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What Is an Assisted-Opening Knife?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 17, 2024
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The assisted-opening knife is usually a relatively small pocket knife that can easily and quickly be opened with one hand. These knives are set apart from other types of knives that can be opened with a single hand by the fact that they include a mechanism, usually a spring-loaded function, which assists with the opening of the knife. Unlike switchblades, however, this type of knife requires some effort from the user, rather than simply pushing a button. An assisted-opening knife is an excellent knife for use as a tool in manufacturing or shipping, since it can easily be used with only one hand.

Sometimes called a spring assist or quick release knife, this knife is usually designed as a folding knife that can fit in a person’s pocket. The blade folds into the handle, much like other locking knives. Most have a small thumb stud that can be used to apply pressure to the blade and open it out from the handle. Unlike other locking knives, however, an assisted-opening knife has a mechanism within the handle that assists with this opening process.

The mechanism tends to hold the blade of the knife in place within the handle while it is closed. Opening the knife requires that a user applies force on a thumb stud or other part of the blade to begin opening the blade out from the handle. Once a certain point is reached with the blade, usually about 30°-45°, then the internal mechanism takes over and opens the remaining blade. This is usually a spring-loaded process, and the blade can open quite quickly and lock into place.

An assisted-opening knife is typically not considered to be a switchblade, and may be legal in many countries in which switchblades are outlawed. The difference, though subtle, between these types of knives is that a switchblade may be opened using a spring mechanism by only touching a button, while an assisted-opening knife requires effort and force on the part of the user to open the knife. These knives can be excellent tools for use by people working on factory lines or in packaging and shipping or receiving shipments of various products. Since these knives can quickly and easily be opened using one hand, they are excellent for use in cutting open pallets of products or for emergency situations such as a person having a glove or article of clothing caught in a machine.

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Discussion Comments
By mobilian33 — On May 14, 2014

@Feryll - You may be right about the military's application for the assisted open knives, but at some point they began using auto open knives, which are somewhere between the assisted open and the switch blade in terms of the way they are designed to open.

By Feryll — On May 13, 2014

I have heard that the assisted open knives were originally created for military troops who jumped from planes. They sometimes ended up trapped in trees and the pocket knives they carried were often too difficult to open.

With the assisted open knives the troops were able to use one of their hands to open the blades and cut themselves out of the harnesses and get out of the trees more quickly.

By Drentel — On May 13, 2014

My father had an old pocket knife that he kept in his tackle box. When I was a kid and we were out fishing, I would often take the knife from the box and use it to cut a line, remove a fish from a hook or whatever I might need a knife for while on a fishing outing.

I think I still have some of the scars from all the little scratches and cuts I received trying to open the old rusty knife. What I wouldn't have given for an assisted open knife back then.

In my opinion, when a kid gets old enough to responsibly handle and use a knife, one of the assisted open knives is the way to go.

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