A pocket knife can be a great tool to have handy. Many people enjoy owning several types of pocket knives, including single blade, every day carry (EDC) knives, or even survival or tactical knives. One thing that may be slightly different on each one is how to close the pocket knife.
We will explain the varied types of closing and locking mechanisms commonly found on pocket knives. We will also uncover how to close a pocket knife with each mechanism, and in some cases, how to open the knife.
How to Close a Pocket Knife
The way you close a pocket knife will depend on the type of closure used. Here is an explanation of each type of pocket knife closure, and how to close each of them properly and safely:
1. Tension Bar or Slip Joint
This is perhaps the most commonly recognized type of knife joint. There is no locking mechanism in place on pocket knives made with a slip joint, instead, the blade is held straight by a tension bar built into the knife handle.
The blade base has a shape which allows the blade to be moved without allowing too much play or a blade to be too loose while open or closed.
To close a pocket knife with a slip joint, all you must do is apply a slight amount of pressure against the spine of the blade while holding the handle securely from the backside. Make sure to keep all fingers clear of the blade casing to avoid accidents.
Slip joint knives are the least safe of all pocket knives since there is no true locking mechanism in place to prevent the knife from closing.
2. Frame Lock
Frame locking knives feature a small part of the handle frame that slides outward, locking the blade into position when it is opened. Pocket knives with this type of lock are typically easily opened, even without any assisted opening features.
You can close a pocket knife with a frame lock by pressing in on the lock. This will move the frame section inward.
At the same time, apply a small amount of pressure to the spin of your blade. As soon as your blade passes the edge of the frame lock, you should be able to close the knife completely.
Use caution with knives that feature frame locks. Not only are they usually easier to open, but the way of closing them puts the user at risk by requiring you to disengage the lock with your finger or thumb in a direct line of the blade. This is not a great option for younger knife owners for the same reasons.
3. Liner Lock
A liner lock works in much the same fashion as a frame lock. The difference is that the lock is a mechanism completely separate from the frame. This is also the most commonly used locking mechanism found in pocket knives.
Close your pocket knife by sliding the liner lock against the frame, allowing the blade to pass easily. Use caution as your finger or thumb may be at risk, just like as was mentioned above for the frame lock.
A lockback is a tension-type lock that uses a spring-loaded bar to apply tension against the blade, keeping it locked in the open position, and sometimes closed.
To close a knife with a lockback mechanism, locate the tensioning bar along the back of the knife handle, usually very near the butt end of the knife. Applying pressure to the tension bar should release the blade from the locked open position, allowing to you carefully close the pocket knife.
While lockback locks are less common, they tend to be a very strong lock, providing some of the highest safety levels in single-lock pocket knives.
5. AXIS Lock
An AXIS Lock has become a go-to for many higher-end pocket knives. The lock features a spring-loaded pin that fits into a depression along the back end of the blade very near the blade hinge. As long as the spring is in place, the blade will be locked open.
Close an axis lock pocket knife by sliding the release away from the blade. This will depress the spring and allow you to carefully close the knife.
6. Compression Lock
A compression lock works in the same way as both the liner lock and frame lock. The difference is that a compression lock is located on the spine side of the handle instead of in the blade cavity.
Just like before, close your pocket knife with this type of lock by depressing the lock, moving it toward the frame edge. This allows the blade of the knife to easily pass the lock and be closed.
This is arguably the safest manual release locking mechanism, as your fingers do not need to be anywhere near the sharp side of the knife blade to safely close your pocket knife. Pocket knives with this feature are a great choice for beginner knife owners and younger knife users.
What the Best Lock Is
The best lock is going to depend on who is using the knife, what they are using it for, and their comfort level with the knife. As with any knife purchase, no matter which you choose, you should take the time to learn the knife's specific features. Open and close the knife several times before first use in order to make sure the locking mechanism works correctly and avoid any unnecessary accidents.
In general, we would make the following suggestions specifically related to the locking mechanism of a pocket knife:
- First-time pocket knife owners, and children or young adults should lean toward either a lockback design or compression lock. Both allow the pocket knife to be closed from the backside of the handle.
- More seasoned knife owners who want the security of a blade lock or plan to use their pocket knife for heavier jobs will likely want to consider either of the above designs. However, you will likely be most happy with either a frame lock or liner lock design. These locking mechanisms allow for quick one-handed closure that regular pocket knife users may require.
- We would suggest that only the occasional user or more experienced knife users who want an everyday light use pocket knife to consider the slip joint tensioner type of pocket knife. This type of knife essentially has no locking mechanism and as mentioned, is not a great option for heavier jobs.
We have covered many of the most common ways on how to close a pocket knife. Taking the time to learn how to quickly open and close a pocket knife helps to ensure that you, those around you, and your pocket remain safe from harm or damage.