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Liner Lock vs. Lockback *CONFUSION*

Mar 6, 1999
Please help me with this. The "confusion" in my Subject for this thread is mine.

1)I have read that liner locks are THE ONLY folder to carry for self defense.

2)Now I read in the forum that liner locks are dangerous and that mechanism is prone to failure.

3) Lockbacks are dangerous as they are prone to failure.


Just kidding. But what is the REAL truth on this. All devices can fail, but what is the most dependable???? Opinions from EXPERTS would be appreciated.

Thank you.

"Walk softly and carry a big stick"...TR

Greenie - you might consider the manufacturer? Perhaps there is more to a name than "Just the name". Some manufacturers try harder to make their knives safer...Keep their good name good. I believe it is safe to say the forumites here will educate you very well. There are also a number of excellent threads saved here. (thanx to Mike & Spark) Tremendous education for those "seekers of truth and knowledge".
It does depend on the knife. As far as self defense, any knife can have that application. I have lockbacks that open open as easily as any liner lock.

If you use the search engine you will find many threads on testing your liner. The two that you will read about the most is the AT Barr test and the spine pressure test. Look at this thread to start:
http://www.bladeforums.com/ubb/Forum1/HTML/001691.html . This is a discussion about a liner lock failure and Joe Talmadge offers some good advice about checking your liner lock and tells you where to look here at BF for more info.

There are lots of good liners out there and lock backs. Right off the top of my head I feel the Spyderco Military offers excellent liner lock strength. Any of the Cold Steel lockbacks are very good.

Read on!


From experts? Oh darn. Well, uh, hmm, I'm opinionated. Is that good enough? Humor me anyways.

I don't know where #1 came from, but I'm positive it wasn't from me. Of course, I do have a nicely-made AFCK, so it's not that linerlocks can't work. It's just that #2 does apply to #1. #3 is true too, but generally no better or worse off than a linerlock, depending on what you use for comparison.

What many people do is to tailor their fighting style to circumvent the nasty problem of potential lock failures (such as focusing on slashing exclusively). However, the very near future looks pretty good that we may not have to worry about that at all. Reports from those who have handled new locking mechanisms such as the Axis lock and the Rolling lock seems very promising. Naturally, no lock is completely fail-safe. But some are better than others.

I would like to entertain a notion of mine. I've come to the conclusion that lock failures are notorious because of two factors: They are push-activated mechanisms, and they are located on the handle where the hand has to grip on.

The former is pretty straightforward. Stress. White knuckle. Disengage. On the other hand, if the mechanism was such that one had to pull in order to disengage, white knuckling would not be a problem what so ever. A while back, I proposed just such a mechanism, only to find out later that a company called Entrek has already done something nearly identical called T-lock. In fact, with a mechanism like that, white knuckling it would actually reinforce the lock, not weaken it! Of course, I think they stole the idea from me, but we'd have to file that under the "conspiracy theory" drawer.

The latter is just as straightforward. Imagine if someone came out with an over-sized Buck 110, for example. No white-knuckle problems because, theoretically, the lock release would be located outside the user's grip. Problem solved. Of course, the handle shape would need major re-work, but that's another story all together. I can easily see Cold Steel using this mechanism for their folders, since most of their folders are pretty big to begin with. Add a lower guard to make a j-shaped handle, and they would have a truely worthwhile fighting folder. Hey, Lynn, are you reading this?!?!

But when it's all said and done, yes, the boot knife does look better all the time!
Comment: lockbacks seem to "scale up well" where linerlocks DO NOT. Big linerlock blades are a disaster.

Because a lockback depends on a locking piece of metal that is NOT a "bendable spring" but rather it's "monolithic" and moved into position with a seperate spring, as it gets bigger it gets stronger. A linerlock must have a locking metal bit that's flexible so as the size goes up, it gets weaker.

I own a Cold Steel Vaquero Grande with a 6" lockback blade that I cannot force, and I've never heard of one failing. My 5.5" AlMar linerlocks most definitely CAN fail.

There's a lot of talk about how to make a "megafolder" (5" or more) with a tough lock on the Megafolder thread, Camillus forum.

At 3", most linerlocks are pretty good. A lockback might not have enough "grab" depending on design.

Jim March