Spring Blade: 12 Best Assisted Opening EDC Knives

Of all the options for everyday carry gear, there’s no denying that a knife is probably the most all-around useful without being too bulky (like many folding multi-tools). It doesn’t hurt that we’re kind of in the middle of a knife renaissance, with more options available now than ever before. That means, no matter what your personal preference, there’s an exceedingly strong likelihood that there’s a perfect knife for you already available for purchase.

While there are a lot of factors that are obvious when it comes to choosing a knife — like size, shape, and materials — there are also a few seemingly less critical ones that tend to go overlooked at times. Deployment mechanisms are one such factor. However, if you’re clever enough to realize the importance of your knife’s deployment, in that it can directly impact the speed with which you can access your blade, then you’re in the right place. That’s because we’ve put together the following list of the 12 best assisted opening knives that are perfect for EDC.

How Does It Work?

Assisted Opening Explained

When it comes to folding blades, there are a number of different ways knives can be deployed — but they can typically be broken down into three categories: manual, automatic, and assisted. How they work also varies, often because of styling choices or the incorporation of proprietary technologies, but there are some similarities to each that are always true — partially for ease of consumer understanding and partially because of legal implications.

Manual folders, as you might expect, require the user to open the blade by hand — with no assistance of any kind from the knife itself. This can be seen in a wealth of knives on the market but is closely associated with more traditional folders, like Swiss Army Knives, friction folders, slipjoints, and more. Automatic, by contrast, require little-to-no effort from the user in order for the knife to be deployed. They’re often extremely quick and sometimes have complex mechanisms that allow the blade to spring from the handle with the push of a button. This speediness and ease-of-use also cause automatic knives to be the most legally complicated blades to own — meaning they’re not considered legal to carry in many countries, states, etc.

Assisted-opening knives are a very convenient middle ground. They’re easier and speedier to deploy than manual folders, but without the legal limbo of automatic knives. Their downside is similar to automatic knives, in that the deployment mechanism means there are more parts to break and/or get jammed or dirty. The technology varies from brand-to-brand and even knife-to-knife, but there are some consistent features. In order for a knife to be considered assisted, rather than manual or automatic, it must require a significant amount of effort from the user to deploy but also has some measure of spring-loading. Usually, this is accomplished by equipping the knife blade with a flipper, thumb hole, or thumb stud — which the user will use to “start” the deployment, but will be finished by a spring-loaded mechanism mounted in the handle. As mentioned, the mechanism itself will vary depending on the knife, brand, designer, and more — but the overarching features must be included in order for a knife to be considered assisted.

Kershaw Cryo II 1556BW

Around the everyday carry community and according to knife fanatics everywhere, the Rick Hinderer-designed Kershaw Cryo (and all its permutations) is widely considered one of the best bang-for-your-buck pocket knives of all time. The Cryo II you see here is a bit larger, with an on-the-heavier-side weight of 5.5 ounces and a 3.25″ blade, but the top-tier design cues are all still there. This one also has the benefit of a handsome all-black finish that mates perfectly with its greater silhouette, sturdy frame lock, and quick-and-easy SpeedSafe deployment mechanism. For the price, you’re not gonna do better than this.

Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV
Handle Material: 410 Stainless Steel
Lock Type: Frame
Blade Length: 3.25”

Purchase: $33

Schrade M.A.G.I.C.

While its appearance has some ready to decry it as a knife made exclusively for mall ninjas, Schrade’s M.A.G.I.C. has a lot more going for it than its science fiction silhouette. For starters, the handle is made from sturdy aluminum, which also helps contribute to its overall lightness. It also features a reliable high-carbon blade that benefits from a combination edge, meaning it has a bit of serration for more cutting power. And it comes with a double locking system: a liner lock paired with a button-slider lock for extra security. If uniqueness is your bag, this might be the budget-friendly knife for you.

Blade Steel: 4034
Handle Material: Aluminum
Lock Type: Liner & Button Slider
Blade Length: 2.9″

Purchase: $37

Ontario Knife Company 8871 RAT1A BP

While not flashy, OKC’s Rat is still going to go down in the history of knives as one of the best everyday carry blades that ever existed. It’s reliable, has subtle good looks, and is made from some excellent materials — including G10 for the handle scales and AUS-8 steel. This particular offering, however, is unique in that it boasts all the features that make the OKC Rat a great knife but adds on an assisted opening mechanism for even speedier and more simplified deployment. If the only thing holding you back from adding this blade to your collection was the manual deployment, your prayers have been answered.

Blade Steel: AUS-8
Handle Material: G10
Lock Type: Liner
Blade Length: 3.5″

Purchase: $40

CRKT M4-02W

There’s no denying that the late Kit Carson was a master of his craft. In fact, many of his designs have continued production well after his passing in 2014 and will likely continue in that manner for years to come. While unusual for CRKT, this particular Carson design boasts an assisted opening mechanism paired with a thumb stud for easier deployment. It’s also available in one of three handle materials (including stag and bone), though our favorite is — without a doubt — the burled wood handle for its timelessness and stylishness. For a modern blade with a classic appearance, turn to the M4-02W.

Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV
Handle Material: Burl Wood
Lock Type: Liner
Blade Length: 3.25″

Purchase: $47+

CRKT 2903 Hissatsu

Designed by James Williams out of Encinitas, California, CRKT’s 2903 Hissatsu EDC blade clearly draws design inspiration from the far east — most obviously the samurai of Japanese history. Of course, the styling also benefits from a number of modern materials and conveniences, including its signature Outburst assisted-opening deployment mechanism, AutoLAWKS liner lock, GRN handle scales, and black-finished AUS-8 steel blade. What’s one of the best bits about this blade, however, is that it comes with a limited lifetime warranty, so you can trust in its quality beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Blade Steel: AUS-8
Handle Material: Glass-Reinforced Nylon
Lock Type: Liner
Blade Length: 3.875″

Purchase: $51

SOG Twitch II TWI8-CP

With their military heritage, it’s easy to understand why most of SOG’s catalog falls into the realm of the tactical. But some of their best offerings are a lot sleeker, more minimalist, and everyday carry ready. The Twitch II definitely falls into the latter category, with its sleek aluminum handle, drop-point AUS-8 blade, and uniquely-stepped pivot that resembles the hats DEVO wore in their “Whip It” music video. Its pared-down size, with a blade length of just 2.65″, also makes for more discreet carry — perfect for hauling a blade in an urban environment. Save the flash for your wristwatch and add this minimalist blade to your EDC loadout.

Blade Steel: AUS-8
Handle Material: Aluminum
Lock Type: Lockback
Blade Length: 2.65″

Purchase: $53

Gerber Covert F.A.S.T. 22-01966

The fact that an assisted opening deployment mechanism is so simple and speedy to use means the technology is ripe for use in discreet, tactical knives. Case in point: the Colonel Rex Applegate- and William E. Fairbairn-designed Gerber Covert F.A.S.T. Styled like a military dagger, this quick-opening EDC knife isn’t just fast and convenient — it’s also reliable and well-built. This is thanks to its titanium-coated blade, grippy G10 handle, and the fact that it comes with a lifetime warranty.

Blade Steel: Titanium-Coated Stainless
Handle Material: G10
Lock Type: Side Lock
Blade Length: 3.7″

Purchase: $57

Kershaw Blur

There’s no denying the impact that Ken Onion has had on the world of knife-making. Not only is he one of the most prolific designers out there, but many of his designs are considered instant classics and have continued being built long after competitor offerings have ceased production. The Blur is one such knife. With its iconic silhouette, this particular example features a textured aluminum handle, a sturdy liner lock, a durable stainless steel blade, and it comes with Kershaw’s signature SpeedSafe assisted deployment mechanism.

Blade Steel: 13C26
Handle Material: Aluminum
Lock Type: Liner
Blade Length: 3.375″

Purchase: $57

Boker Plus Gemini NGA

Like many of the knives on this list, the Boker Plus Gemini NGA is actually an evolution of an existing blade. The original is a manual workhorse, which paired perfectly into the assisted opening version you see before you. This is because they still equipped it with superb materials — like a VG-10 stainless steel blade and fiber-reinforced synthetic handle scales — but now, it benefits from a speedier and easier-to-use assisted opening deployment mechanism.

Blade Steel: VG-10
Handle Material: Fiber-Reinforced Synthetic
Lock Type: Liner
Blade Length: 3.5″

Purchase: $83

Benchmade 580 Barrage

Well known for making some of the best premium everyday carry knives on the market, Benchmade is not typically who people think of when it comes to assisted opening knives, as most of theirs are manual. But they do have a few — one being the 580 Barrage you see here. A part of their AXIS line of technologies — which includes the signature lock that this blade is also equipped with — this knife opens quickly and smoothly. Of course, it wouldn’t mean much if the rest of it wasn’t up to the task. Which it is, boasting a 154CM steel blade and Valox handle scales. It’s also made in the USA and comes with a lifetime guarantee.

Blade Steel: 154CM
Handle Material: Valox
Lock Type: AXIS
Blade Length: 3.6″

Purchase: $135

Zero Tolerance 0770CF

The older brother of Kershaw, Zero Tolerance is one of the few brands in the EDC space that can go toe-to-toe with the likes of Benchmade. And with offerings like their 0770CF knife (an upgraded version of the brand’s extremely popular 0777 award-winning offering), it’s easy to see why. Equipped with the same SpeedSafe system as used by Kershaw, this pocket folder boasts some beautiful premium materials that range from sturdy and lightweight carbon fiber handle scales to DLC-coated S30V steel. Perfectly balancing killer good looks and extreme durability, this is a knife you can rely upon for all cutting tasks.

Blade Steel: S35VN
Handle Material: Carbon Fiber
Lock Type: Liner
Blade Length: 3.25”

Purchase: $166

Benchmade Emissary 477-1

Anytime a knife comes with a lifetime guarantee, it’s worth consideration. That goes double when it comes from a brand as reliable as Benchmade. The Emissary 477-1 is one such knife. And its warranty covers every bit of it, from its assisted opening deployment, to its AXIS proprietary locking mechanism, to its S30V steel blade, to its anodized aluminum handle, and more. What’s also neat is that there are two available versions of the blade: one with a straight edge and the other with a combination edge. So whether you want this knife for urban EDC or you think you might need it for some harder tasks, you can pick up the one that’s appropriate for you.

Blade Steel: S30V
Handle Material: Aluminum
Lock Type: AXIS
Blade Length: 3.45″

Purchase: $196+

What's Better For EDC: Straight vs. Serrated Knife Blades

One of the most important questions to ask yourself when purchasing a new knife is what kind of blade you need. Find out everything you need to know about the two most common factors with our guide on straight versus serrated knife blades.

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