May 23, 1999
Lots of people have complained about the liner lock design. It seems that liner locks aren't that reliable. How come factory and custom knife makers don't use the integral lock design invented by Chirs Reeve? Mission Knives uses the integral lock on their all titanium knife. Darrel Ralph has recently incorporated the integral lock into his new folder called the Apogee. Why aren't the other makers and factories using the integral lock design. I don't get it. By the way, I own a Sebenza and the integral lock is extremely reliable.
Benchmade use an integral lock, dubbed the "mono lock" on their Pinnacle. Since they have no further plans to deploy the "mono lock" in their new designs for 1999, I believe that the design is simply too difficult to mass produce economically. The popularity of the Axis lock has no doubt prompted them to move in that direction and away from the Sebenza style lock.

In a recent thread on the CR forum over in the OTHER site, someone complained that they could not swap blades from one Sebenza to another. Anne Reeve explained that since each piece is fitted individually, swapping parts from one knife to another was not practical. An exact tolerance is necessary for the “bank vault” feel of the Sebenza, and that might not be possible to reproduce on a large scale. If BM produces another “mono lock” knife in the future, I would be surprised.

Since Kajnin brought up liner locks and the concern over them, I would like to ask, what are the most reliable liner locks out there right now?

IMO I would say the BM Stryker and the Spydie Military. I would also have to say that the Spydie Viele is up there, too.

What are the others?


Good question, Kodiak. The best liner lock I have now is a Boker-Klotlzi with 440c blade and liner. It has a single liner (the lock) and G-10 scales, similar to the Military, I believe. Very clean, strong little knife, a great dress carry.

The best liner lock I had for a long time was a BM AFCK, I got one bolted together right the first time and it was rock solid. When I bought my first Sebenza I gave it to my younger brother, who loves the thing. I ended up replacing it with a M2 steel version (I just got a little misty eyed over my old friend and…) but I only had it a day or so before I sent it to G2 for a sheath fitting. We might have to ask him how the lock is before he ships it back to me, because the last time UPS got hold of it Three Day Ground turned into Eight Day Wait

The last BM liner lock I picked up was the Mel Pardue 350, and I am nervous when I open my mail with it.(I know I’ll catch it for that one!)

Hi Guys,

Liner locks. They may not be the strongest locking mechanism. But, I don't care- I still like them. They are proven and work well. (Assuming they're made right.)

All I use a knife for is to open envelopes, occasional boxes. Really, I mostly just admire the knife.

Guess I don't understand what all the fuss is about. Sure, knifemakers and knife companies should continue the quest for stronger and better products. But, for me a good liner lock will do just fine.

If I was in need of a fool proof folder for what ever reason...I would consider something else.

Just my opinion. So, please there's no need to slam or try to convert me.

Just curious though, how many forumites really need a lock that's stronger than a liner lock?


One final note though, it does seem like the trend may be moving away from liner locks.
Big D, very good points all. One thing I have been wondering of late is whether it will soon be more economical for knife companies to offer other types of locks than the liner, lockback or integral style. It seems that the REKAT Rolling Lock and the Benchmade Axis Lock, both based on a spring mechanism, might require a less exact tolerance than a liner lock or integral lock. And I believe that both of these lock styles are designed so that as the locking bar wears, the spring pulls it further into place. So thusly, the more wear the tighter the lockup. As a liner lock wears, it moves further along the tang of the blade until it reaches the opposite liner, when it should be replaced (according to Benchmade, at least).

But I agree that some parts of the industry is moving away from the liner lock, or at least Benchmade is.


Like big Dave said, liner locks are fine for LIGHT duty use.

There are very Few exceptions to this rule, with the Military being one. Obviously Sal & co. took the time to make sure the fit was right on that knife.

Alot of people buy a knife for light duty use, and never will use it hard. A liner lock is fine for this, But, you would be amazed at the number of liner locks that fail either the "spine whack" test, a torque test or both. This includes MANY high end production and semi-custom knives. If the fit and design is not perfect it will most likely fail.

Some companies, such as Spyderco have such close tolerances on their Top Locks/Lock Backs that they can easily withstand most heavy use.

Many companies are going to a type of "bar lock" (REKAT rolling , BM Axis,etc.) which when done right can be used for anything due to the fact that the more pressure that is put on the lock, the tighter it locks up. when you think about it, this is a very simple design and should have been put into use years ago. It could have saved many people from being cut.

The Integral lock is great for heavy use, but is very difficult to get right, which as stated in above posts is probably why factory production knives don't use it or are getting away from it.Obviously Chris Reeve got it right and I would expect that Darrell Ralph did too.

Sorry for the rambling , but bad lock design really irks me, especially when companies are making millions of dollars selling knives that aren't useful for anything but letter opening.

P.S. If you realy want to be sure of the lock holding, buy a quality Fixed Blade.
For fun I used to work as a volunteer in both Vertical and White water rescue. I always used a straight knife, some good some bad. I went through a lot both busted or lost. I learned to buy the best I could afford, regardless of the cost. How much is your life worth? Since I no longer have the health or the money for this as a hobby I still evaluate, design and sell equipment. Here is my .02 worth on opinion as to how I evaluate knives in general for use.

Light duty is everything from cleaning your fingernails to cutting shipping tape off boxes(not the boxes themselves) and shaving a stick for a firestarter.

Any good quality small to medium slip joint knife.

Medium duty is cutting boxes to slicing climbing rope,rubber hoses,webbing,haevy material, or anything that might grab a blade.

A good quality medium to large frame knife with a sturdy lock of any description.If the use is not emergency Zytel is ok for the chassis. If emergency use with speed and adrenalin is envolved I would only choose a good all metal or re-inforced polymer chassis folder(ex.G-10 etc)You do not know when the blade my get stuck or torked(?sp)at the wrong time and the knife fail at a critical moment.

Heavy duty Only a large frame locking folder need apply.This is if there is a good chance of cutting anything that could grab a blade and create any torking force.I can only reccomend either a purpose overbuilt custom linerlock or a REKAT Rolling lock. I have not had any experience with the axis lock yet so cannot comment on it.

In my experience the flexing of the frame is as critical a factor in lock failure as the lock itself. This is why I cannot reccommend a moulded polymer knife. I have broken quite a few.

Of course this is just my guideline for folding knives.I'm sorry for being verbose in this thread and hope I haven't stepped on anyone's toes.

I would like to hear from Anyone else who has worked in extreme situations and what they have as a criteria.



"Cet animal est tres mechant;quand on l'attaque il se defend."("This animal is very mischievous: when it is attacked it defends itself")
I think many makers are unaware, or just becoming aware, of the reliability problems liner locks can have. Given that the recognition has been slow in coming, there's been little reason to go to integral locks. Provided you think liner locks are reliable, they also have the advantages of being relatively inexpensive to make, capable of being made easily by even a small-time maker, smooth, and allowing many handle configurations. And of course, if you look at strength, a good liner lock is plenty strong.

By contrast, an integral lock put some constraints on what the maker can do with the handles, and depending on your aesthetic sensibilities, can mar the aesthetics. I believe they're also more difficult to make, requiring accurate cutting of pretty thick titanium.

I think the integral lock is brilliant in its simplicity, strength, and reliability, and have no aesthetic concerns, so of course I hope more makers move to it. And they typically aren't defeated by white knuckling, torquing, spine-whacking.

Big Dave: don't want to talk you of anything, but just clarify one thing. You state "they may not be the strongest locking mechanism", as if strength is the most important concern about liner locks. In my mind, liner lock strength is not -- and has never been -- an issue. I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, but I think it's important to be clear: the issue that just about everyone brings up about liner locks is reliability, not strength. The axis lock, rolling lock, and integral lock may or may not be stronger than a liner lock, but so far they all seem much more reliable. Speaking as someone who cares about his fingers, that's important to me


Hi Joe,

Guess I was assuming that everyone was concerned about the strenght of the liner lock.

Could you expand on the reliability issue of liner locks? I must not understand how they are not reliable. (Still assuming it's a well made liner lock.)

Is it that they may not be reliable after an extended amount of use and the liner drifts too far to the right side? Or is it that many are not reliable in terms of passing the spine whack test or white knuckle.

Bla bla bla bla.


Big Dave
I think the concern on liner locks is the spine wacking results etc.I've handled $400.00 custom linerlock knives that were very poor examples of this type of lock.So poor that if you try to close the blade while the lock is engaged the liner would easily start to walk off the tang ramp.And others that don't even fully engage.If a knife passes those test I trust them for general utility use.Thanks
scott w
Big Dave:

I don't mind about liners walking over to the right. One nice thing about liner locks is they can easily be re-adjusted -- a bigger stop pin sleeve, and your liner is all the way over to the left already.

When I talk about reliability, I am talking about concerns about the lock auto-disengaging because I've white knuckled it, or because I've torqued it, or because I've put some pressure on the spine or point, or because of an impulse pressure on the spine ("spine whack"). Worse yet, a lock that has passed all tests for years can suddenly start failing, who knows why. I've heard about too many failures in use, and personally failed way too many myself in testing. Yes, a reliable liner lock can be made, see my thread on Melvin <forget his last name>. In any case, reliability is my main concern here.

I spent about 45 minutes breaking down some very thick & tough cardboard boxes with my Axis today. I was twisting and torquing and wiggling that thing all around, using all my body weight at times -- in retrospect, I'm not sure I'd have felt comfortable doing that with any liner lock.
Thanks for clarifying that guys.

You guys do have some valid concerns about liner locks.

For whatever reason I don't use my knives in that same manner. So, a slip join would work. Guess that's why I don't have any concerns over my liner locks.

Take em easy,

I, for one, would like to see more integral locks out there, if they can be done up right. The frame lock, engaging approximately the full width of the tang, gives me more confidence that a liner lock does, and there is no separate handle slab, and therefor no gap between handle slab and locking liner, for a bit of grit to get in and jam the knife open until it can be removed, or for edible stuff to get into and fester there. An integral lock seems to me to be the most easily cleaned of any of the folder designs, and to have the fewest things that can go wrong.