that best fits your needs once you make the considerations above.