Best Out The Front (OTF) Knives – 2020 Buyer’s Guide

| Last Updated: March 2, 2021

If you’re looking for the best OTF Knife, you’re not alone. You’ll need something that is sharp, reliable, and will get the job done whenever you need it the most. It’s important to find a knife that is high in quality as well.

The last thing you’ll need is to settle for one that might be considered ineffective and crappy in quality. To help you on the right path, we’ve taken the liberty of putting together a list of six OTF knives that are currently the best on the market.

Before we get to the list, we’ll talk about what an OTF knife is and what it does. We’ll also discuss how you can find an OTF knife of your own using a list of aspects and characteristics that you’ll need to consider.

Comparison of the Best Out The Front (OTF) Knives

  • Slim profile design.
  • Best overall OTF knife.
  • Ultra-lightweight for easy portability.
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  • Auto-ambidextrous thumb slide.
  • Measured to nearly 9 inches long.
  • Crafted from high-quality tool steel.
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  • Best OTF knife for the money.
  • Blade made from stainless steel.
  • Handle made from high-quality aluminum.
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  • Best OTF knife under $50.
  • Serrated blade for easy and clean cutting.
  • Handle made from high-quality aluminum.
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  • Best OTF knife under $100.
  • Blade made from high-quality steel.
  • Handle made from high-quality aluminum.
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  • Strongest OTF knife on the market.
  • Black serrated double-edged knife made from steel.
  • Handle made with an aluminum handle for superior durability.
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What is an OTF Knife?

OTF or “Out Of Front” knives are a type of switchblade knives. They are considered “automatic knives” because of their ability to quickly deploy a blade with one touch of the button.

The blade itself will come out of the front (hence the name OTF). These should not be confused with spring-loaded knives since they have a more open design compared to knives that are more closed off.

How Does an OTF Knife Work?

An OTF knife works when you press a button located on the side of the knife. When that happens, the blade will deploy from the top of the handle.

The opening will function the same way as a standard switchblade knife. When closed, the springs will hold the blade in place until you are able to press the button to release the tension in the springs themselves.

What Makes a Great OTF Knife?

There are some characteristics that make an OTF knife stand out among the pack. Especially when it’s proven itself to be one of the best on the market. Knowing which ones are better in quality and performance compared to knives that are ineffective will give you an edge in your buying decision. With that said, here are a few characteristics and aspects that you’ll need to look for:


As standard practice, we always find a few knives that we think will be affordable for most budgets. We don’t settle for cheap when looking for knives to review (and neither should you own a cheap knife to begin with). If you’re on a budget, find a knife that’s within your range that is high in quality and excellent in some other ways. Even if it means paying a little more on the budget side, it’s a lot better than a cheap knife that’s of bad quality.

Blade Material

One of the best characteristics of a knife is how sharp it is. Especially when it’s made from certain materials. Most knives will be made of steel and will often be hardened by other materials to ensure that the blade is durable and sharp for a long time. 

Single Action or Double Action

Do you want a knife that will be easy to deploy? Obviously yes. But what about when you want to put it away. Single action will allow for quick deployment, but manual retraction. Meanwhile, double action will give you quick deployment and retraction. Choose one that will be much easier for you.

Quick Take: 
Our Top 3 Choices

In a hurry? Here's a snapshot of the best OTF knives:

Review of the Best OTF Knives

The following is a list of the six best OTF knives currently on the market. As you’re looking through each one, be sure to get a good idea of what you want to look for in your ideal OTF knife.

Once you find one that matches the characteristics of what you’re looking for, then you’ll probably consider it your winning choice. Now, let’s get going by kicking off our list with our “best overall” choice for OTF knives:


  • Deep Pocket Carry is Quite Solid
  • Easy to Deploy, No Jamming Issues
  • All Metal Construction Makes it Super Durable
  • Slim in Design, Doesn’t “Bulk Up” in Your Pocket
  • Includes a Carbide Glass Breaker, Great For Survival Situations


  • May Take a While to Sharpen if Needed
  • Double Action OTF Mechanism Might Be a Little Tough at First
  • Some May Receive a Blade That is Slightly Dull Right Out of the Box

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers were quick to report that this blade was effective when sharp. Most of them were able to use it for all kinds of purposes and applications. The cuts are clean and don’t snag on anything. One remarked that it’s as close to razor sharp as it can get and you’re able to sharpen the blade yourself.

Why it Stands Out to Us

One of the reasons why this tops our list is that this doubles as a survival tool. You’ll notice on the end of the handle, the blunted steel end. This will come in handy when you need to break through a glass window if you’re stranded in your vehicle or whatever situation where a glass breaker is needed.

Who Will Use This Most

This knife will be used mostly by those who will use it as an EDC (everyday carry) item. They will always have it on hand and use it in the situations where it’s needed most. Especially if they are in a survival situation where they need to cut (or smash) their way out of a dangerous situation.

What Could Be Improved and Why

Since there have been a lot of complaints regarding the blade not being sharp upon delivery, it would be great to include a sharpening stone. This way, it will save users a great deal of time and money trying to find a sharpening stone that will actually work. Adding a sharpening stone to the mix will be an excellent convenience.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for an OTF knife that is considered the best of the bunch, the OTF Double Action Safety Knife could be yours to own. It will work to your advantage in more ways than one. This knife is more than just an everyday use knife. It’s a knife that might one day save your own life or someone else's.


  • Double-Edged For Easy Cutting
  • Easy Maintenance and Cleaning
  • Deep Pocket Clip is Easy to Remove
  • Super Durable, Very Hard to Damage
  • Great For Both Right-Handed and Left-Handed Users


  • Spring Mechanism Might Be a Bit Weak
  • Some Have Complained About the Lack of a Lock Mechanism
  • One or Both Sides of the Blade Might be Dull Upon Initial Use, Might Need to be Sharpened

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers were satisfied with this knife’s double edge. They didn’t care which way they were cutting, it got the job done and the cuts were nice and clean. One said that he uses it for contracting purposes and found it a lot easier to cut through drywall with this knife than standard razor blades.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This knife is the kind that can “do it all”. You can take it with you for hunting or use it as an everyday carrying knife. Either way, it’s sharp enough to get a lot of stuff done (like cutting through drywall). It’s durable, solid in construction, and sharp like a razor.

​Who Will Use This Most

This will probably be used for everyday purposes. It can be used for construction and contracting, cutting open boxes, or any other purpose that would warrant the use of a sharp knife. This will be used by those who are looking for an OTF for the long-term.

​What Could Be Improved and Why

One of the things that might be improved is making sure there is a solid locking mechanism in place. This way, it can prevent the possibility of accidentally deploying the blade while you’re carrying it. While the design itself is low-profile, the blade might be sharp enough to cut through clothing if it accidentally deploys on you.

​Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a really good double-bladed knife for any kind of use you can think of, odds are you’ll love the Benchmade Infidel Dagger. If you’re looking for something that’s easy to deploy and does a better job than most knives, this could be your best possible choice.

Best for the Money:
Firecracker Knife


  • Very Lightweight and Versatile
  • Double Edged for Better Cutting
  • Nice and Small, Makes it Really Concealable
  • Easy to Deploy, Not Susceptible to Any Jamming
  • You Won’t Open Up the Knife by Accident Thanks to the Locking Mechanism


  • Blade Might Be Dull Upon Initial Use
  • Deploy Mechanism Might Be a Little Stiff
  • May Not Be Legal in Some States Due to the Double Blade

What Recent Buyers Report

One of the recent buyers said that while it was illegal in his state to own a double-edged knife, he was able to sharpen one side (and therefore allowed to own it so long it stayed that way). Regardless, he was able to cut through boxes and tough materials like butter. Most other users were quite happy to use this for some other purposes (i.e.--home construction, opening packages, etc.)

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This is a solidly constructed knife that is affordable for most budgets. But the way it works and how it functions is a lot different than some cheap, ineffective knife. The green color is quite visible in low-light conditions. It’s not a glow-in-the-dark, but you’ll be able to know where it is when you need it when you have little light to work with.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be used for everyday carry and use. It will be as if you’re carrying a regular knife. It’s small but sharp enough to cut through a lot of things. You can use it to clean out your fish after a day of fishing or cut open your next Amazon package. Either way, it’s reliable and sharp enough to work for you any way you cut it.

​What Could Be Improved and Why

One of the things that could improve is making it a single blade to meet legal requirements. However, this improvement won’t change the fact that it is illegal in a few US states (see our FAQ below for information on legality). Other than that, the deployment mechanism should require a little less pressure, but still stiff enough to ensure that a blade doesn’t easily deploy by accident.

​Bottom Line

If you’re looking for an OTF knife that won’t suck the life out of your bank account, the Firecracker Pocket knife might be something that’s right up your alley. It’s small, dependable, and sharp for all your intents and purposes. It might be an affordable knife, but it works as if you spent double the price on it.

Best Under $50:
Viper 3, OTF

Viper 3, OTF, Black Handle, Bead Blast Blade, Serrated


  • Super Easy to Cut With
  • Super Durable All Around
  • Blade is Easy to Deploy and Retract
  • Excellent Starter OTF Knife For First-Time Users
  • Blade Can Get Nice and Sharp Once Sharpened Enough


  • Safety Locks Might Be Lacking
  • Mechanics of Deploying the Blade Might Get a Little Difficult
  • Some Might Complain That They Have to Hold the Knife a Certain Way in Order to Deploy it

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of recent buyers loved how the knife can withstand a good deal of abuse. One buyer accidentally dropped his knife on the floor and was pleased to see it free from any scuffs and abrasions. Also, he was quite relieved to see that the knife didn’t deploy on its own during the impact. As far as cutting ability is concerned, it cuts quite well thanks to the serrated blade. It can cut through some pretty hard stuff as well (but not hard rock or anything similar). 

Why it Stands Out to Us

One of the things that we like about this knife is that while it’s below $50, it works as if it’s worth more than that. The cutting ability is smooth like butter. The overall construction makes it a very solid unit to rely on. Expect this to last you years or even decades (so long as you take good care of it and sharpen it every now and then).

Who Will Use This Most

This is another multi-purpose OTF knife that can be used for just about anything. You can cut through drywall, cut open boxes, or even clean out some small game while you’re out hunting. This will be sharp enough to cut through even some of the toughest soft materials (and some hard materials like wood). 

What Could Be Improved and Why

One of the things that could improve is making the blade easy to deploy, but have some solid safety locks in place as well. This way, while it’s easy to deploy the safety locks themselves won’t make the blade easy to deploy in some situations like when you drop it.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a reliable OTF knife that will work to your advantage and won’t cost you anywhere above $50, the Viper 3 OTF knife could very well be the one knife that you’ll depend on for any purpose for a long period of time. The overall construction is solid and doesn’t have a cheap quality feel to it. 

Best Under $100:
Smith & Wesson OTF Knife


  • Blade is Easy to Deploy
  • Super Durable All Around
  • Slim Design Makes For Excellent Concealability
  • Clip is Sturdy and Holds Securely in Your Pocket
  • Double-Bladed and Very Sharp, Can Cut Easily Through Most Soft and Some Hard Surfaces


  • Deployment Might Be a Challenge For Some
  • Reset Might Be a Little Difficult For Some Users
  • Locking Mechanism When the Blade is Fully Deployed Might Not Be Strong Enough

​What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of recent buyers were able to use this for everyday carry. But they've relied on this more in an outdoor setting. The cutting ability was top quality and the blade needed little to no sharpening prior to initial use. Meanwhile, the durability is impressive, to say the least. One user was confident that it will last him a good ten years before he'll get another knife for everyday carrying.

​Why it Stands Out to Us

Smith and Wesson are more than just guns. They make some pretty good tools and accessories that are tough as nails and guarantees a good amount of longevity. And that’s why it’s good enough for us to add onto the list. We don’t choose things on the name alone. But when the name Smith and Wesson was mentioned, our ears did kind of perk up a bit.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be used mostly by outdoorsmen. The look and the build itself makes it look like that it can handle more outdoor situations than indoors. But don’t consider it useless for such tasks like opening up packages or even buttering bread. It’s definitely worth the use for those who want something that’s sharp, clean-cut, and gets the job done when you need it the most.

​What Could Be Improved and Why

One improvement we can see happening with this knife will probably be adjusting the locking mechanism so the knife stays in place. This way, users won’t have to worry about the blade loosening up once it is in the open position.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a good OTF knife just south of $100 but north of $50, then the Smith & Wesson might be your cup of tea. This is a high-quality knife with excellent cutting ability and is designed to handle some pretty rugged stuff. If you’re looking for a blade that can take on some serious stuff, this knife might be the one you’ll want.


  • Excellent For EDC Use
  • Sharp and Cuts Pretty Smooth
  • Easy to Operate With One Hand
  • Side Safety Included Ensuring No Accidental Deployments Happen
  • Glass Breaker Included, Makes an Excellent Tool For Survival Situations


  • Might Be a Little Dull Upon Initial Use
  • Some Have Had Issues With the Switch Placement
  • Operation Might Be a Little Awkward For Some Users

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of recent buyers were impressed with this OTF knife. The double blades allow for smoother cutting no matter which direction you go in. Aside from that, it can deploy rather quickly and lock itself in place. The lock is solid, so it won’t allow the blade to loosen up or knock itself down like some ineffective locking mechanisms.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is probably one of the toughest OTF knives in the business. It can handle all kinds of impact. Even with the side safety intact, you can throw it on a hard surface without damaging it or deploying the blade. The safety makes sure that the blade stays in place no matter what. Plus, it’s another knife that stands out as a survival tool in the event you need to break some glass to make way for a possible escape route.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be used mostly by those who want to carry a knife with them every day. This is as close as your going to get to an EDC-style knife. Especially if you’re more of the SHTF/survival kind of user. It will definitely come in handy for its every day uses, but its usefulness in emergency situations is where it makes its bones.

​What Could Be Improved and Why

For good measure, it should be nice to include a nice little knife holder so you can use it for better concealability. Since it’s going to be a knife that’s used for everyday purposes, why not put it in a safe place other than your pocket? A nice holster made from high-quality material could be what you’ll need (rather than purchase one separately).

​Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a great OTF knife that is tough all over, sharp like a razor, and will definitely be your best friend in any possible situation, the Schrade Viper OTF knife could be one of your best possible options. Especially if you’re looking for a knife that can cut through a good amount of soft materials (and even some hard materials). No matter what the purpose, this is the tool you’ll want to carry with you at all times.

Types of OTF Knives

There are a few types of OTF knives that are currently on the market. Each type is popular for certain purposes while some are good for simply just carrying them around for everyday use. Here are some of the most popular OTF knife types currently on the market:

Single Action OTF Knives

These are single action blades that can deploy with one touch of a button. The button will not allow you to retract the blade. In order to retract the blade, you must be able to do it manually using your thumb. Just enough pressure will allow the blade to retract slowly, but smoothly.

Double Action OTF Knives

The deployment is the same as a single action OTF knife, but you can use the button to retract the blade rather than having to do so manually. It is for this reason that double action OTF knives are actually safer than single action knives. That’s because you’ll reduce the risk of cutting yourself while putting the blade away.


If you’re looking for a great OTF knife, one of these six might be yours to own. Be sure to find one that will best fit your intents and purposes. At the same time, you’ll want to find one that will stick with you for the long run so you’re able to use it and take good care of it for as long as possible.

People Also Ask

The following are a few frequently asked questions that will be a supplemental guide in finding the best OTF Knife for you. Pay close attention to the questions and answers since they contain some vital, need-to-know information. The questions are as follows:

Is an OTF Knife Legal?

OTF Knives are legal in all but 12 US States. The following are states where OTF knives are prohibited: Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington state. The District of Columbia has also banned these knives as well. Three states: California, Illinois, and New York have heavy restrictions on OTF knives.

Is an OTF Knife a Switchblade Knife?

In a sense, they are, since you’ll be able to deploy the blade with one press of a button. Some OTFs may be considered legal (with restrictions depending on the jurisdiction). However, you’ll want to be sure your OTF is legal prior to purchase.

What Are OTF Knives Used for? 

OTF knives can be used for multiple purposes. For example, they can be used for every day carry for the purpose of opening up hard to open packages. Some have used them for self-defense purposes and even using it to cut things like drywall. OTFs are used for whatever purpose is appropriate for you so long as you’re using it properly.