Liner Lock V/S Lockback!


Mar 30, 1999

What do you trust more,liner locks
or lockbacks?Lets put 2 really good knives against each other:
Spyderco Police G-10-Vs-Benchmade
AFCK!Both are close in price and
both companies are very well respected for making quality knives.Put ergonomics,blade steel,and quality of finish etc.
aside.Which one do you trust more?
I know opinions vary but It would
be interesting to hear some.


Given that the knives in question are supposed to be equal in every way except the lock up, and good quality.
Given that a failure of the lock up would be considered a failure of previous, proven, reliable performance.
I would choose the lock back
I like the positive feel of a lock back locking up and I like the location of the lock release. Besides, I have seen more people cut a finger using a liner than a lock back. One guy left his thumb tip on the counter at the Jacksonville Mall, He had just got done complaining that the CQC7 he had in hand was pretty dull.... he walked away with his thumb in his mouth!


I would have to say that "brand new, outta the box" the lockback would be the clear winner. Especially in a spine whack type test. However in long and repeated use, including a couple good raps on the spine and a prolific number of inertial blade openings, the linerlock would be far stronger, at least in slowly applied pressure. As far as any sudden impacts are concerend however, the lockback would probably fare better. I decided to try the spine whack test with my endura the other day. That lock wont budge. Though it might be easier to physically break the lockback it is far less likely to cut your fingers off..

just my .20 cents... have to account for inflation...

One with the Force you must be...


Hmph! a Jedi desires not these things.

Heheh.. almost forgot. I would chose the liner lock... broken in of course..
Both types of locks, done correctly, are very strong. I have a flawed AFCK but the locking liner is NOT flawed at all and locks up super strong. Also, because the liner is recessed, it would not be very easy to accidentally unlock it.
That said, I would probably still choose a good lockback overall. I tend to "bond" more often with them, and my favorite work/carry knives are lockbacks. I especially like the Seki-made Spydercos, as their locks seem to be very precise. Also, some linerlocks are prone to "squeezing in" when gripped tightly, even the AFCK.
A final thing I generally don't like about a lot of linerlocks, the blade often sits apart from the liner at the pivot area, so that liner lock has to be right in a small area. I like linerlocks that lack that separation, so if it engages all the way over, the liner still sits against the blade tang instead of getting stuck into a fixed blade.
Well, I will ad a dissenting opinion. Although I don't feel liner locks are the safest available (the integral lock and the newer spring actuated locks come to mind) I find that lockbacks are more prone to failure due to dirt, etc, gumming up the lock. I have seen a lockback being used is less than ideal conditions fail because of the environment (dirty, greasy, or wet) while most liner lock failures I have witnessed were almost always due to some form of operator error.

And in addition, I like to be able to open and close my knife with one hand. I have never had a problem with getting my fingers out of the way before closing the blade, either. I have seen many intelligent, mechanically inclined people open up a liner lock knife, and then have no idea on how to close it. It is counter-intuative, but not a great mystery.

And of course some people should not handle anything sharper than a bowling ball anyway.

Once you get up to the quality level you're talking about, I'd go with the linerlock. As long as it seats properly, it will pass spine-whacking and torquing wih ease, and it would take enormous force to warp that liner just by forcing the blade down, while the locking pin will take lots of force in the more normal upwards (towards the edge) direction. I have seen linerlocks that seat poorly fail and close, but I have never seen one that seated well break. By contrast, I have seen locking bars broken and do not entirely trust them to take as much force. Also, the linerlock just shifts position slightly with wear, while the lockback can develop substantial play. As an extra plus, the linerlock is faster, smoother, and easier to close one-handed.

I agree that quality is far more variable among linerlocks than lockbacks, and I'd take the latter in a cheap-ish knife, but in top-line production folders I prefer a good linerlock any day.


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)
All things being equal, I'd get the Spydie G-10 Police as lockbacks are more ambidextrous in control.

Of course one can get a LH AFCK, but then if my left hand finds itself disabled, I would find myself fumbling with the AFCK LH with my right hand...
Only when you go to close it. I assume whatever badness you were in would be over by then.
I do not have an AFCK, but I have various Spydie knives with both types of lock. I am very right handed and I prefer the liner-lock. I had the liner-lock on my Terzuola Clipit fail once, when I was squeezing it in an odd way. I have never been able to replicate that failure. The liner-lock in the Military hnd has *NEVER* given a lick of trouble, but, then, neither have the lock backs on my 2 Police models or on any number of Delicas and Enduras. I will say that, in a less expensive knife, I would go with the lock back, as the liner lock requires rather tighter tolerances which translate to more expensive.

Walk in the Light,
With the lockback, what I'm most concerned about is white-knuckling failures. So I white knuckle the handle and see if my palm engages the lock (which it does on something like 25%-40% of lockbacks). If it passes this test, I'll usually prefer the lockback no matter how the liner lock fails.

With the liner lock, I test for white knuckling, spine pressure, and torquing. Even if it passes, I have 2 other worries. First, many liner locks will eventually fail during a torquing test (unless they have very big washers up front; unfortunately, most don't). Holding the knife in your hand and torquing with just hand pressure is usually the only test you can do in front of the dealer. However, as I was remind a couple weeks ago while I cut up cardboard, in real life you can end up torquing the blade much MUCH harder. A guy sent me email a few months ago and told me his liner lock failed due to torquing while cutting cardboard, and he ended up with stitches. Obviously, his lock showed no torquing problems prior to this, and I bet just torquing the blade in your hand wouldn't have shown any problems. Luckily, I was using an Axis when doing my cardboard cutting.

Anyway, problem #2 is I've personally seen liner locks that passed all tests for years (in my case) suddenly start failing one day. Other people have told me they've seen the same thing. This worries me -- will my rock solid knife suddenly start failing because the washers have worn a little bit or the liner has worn at a weird angle?

The AFCK is my fave 4" liner lock production folder BY FAR. I'd still take the lockback.

Both these knives - the Police or the AFCK are great knives.
Both are so good in fact, that the question of who's lock is better - is totally moot.

You should ask instead - which has the blade cofiguration that suites my purposes!

I want a Light Saber.

From: 6-1-99850PM EDT My big Gunsite Lockback, I believe, would hold up just fine in anything serious.But yet I cant see my CS Scimitar, Spy. Military,or Cuda giving me any problems among my liner lock knives. Ivan
It is funny you should mention the "white knuckle" effect. As I was answering the post yesterday, I was playing with a lock back and considered this to be one of the only major draw backs. As you said this would have to be considered on a knife by knife basis.


I agree with Corduroy that the quality of the products effect the standing. In low end knives, the lockback would be my choice, but I'd probably take a liner-lock in higher-end models.

The two locks wear differently over time. The lockback will develop more play as the individual components wear and branch apart. The linerlock is much more prone to internal stress from things like sudden temperature changes (unless the liner and frame are of the same material), and general use. I am inclined to think that the linerlock would wear more slowly, but it might not have the same play in the blade to warn you of impending failure, like lockback probably will.

Then again, what the heck do I know? =8)

Ted Stewart
"Knives are like dogs, kick 'em too many times and they turn around and bite ya"
I'd take a quality liner lock over a quality lockback any day. More specifically, I'd choose a MicroTech SOCOM over any lockback.

My favorite lock by far is the Sebenza's integral lock. Nothing beats the strength and simplicity of its design. The Axis is a close second.


Knife lover, Philosopher, Humanitarian, and All-around nice guy
(all right, so I'm just a knife lover)
Win -- If you've tested your Microtech and say the liner lock holds firm, I believe you. However, your post implies Microtech's liner locks are especially good -- choosing it over "any lockback" is a strong statement. Microtech does seem to make good liner locks, but even the best liner lock companies have problems, and I've probably seen and heard about more Microtech liner lock failures than even Spyderco or Benchmade (and I've heard of liner lock failures for both those companies, too). Although again, all 3 companies are very good. Don't get too complacent because of the name on the knife! Test it for safety, especially if it's a liner lock! I have heard of several SOCOM lock failures.



Just as you have heard of SOCOM failures, I also have seen reports of Axis Lock failures, from at least three different individuals (Anthony Lombardo, Rage, and a European poster whose name I cannot recall). I'm tempted to buy an Axis Lock, but I just don't trust my thumb to stay on the thumb ramp in an emergency situation. This is a topic I have brought up before, and I hope I'm not being a pest, or overly pessimistic; anyway, I wonder if you are aware of any reports of Axis lock disengagements (due to thumb contact with the release button during cutting using the "natural" grip), and if you can comment on this phenomenon now that you have had a chance to use the Axis Lock for a while. In light of these reports, I wonder how it is that you can trust the Axis Lock so much more than I do.

David Rock
For me, the lock back for sure.

Only have a couple of liner locks but don't really like them so far.

Although the AXIS lock buttons do protrude more than necessary, It is the folder I carry the most because I feel it is the most secure.

You CAN (big "can") disengage the AXIS in a gorilla-"natural" grip under stress(like I described to you on MIRC). You can also disengage just about any lockback, liner lock, and even the new rolling locks in a similar fashion.

The AXIS has yet to "fail" me, but the buttons, IMHO need more spring or lower profile, preferably both.