Knife Lock Types Selection Guide

Knife Lock Types Selection Guide

In everyday life, a folding knife is a commonly used tool, and the safety and stability of a folding knife largely depend on the locking mechanism used.


This article will introduce several common locking mechanisms for folding knives, including liner lock, frame lock, axis lock, compression lock, ball bearing lock, and button lock, uncovering the mysterious veil of blade locking mechanisms.


1.Liner Lock


Liner lock knives are plentiful, straightforward, and usually more budget-friendly. A liner lock is a type of knife locking mechanism that features a side liner inside the handle that is spring-loaded. As the blade swings into the open position, a metal piece under tension slides into position and rests against the blade's tang. This tension securely locks the knife in the open position, minimizing the risk of accidental closure while in use. This mechanism provides a secure locking mechanism while allowing for easy one-handed closing of the knife.


Liner locks are commonly found in folding knives and are popular among knife users for their reliability and ease of use.




2. Frame Lock


The frame lock is a type of locking mechanism commonly found in knives. In a frame lock system, the frame of the knife itself serves as the locking mechanism to keep the blade open during use.


This design differs from the liner lock, where a metal liner inside the handle is used as the locking component. Frame locks are known for their strength, reliability, and ease of use, making them a popular choice for many knife users.


The frame lock design is often associated with titanium-handled knives due to titanium's durability and resistance to torsional forces.


3. Back Lock


A back lock, also known as lockbacks, is a type of locking mechanism commonly found on folding knives. It involves a notch on the spine of the blade and a rocker arm that pivots to secure the blade in the open position. When the back lock is engaged, the blade is locked in place to prevent accidental closure. To disengage the lock and close the knife, pressure is applied to the back of the handle to release the blade. This type of locking system is known for its strength, reliability, and ease of use.


4. Crossbar Lock


The Crossbar Lock consists of a spring-loaded bar that slides back and forth across the blade to secure it in place when open.  This design allows for ambidextrous operation and smooth, one-handed deployment.


This type of lock also known as the Bar Lock, was created by Bill McHenry and Jason Williams, acquired by Benchmade, and introduced as the AXIS Lock.  After the patent expired in 2018, other knife companies adopted the technology with unique names and modifications.  Examples include the XR Lock by SOG, ABLE Lock by Hogue, Clutch Lock by Kizer, XT Lock by KUNWU, A-Lock by Acta Non Verba, and DuraLock by Kershaw.  Spyderco's Ball Bearing Lock and Microtech's Ram-Lok are also variations of the Crossbar Lock. Various manufacturers like Gerber, Bestech, and The James Brand use Crossbar Locks with different names. 


The knife community now refers to these locking mechanisms under the title of the Crossbar Lock. 




5. Compression Lock


The Compression Lock is a locking mechanism used in certain folding knives, designed by Spyderco. It features a small piece of metal that wedges between a pocket in the tang of the blade and the knife handle when the blade is opened. This creates a very strong lockup that is resistant to impact and pressure.


The Compression Lock is known for its ease of use, as it can be easily disengaged with one hand, making it popular among both everyday users and tactical knife enthusiasts. It is also considered to be a very secure locking mechanism, providing excellent lockup strength. Many knife collectors and users appreciate the Compression Lock for its simplicity, reliability, and ease of operation.


6. Plunge Lock


A plunge lock is a type of locking mechanism used in folding knives. It typically consists of a button or lever located on the handle of the knife, which needs to be pressed or depressed to unlock the blade. When the button is pushed, it releases the blade from the locked position, allowing it to be closed.


Plunge locks are known for their ease of use and quick deployment, as they can be easily operated with one hand.




7. Slip Joint


Slip joint knives are known for their classic, dependable, and traditional design. They are non-locking knives that use a tensioned back bar to keep the blade open or closed. They are commonly used as traditional pocket knives and are popular among collectors for their simplicity and classic design.


One potential disadvantage of slip joint knives is that they do not provide the same level of security as knives with locking mechanisms. There is a risk that the blade could accidentally close on your fingers while in use if enough pressure is applied. It is essential to exercise caution and proper handling techniques when using slip joint knives to reduce the risk of injury.



In conclusion, knife lock types may appear complex, but we hope that this article has brought you some clarity. The list provided is not exhaustive, as there are numerous other knife lock types available in the market. Rather than fixating on the lock type of your knife, consider whether the knife fulfills your needs and aligns with your preferences.

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