Single-Action vs. Double-Action OTF Knives: What’s the Difference?

Single-Action vs. Double-Action OTF Knives: What’s the Difference?

Posted by Clayton on Feb 20th 2018

Out-the-front (OTF) knives are very popular, and it isn’t hard to see why. The retractable blade means the knife is safe to carry around when the blade is concealed, and the click of the blade being released is unquestionably satisfying.

OTF knives are also very durable and efficient — but should you invest in a single-action or double-action OTF knife? After all, while there are similarities between the two types, there are also a lot of differences. Some come with automatic action while others come with a spring-assisted action. Some are best suited to everyday carry while others are ideal for hunting and survivalist uses.

Here are some of the main differences between the two types to help you decide which knife is best for you.

What Is a Single-Action OTF?

To put it simply, a single-action OTF is a knife with a blade that can be deployed by pushing a button, but once extended, the blade must be retracted manually. This means the blade can be deployed in less than a second, which makes this type of OTF very fast. However, you need to put the blade away from yourself when you are done by pulling a charging handle.

The Benefits of a Single-Action OTF

Some of the main benefits of a single-action OTF knife include:

More Affordable

One of the main benefits of a single-action OTF is they tend to be more affordable than double-action OTFs. This disparity in pricing occurs because the design of single-action OTFs is less complex, making them easier to manufacture.

Less Prone to Wear

The simplified mechanism of single-action OTF knives makes them very robust and durable. They require fewer parts, so there are fewer parts to break. This simplicity also means the knife is less likely to malfunction when you are using it.

Quick Firing

Single-action OTF knives are very quick and efficient due to the push-button release. This quick-release mechanism makes the blade easy to deploy in less than a second. However, some double-action knives are also capable of doing this.

What is a Double-Action OTF?

Double-action OTF knives are also very popular, and although they may seem modern and flashy, they have been around for decades.

Double-action OTFs are often more convenient to use than single-action OTFs. This ease of use is attributable solely to having a mechanism that both deploys and retracts the blade so that you don’t need to do it manually. This saves time, and it also means the knife is very easy to use.

There are, however, a few downsides to double-action OTFs. First, they tend to be more expensive than single-action blades, as they are more complex to make. Second, they have more small parts inside, so they are more likely to break or malfunction. Additionally, some double-action OTFs offer slower blade deployment due to the small parts inside.

The Benefits of a Double-Action OTF

Here are some of the main benefits of a double-action OTF knife:

Ideal for Everyday Carry

The convenient action of double-action OTFs makes them ideal for use as everyday carry tools. Their single-button deployment and retraction mechanism makes them well-suited to outdoor adventures and DIY tasks that might require you to have one hand free to work while the other operates the knife.

More Efficient

Double-action blades are also more efficient, allowing you to easily deploy and retract the blade multiple times per minute.

More Fun to Use

Let's be honest; double-action blades are simply more fun to use. The click and action of the blade deploying and retreating is very satisfying.

Popular Examples of Single- and Double-Action OTFs

If you’re looking for good examples of single- and double-action OTFs, Microtech is a popular designer and manufacturer of these knives. Favorites from their lineup of OTF knives include the Microtech Ultratech and the Microtech Halo:

Microtech Halo (Single Action)

The Microtech Halo is a recently updated version of the old Halo model, and this design comes with an integrated safety switch that makes the knife very safe to carry. The knife is fairly large, measuring around 11 inches. It is also the only single-action OTF Microtech knife on the market. This single-action knife fires hard, deploying the blade in under a second, and there is a clip point you can use to attach the handle to your pocket.

Microtech Ultratech (Double Action)

Microtech Ultratech is a popular double-action knife with a slim, lightweight design that easily fits in your pocket. The knife has a five-inch black anodized aluminum handle with a double-action slide button. This button is very easy to use, and it deploys the blade quickly, making this knife a great choice for use in emergency situations.

Choosing Between Single-Action and Double-Action OTFs

Both single-action blades and double-action blades come with different benefits. If you are on a budget, a single action blade may be the best option, but if you are looking for a knife that is convenient and fun to use, you may want to choose a double-action blade.