Folder Locks

Mar 23, 2000
With so many lock styles to choose from and more seemingly on the way each day how do you choose? I've got lock backs, liner locks, and a Syperco compression lock. While I've never had a liner lock fail the wack test many seem to have seen such. My using folder all seem to have lock backs. When I reach for the knife to put in my pocket it's the Endura. Is the lock back so outmoded? Is it really so much less capable than the newer designs?
To answer the "how do you choose" question: you consider the lock as only one (important) aspect of the knife. I think liner locks are unreliable and they try to solve a problem that doesn't exist. That second part really irks me because it's just marketing nonsense. That said, I own a Lum Chinese folder because it's an incredible knife.

To answer the question about lockbacks being outmoded or incapable: not at all. They're ambidextrous and they keep the blade in the handle (sorry, linerlocks). Those are two selling points of the (awesome) Axis lock, and they've been a part of lockbacks for years.

Lockbacks are great in nearly every regard. The only thing that linerlocks and modern locks are better at is smoothness in opening. And that's just because linerlocks do such a half-a$$ed job of keeping the blade in the handle.
Durability and reliability are the two chief consideration to me.I am no expert,but I always believe most well-made lock back folders will
outlast most well-made liner locks.And Axis locks seem quiet wear-resistant(a lot room for the "locking bar" to wear in,not wear out) .
Therefore,I choose folders from Axis lock models and lockback models.
But to be honest,locks are not necessary feature to me(I've been using
slip joints for years,and I've never got one folded on my fingers).I just want a lock will last longer and more safely.
So,I don't really care about strength.

I love my Spyderco and Buck lockbacks and Benchmade 730.:)
Given the choice, I prefer the liner lock for ease of use and in that vein will take a frame lock over all others. The lockback is a good system but not as easy to open and close one handed, I do do it, but a liner/axis/frame lock is better.

My choice for a knife is rarely influenced by the lock, only if the stability of the lock is in question such as certain Emerson and the SERE 2K model knives. For this reason I am always a little cautious even with a good linerlock, I just don't 100% trust them, even the good ones like Spyderco and Microtech models. Never had a failure though even with a solid spine whack test or 10.
I won't buy another liner lock. Lock backs and frame locks are far superior for safety. I have no experience with the axis or similar locks, so can't comment. The only drawback to te lock back is that it takes more room in the handle, thus limiting design freedom.

Lockbacks are in no way dead. My favorite and hardest used knife is a custom Buck 110. It gets the big outdoor chores. The smaller outdoor chores go to a slipjoint.

I just don't need a tough lock for small cutting tasks. I really don't understand people's obsession with locks on tiny knives. IMHO, if they're cutting hard enough to have a small knife close on them, they should have grabbed a bigger knife. :D

But when I'm not in the outdoors, I go for one-handed openers like the Camillus EDC and Sebenza. I love those frame locks!!!
I think I have at least one of just about every lock design on the market. To be honest, I think they all work fairly well. :)

My favorite is the Axis lock. It is strong, easy to use, does not put your finger in the blade's path, holds the blade in the handle, and it's ambidextrous. What more could you ask for?

That preference has not kept me from being quite happy with a variety of other lock designs for daily use. In fact, I rarely carry my two Axis locks (Benchmade 940 and 730). My most common EDCs are the CRK Large Sebenza (frame lock), REKAT Sifu (rolling lock), Kershaw Boa (liner lock), and Emerson Commander (liner lock). All have passed the spine whack test and put up with various other abuse without failure or complaint.

With the strength of today's materials and the precision of modern manufacturing I think that the design and quality control on individual models is far more important than the lock type. We are fortunate to have so many excellent production (and custom) models available.

--Bob Q
Originally posted by Shmackey
Lockbacks are great in nearly every regard. The only thing that linerlocks and modern locks are better at is smoothness in opening. And that's just because linerlocks do such a half-a$$ed job of keeping the blade in the handle. [/B]

Shmackey, get an Al Mar Sere 2000 and your liner lock vitriol will diminish rapidly. After handling it for awhile, your fear will turn to trust.

I'm not kidding or exaggerating, this thing locks up as tightly as my Balisong. I know that doesn't determine reliability of the lock, but I have spine wacked the heck out of it. Not a budge. What more do you need?

I agree, the Axis is phenomenal. But of course you don't get the fit and finish you do with the Sere. Or the bank vault heft.
Komondor, I've read good and bad things about the Sere 2000 here. Some folks have serious problems with their locks. However, I'm sure that when they're executed properly, it's a heck of a knife.

Does Komondor refer to the mop-like dog? I love those guys.
I normally avoid liner locks, but the SERE 2000 is exceptional. Aside from that, though, I lock for lock backs, Axis lock or similar.
Don't get too confident in your liner locks because they can pass the 'spine-whack' test. The real problem with liner locks is torque. Get the tip stuck in wood or cardboard, and try twisting it out.

A lockback, Axis lock, or balisong will handle that just fine. Your liner lock might not.

My Sebenza integral lock is my EDC. I trust it implicitly. My Vaquero Grande lockback goes into the woods with me, for chopping and slashing through branches and vines. The Vaquero Grande is ambidextrous; the Sebenza really is not.

Everything is a trade-off. For most office work or slicing and dicing in the kitchen, you hardly need a lock at all.
Originally posted by Shmackey
Does Komondor refer to the mop-like dog? I love those guys.

Yes it does. They are awesome dogs. But I have never even seen one before, live that is.
Originally posted by callahwj
we need a poll on locks...anybody?

Done. Accidentally forgot to post the poll, so disregard the post in General that doesn't have the little poll icon.
I think a well designed lockback knife is just fine. The only drawback for me is not being able to close them one handed. Axis is my favorite.
When I reach for the knife to put in my pocket it's the Endura. Is the lock back so outmoded? Is it really so much less capable than the newer designs?

The lockback is not out-moded, it is a solid and dependable choice, with great performance. It is in every way just as capable.
HI, I've read posts on knife locks here and on spyderco's forum. All debate the features of the various types
of locking mechanism. The one thing that all these discussions miss it that there really are but four basic
"types" of locking methods. The slipjoint , locking on the spine of a blade (lockback) and locking on the
rear of a blade ( liner lock , frame lock etc.) with lastly the butterfly bali song lock. Strip away all the
marketing names and trickery in the method and that's all there is. Personal choice and funds available
will decide what you use / buy. Each has some merit. For my money I'll stick with the tried and true.....
Locking on the spine of the blade.......the lockback. They have a loooong successful history.
I now own 4 integral/frame locks. I believe they are the most bullet-proof lock out there, unless, of course, the lock part of the frame is weak enough to break easily. While I know the Axis lock is great, the fact is that it has springs that can and do break. The frame lock isn't going to break.

My primary self defense knives are both liner locks. One -- the Spyderco Wegner -- I trust very much, at least partly because if the lock should fail, it won't cut off any fingers, thanks to its ricasso. The other, the CRKT Apache, passes spine whacks. So, I trust it quite a bit. I carry it because so far as I can see, it was designed with self defense/combat as its primary purpose.

I've never accessed it, but Spyderco has all their locks rated into 3 or 4 categories of strength/duty. The Chinook, with a lockback, is in the top heavy duty category. But, by no means are all their lockbacks in that category.
I like new technology and new gadgets but i believe alot of the "best lock ever" technology is simply marketing hype to sell more knives. I think the knife industry, as a whole, is trying to fix something that's not broke.
If you need a "stronger" lock than a bali-song latch or the opinel style collar-ring then you need a fixed-blade knife.
BTW, my favorite lock is the lock-back. Strong, simple, with a proven track record.