Locks on Folders...

Putting the legal aspects aside,how does the automatics fit into here?I'm talking about BM,MT,and other quality autos.

mnblade, overall I agree with what your grandad says. The only thing that is not sufficient with the standard pocket-knife, and which led me into the "tactical" folder craze, is I can't for the life of me think of a single one that is one-hand opening, but doesn't have a lock. I can do without the lock (did for years on my standard carry), but the one-handed opening is a feature that I actually found to be lacking. I often ended up with one had full, and needing the knife open. Most of the time I managed to get it open through various contortions, but only because the knife had been carried so long and was so smooth. Once I sharpened that blade away, I couldn't do it with the new pocket knife.

IMO, if you treat a liner-lock with the respect that you would a non-locking folder, you probably won't get into trouble. To me, it isn't a lock, it's just something along the lines of a spring to keep the blade from folding under its own weight. If that makes any sense.

The most affectionate creature in the world is a wet dog. - Ambrose Bierce
Most dog owners are at length able to teach themselves to obey their dog. - Robert Morley

This subject does not yield easily to reason.
The latest and greatest rules.

I have examined the Axis lock, the liner lock, the integral lock, and the so-called lockback.
I have owned and used a Buck 110 (lockback) for 26 years.

I consider the lockback the strongest and most reliable lock by far.
Hugely so.

In a knife such as the Buck 110, the pivot pin for the locking lever determines its strength.
If one increases the dimensions of the pivot pin until if will not fail, then something else will.
From that perspective, the design itself has no inherent weakness.

Some folks place the axis lock above the lockback in strength, arguing that the liner will compress before the lock will fail.
That only identifies the liner as the weak point, and, as above, one could simply increase the dimensions of the liner until something else failed in its place.

I don't think one can argue convincingly in terms of strength regarding either the lockback or the axis lock, since one can simply keep increasing critical dimensions on either design until the respective knife becomes too unwieldy and thus impractical.

The other comparison between the axis lock and lockback often involves the effect dirt and debris have on positive opening and locking.

Advocates of the axis lock cite its open, self-cleaning design.
In comparison to the lockback, the axis lock has no acute angle locking slot that will readily accumulate and hold debris.
The axis lock does, however, have two openings and several bearing surfaces which can accumulate greasy dirt; and greasy dirt can take on a varnish-like patina which conceivably could prevent the transverse locking bar from sliding into its proper position on opening.
Conceivable, yes.
Probable, no.
I doubt if any of us will ever hear of an axis lock, manufactured by a reputable maker, failing to lock on opening.

Lockbacks have a notch machined in the tang of the blade into which the locking lever hook descends and thereby holds the blade in the locked position.
This notch, as anyone who carries a Buck, Cold Steel or Spyderco lockback knows, fills with crud.
Well, maybe the word fills overstates the case.
If I take a pipe cleaner and some WD-40 I can usually dig something out of there, maybe a smudge of something.
In 26 years of carrying lockbacks in the field, as a helicopter pilot surrounded by grease and dust, I have never had a lockback fail to lock authoritatively.
That puppy locks, and when I run my thumb down the spine I feel no raised ridge at the juncture of the locking lever and blade to indicate the locking hook has not fully seated itself.

Let me emphasize I have worked in greasy, dirty field environments around the world, literally around the world, including places too hot or too cold to touch metal without gloves, and places with abrasive dust that eats up 3500 hour compressors in 150 hours.
I have had the same Buck on my belt every hour of every work day.
It has never failed to lock open, completely, with a resounding snap and lock.

Lockbacks have a strong spring which forces the locking hook down into the locking recess, snap, much as the hammer on a revolver or pistol travels full range, from cock to cap despite the everyday crud that oiled handguns accumulate.

Some people don't like that spring.
It makes the knife too difficult to open.

If one uses the Benchmade Ascent as a reference lockback, I agree.
It seems Benchmade has gone out of its way to make the Ascent open as inelegantly as possible, to include a flat spot on the tang at mid-opening.
Benchmade probably inteded the flat spot as a safety to keep the blade from swinging shut on an unaware user's fingers on closing; and yet, I notice the Benchmade Axis locks do not have a corresponding flat spot as a safety.

In comparison, my Spyderco Native opens effortlessly.
I wouldn't call my Native a gravity knife, and that suits me fine since I travel places where they have laws against knives which will open by gravity, or the inertia generated by the flick of the wrist.

The Axis lock, in comparison, stands in jeopardy of definition as a gravity knife.
Nothing in my experience opens as fluidly and as effortlessly as an Axis lock.
Of course, just because the user can open an Axis lock with inertia, that doesn't mean he must; nor does it make the knife an inertia or gravity knife.
One pays his money and takes his chances.

When it comes to closing, some people describe lockbacks as too difficult to close with one hand; and others criticize lockbacks as vulnerable to unintended closing when squeezed by the hand.
A little conflicting data, there.

I have no difficulty closing any of my lockbacks single-handedly, with the exception of an old, rugged, over-sized RIGID (Trademark) folder with a man-sized spring.
They all require an intentional, as opposed to difficult or unintentional, effort to close them.

In another thread, far, far away, a forumite said he could unlock any lockback by simply squeezing very hard.
I don't mean to impugn this person or anyone else who says they can unlock a lockback of reasonable quality by squeezing it.
Nonetheless, my experience leads me to describe this as an impossibility.

Advocates of the Axis lock describe it as invulnerable to an unintentional unlocking.
However, in handling several Axis locks I see two ways of uintentionally unlocking the blade in desparate situations, and, for that reason I do not have as much total confidence in the Axis lock as I do in the lockback.

I do find the Axis lock mechanically elegant and fascinating.
I consider the design itself beautiful.

I would consider myself well outfitted with either a lockback or an Axis lock.
I prefer the lockback because I trust it, marginally, over the Axis lock in terms of either unintentionally unlocking or failing to lock.

Now, when it comes to strength, we need to get the engineers involved and run some apples to apples tests, 'cause otherwise I consider everyone's opinions as based on their intuitive evaluation of the respective designs and not based on fact.
That goes for my opinions, too.

I do not consider Benchmade a reliable source, since they have a marketing interest in the Axis lock, and I think they intentionally make the Ascent as crudely as they do in order to discredit the lockback.
After all, in order to sell people who presently have a good serviceable knife, on a new knife, Benchmade must make the present or old technology knife appear less reliable than the new technology knife.
Perception becomes reality, and Benchmade has certainly invested in the perceivable production quality of their Axis lock knives.

Wow and howdy!

Arguably, one could select the Axis lock over the lockback simply because of the quality Benchmade has put into their Axis lock models.
Super knives.

That fact, however, does not make the Axis lock superior to the lockback.

We would need to make a lockback based on the Benchmade 710's production values; having dual steel liners, premium components, first-class bearing surface polishing and optimal tolerances.
Benchmade won't make a lockback like that because it would only appeal to buyers seeking to upgrade in quality.
Benchmade wants to create additional buyers by creating a dissatisfaction or distrust of lockbacks.

If Benchmade manufactured a 710 as an Axis lock and as a lockback, then we could really test them and, I predict, we would find them equal except for personal preferences.

It won't happen.

Notice I have not included liner locks or integral locks in this discussion?
The integral locks have the strength, however, both designs remain more susceptible to inadvertent unlocking, however improbably, than either the Axis or the lockback.
In my humble opinion, the once touted liner lock represents the least desireable choice for reasons of reliability and strength.

That said, I would love to own a left-handed AFCK (not a II, but an original).
In fact, I may buy a right-handed AFCK for my daughter as her personal self-defense knife.

Luke 22:36, John 18:6-11, Freedom
If one takes care of the means, the end will take care of itself.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Joe Talmadge:
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.</font>
This I agree with, but as I see it, this isn't mostly influenced by the lock itself, but by the rest of the construction.
I've got a BM720, which I like but it's a bit limited as when it's suitable to use, which so far hasn't shown any tendencies to develop any blade play. But the lock itself only resists closing, not bending or twisting, so I think that a lockback that robust with a solid stop pin would work just as well except <em>maybe</em> against forced closing.
The ergonomic problem with the Axis lock in when in use is that it sort of forces you to put your thumb on the ramp. Moving the release to the rear of the handle would solve this, at the cost of increased complexity.

Urban Fredriksson www.canit.se/%7Egriffon/
Like the Professor, the thing I'm most concerned about is wear. A little bit of wear in the stop pin is trouble for both a liner lock and an integral lock. With the axis lock, it will take a LOT of wear to make the lock loose.

BTW, I own quite a few older lockbacks and almost everyone has play in the lock. I'm not sure why though but I suspect that unlike the axis, lockbacks also loosen with any wear.


I get some pleasure from finding a relentlessly peaceful use for a combative looking knife.
For long term rugged use, it is difficult to beat the Buck 110 lockback; just ask anyone who has had one for a long time - like me.

Aside from that, all I can say is what I hacve said before, the best folder is a full tang fixed blade. Too bad the sheeple make us carry folders.

Give me a fixed blade every time.
My eldest brother gave me a Buck 112 on my 16th birthday. I have carried that knife everywhere, and used it extensively. It still locks up tight and I trust it for all tasks. This May the knife will be 24 years old
You can't argue with results.

With all this talk about lockbacks, I wonder how the new Spyderco Chinook holds up against
the newer locks? I wonder if Spyderco tested it against the Axis and Rolling Locks? That would be interesting to know. BTW I carried a Buck #500 for 16 years all over the world during my time in the Air Force. I have to say it never failed on me once. A great little knife!

A Pat on the Back is only a few inches from a Kick in the Butt.
Strongest lock, I'd have to say is the Axis, but since it's only been around for a couple years the long term durability has yet to be proven. If you were to do a search of the forums, you'd find that every other kind of lock has been broken at one time or another by one or more of our umm...crazy members. No one has broken an axis lock to date, unless you count one guy who somehow accidentally unlocked the blade cutting bread. Here's a couple threads for references;

I always think we're going off track when we start talking about strength in a folder. A well-built liner lock or lockback will be plenty strong. The axis may be stronger, but what I really like is the reliability of the axis lock, that's why I'm willing to pay more for it.

Sal has said that Spyderco had certain strength requirements for the Chinook, and they couldn't build a liner lock strong enough, so they went with the beefy lockback you see on it. Which gives you an idea on how strong the Chinook's lock probably is -- very. The compression lock may be stronger, and I'm sure the integral compression lock stronger still, but Spyderco didn't want to come out with their new lock format on every single new model.

I'm very interested in the Chinook because it has a good working blade, and a lock format I'm willing to swallow (that is, not a liner lock

I have to confess some impatience until the CRKT new Bladelock model hits the streets. With no real explanation of the internal mechanics, the calmly say: "We believe this to be the strongest and most advanced lock system on any production knife today."

I'll be very interested to see if it is good enough to add something to the present discussion. IMO it is certainly a good looking knife, at a good price point, so there should soon be lots of them out to check, once it is released.