Best Spring-Assisted Knives (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Swift one-handed operation for self-defense and everyday cutting tasks.
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BY Norah Tarichia / LAST UPDATED ON April 8, 2021
Bladed tools are an essential component of the outdoor experience for a variety of reasons. The choice of whether to carry one as a single tool or part of a multitool is purely down to preference. Single foldable knives are the go-to item for anyone in the market for a bladed stand-alone tool that not only cuts, slices, shears or opens up items, but also fits snugly in one’s pocket or small carrier bag. Owing to their growing popularity, the market is teeming with options. These include traditional foldable knives as well as the more user-friendly assisted devices, many of which employ a spring-assisted deployment mechanism that deploys the blade instantly at the touch or flick of a nub. Our buying guide features spring-assisted knives designed for outdoor enthusiasts and anyone skilled enough to use them.
This half-serrated, stainless steel blade is housed in a well-crafted and ergonomic black aluminum handle. It offers easy one-handed deployment allowing the user to access multiple functionalities.
- Comes in a compact and slim profile that’s easy to carry
- Includes a bottle opener and glass breaker
- Half serrated design enhances its cutting functionality
- Locks in place when folded for safety
- Slightly stiff opening mechanism
- Bottle opener is only accessible when the knife is open
- Black paint on the handle wears off rather quickly
This knife has a 3.25-inch, half-serrated blade that’s housed in a skull-medallion-adorned ABS handle, which offers a swift one-handed opening. It’s 4.75 inches long when closed.
- Includes a pocket clip for convenient carrying
- Comes with a glass breaker and seatbelt cutter
- Excellent grip on the handle
- Decently priced
- Limited color options
- Slightly on the larger side
- Doesn’t lock in place when manually opened
This is a lightweight knife with a three-inch blade made of high carbon stainless steel. It utilizes Kershaw’s SpeedSafe assisted opening system for quick one-handed deployment.
- Comes with a pocket clip for convenient carriage
- Reliable liner lock included for enhanced safety when the blade is folded
- Features a sturdy blade with an aggressive edge
- Convenient size and a well-balanced design for one-handed operation
- More expensive than most EDC knives
- Blade dulls quickly
- Has a high-tension spring that makes it difficult to close with one hand
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Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Spring-Assisted Knives
- Swift opening mechanism. Spring-assisted knives open nearly instantaneously following an initial application of pressure, then the spring mechanism completes the deployment process immediately. This feature comes in handy for emergencies in which haste is of the essence, including defending oneself from an assailant.
- Convenience. The ideal spring-assisted knife is constructed in a way that enables simple, one-handed use, which requires little to no training. Each knife’s build and weight are tailored towards one-handed use.
- Portability. Many spring-assisted knives come with a pocket clip so the owner to carry it everywhere as an everyday carry knife. Furthermore, a majority measure between three to five inches when closed, easily fitting in your pockets.
- Multiple utilities. Admittedly in the past, many spring-assisted knives were just that — knives. In response to various needs in our evolving environment, spring-assisted knives combine various utilities that render them an invaluable tool to have with you. Such utilities include car escape tools, a bottle opener, and a glass breaker among many others.
- Safety. A folding spring-assisted knife brings with it the comfort of safety, both in its opening and closing mechanism. Spring-assisted knives deploy from the side of the handle, enabling users to avoid injuring themselves while deploying as might occur with switchblades that deploy from the top. A locking mechanism keeps the blade’s sharp edge covered during carriage, thereby making it safer than non-folding knives.
- Legality. Due to blades’ capacity to function as weapons, many types of knives are illegal to carry around, some even to simply own. Most spring-assisted knives are legal, unlike switchblades, which may not even be allowed on planes.
Types of Spring-Assisted Knives
Thumb Stud Opening
Consisting of the most common assisted opening type, these knives have a thumb stud on the side of the blade. One-handed opening is facilitated by the application of pressure on the stud, which subsequently forces the blade to pop out. Some knives go as far as featuring a thumb stud on either side of the blade (dual stud), making it easier to operate the knife using both the left or right hand.
Also quite common, the thumbhole opening mechanism is largely similar to the thumb stud. However, in place of a stud, a simple and practically-positioned hole exerts leverage on the blade. Despite the name, one may use any finger to pry open the blade for the first few degrees before the spring mechanism kicks in to finish the rest of the deployment sequence.
The flipper mechanism is far more common on manual blades than assisted knives, but a few of these have found a place among spring-assisted knives. A smooth pivot is required for the operation of these knives, whereby application of force on the flipper (commonly using the thumb or tip of the index finger) edges the blade out of the handle. The spring mechanism then completes the deployment of the blade.
Smith and Wesson
Founded in the year 1852 by Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson, the company was best known for the manufacture of firearms (rifles, pistols, revolvers, and other shooting accessories). Over time, the company began manufacturing automated and assisted knives for tactical use. The company’s headquarters are in Springfield, Mass.
Tac Force is a subsidiary brand of Master Cutlery, which was established in 1982. Master Cutlery is one of the biggest manufacturers of knives globally, and Tac Force manufactures their folding knives. Spring-assist knives from Tac Force are recommended for use by EMTs and other first responders in fields such as fire and rescue. Its headquarters are in Secaucus, N.J.
Grand Way is a Carolina-based company that has more than 10 years of experience in designing hunting, fishing, outdoor, and pocket knives. Most of its knives are offered at a decent price and help customers accomplish everyday tasks with ease. Check out the Grand Way Tactical Spring Assisted Knife or the Grand Way Spring Assisted Folding Knife if you are looking for a robust cutting tool.
Spring-Assisted Knife Pricing
- Under $50: A majority of the lower-end knives with limited added utilities are found within this price range. You can also find knives from high-end brands such as Master Cutlery and Smith and Wesson.
- $50-$100: Lower to mid-range spring-assisted knives with moderate utilities are found within this price range. Most boast a thumb stud or thumbhole opening mechanism, a stylish design, and an anti-slip handle.
- $100 and up: Top-of-the-range spring-assisted knives are found within this price range. Most of these knives are made of high-quality material so they are quite durable and let you make precise cuts. Also, they come with multiple added utilities that let you use the knife as a survival tool.
You want a knife with a comfortable handle that offers you optimal control when cutting. Most handles are made of either wood or metal (particularly aluminum) and the latter are generally more durable. Some less common options are made of materials like embossed ABS plastic, which is also durable and offers a comfortable grip.
Manufacturers design blade edges with different designs so what you choose depends on what you deem useful. Straight edge knives are suitable for cutting through most items, while serrated edges help cut through fruit or bread. Deeply serrated edges add saw-like functionality to the blade and can cut through small twigs or thin planks of wood. Many modern spring-assisted knives have combined straight and serrated knife edges on the same knife-edge, while a few even have double-edged blades.
Weight and Size
The combination of build material and design for each spring-assisted knife yields tools of different sizes and weights. The average knife measures anywhere between 3-6 inches in closed length and weighs about 5-10 ounces. For users with smaller hands, or anyone looking for an everyday carry knife, consider a smaller and lightweight option that doesn’t weigh you down.
- Utilities. To get value for your money, choose knives that bring more than one function to the table. Additional utilities such as a fire starter, glass breaker, bottle opener, seat-belt cutter can come in handy for emergency or survival situations.
- Ease of carrying. Due to their popularity as everyday carry tools, spring-assisted knives often incorporate pocket clips that make it easy to have on one’s person. Heavier metallic clips tend to be more secure while lighter metallic or plastic ones are less reliable.
Best Spring-Assisted Knives Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- After outdoor use where the knife may get dirty, ensure you clean it properly to avoid spring damage caused by the accumulation of dirt.
- Moisture, humidity, and residual water from cleaning the knife may tarnish the blade or even cause it to rust. Be sure to dry your knife before storage.
- Sharpen your knife at least once every few months to maintain its efficacy, regardless of the steel’s expected edge retention.
- Lubricate the moving parts (spring and pivot mechanisms) as well as the blade itself, especially when you experience difficulty during deployment or closure.
Q: What are the best spring-assisted knives?
The spring-assisted knives featured in our review are some of the best on the market. However, if you are looking for the overall best, you can consider the Tac Force Speedster Spring Assisted Knife.
Q: Where are spring-assisted knives illegal?
Spring-assisted knives are legal in most states since they do not have automated openings as is the case with switchblades, which are more dangerous and illegal in most states.
Q: Are spring-assisted knives legal in the United Kingdom?
Most spring-assisted knives with a blade length longer than 3 inches are illegal. You also need a good reason to carry a pocket knife with a blade that’s three inches or less.
Q: Are spring-assisted knives legal in New York?
In New York, you are allowed to own a spring-assisted knife so long as the blade is less than 4 inches. Anyone who’s at least 16 years old can own an assisted opening knife.
With its functional design that incorporates both a straight and serrated cutting edge, the Tac Force Speedster Spring Assisted Knife easily scoops the best overall position in our review. It’s easy to open and close, and also includes emergency tools such as a glass breaker. For a more budget-friendly option, you can consider the Master USA Spring Assisted Knife, which also includes a glass breaker and a seat belt cutter.