What's new

EDC pocket knife - Automatic or Assisted Opening?

Carried a Benchmade and an Emerson for years. The Emerson deploys via the hook on the blade when pulled rearward from the pocket, very fast.
I like the Spyder hole with a lock that has a bias to stay closed when closed. It is far faster and you don't have to fiddle with the knife to find the right position. Also, there is no safety to disengage.

I've had autos and assisteds open in my pocket, either due to no safety or the safety coming off. They are fun, but I no longer see the practicality.

Another thing, I don't like locks that require tiny springs. They can break. A coil is okay, a bar is better. I like simple and reliable and strong. I know it is not glamorous, but such locks work and don't fail.
I personally have no use for an automatic or assisted opener, and own neither. I can quickly flip open any of my knives with my off hand. I just break them in while sitting in my recliner watching Seinfeld reruns.

Switchblades and OTF knives are too "cool" for me.
My first folder (aside from Swiss Army pocket knives) was a Benchmade Griptilian. I followed that up with a number of Kershaw Speed Safe assisted open knives. I also bought some Spyderco knives and a handful of Harbor Freight Drop Point EDC Pocket Knife* knives.

Depending on what I'll be doing/what I'm wearing, I'll carry certain knives. However, there's no real difference in the speed with which I can open any of them. In fact, they all open with little more than a flick of the wrist (in the case of of the Kershaw knives, the push of the flipper). I wouldn't get hung up on how quickly/slowly any of these knives takes to open.

That said, I have no experience with automatic knives, as they're illegal in my state. Still, I would be surprised if they opened appreciably faster than any of my knives.

*This knife is probably one of the best value knives out there. Its blade is semi-serrated and made of 8Cr13MoV, which is a cheap but decent Chinese steel. It's also become my preferred knife for doing yardwork (including cutting weed whacker trimmer line).
I have 5 Piranha autos (among others). Flippers are okay, but my Piranha "Virus" has an S30V steel blade that's hard to beat.

"It slices, it dices, it Juliennes!"

Seriously, these Idaho-manufactured autos are great carry knives. My Piranha "Pocket" is small enough to carry discretely, yet immediately renders yeoman service when called upon.

Go to Blade HQ and look at the Pirahna line and make an informed decision.

You won't be disappointed.
I've had a Benchmade Stryker and a couple 940s. there's no real benefit to an auto for me either. the Stryker is big and heavy for its size, and unlocking the safety and hitting the button isn't faster than a clean 940 flicking open.

I lost my first 940, bought the 2nd, found the 1st. kept them both. they've both gone back to Benchmade because the action spring or something slipped and needed a reset. their warranty work is flawless and simple, and it comes home with a new edge each time.
There's always a sound reason why people carry what they carry, even if it's just personal preference. Some of my favorite knives are automatics and I regularly carry one. I personally find value in OTF knives because one of my preferred blade styles is a double edge...you're not going to realistically carry that in your pocket, unless you go with an OTF.
Late to the conversation, but...

I have a few "vintage" slip joints that have personal meaning to me, but most of my folders are modern.

Waves: Nice, fast, not auto/assisted; however, they require a certain space for deployment, and can also be variable in opening based on the cut of your pocket. I have the ZT Emerson collaborations, as Ernie is 30 years behind in his fasteners, and 15-40% overpriced.

Assisted: Actually, probably my favorite style. A little extra kick to the flipper in confined spaces, or where you have grit from sand/submersion. No extra space or motion required, and if you have very basic strength in your first two fingers, they open all the time. I have the ZT Onion designs.

Flippers: Nice, fun, but prone to failure in gritty environments, and the bearing versions are the worst. The old school bronze washer versions are the most reliable, but, again, in areas with fine sand or used in/around water, they may require a bit of space for an assistive flick, which may or may not be available.

Autos: Side openers are my preference, no "safety" just a properly placed button release. Assets- if you have room to breathe and can marginally move your arm, you can open your knife. Excellent options (where legal) for Fire & EMS, a personal vehicle emergency tool, or for anyone working in tight confines where a knife may be needed.
OTFs are fun, but are generally either "just fun," or fit into the up close and personal utility knife category. Microtech is indeed nice, but veeeerrry pricey. I do like the new seemingly genuinely USA-made Axials. They are very comparable to MT quality, at substantially less cost. No Limits OTFs, IME, are a best-buy and the lock up on my two is better than the '90s made MTs I used to own.
Heck, I have a "Bat Cave Cutlery" Sendoa Auto with an upswept "clip-point" ATS-34 blade that I had "shaving-sharp" within five minutes on my "Sharpmaker".


I have since cleaned the blade and it is a trophy!
I have a Microtech Dirac (OTF).


204P Steel makes this "bad boy" hold an edge like a heroin addict holds a habit! The blade is "tight as a tick". You can believe me when I tell you that it is razor-sharp!

This is the finest OTF I own.
Can't have autos out here, but I drool over microtechs. Had a few assisted Ken onions but didn't really find much use in them. I use knives 99.99% of the time for opening boxes or processing fruit. So speed hasn't been an issue. I see a lot of nice blades here!
I daily carry either a Benchmade Bugout 535BK-2 or Benchmade Mini-Presidio, both thumb stud openers. I like auto knives for their fun factor but they are totally useless in my world. I bought and returned a Microtech during the great unpleasantness of the covid era.
Top Bottom