Knives are kind of like cars—useful, fun, and just a little bit dangerous. But the fun reaches a whole new level when you carry an out-the-front automatic knife, AKA an OTF knife. Give an OTF knife to anyone with thumbs and they’ll be set for the whole day.
So, let’s say you need to add some OTF knives to your collection, but your bank account is still recovering from your last knife-buying-spree. You're in luck, because we have a pretty choice selection of budget-friendly OTF knives for you to choose from.
Before we dive in, you need to decide what type of OTF knife you’re looking for.
SINGLE-ACTION OTF KNIFE
Blade deploys automatically, retracts manually
DOUBLE-ACTION OTF KNIFE
Blade deploys and retracts automatically
|One-handed open, two-handed close—but simpler, fewer parts, and less likely to break||One-handed open and close, but complexity = more likely to have problems|
|Less expensive||More expensive|
|Less blade play, tight lock up||A little bit of blade play to allow for auto close|
Now that you appreciate the difference between single- and double-action OTF knives, take a look at our favorites from each category.
SINGLE-ACTION OTF KNIVES
The SCHOTF8TB Viper is a good OTF knife for those who are trying to grow their money tree. It has a futuristic, space-tech look to it, and users love the fast, smooth action and tight lock up. The retraction isn't quite as smooth as the deployment, and the small buttons can be a little harder to manipulate, but if you’re looking for a sizable OTF to tackle some heavy duty tasks, the Viper is a solid choice.
Does this wicked knife look familiar? Designed to mimic the Joker’s favorite scar-maker in The Dark Knight film, it will fool all but the most obsessed Batman fans. If looks weren’t enough, the Black Arrow Cupid Clone also sports a decent, mid-range 440 steel blade that deploys with impressive force. Coming in at less than $25, it’s a difficult knife to turn down.
As far as budget single-action OTF knives go, the Smith & Wesson Assisted may be the unequaled king. For the price, you cannot get a single action knife with faster firing, more solid lock up, or better feel in hand. The AUS-8 steel is by no means prime quality, but it's a decent material for a budget knife, and comes nice and sharp right out of the box.
DOUBLE-ACTION OTF KNIVES
The Lightning OTF is one of the most popular budget double action OTF knives in the industry. It’s got a great fit and finish for the price, it’s very difficult to misfire, and it even has a neck carry option. Some have complained that the paint chips off the aluminum handle too easily, but we kind of like the battle-worn, well-used look.
Neck and neck with the Lightning OTF is the Titan. It has a similar size and styling compared to the Lightning, with the added benefit of some super grippy inserts on the handle, which stick to your hand like glue. The Titan says “budget knife” with a literal twang—you can hear the springs when the blade deploys. But the action on this bad boy is fast and solid, and with the price coming in at $34.99, you won’t be afraid to put it to work.
Inspired by the fighter jet of the same name, the AKC F-16 OTF has a slick, symmetrical design with a smattering of color choices. Some models also sport grip-assisting inserts similar to those on the Titan. The unique, bayonet style blade is a departure from your typical OTF with a tanto or dagger blade and sets this knife apart from the competition.
Salivating yet? This list is just the beginning. If you’re looking to chew on a much bigger assortment of steel instruments, check out our full selection of OTF knives. We’ve got more than 250 to choose from.