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Lock Paranoia?

May 1, 1999
I have found many a folding knife that I would LOVE to carry everyday, but I, due to all the "I nearly cut my fingers off" or "my lock might break" comments, am afriad to completely 100% rely on my folders!! (even Cold Steel, Covert, Spyderco.. good quality knives--there is always a slight part of me that is worried.)

So I end up carrying a fixed blade, too.

Honestly, without all the paranoia... how many people's folders have EVER failed them. I don't mean after you tried to stab a brick wall, either.

For day to day tasks, etc...

Oh... and this is NOT meant to be confrontational, just a QUESTION--so don't rip me apart... It has just never happened to me. I would really like to know--it might ease my worries or corroborate my apprehension.

Oh.. and if you have difficulty putting your fingers on the all the keyboard keys because you're missing them--I'll take your word for it.

Mighty Jessit.
The things we do for the knives we love.
The "blade chooping of fingers fear", although valid, is somewhat flawed.



When you use a knife, the pressure on the blade would normally make it break away from your fingers and not towards them. I have seen several knives which would fail the AT Barr test yet they would not cut your fingers unless you snaped the blade back.

Best Regards,
Mike Turber
BladeForums Site Owner and Administrator
Do it! Do it right! Do it right NOW!

[This message has been edited by Mike Turber (edited 05 May 1999).]
i decided not to wait to see if any of my liner locks would eventually chop my fingers off - the only two knives i carry to use for hard work are my sebenza and benchmade 710 axis. i have seen a few posts from people that have had locks fail and cause damage. i work in a warehouse, and i use my knives fairly hard, so i prefer not to take the chance.

Generally I thing most failures causing injury involve using the knife to auger out holes and for stabbing into stuff. I have had knife failures, but they were all involving "above and beyond" abuse. Most common is the toggle of the lockback popping us and ending up onthe spine of the blade when subjected to extreme downward pressure.

But generally I think auging out holes is the primary injury causing action.

Heh. I *caused* a liner lock failure on a friend's Spyderco Cricket. No, I was not doing any cutting or 'using' it in any sense of the word, so I'm not sure this fits as 'in normal use,' but neither was I trying to force the lock to break.

I was sitting there watching TV and fooling with the Cricket in the same manner all of us have played with new knives. Ooooh...look it opens and clicks. ooooooh...look, it closes. oooooh.....it shaves. ooooohh....it's shiney. You know, like a neanderthal's first experience with fire. Anyway, I was holding it between my thumb and middle finger, with my index finger on the blade back and the back of the knife against my palm. I gave the tiniest pressure against the blade back and *CLICK* the lock disengaged and the blade snapped 1/2 way shut.

I stopped and looked down at the knife. I blinked. Remember, I was watching TV; I didn't even see what I'd done. So I fiddled for a few more seconds trying to replicate the failure, and viola! It snapped shut again.

Yes, this was a QC problem. The linerlock did not engage far enough against the tang. The guy has since sent it in to get fixed and has had no further problems. But I have no doubt that if he ever did anything with that knife, besides straight cutting, that the lock would have failed him. Of course, with the small size of the knife he was unlikely to get anything worse than a small cut, if that.

There's my single knife-lock-fails story.


Hey! Uncle Sam!

(_!_) Nyah nyah nyah!

Refund! You lose! :)

Mike, you can easily get a blade to fold on your fingers. For example if you are cutting into wood, slice too deeply, and pull back. There are also lots of ways which it can happen if you lose your grip or the knife slips or the material moves, anything which causes the pressure to be reversed and now press as to collapse the blade on your hand.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 05 May 1999).]
Though I haven't been able to afford as many knives as most people here, I have had a few in my time. Like most peopl, I have owned both quality stuff and absolute junk. I have never experienced a lock failure in everyday use, though I am often somewhat rough with my knives.

And even trying to make a lock fail, I have experienced very few. I once tried off and on for a week to make my CQC7 fail and couldn't do it. Ive also been recently playing with a friend's new BM Leopard and cant make it fail. I even tried to make another friend's knife (a cheap Boker rip-off made by a company called Jaguar) fail and to my surprise I couldn't even make that peice of junk fold! Though I still would not trust a knife like that.

To sum it all up, I think that lock failures during actual use may not be quite as common as a lot of people think. And failures that actually result in injury are probably even fewer in number.
I posted awhile back about a CRKT Kiss lock failing.
I was slicing open some ready-mix concrete bags and not once but twice, the blade folded.
The only thing that saved me from being cut is that the blade was still inside the bag both times.
Needless to say, the Kiss has been retired.

C.O.'s-"It takes balls to work behind the walls "

Glad you told me about that one. Ill be sure to stay away from those. Dont you think the reason for that type of failure is probably because of the unusual design of the KISS? There is nothing that keeps your hand off of the "liner" that locks the blade in place, so it does make sense that this design may be more prone to failure when tightly gripping the knife.
I would be hesitant to brand a particular knife unsuitable because of one failure. My recent experience with a Spyderco Military being a case in point. It had the weakest lock I have ever seen on a lock blade including cheap knockoffs. It would close as soon as my grip tightened. Now does that indicate that the Military is a poor design or that I simply got a lemon? Very likely the latter I would expect.

In regards to lock's failing in general. What is the most dangerous is older knives that the lock has weakened on due to wear. It can drop to a level of security below what you expect and then you are cut. As for the number of accidents, just ask WW, I am sure he will be share a couple of lost finger stories with you.


That is exactly why the lock failed. If you are right-handed, your thumb automatically rests on the lower portion of the knife,which is indeed the lock itself.


I carried that knife for many months and never thought twice about it's reliability.
After that incident, I have absolutely no reservations about warning people away from that knife. I also own a number of other CRKT knives (Apache,Mirage) and have had no problems with them nor have any reservations about selling them.
I've never had one fail before. But I also like to think I've been careful and conscientious about lock failures.

Strictly for normal, everyday utility use, I think just about any half-way decent lock is good. Even slip joints are fine if used properly. But the key word here is using them PROPERLY; within the knife's capabilities.

Sometimes, the lock itself is not always the sole culprit. If the blade is also involved in piercing jobs of any sort, you might want to find a blade with either a lower guard or a dropped guard. Even folders can possess such characteristics. Many people hurt themselves when they attempt this type of feat without something as simple as a minimal guard. A good AFCK can easily do the job, as it has done for me over the years.

But if the tasks are so demanding such that both the handle design AND the lock needs to be better than most, the only recommendation I can make for now is to get REKAT's Carnivour. As a fighting folder, it is what I trust my life with when I am out and about. And if need be, I can handle just about any utility chores with utter confidence.

Sooner or later, the issue ultimately comes down to the user itself. No matter how good lock is, or how many there are, it is up to the user to be careful not to get hurt. Like driving a car, you can have air bags, side impact beams, and you can religiously wear your seat belts, but nobody but yourself is responsible to make sure you don't crash.
My impression is that most people don't use their folder very hard. Opening mail, zipping open tape to open boxes, cleaning your nails; you don't need the best lock in the world for these things. As a result, most people have never seen a lock fail in actual use. Also as a result, you can get a VERY distorted picture of lock failures if you look at the entire spectrum of folder users.

If you are a harder-use user, failures become more frequent. What's particularly disturbing is when you talk to the defensive-knife cliques who actually test their knives in heavy bags and the like. The number of failures can be outright frightening. Talking with those guys, you'd think just about everyone has either had a lock fail on them, or seen one fail on someone else. The damage done to hands and fingers can be gruesome.

So now each user has a decision. If you decide you're not a hard-use user, by all means don't worry the locks too much. If you want to stick your head in the sand, hey, they're your fingers. If you're a hard user, or want to depend on this knife for defense, you should think hard about how many failures other hard users have seen in use, and decide what kinds of tests would make you feel more comfortable about your lock.

There's one type of user many of us fall into. It's the medium-use user, but who also carries for defense. In regular use, they only work the knife medium-hard, without hard thrusting and torquing, so they NEVER SEE A FAILURE. And since defensive knife use is rare, most of these folks will never see a failure in use, ever. However, in the unlikely event they do use their knife for defense, now they're in hard-use territory, and can get unpleasantly surprised.

My interest in liner lock failures began with an almost-failure in use, doing a not-too-hard workout for defensive practice.

D#$% it another double tap. So sorry.

[This message has been edited by William Johnson (edited 06 May 1999).]
The only knives I have ever had "fold" or almost fold on me were those without locks. Granted I don't dig, pry or kill bad guys with mine, but I have put them to work form time to time without problems.
Of course now I use the Military or Sebenza almost exclusively, although I just acquired a Cold Steel Master Tanto that is just screaming to be abused a little.
I am not normally to worried about my knives failing on me, but it is nice to know which ones have a tendancy to buckle under pressure.
Just another $0.02 in the pot.

God bless!

Romans 10:9-10

"Military" Fans Unite!!
I should have been more specific as it probably gave the wrong impression. All of my folders (except the Carnivour but it's too early to tell) have failed before during either testing or some form of limited practice. This is especially true when the objective was to make them fail.

But after assessing what a folder is actually capable of and what is not, if a person plans to use that folder for defensive use, the next step is to conform your techniques based strictly on what is within the tool's capabilities. This will greatly minimize the likelihood of, among other things, lock failures. This is one of the reasons why my fighting strategy and tactics with folders varies with my fixed blades, and I dare say I may not be the only one.

Now, in an ideal world, I would never have to make any concessions from my personal expression. It is my hope that one day a folder will come along and fill those big shoes. My hope currently lies in the Carnivour, but only time will tell.
Put me in the category of users who stab heavy bags. I did have a liner lock failure with a folder when thrusting at a heavy bag. The folder had a modified blade which was blunt and dull so I did not have an injury from the lock failure. The dull blade did hit my index finger, however.

This did cause me concern. As a result of the incident, I have a Rolling lock Crawford Kasper Fighting Folder on order with 1" of unsharpened edge near the hinge for added insurance. Call me paranoid, but I like the peace of mind.

I recall someone cutting their finger due to a liner lock failure while doing thrusts against rolled carpet. I think he was using a Genesis, but don't quote me.

I usually wear a fixed blade where legal.

I have caried a Junglee Foreign Legion for about a year and have never had any trouble with the lock. I have completly abused the thing too. I once used it to split camp fire wood by hammering on the spine of the blade and still the liner snaps right in the center of the back of the blade with no play. Pretty good for a $40 knife!
I have not seen a quality liner lock fail. Classic example: the MicroTech SOCOM. The only time I've ever seen a QUALITY liner lock fail is when it is gripped in such a way as to compromise the lock. But lockbacks (particularly the old "rocker" designs) are even worse at this.

To me, what makes the Rolling Lock great, is not the way it locks, but the fact that no matter how you choose to grip the knife, your fingers are nowhere near the lock release. I would venture to say that with QUALITY liner locks (i.e., models where a good liner lock design has been precisely executed), this is where the majority of failures occur.

I'm still looking for the perfect lock.


Knife lover, Philosopher, Humanitarian, and All-around nice guy
(all right, so I'm just a knife lover)
Hmm. Hmm hmm hmm.

Joe Talmadge and a few other people make this point, and bring it up with a certain consistency:

"What's particularly disturbing is when you talk to the defensive-knife cliques who actually test their knives in heavy bags and the like. The number of failures can be outright frightening. Talking with those guys, you'd think just about everyone has either had a lock fail on them, or seen one fail on someone else."

Okay. That argument is only really relevent if we're talking about CONTINUOUS hard use. As a strike against the use of a quality linerlock as a defensive weapon, it would fall into the realm of 'abuse of statistics,' though doubtless not intentional abuse.

1. Defensive tactics with a linerlock constiture 'hard use.'

2. Actual employment of defensive tactics is a rare event. How many of you have been in more than one knife fight with the same knife? Anyone?

The argument against linerlocks (or folders in general) is that they fail under _repeated_ abuse. That is NOT the issue at hand. The issue at hand is how likely are they to fail on their FIRST hard use? Joe? How many liner lock failures have you seen on a QUALITY linerlock, pre-screened with all of your liner-lock tests, on it's FIRST exposure to hard use?

Now, that said, I'll be the first to say that:

1. It can still happen, even with a quality linerlock on it's first hard use. Life is a game of odds. Other lock types are probably more secure, given. But how secure is 'secure enough?'

2. If any of the above assumptions are not met, my argument goes right out the window. If you train and drill with your linerlock, it will be more likley to fail. Get a trainer. If you use and abuse it as a work-knife and then use it in a fight (or a bag workout) it will also be more likely to fail.
My AFCK is a dedicated self defense blade, for exactly this reason.

Okay. Flame away!


Hey! Uncle Sam!

(_!_) Nyah nyah nyah!

Refund! You lose! :)