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Published Mar. 13, 2021

Pocket knives are often associated with the outdoors and bushcraft. While they do have many uses there, they are also an essential tool to keep on you in the shop. Think about how many zip ties, unopened boxes, or other cuttable items stand in your way each day. Sure, you have different ways to deal with these issues, but few are as convenient as whipping out a pocket knife and dealing with it on the spot. A spring assisted model even ups the ante by cutting down the amount of time you might spend fumbling around trying to get stiff blades to free themselves. That said, we’re going to talk a little bit about what you have available to you and give you some tips that’ll help you decide which is best.

The Best Spring Assisted Knives

Kershaw is no small-fry name in the knife industry. The brand is known for making quality, reliable pieces of equipment. That said, it’s not just the name that makes this an excellent option. Starting with the basics, it has a 3.1-inch blade with a combination blade and weighs in at just north of 2 ounces. In combination with the pocket clip, that makes it very easy to carry around. The combination blade also adds a little versatility that can go a long way. The blade also relies on the SpeedSafe assisted design that provides a smooth but quick opening of the blade and finger indentations that make it as comfortable to use as possible.

There’s little to complain about with this option other than the opening mechanism. It has a small finger actuation lever on the back of the knife, and that’s all. While it works just fine in most cases, it can make it difficult to open with gloves on, and not having a thumb stud or other opening mechanism to deploy the blade in these instances is worth being aware of.

 

Key Features
  • 3.1-inch blade
  • Combination edge
  • SpeedSafe mechanism
Specification
  • Brand Kershaw
  • Model 1605CKTST
  • Weight 2.4 ounces
PROS

Respectable quality

Comfortable grip

Versatile edge

CONS

Mechanism can be difficult to use in rare cases

MTech is known for producing very affordable knives favored by the budget-minded crowd. As you will see, this model is less than half of the price of many similar options, making it an excellent choice for someone looking to save as much as possible. It has a 2.75-inch blade and weighs just 3.53 ounces, also making it appealing to those on the hunt for something compact. The spring assisted opening can be triggered by two different mechanisms, the thumb hole on the blade or the finger actuation lever on the rear of the knife. And to sweeten the pot just a little, MTech has a bottle opener built into the bottom of the handle, making it more than just a simple knife.

At the end of the day, this is a low-dollar knife. You can’t expect it to hold up like those that have a much higher price tag. Issues with the blade breaking easily or the spring actuation are relatively common. Still, these are gaining more and more positive reviews that state it’s far better than what you might expect from other super affordable knives.

 

Key Features
  • 2.75-inch blade
  • Plain edge
  • Thumbhole and finger actuation
Specification
  • Brand MTech
  • Model MT-A882CH
  • Weight 3.53 ounces
PROS

Extremely affordable

Two opening mechanisms

Built-in bottle cap

CONS

Quality is questionable

Anything Benchmade is prone to draw in serious attention. Regardless of what people have to say, there’s no arguing with the quality the company brings to the table. This particular entry is a fine example of what the name means. It has a 2.91-inch blade made from 154CM steel that’s bound to the durable Valox handle, making for a relatively robust blade that’ll last years and years with the proper care. What makes it a good EDC option, aside from the size, is the combination edge. Again, having both a plain and serrated section makes it a little more versatile than those with one or the other for many. The mechanism relies on a thumb lever to open. We should note that it deploys very quickly with the robust spring, which is why it’s a good thing that there’s a built-in safety to prevent an accident from occurring.

There’s no way to ignore the price of this knife. It’s well more than double or even triple the cost of what you’d pay for a knife from other respected manufacturers. It does have a limited lifetime warranty, but that doesn’t justify the price to many.

 

Key Features
  • 2.91-inch blade
  • Combination edge
  • Thumb stud opening mechanism
Specification
  • Brand Benchmade
  • Model 585
  • Weight 4.16 ounces
PROS

Superior quality

Built-in safety

Lifetime warranty

CONS

Extremely high price point

Moving back to the Kershaw name, we are now looking at one of the most compact options out there. This model has a blade length of just 2 inches, allowing you to store it virtually anywhere. Being so small, it’s a good thing that there’s a pocket clip to prevent it from falling under your phone or keys. It also has two opening mechanisms to rely on despite the small size. You have the choice to deploy the blade with either the thumb stud or finger lever. It’s not necessary to have both, but having options is always a good thing. One detail to note is that it also has a plain edge, which can be for better or worse depending on your use of the blade.

The size is something that can hold this knife back. Some users find it too hard to properly open the blade because of it. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad knife, just one that’s limited to folks who can easily manipulate small mechanisms.

 

Key Features
  • 2.1-inch blade
  • Plain edge
  • Thumb stud and finger actuation
Specification
  • Brand Kershaw
  • Model 1313BLK
  • Weight 3.1 ounces
PROS

Super compact

Two opening mechanisms

CONS

May be too small for some to use properly

SOG might be a well-known manufacturer of tactical knives and gear, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have items that appeal to the utilitarian. This blade has a plain edge 2.65-inch blade that’s spring assisted opening can be triggered by either the thumb stud or kick on the base of the blade. There is also a safety to keep accidents from occurring. The drop point blade design makes this an excellent option for everyday carry but allows it to also serve as a hunting or general outdoors knife. An excellent detail is that you have the opportunity to pick a finish that best matches your taste. This particular model features the rosewood handle, but you can go aluminum if you want something a little more contemporary.

It seems that a common issue with this model is that there is some play in the blade. While the problem is very easy to fix, it’s something that shouldn’t exist with such a high price tag for a folding knife.

 

Key Features
  • 2.65-inch blade
  • Plain edge
  • Thumb stud and kick actuation
Specification
  • Brand SOG
  • Model TWI17-CP
  • Weight 0.96 ounces
PROS

Respectable quality

Versatile blade

Two actuation types

CONS

May need some adjustments out of the box

Yes, it’s another Kershaw, but some design features separate this from the other entries on our list. A detail you might immediately notice is the angled thumb stud. That doesn’t seem like much, but it does work to make the opening feel much more natural. The blade on this model relies on high-performance nitrogen-rich Sandvik 14C28N steel that promotes performance and longevity. Speaking of which, It’s a 3.4-inch plain edge blade, which is considerably larger than the others we’ve highlighted from the brand. Other than that, it’s precisely what we can expect from the company. It does an excellent job of balancing price and quality. It’s designed to feel comfortable in hand and has the distinct look of a Kershaw.

While most agree that this is an impressive knife, there are too many bad reviews to ignore. The issue reported more than others is the blade snapping in half easily. It’s not so common to label this a design flaw, but a QC issue to be aware of for sure.

 

Key Features
  • 3.4-inch blade
  • Plain edge
  • Thumb stud actuation
Specification
  • Brand Kershaw
  • Model 1670BLK
  • Weight 4.16 ounces
PROS

High-quality steel

Ergonomic thumb stud

CONS

Too many reports of broken blades to ignore

It’s high-time that we take a look at a tactical knife. After all, that’s something many people want in a blade they’ll carry on them every single day. This model has a 3.6-inch clip point blade with a combination edge. Instead of using a thumb stud, there’s a wide pad situated on the spine of the blade near where the stud would be. It also has a finger lever on the rear and built-in safety to prevent opening it accidentally. What’s nice about the combination edge is that the blade is long enough to prevent it from hindering the use of either edge to a considerable degree. It’s also a heavy-duty design that’s going to make sure it’ll endure anything you can throw at it.

The weight and bulk of the design is something that holds it back in the eyes of many. This model has a weight and width that nearly doubles that of many other options. While it does work to boost all parts’ integrity, it is something to be aware of.

Key Features
  • 3.6-inch blade
  • Thumb and finger actuation
  • Combination edge
Specification
  • Brand Smith & Wesson
  • Model SWMP4LS
  • Weight 7.52 ounces
PROS

Heavy-duty design

Built-in safety

Versatile blade

CONS

Bulky design and considerably heavy

We get it. Budget knives are sometimes tough to love. But the number of positive reviews of this knife make it an exception to that rule. This model has a 3.25-inch blade with a combination edge. It also has a thumb hole that doesn’t affect the design of the blade and a finger lever as alternative means of deploying the blade.

Speaking of design, there’s no ignoring the wild look of this model. It’s a very distinct style, and you have the option to select between 10 finishes to match your taste. It’s also a tactical knife with a glass-breaker and bottle opener built into the handle.

Unfortunately, it does have some weak points. The most common issue seems to be with the locking mechanism that keeps the blade open, which can be rather dangerous. Other than that, the thumb hole is really small and may serve more like a nail catch for many.

Key Features
  • 3.25-inch blade
  • Combination edge
  • Thumbhole and finger actuation
Specification
  • Brand Tac Force
  • Model N/A
  • Weight 4.8 ounces
PROS

Competitive price point

Versatile blade

Multiple functions

CONS

Small thumb hole

Low-quality locking mechanism

The Slim Jim XL from SOG is the clear solution for someone who wants a longer blade but doesn’t want to deal with the added bulk. The knife on this unit measures 4.18 inches long and has a continuous plain edge. That blade length usually means serious weight, but the handle measures just .25 inches wide. That helps to keep the weight down to 2.7 ounces. The length of the folded blade is still there, but no extra width or weight saves room in your pocket. The blade opens with the use of a thumb lever, and it has two safety locks that prevent the risk of accidents from happening.

Unfortunately, the weight savings do come in as a detriment to the overall integrity of this blade. It has an excellent function but is rather delicate.

 

Key Features
  • 4.18-inch blade
  • Plain edge
  • Thumb stud actuation
Specification
  • Brand SOG
  • Model SJ52-CP
  • Weight 2.7 ounces
PROS

Long blade

Slim design

Low weight

CONS

Delicate due to weight savings

And we’re wrapping up the list with one last entry from Kershaw. The Leek is one of Kershaw’s most popular designs and has even set the standard of what makes a good EDC knife for many. It has a 3-inch blade with a plain edge made from Sandvik 14C28N steel. It also has a stainless steel handle that comes together with a high-quality blade to make a high-quality piece of equipment you can rely on for years. The quality doesn’t add to the weight or make it unformattable to use either. Opening the blade is made easy with the use of a thumb stud and finger lever, and the easy-to-use locking mechanism makes closing just as simple.

There’s not much to dislike about the knife. Howver, the plastic locking mechanism is not easy to ignore. For the most part, it works just fine, but many users report it failing under stress, which can be very dangerous.

Key Features
  • 3-inch blade
  • Plain edge
  • Thumb stud and finger actuation
Specification
  • Brand Kershaw
  • Model 1660
  • Weight 3.04 ounces
PROS

Superior quality

Comfortable and easy to use

CONS

Plastic locking mechanism may fail

Best Spring Assisted Knives Buying Guide & FAQ

In all reality, you don’t have to go nuts researching to find a knife that’s good enough to perform small tasks around the shop or in daily life. Most of us probably get by just fine with something that you can throw on the counter while you check out at the parts store. So long as you’re not batoning through timber or walking out with the cheapest possible option, it’s likely to last you a reasonable amount of time.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t some things you’ll want to consider when shopping for a spring assisted knife. We won’t go overboard with knife theory, but we will catch you up to speed on some of the benefits and critical details to pay attention to.

The Advantages of Owning a Spring Assisted Knives

Let’s begin by discussing why you might even consider a spring assisted knife. To state the obvious, these types of knives aren’t all that different from a regular pocket knife. That means that everything a traditional option is good for, a spring assisted model is too. You’re able to keep them on your person easily, they can prove useful in various tasks in daily life, and if you ever find yourself in an emergency, they act as an essential survival tool. To be frank, you’re more likely to get use out of them around the shop than building shelters, but it’s still a great tool to have in case something happens.

A woman in a ski jacket is peeling a potato with a pocket knife outdoor
While there are plenty of regular blades that deploy easily, a spring assisted design does come in handy.

You use pocket knives or have used them, a fair amount. You know how often you have one hand tied up and are required to open the tool in the other. That’s where a spring assisted model has the edge. While there are plenty of regular blades that deploy easily, a spring assisted design does come in handy.

That said, spring assisted blades usually deploy much more quickly than those without the function. How much quicker depends on many factors, but the difference is usually very noticeable. If you’re an efficiency nut, that’s a major factor to consider.

  • Spring assisted knives offer the same uses as a regular pocket knife
  • Single-handed operation allows you to deploy the blade easily when the other hand isn’t free
  • These blades open much more quickly, which can positively impact your efficiency in performing tasks

Popular Types of Spring Assisted Knives

We get it. It might be controversial to talk about the opening mechanism rather than the blade when discussing the types of spring assisted knives—especially considering that the blade’s shape is far more critical to its use. But the actuation is the detail that separates these from traditional knives. So, why not talk about the popular opening mechanism? Bear in mind that these are just a few of what we find to be the most common and not the only mechanisms that can be assisted by springs.

Thumb Lever

The thumb lever is not exclusive to spring assisted knives, nor is it rare to find those without. This design features a small stud on the blade’s cheek that allows you to deploy it with your thumb. The great thing about the thumb stud is that it doesn’t affect the blade’s overall shape. Sure, a small stud is protruding from its side, but the profile is left entirely intact, and the stud rarely protrudes enough to be a call for concern. If you’re particularly concerned with a blade being slim, this is the mechanism you’ll want to look for.

Thumb Hole

Like the thumb lever, the thumb hole is not exclusive to spring assisted blades. It also works to allow one to quickly deploy the blade with their thumb. Only, instead of relying on a stud, there’s a large hole for you to push the blade open with. In many cases, the inclusion of a thumb hole does change the knife’s profile. The area near the blade’s base must be wide to accommodate the hole. Sometimes, this can inspire the manufacturer to design a shape to make this look more natural, resulting in a much broader design than you’d find on a similar knife without this feature. Whether that’s a drawback comes down to your personal preference.

Finger Actuation Lever

This type of mechanism is pretty well exclusive to spring assisted knives, but it’s not usually on its own. Some knives feature this exclusively, but many times, you’ll find this mechanism in combination with a thumb stud, and it serves as an alternative method of opening the blade. 

This works by having a small lever on the base of the blade that protrudes through the handle when the knife is closed. Opening the blade simply requires you to depress the lever until the blade moves far enough for the spring to take over. This opening mechanism is very convenient but can be very sensitive, and you want to be mindful of that to reduce the risk of accidentally deploying the blade.

The Most Important Features of Spring Assisted Knives

The mechanism is the showstopper, but it’s not the only detail to concern yourself with. It also doesn’t automatically make one knife better than another for what you intend to use it for. It’s still a knife, and some key characteristics come into play regardless of how convenient it is to open up.

Blade Type

The type of blade is probably the essential detail to pay attention to. This is going to determine how the knife performs in given circumstances. Drop points are prevalent for everyday carry, and that’s because they feature a very utilitarian design.

Sure, we can say that the drop point is the best possible option, but that’s only if we limit our scope to something you use primarily for work-related tasks. Clip points, sheepsfoot, spear points, and tanto blades are all just as popular, but in blades, folks carry for reasons outside of cutting up boxes and rope. It’s worth researching all of the various blade types so that you can indeed find the best option for your walk of life.

Edge Type

Once you decide on the type of blade you want, you want to consider the edge. Your options are a plain edge, a serrated edge, or an edge that combines both. The plain edge is preferable by many because it’s effortless to maintain, offers precise, clean cuts, and many blade shapes are there specifically to make use of a continuous edge.

A serrated edge, on the other hand, is preferable when dealing with rugged materials. The resemblance to saw blade teeth bite in and remove material quickly where a continuous edge might not stand a chance. The drawback to a serrated edge is that it can hang up on materials that a plain edge does quick work of.

Blades that combine both of these edges exist and are very popular. Having both does boost the versatility of a knife, but it does shorten the length of either edge significantly.

Size

Everyone wants to feel like John Rambo or Crocodile Dundee at least once in their life. It can be awe-inspiring to break out a massive knife when a friend is in need, but it can be an enormous pain to haul that thing around everywhere you go. You’re better off having something you can easily carry. 

Besides, a small knife is likely just as effective for cutting away some packing tape.

What exactly is an easy knife to carry? That ultimately depends on personal preference. You want to be mindful of how much space it takes up, how heavy it feels in your pocket, and how it handles when you use it for the jobs you need to. As an alternative to pocket knives, you might consider our guides to keychain multitools and box cutters.

Care and Maintenance for Spring Assisted Knives

Like any tool, you want to take care of your knife. Taking care of a knife is also much like taking care of any other tool, and you won’t have to worry about much of a learning curve.

Starting with the obvious, you want to keep a knife clean. Dirt and debris are likely to collect on it from use on the job or sitting in your pocket. Those two factors can quickly dull your blade and jam up the moving parts. Therefore, it is worth taking the time to clean the knife and make sure no gunk or dirt can hinder its performance. Of course, after any cleaning, you’ll want to oil the knife. A layer of oil keeps things moving freely and adds a layer of protection from the elements.

Sharpening the knife is also vital in maintaining and caring for your knife. We all know the saying ‘a sharp knife is a safe knife,’ and it holds water. The sharpening process can vary depending on the type of blade you’re working with and the sharpening tools you have to work with. That means that ultimately there’s a little homework to find the process that best works for you.

  • Keep it clean to ensure gunk and debris don’t hinder the blade’s performance.
  • Lubricate the surface and moving parts to prevent wear or the elements from ruining the blade.
  • Sharpening a knife helps it cut more easily, reducing accidents’ risks while boosting efficiency.  
Man using a whetstone to sharpen his pocket knife
Sharpening a knife helps it cut more easily, reducing accidents’ risks while boosting efficiency.

Best Spring Assisted Knives FAQ:

There are a lot of concerns and questions regarding spring assisted knives. Not just on their function, but their safety and legality. You want to familiarize yourself with local laws and only pick something you feel comfortable using. We will use this section to shed a little light on these issues to help you make the right decision.

Q: Is it legal to own a spring assisted knife?

There are no laws prohibiting ownership of spring assisted blades in the U.S. It’s important not to confuse a spring assisted knife with a switchblade, which may be restricted in your area.

Q: Do spring assisted knives open in your pocket?

While it is rare, it can happen. A poor design and lack of care can result in a switchblade deploying in your pocket. You want to make sure you research the design to ensure this isn’t a common issue. Even if it is, you always want to be mindful of the possibility and avoid doing things that may inspire it to happen. 

Q: Is a spring assisted knife considered a switchblade?

No. Switchblades automatically deploy when a button or lever is actuated. A spring assisted blade, on the other hand, deploys manually, just with the aid of a spring.

Our Top Pick

Again, our top pick is the Kershaw Clash Pocket Knife. This model is an excellent example of why Kershaw knives are a staple of what an EDC knife should be. It has a blade length that’s the perfect size for daily tasks, and the weight is very low. It also has the easy-to-use finger lever actuation that many find desirable in a spring assisted blade.

Final Thoughts

The Kershaw Clash Pocket Knife is an excellent option for anyone. But if you’re not sold, and want to save some money, consider the  MTech USA MT-A882CH Spring Assist Folding Knife. It has plenty of features to write home about and offers good quality for the price.

Sources:

  1. Assisted-Opening Knife – Wikipedia

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