When looking for a knife, most of the options are typical switchblades or folding knives that require you to extend the blade out to its fullest extent before it can cut. In camping or other self-defense situations, this can be a critical weakness. OTF knives allow you to extend the blade almost instantaneously due to their design.
Today, let’s take a look at the best OTF knives under $100, so you can consider whether one of these types of weapons could be a valuable part of your kit.
What is an OTF Knife?
OTF stands for “out the front.” These knives can also be called sliding or telescoping knives. Like other types of pocket knives, they are designed for personal use and can easily be held on your person via a clip or stored in your pocket. However, they’re different from other styles of pocket knives because of how they open.
With OTF knives, the blade is always facing the opening and extends in a straight line or parallel with the handle. This opening action is accomplished either through a spring or through another mechanical opening mechanism that is triggered through a switch. Some OTF knives are opened by sliding a switch forward with your thumb.
What Are They Used For?
OTF knives are typically used for anything you would also use a switchblade or other folding knife for. Many OTF knives are dual-sided rather than only having a single edge, which has resulted in them receiving some popularity for tactical or combat uses, or for hunting situations.
This being said, OTF knives are less reliable as manual cutting tools because they have more parts and are thus more likely to break compared to similar folding knives. Thus, OTF knives are mostly defensive or “cool” tools rather than staple survival knives.
What to Look For in an OTF Knife
There are a few things you should look for when considering an OTF knife. The most important of these is the deployment style. Most OTF knives feature an automatic mechanism and are called double action, which includes a quick action spring system. The springs can be used to extend or pull the blade back automatically, making them great for rapid deployment. Others deploy using a sliding mechanism.
You should also consider the blade size. Most OTF knives can be anywhere between 3 inches and 9 inches, so consider where you’ll be storing the knife and what you’ll be using it for. Longer knives are more difficult to carry because the blade has to be stored within the handle entirely.
Edge design is also critical. Many OTF knives are straight edge, but others may be serrated for better cutting or tearing power. There’s no right or wrong answer here; it all depends on what you’re looking for.
Finally, see if an OTF knife as a locking mechanism as a safety. This can prevent you from accidentally opening your OTF knife while it’s in your pocket or prevent the blade from retracting if you need to stab at something.
The 6 Best OTF Knives Under $100
This OTF knife is a double-action model, meaning you only have to hit the switch once, and it’ll extend the blade to its fullest length. Then you can switch it again, and the blade will automatically retract, so it’s one of the easiest automatic OTF knives you can use. The button also works fairly reliably, though you may need to add a few drops of light oil to it every once in a while to ensure that it moves smoothly.
The knife blade also comes relatively sharp, though you should sharpen it yourself upon receiving it to make sure that it works as needed. The knife blade is lined up well with the opening, so there shouldn’t be any problems with it catching when you try to open the blade. Furthermore, the knife comes with an attachment clip, so you can put this on your belt or inside your pocket without having it jostle around too much.
- Very easy to use
- Blade mechanism lasts for a long time
- Comes with a clip for storage options
- May need some initial sharpening and lubing
The Final Verdict
Overall, this knife is a quality OTF model and a great general defensive or trick tool. The consistency with its opening and retracting mechanism makes it great in terms of value for money.
This is an OTF knife designed for hunting, as it features a total blade length of 9.9 cm and a thickness of 0.3 cm. It’s designed as a stabbing tool with a dual-edge and is ideal for fighting off animals or defending yourself from any kind of attacker. It’s also very lightweight at only 230 g, so wielding it will be easy for anyone.
It has a double-action switch, allowing you to extend or retract the blade using the same button. It extends quickly and relatively straight every time, and it also features a clip so you can attach it to your belt or pocket without too much trouble.
But we also like the textured handle that comes with this knife. It makes it very difficult to drop, even if your palm is sweaty or otherwise lubricated. As such, it’s a great defensive tool, even in tense situations.
- Comes with a textured handle
- Opens and closes smoothly
- Has a clip for storage options
- The blade is decently long and thick
- Blade sharpness needs to be improved upon purchasing
The Final Verdict
It’s an overall great defensive or hunting tool thanks to its consistency and its textured grip, which is something most other tactical OTF knives should incorporate into their designs.
This is another double-action OTF knife, featuring a small switch you can use to extend or retract the blade as necessary. The blade is 9 cm in total length, and 1.8 cm wide. It weighs 218 g in total, and it features a tapered edge that makes it great for both cutting and stabbing. You can use this as a general tool or a defensive weapon because of its design.
It comes with a clip and a textured handle, both of which are attributes we really appreciate. But this kit also comes with a nylon bag; this can be attached either to your belt or otherwise stored in a pocket. It provides even better value for money and should last a long time thanks to the durability of the nylon.
Just be sure to clean the knife frequently; the blade has several holes where dirt or debris can collect over time, which can eventually jam the opening and closing mechanism.
- Comes with a bag for added value
- Has a textured grip
- Has a clip for other storage options
- Knife design is intelligent and great for work or for defense
- The blade can occasionally collect dirt or debris
The Final Verdict
This is a fine OTF knife that’ll work for a variety of needs. It’s also one of the more affordable OTF knives you can find on the market that doesn’t compromise quality for budget.
4. HaoMing Camping Tool OTF Knife
Here’s another ideal camping OTF knife with a very simplistic design. The handle isn’t overly textured, but it is comfortable with a soft synthetic material. As such, holding the knife in your pocket won’t become annoying, and you will be able to grip the weapon capable. The only downside is that it doesn’t do much for hand slipperiness.
The knife itself is fairly sharp, and it also comes with a few holes that may occasionally collect debris. The switching mechanism is reliable, though, and holds its position even if significant pressure is exerted on the blade. This makes it well worth your time and money, even with the minor downsides above. It only weighs 10.6 ounces, too.
- Very lightweight and nondescript
- Features a durable and sharp blade
- The opening mechanism is reliable
- The grip is comfortable both in hand and in pocket
- Could be a little too slippery for comfort
- The blade can occasionally collect debris
The Final Verdict
It’s a great knife as a backup tool rather than as the main cutting utensil. But it also has value thanks to its comfortable grip and reliable opening mechanism.
This is another double-action OTF knife, with a black blade for added aesthetic style. This makes it look different from most other blades you can find, though it does diminish the actual cutting potential of the blade by a small amount. The blade is 9 cm long and 0.3 cm thick, making it great for defense or for occasional tool use, and it only weighs 7.5 ounces.
The knife has a handle optimized for ergonomics and extreme gripping assistance; it’ll be difficult to drop this knife even if your hand is slippery. The switch is also textured so you can find it without looking and quickly open or close the knife as necessary. The knife comes with a black clip for more storage options and your convenience.
- Colored in a unique way
- Comes with a clip for storage
- The handle is well-textured for safety
- The switch is also textured so you can easily locate it
- Good blade length and size
- Blade color hampers ultimate sharpness
- Blade household that can collect debris
The Final Verdict
It’s a quality OTF knife that’ll serve as an intimidating backup weapon or as a tactical tool in case you need to fight off an animal while you’re camping. The black paint is likely to come off over time, though.
Here’s another OTF knife featuring a double-action switch, enabling it to extend or retract at your command. It features the same dimensions of the last knife, but it also comes with a serrated blade. This gives it extra cutting potential and better defensive capabilities if someone or an animal were to attack.
Furthermore, the blade comes with a silver clip for storage and camouflaged handle color to distinguish it from the competition. It’ll fit well with any camping gear or a tactical kit. The blade does have the same black color as the last knife, which makes it more aesthetically unique. The serrated teeth make it a little sharper than the above knife.
- Features a serrated blade for sawing or cutting
- Has a good aesthetic between the blade color and handle texture
- Has a clip for storage
- The spring mechanism is reliable overall
- Blade holes may collect debris
- Black edge will fade over time
The Final Verdict
This is still a great OTF knife that has a lot of value between its relatively unique aesthetics and its serrated edge. It’ll serve capably as a camping knife or as a backup tool for self-defense.
Ultimately, OTF knives may not be nearly as popular as traditional switchblades or other pocketknives. But they certainly have a place in any knife enthusiast’s toolkit and can always serve as a reliable backup weapon or self-defense blade. Hopefully, one of the above knives will suit your needs; let us know if any of them serve you well!