12 Best OTF Knives (Review Guide) In 2021
Out-The-Front, or OTF knives get their name from the fact that the blade immediately and automatically comes out-the-front, not the side, at the pressing or switching of a button on the knife’s handle. These knives are classified as pocket knives, and the first known patent for this type of knife was in 1860.
OTF knives are ideal for everyday cutting tasks, self-defense, and are an excellent accessory to carry for that weekend hunting or fishing trip. Like most products sold today, there are excellent OTF knives and some models that are just average. This best OTF knife review guide will show you our top picks for out-the-front knives, so you can make an informed decision if you’re shopping around for one.
At a Glance : Top 5 Pick For Best OTF Knives
The Best OTF Knife
Hogue Compound Automatic Knife
Hogue is a manufacturing company whose core business is the production of gun accessories. They only recently started to produce knives after partnering with custom knifemaker Allen Elishewitz.
If the few knife models they have made so far is anything to go by, they are all top-notch, you can expect some of the best knives from this brand.
The Compound OTF has a 3.50″ black finished tanto-style, CPM-S30V fully serrated steel blade. Its other features include a unique hexagonal geometric G-10 handle that looks good and offers extra grip, a double-action slide mounted on the spine for rapid opening and closing of the blade, and a tip down reversible pocket clip.
Its flat blade goes through tape, rope, wood, cardboard, and more easily. I have used it as an everyday carry knife for some months now to cut meat, clean fish, and even sharpen marshmallow sticks. I can say it has never let me down, and I love its fast blade deployment.
The Compound comes razor sharp and ready for use immediately after unpacking.
|Blade Length :||3.50"|
Viper Tec Ghost Knife
If you’re looking for a good out-the-front knife but don’t want to spend too much on it, you should consider buying the Viper Tech Ghost. This knife has some fantastic features for its price.
Some of its specs include a total knife length of 9″, blade length 3.5″, blade thickness 11″, 440c stainless steel blade, and a zinc alloy handle. The knife has a total weight of 8 oz, which makes it light, so you don’t have to feel like you are carrying a massive load in your pocket.
This stainless steel knife is available in multiple blade styles and colors. You can use it for several purposes, which include hunting and kitchen duties.
If you buy the Viper Tec Ghost, be careful when unpacking it. The knife is hand sharpened, making it incredibly sharp and also ready to use right out the box.
|Blade Length :||3.5"|
Microtech Combat Troodon Knife
Microtech is a well-known knife brand that produces a wide range of high-quality knives. The Microtech Combat is one of their best out-the-front knife models.
This knife’s overall length is 9.50″, and it comes with a high-end CTS-204P steel blade that is 3.80″ long and 0.13″ thick. The blade has a fully serrated edge, and the knife’s handle is made of anodized aluminum, which makes it durable.
I like the Microtech Combat Troodon because it is available in different colors, finishes, and materials. So you’re likely to find one that you want. I also like that the knife has a glass breaker on its handle’s edge, and a pocket clip.
Well built and stylish this knife doesn’t come cheap, but if you’re looking to buy a top-of-the-line knife, the Microtech Combat Troodon should be on your list despite the hefty price.
|Blade Length :||3.80"|
Schrade Viper 3
The Schrade Viper 3, OTF is an affordable knife that is quite popular with regular campers and hikers. It can be used for a wide range of purposes, including hunting and self-defense.
Some of the things I think you’ll like about this out-the-front knife include the 3.375″ durable stainless steel blade, its lightweight, the knife only weighs 4.53 oz, and its sharpness, which allows you to use it to cut through the toughest materials.
When handling knives safety should always be a concern, and I particularly like the safety feature on the Viper 3. The knife has a safety lock that can be activated using a single hand.
The safety feature makes it hard for children to open the knife and reduces the chances of your knife popping out in your pocket. This out-the-front knife also has a pocket click, which you can use to hold your knife.
|Blade Length :||3.375"|
As I mentioned earlier, Microtech is a known and reputable knife brand, and the Ultratech is one of their best OTF knife models. It is also among the more popular OTF knives on the market.
Its key features include a double-edged dagger CTS-204P steel blade, a black anodized 6061-T6 aluminum handle with a glass breaker tip, and a double-action mechanism, which means a switch opens and retracts the blade.
When opened, this out-the-front knife has a length of 8.50″. It has a blade length of 3.44″ and a cutting edge of 3.125″. For its features and quality, this is a reasonably priced knife you’ll be happy to have.
You can use the Microtech Ultratech for multiple purposes. For example, you could use it to chop firewood when you go camping, break glass in case of an emergency, or slice your meat and vegetable while preparing a meal.
|Blade Length :||3.44"|
Piranha Rated-R Tanto
Piranha manufactures some of the best OTF’s. Their knives’ high quality is attributed to the fact that they have specialized in creating automatic knives for years.
This company manufactures all their knives in the USA, and the Piranha Rate-R is one of two OTF models they produce. The other is the Excalibur out-the-front knife.
Specs on the Piranha Rate- R include a two-tone finished 3.50″ stainless steel tanto blade, a double-action deployment mechanism, a titanium pocket clip, and a textured aluminum handle that offers good grip.
The knife has a blade length of 8.125″ and the blades cutting edge is 3.375″. This knife that weighs 2.83 oz is perfect for everyday carry and is a good alternative if you’re not interested in Benchmade and Microtech OTF models.
|Blade Length :||3.50"|
This knife is made entirely in the USA using nothing but the finest materials. Its features include a 3.71″ premium CPM-S30V double-edged blade, which has good resistance against corrosion. The knife has an innovative G10 handle, and for quick one-hand deployment, Spine-Fire release OTF automatic action.
Other specs of the Benchmade Autocraft are blade thickness of 0.105″, weight 3.93 oz, and handle thickness of 0.60″. When open, the knife is 8.75″ long and 5.04″ when closed. Its handle has a textured surface that offers a better grip and prevents slipping accidents.
You can use this OFT knife for every day or tactical cutting.
|Blade Length :||3.71”|
The Infidel has been in production for slightly over 10 years now and is one of the world’s best-known out-the-front knives. It is a favorite among military officers who love it for its muscular build, easy deployment, and reliability.
It is available in two models. The Infidel Mini weighs 3.40 oz and has an overall length of 7.10″, and the larger 3300 Infidel with a weight of 5 oz and 8.95″ overall length. The knives’ D2 tool steel satin finished double-edged blade sizes are 3.10″ and 3.95″, respectively.
The switch on this dual action OTF blade is on the handle, not the spine, like is common with most OFT knives. This gives you a more solid grip when open and closing the knife.
This knife is versatile and can be used for everyday cutting or SEAL team action.
|Blade Length :||3.95"|
Guardian Tactical RECON-035
The first thing you’ll notice when you get your hands on this out-the-front knife is that it has a high-speed and smooth double-action OTF deployment mechanism.
The guys over at Guardian say they use a patented state of the art OTF mechanism to ensure that the Tactical Recon-035 blade opens and closes without any friction. The mechanism also ensures that the knife doesn’t begin to get stuck after regular use, which is a common problem with this type of knife.
The knife’s keys specs include an overall length of 7.75″, a blade length, width, and thickness of 4.00″, 0.875″, and 0.15″ respectively. The high-quality Elmax blade has a black and satin finish that gives this knife an elegant look.
The Guardian Tactical Recon-035 handle is made from black anodized aluminum with carbon fiber inlays, making it look modern and provides better grip. The Recon is best used as a tactical knife.
|Blade Length :||4.00"|
Viper Tec Black Reaper
This Out-The-Front knife has a design that almost resembles a letter opener. Its 440c steel blade is 3.5″ long, and the handle made from zinc alloy measures 5″.
The Black Reaper’s steel blade makes it able to withstand a lot of wear and tear. So, you can rely on it whether you use it at home or while on outdoor adventures.
The knife has a dual action mechanism, and its deployment switch is at the top of one side of the handle, not the side. The other side of the handle has a clip you can use to hold this knife in your pocket.
What I like about this knife is its simple design, the glass breaker at the end of the handle, and the budget price. Like most Viper knives, this product comes already sharpened, so be careful as you unpack it.
|Blade Length :||3.5"|
Smith & Wesson
If you’re on a budget and want a sturdy out-the-front knife that feels good in the hand, this could be the knife for you. The Smith & Wesson not only looks awesome but also has a price that won’t leave you broke.
I like that you can get it in multiple variations. Depending on what you’ll use the knife for, you can choose to buy one with a straight or partially serrated blade. You can also choose between a tanto or a point blade.
The knife has an overall length of 8.75″ and the AUS-8 steel blade is 3.25″ long with 0.09″ thickness. The handle, 4.75″ long and 0.75″ thick, is made from aluminum. This product has a weight of 6.09 oz, which is slightly heavy.
For safe carrying, this out-the-front knife has a stainless steel pocket clip and a sliding safety lock that ensures the blade doesn’t accidentally open while carrying it.
|Brand:||M & P|
|Blade Length :||3.50"|
Microtech Exocet Dagger CA
At only 5.625″ overall length and weighing 2.75 oz, this has to be one of the smallest OTF knives on the market. Named after a French missile, the Exocet’s wide aluminum double edge dagger style blade is 1.98″ long and 0.06″ wide.
Its black anodized aluminum handle has a 3.875″ length, 1.50″ width, and offers good grip support.
This double action OTF has a thumb-slide blade deployment switch that is easy to use whether you’re left or right-handed. It has a large clip that you can also use as a money clip if you like.
The Microtech Exocet comes in several colors, blade finishes, and handles, so it is up to you to choose the one you like. Due to its small size, this is a very discreet out-the-front knife to carry.
|Blade Length :||1.98"|
Best OTF Knives – A Quick Comparison
Those were our reviews of currently the most popular OTF Knives on the market – see how they compare and find the one that suits your needs. There’s an OTF knife for everyone’s taste and budget, and we’re sure you’ll find one to your liking.
Rock Solid Locking Action
- Prominent thumb slide makes blade deployment & retraction a cinch.
- Contoured handle design for comfortable.
- Deep carry pocket clip.
Built For Hard Use
Viper Tec Ghost
- The Ghost Otf Is Built For Hard Use
- Each Knife comes with a 3.5-inch 440c blade
- The smooth ergonomic handles are made of high-quality Zinc Alloy
Two-Tone Black Finished Blade
Microtech Combat Troodon
- Built for a variety of utility and close quarter combat situations
- The Combat Troodon® Is A Favorite Among Law Enforcement
- The Substantial Feel Makes It Suitable For Hard-use
Design From The Future
Schrade Viper 3
- This Knife Features A Small Glass Breaker Tip
- Tip-down Carry Pocket Clip
- The knife opens fast and smoothly
Double-Edged Dagger Blade
- It’s A Fully Automatic Knife
- Double-action Out-the-front Mechanism
- The Ultratech knife from Microtech has set the bar for all OTF knives.
Titanium Pocket Clip
Piranha Rated-R Tanto
- Double Action In A Lightweight Pocket-friendly Design
- A textured pattern and chamfered edge
- Aluminum handle ensures a secure and comfortable grip
G-10 Black Handle
- Spine-fire release OTF automatic action for rapid.
- Reversible tip-down pocket clip.
- Premium CPM-S30V double-edge dagger blade.
Made From Sturdy D2 Tool Steel
- Benchmade Infidel Out the Front Knife is a marvel of knife engineering
- Double edged dagger that looks as good as it functions
- Black anodized machined 6061-T6 aluminum handle that feels comfortable
Innovative OTF Mechanism
Guardian Tactical RECON-035
- Unique thumb slide design
- Steel plate and 3 ceramic balls
- It doesn’t drag against the blade
Dual Action Mechanism
Viper Tec Black Reaper
- Ambidextrous Pocket Clip
- Includes Nylon Sheath w Belt Loop
- Zinc Alloy Handle
Truly Awesome And Impressive Knife
Smith & Wesson
- Flat Dark Earth Aluminum Handle
- AUS-8 Stainless Steel Blade
- It has a safety and a tab on the side
Black aluminum handle
Microtech Exocet Dagger
- CTS-204P steel dagger blade.
- One-hand thumb slide operation
- Reversible pocket clip that doubles as a money clip.
How Can You Use A OTF Knife?
The best OTF knives are very versatile and can be used to:
- Skin and cut up prey during a hunting expedition
- Fillet a whole salmon on a fishing trip
- Cut meat, vegetables, bread, etc. in the kitchen
- Protect yourself in case you’re attached
- Curve wood
- Everyday light cutting duties
Once you know how you’ll use your Out The Front knife, you can consider factors like blade size and handle material before selecting the best knife for you.
What Should You Consider When Buying An Out-The-Front-Knife?
To get the right Out-The-Front Knife for you, here are some things to keep in mind when picking one:
Because of the mechanism required to operate an out the front knife sound engineering is necessary to build them. This comes at a cost, and that is why high-quality out-the-front knives tend to be expensive.
I would advise that you keep away from cheap OTF knives.
I say this because a cheap knife, which for me costs below $100, is unlikely to be well built and could be a danger to you. Imagine your spear point OTF refusing to open when you need it the most or coming out as you put it back in your pocket.
Don’t get me wrong, a low price doesn’t mean poor quality but be prepared to spend more for one of the best.
- Edge Type
Do you want a single or double edge knife? A single edge out-the-front knife is ideal if you plan to use it often for cutting. With this type of knife, you can place your thumb at the back of the blade to exert more pressure when cutting.
A double edge knife would be an option if you hunt a lot because it would make slashing and penetration of prey easier. It is also a good knife for combat or self-defense purposes.
- Deployment Style
As you probably already know by now, there are 3 main types of out-the-front knives: single-action, dual-action, and manual.
Single-action OTF knives have a spring mechanism that gets out the blade when you press a button, but you have to close it manually. A dual-action OTF knives uses the same spring mechanism to open and retract the blade.
Manual OTF’s don’t have spring mechanisms, instead, they use a sliding button to deploy and retract the blade.
So you can choose the deployment mechanism you like according to your personal preference.
- Safety Mechanism
You want to avoid situations where your knife goes off accidentally, as you could get hurt if this happens. A safety lock will prevent your blade from accidentally opening. If you’re buying your first OTF, you should definitely get one with this feature.
Some US states consider OTF knives to be weapons and do not allow carrying or using them. As such, you need to find out what the law says about owning and carrying an Out The Front knife in your area before investing in one.
- Pocket Clip
This feature makes it safe and comfortable to carry OTF knives. Therefore it would be wise to check if the knife you want to buy comes with a clip.
Who Are OTF Knives For?
If you enjoy being outdoors, OTF knives should be part of what you pack as you plan your trip. I am sure it would come in handy on a camping, hunting, or fishing getaway.
One of the things I like about OTF knives is that you don’t have to use both hands to get the blade out. With the easy press or push of a button, the knife is open and ready to use. This makes it ideal if you work in tight spaces and have to hold other things to work.
It is also perfect if you have reduced grip strength. If you get the double action knife, you can comfortably open and close your knife.
If you’re a knife collector – missing an Out The Front Knife in your collection would be odd, so you definitely have to get yourself one.
How To Care For OTF Knives
Once you get your hands on your out-the-front knife, you should ensure you keep it in the best possible condition so it lasts for a long time. Here are some tips on how to do that:
- Sharpen Your Blade
How often you use OTF knives will determine the intervals you sharpen your blade. If you use your knife regularly, I recommend light sharpening weekly. This will ensure the knife stays in top cutting condition.
If you want to know how sharp your blade is, try cutting a piece of paper. If it roughly cuts the paper instead of a straight line cut, it is time to sharpen the blade.
To keep your blade sharp, you will need to invest in a quality knife sharpener.
- Lubricate Your Blade
To keep your Knives opening and closing mechanism functioning well, it is essential that you regularly oil the parts.
To lubricate the blade, pour a little oil on a piece of cloth and wipe up and down. I recommend using a WD-40 lubricant. If you don’t have that, you could use canola or gun oil. If you use your knife to cut food, ensure you use a food-grade lubricant.
To oil the internal parts, open the knife and put a few drops of oil on either side of the blade. Then open and close the blade twice, and the oil will be splashed on the internal deployment mechanism.
- Clean Your Knife After Use
After using OTF knives, rinse it with tap water to remove any residue left after cutting. To ensure you don’t leave the blade wet, use a kitchen towel to dry it before putting it back in your pocket or storing it.
Never use bleach or other harsh chemicals to clean your knife. I recommend using a mild soap.
Remember, the better you take care of your knife the longer you’re guaranteed the mechanism won’t fail, and it will remain sharp. You’ll also prevent it from rusting.
The Verdict: Which Is The Best Out The Front Knife?
The best OTF knives for you will depend on your budget, how you plan to use the knife, features you’re looking for, etc. However, I was impressed by the Guardian Tactical Recon-035, which I found to be a reliable knife that you can use to slice, carve, and defend yourself.
This knife has a beautiful design, and I love its state of the art deployment mechanism that lets you open and close the blade quickly without any friction instead of having to carry a large fixed blade knife. Its handle with carbon fiber inlays makes holding and cutting with the knife pleasurable. The manufacturer’s attention to detail, and reasonable price is also worth noting.
If you’re looking for one of the best budget OTF knives, try the Viper Tec Black Ghost Knife.
We hope that this article helped you choose the perfect OTF blade for you. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us anytime.