Locks on Folders...

Mar 19, 2000
Whick type of lock is the strongest and reliable: axis lock, liner lock or lock backs ? And which one do you prefer to have on your folders?
I still prefer the Integral Bar lock used on the Sebenza for reliability and strength. I have to give good marks to the Axis Lock, it is holding up well over two years after release.
This question has been asked before, I'll see if I can shorten my previous replies. The frame lock, Axis lock and Rolling lock are all strong reliable locks. I wouldn't buy
a knife solely on the lock system used! Consider your requirements and choose a knife accordingly. All the locks mentioned above will handle just about anything thrown at them. The Linerlock and Lockback are good locks, I just think the others are better. Try doing a search on this subject, there has been a lot of information given in past threads.

To answer your last question I have been buying REKAT knives with the Rolling Lock lately.

A Pat on the Back is only a few inches from a Kick in the Butt.

[This message has been edited by Easyrider (edited 02-17-2001).]
Hehe, let's see if we can get through this without bloodshed. As Easyrider said, don't choose solely on the lock system. Personally, I prefer the Axis lock. This is both becuase it is extremely strong, and, just as importantly, because it is fully ambidextrous. The Rolling Lock offers similar advantages, but it strikes me as overly complex, internally. Still, I wouldn't hesitate to purchase one, if I happend to personally like REKAT's designs. The only thing that really gives me pause is the lockback, since it is less convenient to operate one-handed.


To some extent, I personally consider strength a moot point. All of these locks, if implemented right, easily have the strength to handle anything I would throw at it. However, theoretically, I'd say the axis, rolling lock, arc lock, and integral lock are all probably a step above the liner lock and lockback in strength.

Reliability depends on both the basic strengths of the design, and the actual execution. So far, the lock I'm most confident of is the axis. The integral lock is also very well-proven in my mind. On paper, the integral lock looks the simplest and hence the most reliable, but I feel that the vulnerability of tang-block locks to torquing doesn't give it any practical advantages over its more-complex cousins. The arc lock has tons of potential, but just hasn't been out quite long enough for me to be completely sure of it.

Although I agree with the sentiment above that I wouldn't buy a knife solely on the lock, the reverse isn't true for me -- I do avoid a knife based solely on the lock at times. I personally don't have enough faith in the reliability of liner locks to buy one. I feel the lockback is a well-proven lock (although there are some known vulnerabilities to test for), especially at lower price points, although some very beefy and reliable lockbacks at mid-end and even high-end price points are also around, e.g., Spyderco's Chinook on the production end, and Steve Mullin's incredible utility folder on the semi-production end. At the high end, if a knife had an axis, integral, rolling lock, or arc lock, and I otherwise liked the knife, I don't think I'd hesitate in buying it.

Can someone tell me how an integral lock works? I think I've been confusing it with a liner lock.

--Bob Q
I'm sure someone else can explain it better than I can, but it's basically a liner-lock where part of the handle is the liner.

So part of the handle is locking the blade, and theoretically, the harder you squeeze the knife, the tighter the lock-up. It's also a simple design, so it's easier to clean, and there's less mechanisms that can fail.

It's used on the Sebenezas, BM 750, and CRKT S-2.


[This message has been edited by Dragon1 (edited 02-18-2001).]
Thanks for explaining the integral lock! It's more or less what I thought it was, but I understand now why it really isn't the same as a liner lock.

--Bob Q
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Fung:
Whick type of lock is the strongest and reliable: axis lock, liner lock or lock backs?</font>
D: None of the above.
I happen to think the Opinel style twistlock is more reliable, as it's less likely to be fouled either locking or unlocking.
Strength is pretty irrelevant as a folder is inherently a weak knife when it comes to twisting and bending.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">And which one do you prefer to have on your folders?</font>
Here comfort and convenience has a bigger influence.
Liner locks makes for convenient knives, but hardly comfortable handles. Lockbacks are "good enough" regarding ease of use and usually with comfortable handles, so they come in a bit ahead of twistlocks.

Urban Fredriksson www.canit.se/%7Egriffon/
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I really like the axis lock. It is reliable and strong. A liner lock that is well done is also fine. I carry a Spyderco Wegner frequently and have never had it fail. I believe a lock is only as good as the company producing it.

Oh, and don't forget the compression lock.

Dennis Bible


<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Griffon:

Strength is pretty irrelevant as a folder is inherently a weak knife when it comes to twisting and bending.</font>

I don't think I agree here. Sure, a folder will be weaker than a fixed blade, but that doesn't lead mem to conclude that strength is irrelevant. I'm not going to simply accept that many folders locks fail in response to twisting and bending -- it means folder makers need to find better ways of doing things. And they have -- my axis lock can take an astounding amount of twisting and bending, to the point that I think the handle will pop apart or the blade will break before I break that lock. Once you get to this level of strength, then any further increases in strength may be irrelevant. Or maybe it means that the next evolution should look at better structural integrity of the handles, to catch them up to the locks.


In regards to strength being irrelevant as its enough for normal use. Well yes certainly if the numbers usually quoted (torques) represented actual use limit points. However they are generated in very artifical situations. During use by a human being you are not exerting a force 100% vertically, not is it a smooth continuous action, nor do you have the necessary binding pressure on the handle to keep it together etc. .

When you add all these factors together you can reduce the 1000+ in.lbs break torques to under 100 in.lbs which any one can easily do during use. And I am not talking about disengages either but actually breaking the locking mechanism. With liner locks you can break pieces out of the liner face or shear them out of square and do the same thing with Integral locks.

The thing here is that the locks don't engage all of the tang but just a portion of it. Thus during use when they move around you can get them into position where the tang is just on part of the liner and thus the contact pressure is amplified many times over what it would be during full engagement and you can thus cause a break under low to moderate force.

A more stable lock engages the tang across its full width and thus there is no possibilty of this kind of amplification. The Rolling lock is one such example.

Joe Talmadge:

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">maybe it means that the next evolution should look at better structural integrity of the handles, to catch them up to the locks.</font>

Definately, again using the Rolling lock, both Escalators that I have one loan from Andy Wires are very weak in regards to lateral forces. The handle starts to spread in the piviot area under low force and based on some light torques I don't think that significant damage would require excessive force. It would be interesting to see how strong the lock remained in regards to vertical forces once the handles started to spread but that is likely to damage the lock.

I will be interested to see how Busse Combat handles these issues in the design of their new folder.

This topic has certainly come up a lot over the years, but it is one that warrants revisiting IMHO. My personal school of thought on locking mechanisms has changed slightly. Like Joe T., I too am a fan of mechs that resist human error (closing on fingers or failure otherwise) through their ergonomic design. I too deem this more important than overall strength, even though strength is a close derivative of reliability.

My reason for preferring the Axis mech over all others for the past two years is its resistance to long-term wear (also a derivative of reliability). My 705S's lock is stronger than it needs to be, but more importantly to me, it still locks up tight and securely after endless flicking. BM's Axis line in general seem to me to have been designed with flickers in mind.

The Rekats, God love them, are great. I love my Carnivore, though I agree with Eutopia that they're just a little unrefined.

The only folder that causes my 705S some jealous feelings is the small Sebenza. What a knife, what a lock... handling it in essence promotes its attributes. My only fear with the small Sebenza (and I spoke to Mr. Reeve for about an hour about it one day recently) is resistance to long-term wear. While the locking bar is thick, it is still a locking bar, subject to the same wear and tear (albeit slower) than all integral locks and liner locks are known for.

I want to be wrong about the Sebenza. I want to carry it; it beckons to my pocket. Mr. Reeve explained that in 10 years, he's had very, very few of his Sebenza's come back for lock readjustment. Based on his talents as a designer and maker as evidenced my CR knives, I believe him wholeheartedly. But for now, the 705S is my carry folder of choice for the aforementioned reasons.


[This message has been edited by Professor (edited 02-19-2001).]
I also love the Axis locks for reasons mentioned above.

One advantage of lockbacks compared to the other locking mechanisms popular today is that, unlike others, the lockback (if properly executed and cared for) has been proven to be reliable on folders that have been used in some cases for 30 years. But the verdict is still out on the linerlock, framelock, rolling lock, and Axis lock. (although the Axis and rolling locks seem to resist wear better than any other locks, IMO their possible weak point is in the springs).

My late dad (bless his soul) had carried and used an older Buck 110 with convex edge grind on the job for years without caring for it much, and it still is good...only a bit of play in the lock now, though.


As far as I can see, the only advantage lockbacks have over any other locking mechanism (if properly executed and cared for)is...about 20 years. I am not familiar with the axis lock (I plan on having a BM940 soon), but I find the other lock types to be more than adequate for most uses. I prefer 'integral' type locks myself, perhaps for their simplicity of design and cleaning.

Time will tell I guess.

I'm very favorably impressed by the new Spyderco Compression Lock. It's as simple as a liner lock, but as strong as any of the new fancy arcing-rolling-axial locks. It seems like it will resist wear well, and strikes me as being at least as hard to accidentally disengage as the axis or rolling locks. As of right now, I believe it's only available on the Gunting, which is probably why you don't hear so much about it, but once you get away from the gadget factor, I think this lock is superior to Benchmade's, SOG's, and REKAT's offerings.
I'm pleased liner locks have been put in perspective. I've had mixed results with them. Now the rave is over, the faults should be pointed out. A useful lock but not the be all to end all.

Backlocks, may be out of fashion, but are still excellent when done properly. They have stood the test of time.

I'd like to put a word in for slip locks as found on penknives. On penknives they work. They are the best education on what you can and can't do with a little blade. They make you think, which is no bad thing and something that we should all do even with the best locks in the world. Humans are very good at breaking the limits of things.
For what it's worth, my grandad, a carpenter and glass man by trade, carried a two-blade Robeson for decades. He once told me that if you need a lock on your pocketknife, you probably shouldn't be carrying one in the first place.
mnblades, there is some truth in what your Father says, but I still feel better with a locking knife. I just think some people get too hung up on the locking system. I believe that find the knife you like first and then consider the lock. It is very easy to get caught up in the marketing hype these days.

A Pat on the Back is only a few inches from a Kick in the Butt.
I only feel comfortable with a folding knife if I know that the blade can't fold and bite me. The axis lock is my choice for smoothness, strength, and ease of use (720).