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Thumb hole, stud or disk

Nov 8, 1998
The thumb hole, stud and disk seem to be the most popular manual, one-handed opening devices out there currently. Do you think that one of these has a tactical advantage over the others?

Some writers have written that the stud or disk is easier to hit under stress. I have carried knives with studs (CS Voyager and
Crawford KFF) and holes (BM AFCK and Spyderco Cricket). I have had problems with the studs hanging up on clothing during the initial draw. I haven't determined a clear winner for opening yet.

There are some makers who offer you a choice on the opening device for a given knife model, i.e. Pat Crawford. Which one would
you choose and why?


If you ever meet Sal Glesser, of Spyderco, ask him to show you how fast he can pull out his Military model with the hole. He impressed the hell out of me and made me a believer in the hole. We were discussing Spyderco and the reason they don't make autos. He made his point quite well while at the same time saying "who needs an auto?".

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

I have to say that for me the thumb hole is the fastest and imo safest blade deployment...I have the spyderco lwt walker, and this blade wins hands down for deployment against the mini-socom.......i wish spyderco would make this blade larger 3.25 inch blade
and use bg-42 or 440 v for steel ...the aus......doesn't hold an edge to suit me.....

[This message has been edited by budman (edited 12 January 1999).]
I like a single reversable thumbstud. Dual Thumbstuds grab the inside of my pants during draw, the same with disks, but not as much so. Thumbstuds also allow me to snap open blades extremely fast. By flicking the thumbstud, intead of pushing it open, you can snap open the blade in a manner resembling an auto in speed (you can augment this by quickly twisting your wrist to add a little centrifugal force).

I have carried a SOG autoclip for three years (has an oblong hole in it), and my main gripe with holes in the blade, is the hole collecting grease & grime, and peanut butter & jelly, and other gook. I never used the hole to open the knife because of its tip up carry, I was able to draw and snap open the blade in one quick motion.

But that is just me.

I t seems to me that all variations of opening mechanisms are equally effective. It's only a matter of practicing the technique recquired of each individual knife.
i like the cold steel studs and have never had a problem with them. the thumb disk is equal in like to the studs.

i hate opening holes. they require the fingers to get too near the blade edge for my taste and caught my thumb once or twice on serations bacause of it.

[This message has been edited by memnoch (edited 07 January 1999).]
I prefer the thumb hole and disc myself. The stud seems to snag and hang up on gloves and clothing. The disc works quite well with gloves on. And both open super fast with practice.
Depends on the knife. However, I'm kind of partial to disks and studs over holes. No, there are no typo's in the previous sentence. The disk on my BM 975 works fine. So do the dual studs on my EDI Genesis.


I like all three, but on a case by case basis.

Never had any problems with disks. I like them because they are low profile and intrinsically ambidextrous.

Studs are hit and miss. Had a Leopard with a "blunt" stud (i.e., not a tiered one -- does that make sense) and it was hard to open. I love most all of my other ones. I swear I can open my Sentinel faster than any other knife I own.

I prefer the dual thumstuds for ambidextrous use.

Holes are the one with the most variation, IMHO. I love the one on the Military. However, the one on my Dragonfly is much harder to use (at least in part due to the small size of the knife and slipperiness of the steel handles). AFCK's vary alot to me: lots of problems with my BM812 and BM800BT, but none with my BM800S. In other words, I didn't care for the chambfering in combination with a smaller hole on slick BT2 coating, but had no problem on naked ATS-34.

So there's my long-winded, wishy-washy answer.

Clay Fleischer

"10,000 Lemmings Can't Be Wrong!"
The thumb hole offers two ways to open the knife: a thumb push, while gripping the handle, or pinching the blade at the hole between thumb and forefinger and flipping the handle down. The latter method is what makes the Spyderco Military a particularly fast opening knife. The blade hole is large, and at the top of that (in)famous SpydieHump, and not chamfered, so the knife won't slip from my grasp. My Benchmade 800SBT would be about as fast if it didn't have the chamfering around the edge of the hole.

The circular hole is, in my small experience, more effective than the lengthwise slot I've met on some knives from companies that didn't pay royalties to Spyderco.

There is a lot more variation in thumb studs and disks. I've met some I like, and some I don't like, but I haven't meditated long enough upon them to say who makes the best, except to say that my thumb does not like the combination of a strong backspring and an rough-finished thumb stud.



The opening device should have 3 attributes. First, it
should present the user with a large target. Second, it
should placed so that the thumb falls on it
naturally. Third, once the thumb touches the opening device,
it should naturally and easily stay engaged throughout the
opening process. Because these attributes can vary from user
to user -- where the thumb falls naturally for me may not be
where it falls naturally for you -- the ideal opening
devices and their placement can and do vary from user to
user, and from knife to knife.

For me, my favorite is easily the thumb hole. They present
the biggest target by far, and I find as long as the hole is
round, my thumb finds it and falls into it easily. Once in,
it stays in. I know guys who have long thumbs who have
trouble with thumb holes, however.

The thumb disk is my second fave. The top of the spine is
easy to find and an upward sweep of the thumb finds the disk
easily. Way more surface area is perpendicular to the blade
than with a thumb stud, so the disk is easier to find and it
catches your thumb and holds it.

The thumb stud is my least fave. Done very well, it can be
almost as good as a thumb disk. Make the slightest mistake
and it becomes small, hard-to-find, and
hard-to-hold-onto. My textbook bad thumbstud is on Cold
Steel's Voyagers. Zytel handles always make for a jerky
action, so a grippy thumb stud is mandatory. CS's smoothly
curving stud, combined with a stiff jerky action, does not
provide the ride I like. The thumb stud on Steve Mullins
Pack River folders is better. Its face is angled perfectly
to meet your thumb, rather than rounded. And the angled face
is perfectly knurled, enough to grip your thumb but not
enough to rip your skin.

Thumb studs over holes because of the variations in hole sizes between knives.

I've never owned a knife with a disk but after reading the posts I'll have to get one - sounds like the best for me, IMO.
Wow Joe....

I think I may start calling you Learned...

I would like to add something to what Joe said, but CD said it about chamfering.

One may want to keep an Eye out for my review of the Bob Kasper designed, Kevin Gentile modified AFCK and interview of Bob Kasper.

Marion David Poff fka Eye, one can msg me at mdpoff@hotmail.com

Patiently waiting for the Spyderco SpydeRench, Lum Chinese Chopper Folder, Rolling Lock, and Martial Series; Benchmade M2 Axis, M2 Axis AFCK, M2 Pinnacle; REKAT Escalator and Pat Crawford Design.

"The victorious Warrior wins first and then goes to war, while the defeated Warrior goes to war and then seeks to win" Sun-Tzu

I like a big meaty hefty blade I can snapopen, plus a stud. My favorite stud is the one that was on my CS Vaquero Grande...as I was walking out of the store I threw it in the gutter.

It unscrewed real nice, which IMHO is the most important attribute of a thumbstud.

Jim March
Hmm. Once again, Joe said something that exactly mirrored my line of thinking. Spooky.

For a custom knife idea, however, a knifemaker can supposedly come up with a system for an adjustable disc or stud. I believe an aftermarket disc already exists. By making a knife with a thin horizontal slit, one can conceivably make a stud that can be moved back and forth, and be tightened to the user's preference.

Back in the real life, like Joe, I prefer the hole, I can stand a good stud, and I don't prefer the disc. But I'll use any of them in a pinch when I need a knife.

[This message has been edited by SB (edited 10 January 1999).]
I wonder if anyone has ever combined a thumbhole with a disc/stud? You would have the large surface of the disc/stud to push against so your thumb wouldn't slip out of the hole, and your thumb would be in the hole for control. This could result in a very secure, smooth opener.

Axel, regarding your suggestion that one might conceivably combine a hole and a stud, I have devised a system such as this. On my Mini AFCK I was not pleased with the charactiristics of the opening hole. While I normally like, even prefer an opening hole if executed right (no chamfering, please), on the Mini AFCK I found I could enhance this relatively slippery hole's effectiveness in a couple of different ways.

1) Tie some string around the top part of the hole. I used red woodwind reed-tying cord carefully wrapped and tucked, finished with lacquer or epoxy.

2) Stick a bit of suitable material of proper dimensions on the blade just aft of the hole. I've used little pieces of adhesive-backed rubber--normally used on the soles of shoes to improve traction. This stuff is plenty sticky, surprisingly. I suppose you could attach a piece of plastic or metal or just about anything with the right kind of adhesive.

David Rock
Most of the time I lean towards the hole in the blade, but there are a couple of knives that have studs that I carry alot. My Benchmade Cub has a stud and it works like magic all the time. My Sentinal opens just as well but has one minor problem; when I'm drawing it the stud catches the edge of my pocket about 1/3 of the time. Also when putting it back in. I have to think about it to avoid it hanging up. So, now I look a little closer and try a couple of draws before I choose a knife that may need to be deployed REAL quickly.