What are Switchblade Knives?
Switchblades may be one of the most famous types of blades there is. You can find these types of knives in every 1950’s greaser movie as well as every birthday party goodie bag in the 1980’s and 90’s (in the form of a comb).
A switchblade knife is a knife where the blade automatically comes out by the press of a button. These are sometimes also known as auto-knives. There are different types of switchblades, which we’ll discuss below, but the overall definition of a switchblade is a pivoting blade that is hidden in the handle and then revealed through the push of a button.
Switchblades were a staple of pop culture for many years, but seemed to have fallen off in recent years. One of the reasons you don’t see switchblades that often anymore stems from the misunderstanding of the legalities of these types of knives. Contrary to popular believe, auto-open knives and switchblade knives, are not federally illegal in the United States, however states have the right to enforce their own laws when it comes to these types of knives.
Before you go out and buy yourself a switchblade be sure you check your local laws to ensure that you are not purchasing or carrying an illegal knife in your state.
Brief History of Switchblades
Origin and Early Development
The switchblade knife first appeared in France and Italy during the 1700s. It was initially created as a utility tool for everyday tasks like cutting food and opening packages. However, what made it unique was its “spring-loaded” feature, which allowed the blade to swiftly snap open with a press of a button or lever. This design innovation made it stand out from traditional folding knives, which required two hands to open.
Design and Applications
Switchblade knives were originally intended for practical use. Their quick deployment made them valuable in various situations, such as in the kitchen, for self-defense, or even for first aid purposes. The blade would pop out rapidly when needed, providing a convenient and efficient cutting tool.
Popularity Throughout Time
In the early 20th century, switchblade knives gained popularity among soldiers and civilians alike, becoming an iconic symbol of the mid-1900s. Hollywood movies often depicted these knives as the preferred tool of 1950’s teenagers and greasers, adding to their fame.
However, due to safety concerns and misuse, some regions began regulating or banning them. Today, switchblade knives remain popular among collectors and enthusiasts, with many appreciating their unique design and historical significance. While their popularity has fluctuated over the years, their place in history as both a practical tool and a cultural icon is well established.
Types of Switchblades
There are a number of different types of switchblades out there to choose from. Some open from the top, some open from the side, some are single action, some are double action. Knowing the different types of switchblades available will help you decide which one is right for your everyday carry pack or your specific use cases.
Let’s take a look at some of the different types of switchblade knives available.
OTF (Out the Front) Switchblades
Out-the-front switchblades have blades that extend directly from the front of the handle. These are often associated with military and tactical use due to their quick deployment and reliability.
Side-opening switchblades have blades that swing out from the side of the handle. They are versatile and come in various sizes and designs.
Stiletto switchblades are characterized by their long, slender blades. They are known for their elegant and classic appearance.
Leverlock switchblades feature a lever that, when pushed, releases the blade. They are easy to operate and come in various styles.
A Single action switchblade is characterized by the fact that it requires only one action, typically pressing a button, to open the blade quickly and with minimal effort.
A double-action switchblade knife features a blade that can be both deployed and retracted with the push of a button or switch. In other words, it is a two-in-one mechanism.
Pros and Cons of Using a Switchblade
- Quick Deployment: Switchblades are known for their rapid blade deployment, making them useful in various situations.
- Versatility: They come in different styles, making them suitable for a range of tasks.
- Collector’s Items: Many switchblades are prized collectibles.
- Legal Restrictions: Switchblades are subject to strict regulations in many places.
- Safety Concerns: Improper use can lead to accidents.
- Maintenance: Regular maintenance is required to keep them in good condition and working properly.
Legalities of Switchblades
While switchblade knives aren’t illegal at a federal level in the United States, the legalities of owning and carrying them varies by state.
Some states allow you to carry them with no issues, some states allow you to carry them as long as you have certain forms of identification (like a FOID card in Illinois), some states have age statues in place so that people under a certain age cannot possess switchblades, while some states just flat out don’t allow them.
In order to understand the legal status of switchblades in your states you’ll want to consult to laws in your specific state. We have a handy guide to the knife laws in many of the different states in the country, but if you aren’t sure of the laws regarding switchblades in your state, we suggest a quick Google search.
Knowing the laws in your state regarding switchblades will help you avoid getting into any trouble if you decide to add one to your everyday carry pack.
Should You Buy a Switchblade for EDC?
When considering buying a switchblade knife for your everyday carry pack, the first thing you need to do is check out the laws in your country or state regarding these types of knives. As we’ve mentioned above, not every state allows for a person to carry this type of knife, or there may be restrictions as to who can carry these.
Once you have the legalities figured out the next thing you want to do is figure out what you will be using it for, or what you might possibly use it for. This will help you determine which type of blade or switchblade you need. If you’re going to be using it outdoors you may not want a stiletto type, etc.
After you’ve figured out the usage and legalities, it’s just a matter of finding one that you like. There are many different retailers available that sell switchblade knives, so find one that you trust and like and go for it!
Zach Belmont has been working in the outdoor apparel industry in one form or another for over 20 years. During his career, he has worked at some of the most well-known adventure brands including Patagonia and The North Face in marketing, operations and product development. Zach currently lives in Wyoming with his wife and 2 kids.