Whether used for camping trips, solo adventures or handiwork around the house, an out-the-front knife is an indispensable tool. The sliding blade mechanism that gives these knives their name makes them ideal for quick, single-handed access to the blade in a pinch.
However, over time and through use, knives begin to lose their dexterity and functionality, and too often, we end up holding onto our knives far beyond their usability.
If your favorite knife is letting you down by not functioning the way you expect it to when you need it to, such as on a hunting or camping trip, a compromised or even dangerous situation can arise.
It is crucial to recognize when a knife has surpassed its useful life and should be replaced. The following five signs can help you determine whether you need to replace your out the front knife.
1. The blade will no longer retract.
One of the hardest-working components of the OTF knife is the blade release mechanism. Unfortunately, it is also the part that most owners idly play with.
One of the reasons knives no longer retract properly is a buildup of dirt and other contaminants inside the handle and release mechanism. In most cases, the solution is simply a case of disassembling the knife and using a microfiber cloth to properly clean the insides.
If the mechanism still does not function correctly, it is a sign of excessive wear and tear. Over time and use, the mechanism wears out.
If your OTF knife is struggling to release or failing to retract easily, even after a thorough cleaning, it’s a good sign that it is time to replace it.
2. The release spring has lost tension.
Another common issue with OTF knives is the loss of tension in the spring that releases the blade.
This becomes noticeable when the blade does not fully lockout when engaged, or if it releases slower than normal. Fumbling with a knife that has a broken spring mechanism in a life-or-death situation can have disastrous results.
It is always better to be proactive and recognize when your knife spring needs to be replaced or repaired.
3. The knife is accumulating rust.
People living near a coastline and frequent travelers usually find their knives begin to rust sooner than the expected lifespan. This is because of the excess moisture in the air that is found in certain climates.
A small amount of rust buildup may be acceptable, but any significant rust can compromise the strength of the knife’s release mechanism or the effectiveness of the blade. A rusty blade can also lead to infections if it comes into contact with your skin.
4. The release mechanism is getting jammed.
Over time, repeated use takes a toll on the release mechanism. This is because there is an impressive amount of force behind the spring mechanism on your knife. OTF knives are designed to provide the shortest opening time, which exerts a significant amount of force on the frame and other components of the knife.
This leads to parts of the knife eventually wearing out. Sometimes, dust and other contaminants can accumulate inside a knife’s mechanism if it is not properly taken care of and proactively maintained, which can jam the button of the release and locking mechanisms.
5. It’s not as appealing as it used to be.
Sometimes, even if your current knife is functional and completely operational, you may no longer like the way it looks, or you may simply have your eye on some of the new OTF knives on the market.
For most owners, an OTF knife is an accessory that defines a part of who they are as a person. If you don’t carry your knife proudly, there is no reason to keep it around.
Depending on the make and condition, you may be able to get a decent price for it by selling it second hand, allowing you to trade up and find a knife you can be proud to carry and use.
What’s the verdict?
Knife technology continues to develop, and manufacturers create knives that are stronger, more precise, functional and durable than ever before. Sometimes, it may simply be worth it to swap out an old knife for one of the best OTF knives on the market to enjoy the best the market has to offer.
The UTX-85 from Microtech is one of the most compact and pocketable OTF knives available. The included pocket clip shows off the UTX-85’s two-tone design and keeps it where you need it.
For those who like to make a statement with their knives, the Microtech Ultratech Tan is an excellent choice. With its double-edged Gladius blade and anodized aluminum handle, the Ultratech Tan stands out in a sea of black and grey and can hold its own in most any situation.
Finally, if you are looking for a knife with a presence, the Combat Troodon from Microtech might fit the bill. Its double-edged blade and larger, 5.75-inch handle make it the perfect combination of both form and function.
Out-the-front knives are some of the most reliable and highly functional tools you can own. For many owners, an OTF knife is more than just a tool; it’s a valuable part of their everyday lives.
Don’t get stuck using a faulty or second-rate OTF knife. Consider replacing yours today.