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Types of Blade Locks

Liner Lock (Locking Liner):
The linerlock originated in the late nineteenth century and was improved in the 1980's by knife maker Michael Walker. The liner lock mechanisms are most commonly composed of titanium or steel. The liner  liner is split from the top toward the bottom, with an outward spring, called a lock bar, that butts up against the tang of the open blade to prevent the blade from closing. To release the lock, the user presses the lock bar liner back toward the handle side, at which time the blade is free to close. In the closed position the lock bar liner rests between the handle and the blade. The linerlock is considered a safe locking mechanism for tactical knives.

Lockback: The lockback is a blade locking mechanism that is a refinement of the slipjoint mechanism. It utilizes a  strong backspring located along the back of the knife. It incorporates a hook on the backspring, which snaps into a corresponding notch on the blade's heel when the blade is fully opened, locking the blade into the open position. To close the blade, apply pressure to the bar spring located on the spine of the knife handle to disengage the hook from the notch and thus releasing the blade.

Framelock: The framelock is similar to the linerlock, but the frame is used as the spring instead of a liner. The framelock was made famous on the Chris Reeve Sebenza.

Slipjoint: The slipjoint does not lock open. The slipjoint utilizes a strong back spring located along the back of the knife. The blade does not lock. Once opened, the blade is held in place by tension from a back spring. The blade is allowed to fold closed if a certain amount of pressure is applied. The first slipjoint knives were developed in England in the mid seventeenth century.

Lever Lock: The lever lock has a pin that prevents the blade from closing. When the blade is opened completely, the pin from the handle fits into a hole in the tang of blade. Once a lever attached to the knife bolster is pushed down, it lifts the pin out of the tang of the blade, so the blade can close. Likewise, the pin holds the blade closed, so you also have to press the lever down in order to open the blade.

Clasp Lock: The clasp lock system uses a tab of metal at the top rear of the handle. When the knife is opened, a post inserts itself into that tab of metal to lock the blade. To disengaged the knife, you push up on a clasp so it lifts the piece of metal until the post clears its hole. Sometimes the clasp is a metal ring that you pull.

Ring Lock: Sometimes known as a collar lock, the ring lock requires a twist of a ring at the top of the knife’s handle to open and close it. This type of lock is commonly found on Opinel Knives. Essentially, the ring must be twisted until the blade aligns with the vertical slot, so the blade can be opened. To lock the blade open, simply twist the vertical slot away from the blade.

Mid Lock/ Front Lock: Essentially the same as the lockback mechanism, except the blade release is located in the middle of the blade (or the front of the blade for a frontlock.) This forward position of the blade release allows for a stronger lock spring. These locking mechanisms are gaining in popularity.

AXIS Lock: The AXIS Locking System was invented and patented by Benchmade Knives.  In this system, there is a small bar that spans the width of the handle. When the blade is opened, the bar is pushed forward within its slot until it locks into place when the blade is fully extended. The bar rests on top of the tang of the blade, so it cannot close.

Arc Lock: The Arc Lock was designed and patented by SOG Knives. It is very similar to the AXIS Lock, but, instead of a bar that moves in a vertical motion, the arc lock has a device that moves in an arc. Overall, the bar and arc device both function identically and block the tang of the blade from closing when engaged. 

Tri-Ad Lock: The Tri-Ad Locking System is exclusively licensed to Cold Steel Knives. It resembles the lockback in that the tang of the blade fits into a notch along the spine, but there is a patented “stop pin” that redistributes the pressure from the lock to the spine for additional strength.

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