OTF knives sometimes referred to as switchblades are one of my favorite everyday carry pocket knives. They are tactical masterpieces when built with good materials and even better craftsmanship.
As an avid user and lover of automatic pocket knives they have become a regular part of my EDC gear, I have put together a list of the best OTF automatic knives worth buying.
OTF knives known as (out the front) are spring assisted pocket knives that you can easily deploy single handed. OTF knives are single or double action. The more common double action is operated with a thumb slide trigger that you push or slide forward and the knife blade deploys out from the front of the handle automatically and in turn when you pull or slide back on the trigger the knife blade retracts back into the handle automatically.
10 Best OTF Knives
- Ravencrest Tactical– Zhanshi (Warrior) OTF Knife
- CobraTec – CTK-1
- Hogue Knives – Exploit OTF Automatic
- Benchmade – Infidel 3300BK Double Edge Dagger
- MTN Forged – Recon OTF
- Benchmade – Phaeton Automatic OTF Drop Point Knife
- Smith & Wesson OTF Assist, Finger Actuator, Spear Point
- Microtech – Dirac & Dirac Delta
- AKC – F 16 OTF Dagger
- Microtech – Exocet Mini OTF Double Action Knife
Check Them All Out Down Below
What You Need To Know About OTF Knives
OTF automatic knives have been around for sometime and have gotten somewhat of a bad rap. Mainly due to their representation in movies in the 70’s and 80’s where they were commonly referred to as switchblades. This has led them to having some restrictions or limitations in certain states (which is nonsense by the way).
Now to the good stuff – OTF knives are awesome!
- Easy one-handed operation
- Fast deployment
- Perfect for EDC, self defense, emergency and tactical personnel, hunters, and well you get the point
- Many are equipped with glass breakers
- Deep carry pocket clips
- You get all the cool points when you whip one out
These tactical knives are really cool and really functional. There are many different blade styles and finishes available. The true beauty of an OTF knife is the one handed and very quick deployment of the knife blade which will come in handy often. All the best versions of these knives have pocket clips for convenient and easy access to your knife and many have glass breakers perfect for emergency situations and even non-lethal self defense.
OTF automatic knives are a bit more complex than your normal standard pocket knife and with that quality does matter.
There are many cheap options out there and I promise you get what you pay for with OTF knives. They can be somewhat expensive knives but you need the best materials, and the best craftsmanship to have a truly reliable and quality knife.
Our list of the best OTF knives takes into account not only those attributes from above but companies who take pride in their work and stand behind their product.
Zhanshi (Warrior) OTF Knife - Tanto Non Serrated Blade
I consider the Zhanshi (Warrior) to be one of the most premium OTF fully automatic double action knives on the market. In fact all Ravencrest’s knives are some of the best knives that money can buy and as well they should be as they do carry a premium price tag.
They use only the best materials for a top tier knife. Aviation grade aluminum which is strong and lightweight and 440C stainless steel with a 58HRC hardness level.
This knife gives you a good feel in any position with its tire tread texture grip and well placed jimping. I personally really like the tanto blade but you can pick this knife up in a couple other blade setups.
This knife has a new dual spring setup which gives it a consistent and firm reliable firing. It has a nice pocket clip for quick and easy draw as well as the super battle tested glass breaker, perfect for emergency and survival situations.
All knives from Ravencrest Tactical including the Zhanshi (warrior) have a built in safety that keeps the blade from deploying fully if anything is obstructing its path.
The Zhanshi is also part of Ravencrest Tactical “Select Series” which focuses heavily on the fit, finish, materials and extreme attention to detail.
- Blade Length: 4 inches
- Knife Weight: 4.87 oz
- Total Knife Length: 9.5 inches with blade deployed
- Lifetime Warranty
The CTK-1 by CobraTec is a dual action automatic blade. If you are not sure this simply means the blade is deployed with the same switch. Push to deploy and pull to retract very simple and effective.
This knife blade is made from D2 steel and a super strong aluminum alloy handle. Multiple designs and colors are available for the CTK-1 like the carbon fiber.
All the necessities you need are included like a pocket clip and glass breaker which also has a hole for a lanyard if so desired.
CobraTec makes some really incredible knives and they all come backed by their lifetime warranty and you cant beat that.
- Blade Length: 3.75 inches
- Knife Weight: 9 oz
- Total Length: 9.5 inches with blade deployed
- Lifetime Warranty
Exploit OTF Automatic Knife
One of the most beautiful and tactical looking OTF knives on the market today. This automatic double action knife is as reliable and sturdy as they come.
All black tanto blade made with S30V stainless steel with aircraft grade high strength aluminum handle and frame. The hex shaped design on both sides of the handle make this a great looking knife and it provides a nice grip.
The knife is equipped with a reversible aluminum pocket clip perfect for EDC.
The Hogue Exploit is very well built and the blade shoots out with authority. The thin profile maximizes pocket real estate and the contoured handle is very comfortable to hold. Hogue continues to make some of the best and highest quality knives on the market and the Exploit is just another example of their craftsmanship.
- Blade Length: 3.5 inches
- Knife Weight: 4.0 oz
- Total Length: 8.3 inches
Infidel 3300BK Double Edge Dagger
This knife feels and looks tactical and is ready for action in every way. Benchmade is well known for making premium knives. The Infidel 3300BK OTF is no different it has good looks, good materials and better craftsmanship.
This knife has a good fast action deployment that is reliable and stable. The blade is a double edge dagger made from D2 steel. It is a quality high strength blade that is very sharp.
Handle material is 6061-T6 aluminum and is equipped with a deep carry pocket clip. The push button trigger has a good size and feel and the handle is comfortable with multiple grip styles.
The downside to the knife is the lack of a glass breaker. This is personal choice for me I carry knives for their overall versatility and function so I like options like a glass breaker. However with that being said it has no bearing on the knife itself.
- Blade Length: 3.91 inches
- Knife Weight: 4.90 oz
- Total Length: 8.91 inches
- Made in the USA
MTN Recon OTF
MTN Forged makes a variety of OTF knives the reason the Recon made our list is its quality for the price. Coming in at under 100 dollars it is one of if not the best quality knives you can buy for under $100.
It has a great build and performs well under most conditions. With a 440C stainless blade it is not the toughest steel you can get but still very good and this helps keep it affordable.
It has a strong and lightweight 6061 aluminum handle that is contoured and with well placed jimping for added grip. There is also a deep carry pocket clip and a glass breaker.
You can check the price on Amazon here.
- Blade Length: 3.44 inches
- Knife Weight: 3.4 oz
- Total Length: 8.5 inches
Phaeton Automatic OTF Drop Point Knife
The Phaeton models by Benchmade are sleek, tactical and perfect for everyday carry. Outfitted with nice anodized aircraft aluminum handles in multiple color options with a S30V steel drop point blade.
It comes equipped with a reversible tip down deep carry pocket clip perfect for easy EDC use.
The handle is equipped with a spine sided push / pull trigger action that deploys the blade fast and smooth. The handle also has a section of easy texturing for added grip.
With strong and subtle tactical styling and reliable and premium features the Phaeton 4600 series is a perfect compliment for everyday carry.
- Blade Length: 3.45 inches
- Handle Length: 4.63 inches
- Total Length: 8.08 inches
- Made in the USA
Smith & Wesson
OTF Assist, Finger Actuator, Spear Point
Smith & Wesson made a really nice OTF knife with this all black spear point blade. It is a finger trigger that has a spring assisted action release the opens very fast.
There is a lock at the top of the knife handle that lets you release the blade for manual closing.
Stainless steel pocket clip for a secure tip down carry and a unique and custom designed handle for improved grip and a little extra tactical style.
What I like most is the sliding safety feature which locks the blade in the closed position for safe storage and carry. Also, it has a glass breaker one of my personal favorites on a OTF everyday carry knife.
- Blade Length: 3.25 inches
- Knife Weight: 7.04 oz
- Total Length: 8.77 inches
Dirac & Dirac Delta OTF Knives
The Dirac is a perfect midsized OTF knife that works perfect for everyday carry. Lightweight and equipped with a deep carry pocket clip this blade is barely noticeable in your pocket.
Designed like all Microtech knives using only the best premium grade materials available. Carpenter CTS 204 P steel for the blade and 6061 T6 aluminum for the handle with a glass breaker.
This knife is a double action OTF knife with a cover firing slide that has a well placed and well sized push / pull trigger that deploys the knife flawlessly. I especially like the grooves on the trigger that make it easy to grip without your finger sliding off.
You also get a handle with a nice subtle design and curves for a comfortable and sturdy grip. There is also light jimping on the sides for added grip and style. This spear point knife by Microtech is another premium piece of craftsmanship and design.
The Dirac Delta OTF is the bigger brother to the Dirac. Sharing the same design, materials, and internal functions as the Dirac but adding a little mass and size.
Quick Details: DIRAC
- Blade Length: 2.92 inches
- Knife Weight: 2.37 oz
- Total Length: 7.25 inches
- Handle: 6061 T6
Quick Details: DIRAC DELTA
- Blade Length: 3.79 inches
- Knife Weight: 4.6 oz
- Total Length: 9.4 inches
- Handle: 6061 T6
F16 OTF Dagger
The F16 by AKC (Automatic Knives Creations) is a very good double action OTF knife. It is well designed with a bayonet style spear point 440A stainless steel blade.
Push and pull trigger system deploys the blade smooth and fast with very little play.
The handle is made with high strength aluminum with a textured area on both sides for added grip. There is a pocket clip for easy everyday carry use. Unfortunately there is no glass breaker on this knife but this has no effect on the usefulness of the knife but is something to note if you are looking for the perfect tactical knife.
- Blade Length: 3.35 inches
- Knife Weight: 3.10 oz
- Total Length: 8.0 inches
Exocet Mini OTF Double Action Knife
The Exocet mini is a double action OTF knife that also doubles as a money clip! This unique one of a kind knife is a sweet EDC pocket knife.
It’s lightweight and easily concealable and it makes for a great self defense weapon for men and women.
The coolest thing about this knife is it has all the function, strength and durability as any larger OTF knife. You have a small but very useful blade for cutting, piercing and self defense.
A tungsten carbide glass breaker for emergencies with a lanyard or keychain hole. Plus you get a super cool money clip for a useful 2 in 1 tactical tool.
- Blade Length: 1.98 inches
- Knife Weight: 3.0 oz
- Total Length: 5.60 inches
O.T.F. Knife State Laws Map
The Wrap Up
The most important thing to remember when buying an OTF automatic knife is that quality matters. Do not go cheap or I promise you will not get a reliable long lasting knife. Remember OTF knives have moving parts and internal mechanisms and they need to be built right and with good parts.
Do your research and take the time to learn how to use your knife safely and properly. With good care and safe proper usage an OTF knife will become one of your favorite tactical tools!