The Ultimate Guide to OTF Knives: 15 Top Picks for Every Enthusiast

Introduction: OTF Knife

In the world of everyday carry (EDC) gear, few items are as versatile, practical, and mesmerizing as out-the-front (OTF) knives. Whether you’re a seasoned collector, a tactical enthusiast, or someone just dipping their toes into the world of knives, there’s an OTF blade out there for you. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the best OTF knives in 2023, categorizing them by usage, and providing in-depth information and ratings for each.

Section 1: What Makes a Great OTF Knife?

Before diving into our top picks, it’s essential to understand the key features that make a great OTF knife. These include:

  • Blade Steel: The quality and durability of the blade steel are paramount. A good OTF knife should have a sharp, robust blade that can withstand various tasks.
  • Ergonomics: Comfort and ease of use are critical. A well-designed handle ensures a secure grip and minimizes hand fatigue during extended use.
  • Fit & Finish: This speaks to the overall craftsmanship of the knife, encompassing the quality of materials, precision in assembly, and the attention to detail.
  • Operation: A great OTF knife should open and close smoothly. A practical and comfortable deployment mechanism is essential.
  • Lockup: When the blade is open, it must be secure. A solid lockup ensures safety during use.
  • Affordability: While high-end knives may have a hefty price tag, an excellent OTF knife should provide good value for its price.

Section 2: Best OTF Knives by Category

Now, let’s delve into our top 15 OTF knives, each representing the best in its respective category.

1. Best OTF for EDC: Guardian Tactical RECON-035

Best OTF for EDC: Guardian Tactical RECON-035

Fit & Finish: 8 Blade Steel: 9 Ergonomics: 8 Operation: 9 Lockup: 8 Affordability: 4

  • Score: 46/60
  • This knife is renowned for its ultra-smooth slide mechanism, ensuring a comfortable thumb slide operation.
  • A perfect blade-to-handle ratio, edge geometry, and American craftsmanship make it ideal for EDC.

2. Most Accessible OTF Knife: Kershaw Livewire

Most Accessible OTF Knife: Kershaw Livewire

Fit & Finish: 9 Blade Steel: 10 Ergonomics: 7 Operation: 10 Lockup: 8 Affordability: 5

  • Score: 49/60
  • Combining accessibility with premium materials, the Livewire is a practical choice for OTF newcomers and veterans.
  • Its unique styling and angled pocket clip add to its appeal.

3. Best Selling OTF: Microtech Ultratech

Best Selling OTF: Microtech Ultratech

Fit & Finish: 10 Blade Steel: 10 Ergonomics: 9 Operation: 9 Lockup: 9 Affordability: 4 

  • Score: 51/60
  • A true icon, the Ultratech has a reputation for excellence and constant improvement.
  • With its signature X-Button and various configurations, it’s a go-to for EDC and tactical needs.

4. Best Tactical OTF Knife: Benchmade Infidel

Best Tactical OTF Knife: Benchmade Infidel

Fit & Finish: 9 Blade Steel: 8 Ergonomics: 9 Operation: 9 Lockup: 9 Affordability:

  • Score: 48/60
  • Designed by Bill McHenry, the Infidel offers reliable double-action and anodized aluminum handle.
  • Perfect for self-defense, it lives up to Benchmade’s quality reputation.

5. Best Budget OTF: AKC F-16

AKC F-16

Fit & Finish: 6 Blade Steel: 5 Ergonomics: 7 Operation: 8 Lockup: 7 Affordability: 9

  • Score: 42/60
  • This Taiwanese double-action OTF offers great value.
  • The thumb slide doubles as a stiletto-style guard, adding a unique touch.

6. Best Premium OTF: Hawk Knife Designs Deadlock (Model C)

Hawk Knife Designs Deadlock (Model C)

Fit & Finish: 9 Blade Steel: 9 Ergonomics: 9 Operation: 9 Lockup: 9 Affordability: 1

  • Score 46/60
  • The Deadlock, engineered by Grant and Gavin Hawk, is a masterpiece of engineering and precision.
  • Its double-action mechanism and unique hinged pocket clip set it apart.

7. Best Mini OTF Knife: Microtech UTX-70

Microtech UTX-70

Fit & Finish: 10 Blade Steel: 10 Ergonomics: 9 Operation: 9 Lockup: 9 Affordability: 4

  • Score: 51/60
  • A scaled-down version of the Ultratech, it’s a fun-sized OTF with Microtech’s quality.
  • Ideal for those who want premium quality in a compact package.

8. Best Large OTF: Guardian Tactical RECON-040, Heretic Cleric II, Microtech Combat Troodon

Guardian Tactical RECON-040

Fit & Finish: 9 Blade Steel: 10 Ergonomics: 9 Operation: 8 Lockup: 8 Affordability: 3

Scores: 47/60

Heretic Cleric II

Fit & Finish: 9 Blade Steel: 10 Ergonomics: 8 Operation: 7 Lockup: 9 Affordability: 2

Scores: 45/60

Microtech Combat Troodon

Fit & Finish: 10 Blade Steel: 10 Ergonomics: 9 Operation: 9 Lockup: 9 Affordability: 3

Scores: 50/60

  • A three-way tie for best large OTF, catering to different preferences.
  • Each offers unique features for those seeking larger OTF knives.

9. Best Single-Action OTF: Para-X


Fit & Finish: 10 Blade Steel: 8 Ergonomics: 9 Operation: 6 Lockup: 10 Affordability: 3

  • Score: 46/60
  • The Para-X offers a smooth and powerful action and is a testament to the enduring appeal of single-action OTFs.

10. Best Gravity OTF Knife: Reate EXO-M

Best Gravity OTF Knife: Reate EXO-M

Fit & Finish: 9 Blade Steel: 9 Ergonomics: 8 Operation: 8 Lockup: 8 Affordability: 4

Score: 46/60

The EXO-M is an EDC-friendly version of the gravity knife, offering a fantastic user experience.

11. Best Spring Assisted OTF: Smith & Wesson OTF

Best Spring Assisted OTF: Smith & Wesson OTF

Fit & Finish: 7 Blade Steel: 6 Ergonomics: 5 Operation: 6 Lockup: 6 Affordability: 9

Score: 39/60

Designed as a workaround for regulations, it’s an affordable option with enjoyable blade deployment.

12. Best Manual OTF Knife: Boker Plus Slike

Best Manual OTF Knife: Boker Plus Slike

Fit & Finish: 7 Blade Steel: 4 Ergonomics: 5 Operation: 4 Lockup: 9 Affordability: 10

Score: 39/60

Lightweight and equipped with a button lock, it’s a versatile utility cutter with a sharp D2 steel blade.

13. Best OTF for Fidgeting: Guardian Tactical GTX-025

Fit & Finish: 9 Blade Steel: 10 Ergonomics: 7 Operation: 10 Lockup: 8 Affordability: 5

Score: 49/60

Offering buttery-smooth action and a smaller design, it’s perfect for fidget enthusiasts and serious cutting tasks.

14. Best Weird OTF: Heretic ROC

Best Weird OTF: Heretic ROC

Fit & Finish: 10 Blade Steel: 10 Ergonomics: 8 Operation: 6 Lockup: 9 Affordability: 2

Score: 45/60

For those seeking a unique OTF experience, the ROC’s curved handle and karambit-style blade deliver exceptional automatic action.

15. Best Underrated OTF: Hogue Counterstrike

Best Underrated OTF: Hogue Counterstrike

Fit & Finish: 8 Blade Steel: 8 Ergonomics: 9 Operation: 8 Lockup: 9 Affordability: 4

Score: 46/60

Hogue’s hidden gem offers excellent ergonomics, a removable glass breaker, and fantastic lockup for EDC needs.

Section 3: Conclusion: OTF Knives

In conclusion, the world of OTF knives is vast and diverse. There may not be one “ultimate” OTF knife, as different models cater to various needs and preferences. By exploring our list of the best OTF knives by category, you now have a comprehensive understanding of the options available.

While our list represents our expert opinions, the ideal OTF knife for you

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