Design laziness and the proliferation of frame/liner locks

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Redmasta, Aug 12, 2014.

  1. Redmasta


    Jul 17, 2013
    I agree I should of used the word inexpensive in lieu of cheap so as not infer poor quality. I still don't understand why you keep saying I should design a new lock myself. Imagine if all industries gave that defeatist response when a consumer pushed for more innovation. When I bought my first Audi many years back I mentioned to the dealer and anyone who asked my opinion that it was front heavy and the 50/50 AWD system was boring. I loved the car but I felt they could do better. Did they tell me to shove it and design my own car? No, they listened to their customers and have since redesigned their chassis, moved the motor farther back over the axle to improve weight distribution (still not as good as BMW but better) and have given the AWD system a rear bias for a sportier drive and are selling more cars than ever.

    Spyderco and Benchmade have already come out with some innovative new locks which have at least to me been game changers. I'm not saying that the frame lock should be abolished, I just wish more makers would take the chance to improve upon or try new ideas that's all.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2014
  2. Goosey


    Mar 19, 2012
    But specifically the ones with the release in the middle. ;)
  3. Joe58

    Joe58 Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 11, 2002
    I would imagine the knife makers, at least the larger companies with the ability to fund r & d, are continually experimenting with new designs both in knives and their locking systems. If it's good, it'll make them money. Look how many companies are using the Spyderco hole, or a variant thereof. And the better companies licensing it as they should.

    But before any kind of lock can be put into play, it has to be tested and a cost analysis factored in. I'm betting that a great lock system is out there already but due to the complexity and cost, it isn't effective for real world use.

    Due to the wide variety of environments that knives are used in, a lock also needs to be pretty simple cause if it has too many little moving parts in there, the first time it's dropped into a mud puddle or the sand, you're done. That's a reason a frame lock with flow design is popular. Just flush the crud out and keep going

    As other posters mentioned too, I like my knife to be pretty simple to use and maintain. Back locks, slippies, frame locks now, have pretty much stood the test of time and real world use. Well made knives using these systems sell.

    I will agree that I myself too don't care for the liner lock. The ones I've experience with were just too finicky and never seemed right. Little bit of oil or liquid on the lock face and it slips right off. I just like the heavier locking bar of a frame lock. And lock backs and slippies are great to use too. I like the Axis as well and I'm hoping Benchmade is working on the one weak spot, the omega spring, although I myself haven't had a failure with one.
  4. tokerblue


    May 1, 2010
    If I was on a farm and cutting things all day, a fixed knife would be better than any folder.
  5. Quiet

    Quiet "That guy" Gold Member

    Oct 11, 2013
    I have to wonder what work you were doing on your farm that was causing the liner lock to somehow fail, and I wonder why, if that level of work was being performed, that you weren't using a fixed blade?

    Also, pretty much everything you said is the opposite of the experiences of most of the folks here. "Weak"? "tend towards failure"? "They come open in the pocket"? What? I've NEVER had a liner lock knife "come open" in my pocket, nor has the wife ever had this happen to any of her carry knives in any of her purses.

    I really, really wish people would stop making things up or using hyperbole to try to make an opinion statement.

    Show of hands, who here has ever had a liner lock knife just come open in their pocket?
  6. grownstar


    Apr 24, 2013
    Haha get that gravity knife talk out of here!

    Realistically speaking, I've never had a liner lock come open in my pocket. Ever.

    I've had 1, maybe 2 fail on me in the past but this was when I first started this hobby and was messing with brands like Tac-Force and the like.
  7. Quiet

    Quiet "That guy" Gold Member

    Oct 11, 2013
    I know, I know, I edited that comment out because I was referring to the detent more than the lock (because Hinderers are framelocks, not liner locks!) and didn't want to muddy the point. :thumbup:

    Tac-Force flea market specials! Gotta love 'em! LOL
  8. Ken44


    Jun 29, 2005
    The RIL and Liner Lock are my two favorites by far, so I'm not complaining.
  9. Stays Sharp

    Stays Sharp

    Nov 21, 2013
    I'd like to see certain knife brands expand their line to include other locks because I like their products and more options are always better but on their own I like liners/frames. They've worked for me for decades now.
  10. RBid


    Apr 6, 2014
    I've carried 3 liner locks heavily over the years, and used two of them very heavily:

    Kershaw Clash. $25 or so. Carried and used it every day for over a year and a half. Mine was combo edge. Terrible knife. Bead blast finish developed rust spots. Whole thing felt very cheap. Pocket clip fell off. Liner lock never failed, and locked up very tightly. Tip up carry, never opened in pocket (speed safe, so extra tension from spring).

    Spyderco Persistence. About $35. Carried and used daily for about a year and a half after the Clash. Tip up. Never opened in pocket. Never failed. Locked up great. Used this thing heavily enough that centering went from dead straight to having a pronounced left slant when closed. Opens straight up somehow, albeit with left-right play, zero up-down play, as the lock up is still dead on and won't let it budge that way.

    Third is an Al Mar Payara that has had a lot of pocket time but no use. Tip down.

    Honestly, if even inexpensive liners are holding up under the abuse I put those through, I have to wonder what you've been doing.
  11. Fish30114

    Fish30114 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 5, 2014

    Amen Quiet--+1000
  12. K.O.D.

    K.O.D. Sanity Not Included Platinum Member

    Aug 21, 2013
    Most custom makers do not have the funds and/or means of production to R&D a new locking system. I'm not a big frame/liner lock fan myself. But it is a reliable, uncomplicated lock with (as others mentioned) no worries about patent/copyright infringement. Plus, they are wanting to use premium materials and a frame lock allows them to use a considerable amount of titanium for the frame and/or scale where as say an axis or BBL would cheapen it somewhat. The compression lock would alas be the only feasible option here, however in this day and age of tank folders, the comp lock would be a bit underbuilt in comparison. Plus, if you were to make the lock more stout, it would widen the knife considerably, which on an already superbuilt knife would make it difficult to fit in one's pocket.

    It is far easier for a regular production knife company to come up with new and innovative ways of doing things, as they do have the funds and R&D for that.
  13. glocker199


    Mar 14, 2005
    I haven't bought a frame/liner lock in ten years save for an Ontario Utilitac I basically bought as my "carry it to a concert or sporting event and not care if I have to throw it in the trash can because they have metal detectors" knife.

    I've got Axis locks, Nak Loks, piston locks, push button need for an antiquated, clumsy frame lock.
  14. bradytx


    Jul 9, 2013
  15. hardheart


    Sep 19, 2001
    *raises hand*

    I wonder when your personal experience, or lack thereof, became some sort of standard.

    They make these locks because these locks are cheap to make. And in turn, some consumers are adjusting their expectations to match this reality, where simplicity somehow justifies a higher cost. With that, cheap turns into elegant, for no reason other than marketing.
  16. dkb45

    dkb45 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 16, 2012
    You can't lump liner and frame locks together. That is like lumping the Chevy Aveo with the Sonic. Similar design in some aspects but the performance is quite different. The liner lock is (!)GENERALLY(!) not as strong of a design. There are exceptions, but a frame lock will usually win in strength and stability. The issue with a liner lock is that it has no external prevention of lock slippage, like the hand provides on a frame lock or friction folder.

    A properly made frame lock should be incapable of failing for what a folding knife should be used for. You should not be chopping, spine whacking, prying, or stabbing with a folder. A folder is made to be convenient, not indestructible. Always remember that a pivot can shear off, but it is unlikely that the blade of a foxed blade will shear right off.
  17. sabre cat

    sabre cat Basic Member Basic Member

    Jul 4, 2014
    About four years ago, one of my friends told me that he no longer would carry a liner lock at work (fireman) because of the possibility of lock failure. He claimed that liner locks fail when wearing turnout gloves. Only once have I seen him break his own carry policy. That was with a Gerber/Hinderer rescue knife, and even then he carried a second knife with a different lock design. Spyderco has been his favorite brand through the years, but he has recently shifted to Benchmade because of the Axis lock. He likes the Griptilian for EDC, swears up and down that the Mini Grip 555HG is the way to go.

    I can see merit to my friends way of thinking, but can't help but wonder if other aspects of a knife design could be to blame for some of the dislike and failures of liner locks. Maybe a designer will include a large cut out in the scales for easy access to the lock or an extra metal tab on the liner so it is a little more convenient to push against. Both of these could be an easy path to lock failure under the right conditions.

    I am sure that we can all agree that the liner lock in not the best thing on the market. Is it a good design? That is the real question. I think the answer has to be yes. Look at how custom knife makers use the basic liner lock concept as a core of many top notch knives that most of us can only dream about owning. Of course it can be improved upon.
    The frame lock is a small step in the right direction. So is CRKT's AutoLAWKS system, even though many feel it is a solution to a problem that does not exsist. The key to a great liner lock is in the ingredients, just like a good pie or cake. Quality workmanship, high-grade materials, and a sound, well engineered design to start with.

    Simple in design, the liner lock, unfortunately, lends itself to mass market products, inexspensive materials and poor workmanship. It has been said that there is always someone who can produce a product faster, cheaper, and appeal to a larger market. Proof of this is the proliferation of linerlocks we see today. Gerber's mass market program is a good example.

    Although the liner lock may not be your cat's meow, it is here to stay. There will always be a market for it.
  18. RedLynx

    RedLynx Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 5, 2011
    What I'd like to see is a knife that gives me greater lateral prying strength on my knife. I hope someone is working on this. Now that's innovative.
  19. grownstar


    Apr 24, 2013
    You just wait, Lynx!!! I'm sure it's in beta right now
  20. pvicenzi

    pvicenzi Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 25, 2008
    Faster is not better. In fact, it is irrelavent.

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