Despite its legal gray areas, the automatic knife (sometimes called a switchblade) is one of the best types of knives on the market.
For those who don’t know, an automatic knife is a knife that can be opened with the push of a button or switch. For a more in depth look at the difference between a switchblade and an assisted-opening knife, check out this article.
We’ve been going through and carefully picking some of the best knives of each brand and category. So, it only made sense to do autos.
One caveat here: We are not including OTF knives in this list. While most out-the-front knives are technically automatics, they’re almost their own thing. We’ll have a separate list for the best OTFs coming soon.
Check out which autos made the list below.
1. Buck 110 Auto
The Buck 110 Folding Hunter is one of the most iconic folding knives ever made. Its only major downside is its inability to open quickly with one hand.
That’s what makes the automatic version of the Buck 110 so good.
With just the push of a button, the classic 3.75-inch clip-point blade bursts to life instantly. This version uses the same 420HC stainless steel that the 110 is known for and also keeps the lockback mechanism. For strength and dependability, you can’t go wrong with a lockback.
The handle is Crelicam genuine ebony with brass bolsters and pins.
Even after all these years, the Buck 110 remains an excellent choice for a knife and this auto version just makes it even better. You can opt for the premium Buck 110 Auto Elite if you prefer S30V steel and a G-10 handle. There’s even the Buck 112 Auto if you need a smaller knife.
2. Kershaw Launch 6
With the new Kershaw Launch 15 coming out in 2023, this list could easily have contained 10 different Launch knives because they are all simply excellent.
But we kind of arbitrarily picked the Kershaw Launch 6 for this spot. The Launch 6 is a full-sized auto with a 3.375-inch drop-point blade and an aluminum handle.
It has a cohesive all-black look that’s downright sexy.
While you might like some of the other autos a little better like the Launch 13 or the Launch 11, this is still one of the best automatics you can get and was a top seller in 2022.
3. Benchmade 9400 Auto Osborne
Just like this list could have been nothing but Kershaw Launch knives, it could also have been nothing but Benchmade knives.
Benchmade really corners the market on excellent and varied automatic knife designs.
The first Benchmade on this list is a converted 940 Osborne. The 940 is one of the most quintessential EDC knives of all time, so Benchmade decided to give it the auto treatment.
The 9400 Auto Osborne has the same design as the original with its 3.4-inch reverse tanto blade in S30V steel and green anodized aluminum handle. However, Benchmade took out the AXIS lock and put in a push button that opens and closes the knife.
You can’t go wrong with this knife as an EDC.
4. Gerber 06 Auto
The Gerber 06 Auto is the oldest model on this list, and it’s still as good as ever.
The 06 Auto was released in 2006 and developed specifically to help American service members who were deployed around the world. It has a robust design with a 3.6-inch blade in a drop-point or tanto blade made from S30V stainless steel.
It has a large aluminum handle that is designed to fit gloves.
Despite the knife being more than 15 years old, it does not feel dated one bit. You can see some of the other 06 Autos available here.
5. Boker Plus Intention II
Since we added the Boker Plus Intention II to our site, these knives have been perennially out of stock. The design itself is pretty simple and straightforward, but when you compare the price tag of these knives to the others on the list, you’ll start to see why they’re so popular.
The value of the Intention II cannot be overstated.
The knives have a 3-inch blade made from D2 with a G-10 handle. It won’t win any awards in terms of innovation, but this is a knife you can confidently reach for any time you need something for a hard task.
6. Kershaw Launch 4
While there is already a Launch on this list, the Kershaw Launch 4 is different enough to warrant another spot.
The Launch 4 is a small auto that’s legal to carry in California because its blade is under 2 inches. This has helped spark a whole genre of CA-legal autos, but the Launch 4 remains one of the best.
It has a 1.9-inch spear point blade with an aluminum handle. For being so small, it’s surprisingly functional.
7. Hogue Ballista I
The Ballista is the newest knife on this list and was named by us as one of the best new knives of 2022.
This new series was designed explicitly with military personnel in mind, but I argue it’s one of the best all-around EDC autos you can get. It has a 3.5-inch 154CM stainless steel blade in either a black or stonewashed finish.
The aluminum handle comes in a matte blue or matte black finish with subtle texturing. It is nondescript and a real pleasure to use. As Hogue continues to build out its Ballista series, we anticipate the collection to get better and better.
See all the Ballista variations.
8. Benchmade Claymore
The plain version of the Claymore was also named as one of the best knives of 2022 but the serrated version actually came out in 2021. Still, whether you opt for the serrated or plain version, the Claymore is hands down one of the best hard-use automatic knives you can buy.
The Claymore has a 3.6-inch drop-point blade made from D2 steel, a tough alloy that’s great for work knives. Its ergonomic and textured handle is made from Grivory and comes in either black or foliage green.
It has a push button opening system with a safety lock next to the button to prevent accidental opening or closing.
9. Gerber Empower
The Gerber Empower Auto is a more EDC friendly design than most of the others on this list. It has a 3.25-inch drop-point blade made from S30V stainless steel. It comes in a few different iterations, but the all black model is sleek.
Armored Grip handle plates over aluminum scales give the knife a great feel in hand.
The only issue with this knife is complaints of QC that Gerber is continuously working on.
10. CobraTec Ryker
CobraTec is an up-and-coming brand that’s been putting out compelling designs at affordable prices. I was torn whether to add the more straightforward CobraTec Diablo or the Ryker, but the Ryker design is definitely more original.
Featuring a 3.75-inch blade, the Ryker is a good-sized auto with lightning-fast action and a very slicey blade.
11. SOG-TAC Auto
The SOG-TAC Auto is a newer design that’s a revamped version of SOG’s older auto TAC models.
The latest SOG-TAC Auto knives feature the AU-XR lock, which is strong, ambidextrous, and easy to use.
Like the Gerber Empower, there have been some complaints of QC issues, but that hasn’t been enough to keep this good all-around auto off the list.
12. Benchmade Mediator
Finally, there’s the Benchmade Mediator.
As one of the best-selling knives of 2022 at Knife Depot, the Mediator is a nearly perfect EDC auto with a ton to love.
It’s not the most attractive automatic because it is essentially an amalgamation of all the best features of Benchmade’s best knives. You have the reverse tanto blade of the 940 Osborne, the lightning speed of the Infidel OTF, and the lightweight structure of the Bugout.
The blade is 3.3 inches long and uses S90V steel with black coating. The G-10 handle is black and protects the slightly smaller and recessed push button. Either way, a safety mechanism will prevent any unintentional firing.
This is the newest knife on the list. Although it’s yet another Launch knife from Kershaw, it has a reason to be on this list. Most of the Launch knives are solid EDC knives with great designs that cater to different styles and preferences. However, I argue this is one of the most focused Launch designs they’ve made yet.
The Kershaw Launch 16 is designed for work.
Using the absolutely tough M4 steel, this knife already has a leg up against some of the other autos in terms of toughness. When you add in the tanto-style blade with partial serrations and aluminum handle, you can a hard-use knife that rivals other work folders like the Benchmade Adamas Autos.