When you need a knife that can open and close in a blink of an eye with a single hand, there is only one choice: an OTF knife.
An OTF, which stands for Out The Front, is a type of knife where the blade comes out of the front of the handle rather than the side.
These types of knives have become increasingly popular with tons of varied and compelling designs from the top brands like Kershaw, Boker, Benchmade, and more. We’ll know they’ve finally crossed the mainstream when we finally get an OTF version of the Buck 110!
Our team took on the unenviable task of narrowing down some of the best OTF knives you can currently buy. Before we get into the list, let’s take a quick look at the background of the OTF.
A Brief History of the Best OTF Knives
Although the OTF seems like a modern invention, the first OTF was supposedly patented in the late 19th century, but I couldn’t verify the information widely spread across the Internet.
Instead, some of the earliest OTF knives that were widely used date back to the World War II when paratroopers used OTF knives as emergency tools. Unlike modern OTF knives, these were gravity knives, meaning the user disengaged a lock and used gravity to slide the blade out.
The designs have gone through multiple evolutions like the Kershaw Ripcord, Smith & Wesson Power Glide, and even box cutters. More recently, we’ve settled on dual action automatic OTF knives that open and close with the push of a switch as the default OTF design.
Let’s just into the best OTF knives you can currently buy.
1. Benchmade Infidel
Let’s start with an obvious entry on this list of best OTF knives: the Infidel.
The Benchmade Infidel has been by far one of the top-selling OTF knives since it was introduced in 2006. If you collect knives, this is likely a prized center of that collection.
What made the Infidel such a big hit at the time (and even these days) is its robustness and utility. It caught the eye of military and law enforcement personnel because of its dual action design and general toughness.
Over 15 years later, the Infidel is still a top-seller, thanks to its 3.95-inch D2 steel dagger blade and aluminum handle.
2. Kershaw Livewire OTF
From the oldest knife on this list, we go to the newest. In 2023, Kershaw released its very first automatic OTF knife to much fanfare.
Kershaw is well-known for its high-quality Launch series of automatic knives and the brand has been exploring manual OTF designs like the Kershaw Interstellar and Kershaw Kapsule. It only made sense for them to merge its knowledge of OTFs and automatics into something amazing.
The result is the Kershaw Livewire.
It has a pretty tried-and-true design that doesn’t break barriers. Its aluminum handle is comfortable and durable with welcomed texturing. Its 3.3-inch blade features a stonewashed finish.
The three main selling points of the knife are its use of MagnaCut super steel, its US-made reliable construction, and its competitive price tag for what it’s offering.