The truth is that you might already be familiar with automatic knives, you just know them by another name: Switchblades. The reason for the change of name comes from the Switchblade act of 1958, when it became illegal for anyone in the United States to carry a switchblade, because gangs began to favor the weapons and were using them to commit fast, heinous, violent crimes. Thus the automatic knife was born and has become the utilitarian brother to switchblades, intended to be used for ordinary life, rather than criminal acts.
In selecting automatic knives that are best for anyone, we sought out those from reliable names in the blade world. Those that were true automatic knives, not just folding knives with a spring assist. We wanted mechanisms that didn’t clog or breakdown, would deploy quickly, and would keep an edge through repeated use. The mechanics had to be top notch, as did the materials and the construction for us to consider it. If you’ve been living with folding knives or quick-draw one-handers, it might be time to upgrade to a full snap blade with one of the 10 best automatic knives around.
Note: The laws regarding automatic knives vary from state to state. We’d advise to check your local laws before making your purchase.
Pro: Lanyard mounting
Con: Made in China
Cold War Combatant: Built to resemble an AK-47 magazine, the Kal borrows it’s moniker from the gun and it does the name proud. Molded grips, tip up carry, AUS-8 steel, and a slim body for easy concealment, it’s an understated and deadly addition for any EDC collector. A dead blast finish and plain edge showcases this as a knife for getting bloody. The deployment button is flush mounted to prevent accidental opening and injury while the locking mechanism is stiff and solid to prevent sudden closure.
Pro: Hard firing action
Con: Small handle
Ugly Death: Toy with the Bodyguard for a few minutes and you’ll understand why Switchblades are still regarded with such fear by the government. It’s a killer meant for quick, deadly action. Anodized 6061-T6 aluminum comprises the handle and is attached to a CPM-S30V steel blade that is meant for tip-up carry for quick out-of-the-pocket movement. The slide is buttery smooth and the blade leaps out with remarkable speed.
Gerber 06 Auto Drop Point
Pro: Easy release button
Con: A litte large for everyday carry
Quickdraw: With a little practice, it’s easy to get this thing out with just one hand. The drop point blade makes it good for most tactical endeavors, and the hard anodized 6061-T6 machined aluminum handle is nearly indestructable and can be used equally well bare-fisted or wearing gloves. The S30V steel is good and holds an edge well, but beware loose screws and other minor parts. Oddly enough, the bulletproof mechanism and interior workings will plug away for as long as you require.
Kershaw Launch 1
Pro: Reversible pocket clip
Con: No jimping or traction
Fast Action: With a CPM154 steel blade and a kick like a mule, it’s easy to fall in love with the Launch 1. Made right in the United States this doesn’t suffer from failing and faltering. The BlackWash finish looks good and keeps the blade from glinting during black ops and night missions. Contoured to fit snugly in your fist for a better stabbing grip with greater ergonomics, the handle is also made of aluminum to keep weight down for faster motion.
Emerson Protech CQC7-A Spear Point
Pro: Combo and straight options available
Con: Limited cutting edge
Double Team: Crafted using 154-CM stainless steel with a hardness rating of 59 RC, this isn’t just for show. Made as part of a Pro-Tech/Emerson collaboration, the Spear Point borrows heavily from the CQC-7 with an automatic flair. A little DLC finishing on the blade and a solid handle, this works like a charm when put to the test. You can see some tactical DNA creeping in, but it’s built to be an everyday carry for minimalists.
ProTech Tactical Response 4 (TR-4)
Pro: Loads of finger grooves
Con: Very flashy
Show Off: A deadly solid knife, the blade of the TR-4 has a DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) coating that keeps it from wearing down or corroding. The combination serrated and straight edge complete with saber grind is so aggro it’s downright hostile, and at only 5.25” long, it’s easy to tuck away for those times when you can’t concealed carry.
Pro: Sheepsfoot blade is ideal for cutting rope
Con: Only comes in fully serrated
Safety First: Made primarily for the United States Coast Guard, it’s only recently that the public has had access to the Autonomy. While the history of automatic knives is writ in bloody alleyway fights, the Autonomy is made for rescue work. It’s the first American knife to use H-1 steel that won’t corrode, even in salt water. A removable cover allows for easy access to the spring and an oversized firing button permits deployment with gloves on.
Microtech Drop Point Satin Finish
Pro: Full lifetime warranty
Con: No additional grip aids
Whip Thin: If a narrow OTF (Out The Front) is your style, then the slender, concealable Drop Point from Microtech belongs in your pocket. A bead-blasted 6061-T6 aluminum handle along with pocket clip and glass breaker make up the portion you’ll shake hands with while the business gets handled with the 3.4” ELMAX steel blade. With the side switch for in and out movement, there’s nothing complicated about this gorgeous blade except finding an excuse to use it.
Pro: Zero blade play
An Offer You Can’t Refuse: The Godfather is not a gimmick but rather a 154-CM steel monster. A black anodized aluminum handle complete with Black Ash accents makes it a showpiece. Borrowing heavily from the original Italian stiletto knives, this is a bayonet blade meant for fast stabbing work, not fiddling with fishing line on some camping trip. The coil spring makes it snap to attention in an eyeblink and is so fine you’ll lose half a day just fiddling with it.
Benchmade Black Infidel
Pro: Extremely strong locking mechanism
Con: Dangerously sharp
Hard Case: With a D2 tool steel blade that has a hardness rating on the Rockwell scale that starts at 60 and only rises, this is a severely strong knife. A center-mounted deployment switch makes it fully ambidextrous. For as thin as it is, it’s helpful to keep in mind that it is a big knife, nearly 9-inches when ready for action, and as such might be a little bulky for the EDC crew, unless you’re deadly serious.