The Umnumzaan is a folding pocket knife manufactured by Chris Reeve Knives of Boise, Idaho, and designed by Chris Reeve. The name “Umnumzaan” is derived from the Zulu language, meaning “Head of the family,” or “Boss” (colloq.), a tribute to Mr. Reeve’s South Africa origins. The Umnumzaan was designed to meet the needs of operators seeking a heavy-duty folder capable of handling heavy use and even abuse. Building upon the Sebenza’s success, the Umnumzaan features: a stronger pivot joint, a thicker blade, a different blade grind with a reinforced tip, improved ergonomics, thicker titanium handles, a thicker titanium lock bar, a (more…)
A switchblade (also known as an automatic knife, pushbutton knife, ejector knife, switch, Sprenger, Springer, flick knife, or flick blade) is a type of knife with a folding or sliding blade contained in the handle which is opened automatically by a spring when a button, lever, or switch on the handle or bolster is activated. Most switchblade designs incorporate a locking blade, in which the blade is locked against closure when the spring extends the blade to the fully opened position. The blade is unlocked by manually operating a mechanism that unlocks the blade and allows it to be folded and (more…)
The Swiss Army knife is a pocketknife or multi-tool manufactured by Victorinox AG (and up to 2005 also by Wenger SA). The term “Swiss Army knife” was coined by American soldiers after World War II due to the difficulty they had in pronouncing “Offiziersmesser”, the German name. The Swiss Army knife generally has a main spearpoint blade, as well as various tools, such as screwdrivers, a can opener, and many others. These attachments are stowed inside the handle of the knife through a pivot point mechanism. The handle is usually in its stereotypical red color, and features a Victorinox or Wenger (more…)
The Strider MARSOC SMF is a framelock folding knife that was specifically developed for Detachment 1, the first SOCOM unit of the United States Marine Corps. The Strider SMF was the first knife issued to an individual Marine Corps unit in over 60 years and the first tactical folder issued within the USMC.
The SMF knife is manufactured by Strider Knives of Escondido, California. The knife features a drop point flat ground tiger striped blade of CPM S30V steel. The handle is composed of a fire anodized titanium frame, oil impregnated bronze bushings, an oversized pivot screw in diameter, and a textured (more…)
A slipknife knife is one of the most ubiquitous types of pocket knives. A slider knife consists of a handle with one or more folding blades. These blades are held in position by a strong “backspring” which solicits them to the open or closed position. Compare it with the Penny knife, which has no locking mechanism other than friction, or locking knives that mechanically lock the blade in position.
The United States has produced a massive range of slide knife designs from the mid-19th century to the present day. Here is a list of representative models and their characteristics:
In a number of (more…)
An OTF Knife, also known as an out-the-front knife, sliding knife, or telescoping knife, is a pocketknife with a blade that opens and closes through a hole in one end of the handle. Contrast this with the majority of knives, which are either standard folding knives or are “fixed blade” sheath knives (having no mechanical operation). “OTF” only refers to the basic portion of the knife’s mechanical operation where the blade slides parallel with the handle to deploy. OTF knives may be further subdivided into manual sliding knives, which are not restricted as inertia knives, and automatic OTF switchblade knives and (more…)
The Sebenza is a folding pocket knife made by Chris Reeve Knives of Boise, Idaho. It is built with a stainless steel blade and a titanium handle. Its handle functions as a lock mechanism similar to the Walker linerlock concept, in that the handle itself forms the locking bar that keeps the blade open. This mechanism was invented by Chris Reeve and is called Reeve Integral Lock (R.I.L). It is also known as Framelock, and is one of the most widely used locking systems in the folding knife industry, where the strength and reliability of locks are a product requirement. The (more…)
The SARK (Search and Rescue Knife) or NSAR (Navy Search and Rescue) is a folding knife designed by knifemaker Ernest Emerson for use as a search and rescue knife by the US military. It has a hawkbill with a blunt tip in order to cut free trapped victims without cutting them in the process. There is a variant with a pointed-tip designed for police, known as the P-SARK (Police Search and Rescue Knife).
After a helicopter crash in 1999, which resulted in the deaths of six marines and one sailor, the United States Navy performed an assessment of its equipment and decided, (more…)
Rybička (English: Little Fish) is a small Czech pocketknife with a fish-shaped neck. It has been produced since the first decades of the 20th century. The knife was particularly popular during the socialist period in Czechoslovakia. It was appreciated as a simple and small tool used for mushroom picking, a traditional Czech hobby. It was very popular and sold in large numbers on the Czechoslovak market. Since 2014, it has been produced by Mikov in Mikulášovice, Czech Republic.
The design of the Rybička knife apparently comes from the production of Jan Maixner’s cutlery workshop, but it only gained popularity after Ignaz Rösler (more…)
The resòlza, also known as resòrza, resòrja or arresòja, is a traditional Sardinian folding-blade fighting and utility knife. In Sardinia, this term is widely used to describe all foldable knives. Like the straight razor, the resolza’s blade folds into the handle when not in use. Although the blade traces its origins to the Nuragic civilization, since it has always served as a nearly indispensable tool for agro-pastoral work, the word’s origin dates from around the 17th century: the term in Sardinian is derived from the Latin rasoria, which translates to for “razor used for shaving”. Back in those times, the resolza (more…)
The penny knife dates from the 18th century and was a very basic utility knife, originally with a fixed blade. It received the name penny knife for what it reportedly cost in England and America during the late 18th century: one penny. The famous ”Fuller’s Penny Knife” helped build the reputation of Sheffield, England cutlers in the pre-industrial era of the early 18th century.
The penny knife would later evolve into a very simple, mass-produced pocketknife with a folding blade, which pivoted freely in and out of the handle without a backspring or other device to hold it in position (other than (more…)
A penknife, or pen knife, is a British English term for a pen that looks like a knife. One popular folk etymology makes an association between the size of a penknife and a small ballpoint pen, however the phrase “penknife” is much older. Originally, penknives were used for thinning and pointing quills to prepare them for use as dip pens and, later, for repairing or re-pointing the nib. They did not necessarily have folding blades, but resembled a scalpel or wood knife by having a short, fixed blade at the end of a long handle. Today the word penknife is the (more…)
A pantographic knife or (incorrectly) paratrooper knife is a folding knife whose blade is opened by a unique scissors method. The blade has a slightly longer tang than a folding knife heel. The handle is symmetrically segmented and articulated to fold away on both sides to grip the longer tang. The manner is similar to a balisong knife (also called a butterfly knife in western countries)—with which it is often confused. Unlike the balisong knife handles that swing freely and independently, the pantographic knife uses a pantograph linkage to keep the handles aligned during opening and closing. The pantographic knife is (more…)
The Opinel company has manufactured and marketed a line of eponymous wooden-handled knives since 1890 from its headquarters in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, Savoie, France—where the family-run company also operates a museum dedicated to its knives. The company sells approximately 15 million knives annually. Opinel knives are made of both high carbon and stainless steel, the latter being the highest quality Sandvik steel from Sweden. Originally sold as a working man’s knife, an Opinel knife has become emblematic of French culture, with Pablo Picasso reportedly using one of the company’s knives as a sculpting tool. In 1989, the Larousse dictionary cited “Opinel” as a (more…)
The Okapi is a ratchet-lock clasp or slipjoint knife originally produced in 1902 for export to Germany’s colonies in Africa. The knife takes its name from the giraffe-like central African okapi. Okapi knives are no longer produced in Germany; in 1988, Okapi South Africa (then trading as All Round Tooling) bought the trademark and tooling and began producing the Okapi line of knives in South Africa. The South African Okapi lockback knives are produced with carbon or stainless steel blades, with or without serrations. The most commonly found Okapi knives in Africa are made of resin impregnated wood (usually cherry) and (more…)
The Nontron knife is a traditional wooden-handled knife manufactured in the village of Nontron in the Dordogne area of southern France, in a tradition said to date back to the 15th century. The handle is usually of boxwood. Nontron knives are decorated with pokerwork designs based on a distinctive logo, and are now highly prized as a style item.
The Nontron penknife is similar in appearance to the cheaper and much more widespread Opinel knife, though the blades and handles are more various in shape. Nontron also manufacture a variety of table cutlery, chefs knives, and carving knives. Many of these use (more…)
The navaja is a traditional Spanish folding-blade fighting and utility knife. One of the oldest folding knife patterns still in production, the first true navajas originated in the Andalusian region of southern Spain. In Spain, the term navaja is often used to generally describe all folding-blade knives.
The etymology of the word navaja is derived from the Latin novacula, meaning razor, and the Andalusian knife known as the navaja is thought to have derived from the navaja de afeitar, or straight razor used for shaving. Like the straight razor, the ”navaja’s” blade folds into the handle when not in use. A popular (more…)
The Mercator K55K is a type of pocketknife produced in Germany since around 1867. Mercator knives were primarily produced by Hy. Kauffmann, which was operational from 1856 to 1995. The Mercator K55K knife is still produced in Germany by Mercator, now a division of Otter-Messer.
The Mercator K55K is of very simple construction: The handle consists of a folded piece of sheet metal, usually painted black, engraved with the outline of a leaping cat and the legend “K55K”, with the second “K” being backwards. The blade has a nail-nick by which it may be grasped to pull it open, and it locks (more…)
The Marjacq knife is a folding knife made at Thiers in France. The blade is of stainless steel and the handle is of boxwood, olive-wood or ebony, and there is a locking-ring to hold the blade in position, similar to that found on Opinel knives.
The Linerlock is a locking mechanism for folding pocket knives. A Linerlock is a folding knife with a side-spring lock that can be opened and closed with one hand without repositioning the knife in the hand. The lock is self-adjusting for wear. The modern Linerlock traces its lineage to the late 19th century, but in the 1980s the design was improved by American custom knifemaker Michael Walker.
Linerlock knives have been around since the late 19th century. The Cattaraugus liner locking patent, 825,093 was issued on July 3, 1906. After 1923 when the patent expired, it was used by other manufacturers such (more…)
Lake and Walker Knife Safety (LAWKS) is a patented folding knife attachment using the Walker Linerlock, designed by Knifemakers renowned members Ron Lake and Michael Walker. Safety is available in two versions: the original LAWKS and Columbia River Knife & Tool’s patented AutoLAWKS system. These additions increase manufacturing and engineering costs, but increase safety and security.
The original LAWKS mechanism consists of a switch on the knife handle, connected to the liner lock. When you retreat, the lock of the sheath can easily be pushed back to close the knife. But when the safety switch is pushed forward, it acts as an (more…)
The Laguiole knife (, locally ) is originally a high-quality traditional Occitan pocket-knife, originally produced in the “knife-city” of Thiers where 70% of the French cutting tool production comes from, and in the small village of Laguiole, both located in the Massif central region of France. “Laguiole” is neither a trademark nor a company name. Rather, the name “laguiole” became associated with a specific shape of a traditional knife common to this area.
The major influence on the form of the classic laguiole is most likely the Arabo-Hispanic clasp knife of Andalusian Spain, the navaja. The laguiole was first designed in 1829 (more…)
The “”’Jacob’s ladder”'” is a type of pocketknife consisting of two handle segments joined by a pivot, with a blade connected by a second pivot to the end of one handle segment. The design presumably takes its name from the multi-jointed wooden toy also known as a Jacob’s ladder, which is itself named after the ladder to heaven witnessed by the biblical patriarch Jacob (Genesis 28:12).
It is conceptually similar to the balisong (“butterfly knife”) in that it has no mechanical lock or spring pressure, but is kept in the open position during use by the leverage imparted by the user’s hand.
A is a type of folding pocket knife originating in Miki, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan in 1896. The knife has no locking system, but is a friction folder or “penny knife”, using the friction of the swivel or the pressure of the user’s thumb on its iconic lever or chikiri, to prevent the knife from folding during use. The handle of the Higonokami is made of a folded over sheet of metal. The handle is stamped with the name of the maker of the knife and the steel used in the blade. Higonokami refers to “Lord-of-Higo”. Higo was an old province in (more…)
A gravity knife is a knife with a blade contained in its handle, and which opens its blade by the force of inertia or gravity. As the gravity knife requires gravity or spinning motion to propel the blade out of the handle, it differs fundamentally from the switchblade, which opens its spring-propelled blade automatically upon the push of a button, switch, or fulcrum lever. The main purpose of this opening method is that it allows opening and closing to be done one handed, in situations where the other hand is occupied. A major historical use has been in issue to parachutists (more…)
The douk-douk is a French-made pocket knife of simple sheet-metal construction. It has been manufactured by the M. C. Cognet cutlery firm in Thiers, France, since 1929.
The external engraving of the douk-douk was created in 1929 by Gaspard Cognet of Cognet, Antoine & Gaspard for sales to France’s colonies in Oceania. The handle depicts a “douk-douk”, or Melanesian spirit incarnation. Cognet based the design on an engraving in an illustrated dictionary. Later other designs such as the “El Baraka” and “Tiki” were developed for other regional markets, particularly in French Algeria, and even south into Sub-Saharan Africa. Originally intended as an (more…)
The CQC-6 (Close Quarters Combat — Six) or Viper Six is a handmade tactical folding knife with a tantō blade manufactured by knifemaker Ernest Emerson. Although initially reported as the sixth design in an evolution of fighting knives and the first model in the lineup of Emerson’s Specwar Custom Knives, Emerson later revealed that the knife was named for SEAL Team Six. It has a chisel-ground blade of ATS-34 or 154CM stainless steel and a handle made of titanium and linen micarta. The CQC-6 is credited as the knife that popularized the concept of the tactical folding knife.
The CQC-6 has a (more…)
The Commander (knife) is a large recurve folding knife made by Emerson Knives, Inc. that was based on a custom design, the ES1-M, by Ernest Emerson that he originally built for a West Coast Navy SEAL Team. It was winner of the Blade Magazine Overall Knife of the Year Award for 1999.
The Commander has its origins with Emerson’s CQC-8 or “Banana” folding fighting knife based on the Bob Taylor Warrior Knife and the Bill Moran ST-23: a knife designed with the blade in line for reverse grip or sabre grip fighting. This knife became popular among the British SAS and the (more…)
A balisong, also known as a fan knife, a butterfly knife or a Batangas knife, is a folding pocket knife. Its distinct features are two handles rotating in the opposite direction around the silk, so that when closed, the blade is concealed in the grooves of the handles. A balisong with the lock on the “safe” handle, opposite the cutting edge, is called a Manila file. Balisong was commonly used by Filipinos, especially those in the Tagalog area, as a self-defense and pocket knife. A common stereotype is that a Batangueño wears one wherever he goes. Hollow ground balisongs were also (more…)
An assisted-opening knife is a type of folding knife which uses an internal mechanism to finish the opening of the blade once the user has partially opened it using a flipper or thumbstud attached to the blade. The first assisted opening knife was designed by Blackie Collins in 1995 and was named the “Strut-and-Cut”; it was based on the strut of his Ducati motorcycle. A similar concept was developed three years later by knifemaker Ken Onion with Onion’s idea based on a similar mechanism in his Harley Davidson motorcycle. Onion applied for a patent on his design in 1998. When the (more…)
A pocketknife is a foldable knife with one or more blades that fit inside the handle that can still fit in a pocket. It is also known as a jackknife or jack-knife. A typical blade length is . Pocket knives are versatile tools, and may be used for anything from opening an envelope, to cutting twine, slicing a piece of fruit or even as a means of self-defense.
The earliest known pocketknives date to at least the early of Iron Age. A pocketknife with a bone handle was found at the Hallstatt Culture type site in Austria, dating to around 600-500 BCE. (more…)