Advancements in knife technology gave us spring-assisted knives, but the best assisted opening knives on the market do more than be just another part of technology.
Whether you have seen them with a friend, loved one that you saw in the movies, or would simply like to upgrade your manual opening knives, I have something for you here.
As a bonus, I also walk you through my thought process in choosing these knives. That way, even if you don’t find the spring-assisted knife that you want here, you know how to find it yourself.
PS Stick around to the end to find out if these knives are legal in your region before you buy them.
What is an assisted opening knife?
This looks like a good place to start before we get any further.
Assisted opening knives can be confusing because they are sometimes lumped up with manual opening knives and automatic switchblades. So, we’ll take a look at each one of these guys so you know what you are dealing with when you see it.
- Manual opening knives – the name says it all. You have to manually get the blade steel out of the handle to use the knife. There is no fancy locking or opening mechanism here so the manual opening knife can be released with the flick of your wrist. Note that this movement makes it possible to refer to some manual opening knives as gravity knives.
- Assisted opening knives – also known as the spring assisted knife, you need a little bit of manual pull while the knife does the rest for you. The locking mechanism keeps the blade secured in the knife frame till you overcome the initial locking force. The knife then opens all the way, usually in a snapping motion.
- Automatic knives – an automatic knife models closely to an assisted opening knife in how fast the blade comes out. Here, however, you rely on a button to get the knife out of the blade. Unless this button is depressed, the locking mechanism keeps the blade steel tucked safely away. In other parlance, they can also be referred to as switchblades.
Here are the best assisted opening knives for 2021
Now that you know what you are looking for, it is time to dig into some of the best and most affordable options you can put your money on today.
Kershaw Blur Everyday Carry Pocket Knife
- Blade length: 3.1 inches
- Blade type: Drop point
- The black-oxide finish gives better edge retention
- Wear resistance and improved toughness
- Pocket clip
- Liner lock addition
Best Alternative: Kershaw Clash Pocket Knife – More Affordable
Kershaw has made a name for itself in the knife niche, so it is little wonder they are my first choice here.
The premium design on the knife is fine, but that was not the first place I looked.
A knife is only as good as its blade, so it is worthy of note that this drop point blade will handle all of your cutting and piercing operations. I also like the location of the thumb stud which makes this knife accessible for both right- and left-handed users.
Looking past that, Kershaw knows how to make a blade that lasts long, retains the edge for longer, and doesn’t need sharpening at any excuse. This is a full straight blade, so if you would like partially serrated edges, see the alternative.
If you want the premium feel of an assisted opening knife that is legal to carry, this is the knife for you. The brand also has an alternative for those who don’t want to spend as much on their knives.
CRKT Assisted Folding EDC Pocket Knife
- Blade length: 3.9 inches
- Blade type: Tanto; Wharncliff blade
- Liner safety lock for extra security
- Corrosion-resistant knife blade steel
- Veff serrations for multipurpose usage
- Fiberglass handle material
- Stylish colors
Best Alternative: CRKT Radic Folding Knife
If there is one thing CRKT is known for, it is bringing a little bit of style into their knives. That design element is not lost on this EDC knife from the brand.
An exterior build that combines a fiberglass handle and corrosion-resistant steel with a titanium nitride finish protects your investment in this knife for the long term.
Choosing to go with a tanto blade instead, in line with the Wharncliff blade style, makes this knife great for stabbing. Besides that, the blade point also indicates a knife that would handle cutting and tearing operations quite well. Whether in the home or outdoors, this EDC is a nice companion to have.
SOG Flashback Assisted Folding Knife
- Blade length: 3.5 inches
- Blade type: Drop point
- Safety lock mechanism
- Ergonomic handle
- Bayonet pocket clip
Best Alternative: SOG Flare 3.5-inch Folding Knife
SOG maintains that this is not just one of the best assisted opening knives on the market, but the fastest too.
Now, I don’t know who they compared that against, but this knife opens pretty fast. It is even more impressive that SOG did not choose to go the conventional way of buttons, using a sturdy tug on the blade instead.
Looking at the handle – which is made of reinforced glass by the way – there is an extra button on there to help lock the blade in place when in use, or remove the lock and bring the blade back into the handle.
Everything on the handle, from the ergonomic design for easier handling to the choice of material for durability and extra buttons, justify the price point of this EDC knife. That, and SOG does make a mean knife anyway.
Benchmade Barrage 583 Tanto Spring Assisted Knife
- Blade length: 3.6 inches
- Blade type: Tanto
- Made in the USA
- Axis lock for either hand usage
Best Alternative: Benchmade Freek 560 with Drop Point Blade
The Benchmade Barrage 583 is available in either a fully straight edge or partially serrated edge, depending on your personal preference.
No matter which one you go for, you get the same drop point, high-quality assisted opening knife with an axis lock mechanism. The high tip of the blade makes it suitable for everyday carry activities while also finding tactical applications where need be.
At the price point that this knife comes in, it combines all the good things which a Benchmade mini will offer you plus the added tactical advantage, should you need it. For me, it is a better bargain than the Mini, unless you have eyes for the latter for a more particular reason.
I know this makes me vain, a little bit, but you cannot rule out the appeal and beauty of this knife either.
Smith & Wesson 3.6 inch Assisted Folding Knife
- Blade length: 3.6 inches
- Blade type: Clip point blade
- Tactical design
- Anodized aluminum handle
- Partially serrated knife
- Liner lock and safety lock
Best Alternative: Smith & Wesson Black Ops 3.4-inch drop point knife
Smith & Wesson might have made a name for themselves in the guns department, but they do know something about making good knives too. That is more reason why I trust them. Plus, the fact that they somehow manage to keep things very affordable, even though they are a brand big enough to command a premium if they wanted that.
Good for us, though. So, what makes this one special?
First glance tells you that this is one of those EDC-assisted opening knives that will serve you well in the long term. The anodized aluminum handle design is not only ergonomic for better grip, but the choice of material makes sense to keep the knife lightweight and functional too.
Smith & Wesson have always been big on safety. Here, I love the introduction of both a liner lock and safety lock mechanism to keep the knife blade safe and the user even safer.
Looking elsewhere, the partial serrations on the knife make it better for making sharper cuts on items with a tough exterior. Choosing to keep the serrations around the back also means that the straight front edge can be used for cutting operations not needing the jagged edges.
Overall, this is a sturdy knife that doesn’t break the laws.
Buying Guide: How I chose the best assisted opening knives
I did not just go out there and pick the first set of knives that I saw.
If you didn’t find anything to match your personal preference above, here are some of the factors to consider, as I did.
It is very rare to see me not going for a reputable brand.
Of course, some maintain that brands will only slap a higher premium on their items and you can get the same thing for cheaper elsewhere instead. That might be true sometimes.
But, think about this:
Would you rather buy a $20 knife now and have to change it in the next 6 months to one year, or get a $100 knife that easily lasts more than 6 years?
That reliability, trust, and value for money from the top brands is what makes me go for them all the time.
The good news is, you can find all of these brands below on Amazon:
Go through the knife identification guide here if you don’t know what the different kinds of blade types are – or what you need them for.
Once you are done with that section in the piece above, you know that not all kinds of blades should come onto your pocket knife.
The best blades for everyday carry are the drop point and spear point blades. They are more versatile than options like the clip point or tanto blade, even though the latter two are great too.
Anything besides those four (4) blades, I generally steer clear of them on my assisted opening knives.
So, I said you should not neglect the big brands. That does not mean you should pay above board to own an assisted opening knife either.
I generally recommend spends of between $45 – $75, on the low end, for quality assisted opening knives.
You can get options that are much cheaper than this, but I would not recommend them.
If you have more to spend, you can splash out up to $150 on the very best ones. Maybe up that offer to $175 if you’re feeling like it, but no more.
When you are just using your EDC knives as much as the majority of carriers, the initial price range I suggested is good for you.
Even though assisted opening knives are legal under most open carry laws, some conditions could make them illegal.
One of such conditions is the blade length – and how you conceal the knives.
For the blade length, you will observe that I only chose knives with blades no longer than 4 inches. That keeps you covered under most, if not all, of these laws. Please check and confirm with your local laws once again.
Likewise, I chose knives that come with pocket clips and lanyard holes. So, if you live in a region where you can openly carry these knives (not concealed), those added features keep you within the legal limits.
This sort of comes as an added advantage of going with the trusted brands.
These manufacturers invest so much in safety cos they have a name to protect.
All of the knives on this list have an internal liner that keeps the knife edge from touching the inside of the handle. That way, the blade can stay sharp for long without suffering jagged edges.
On the other hand, there is a safety lock mechanism to ensure the knife doesn’t deploy on the slightest impact when inside your pockets, for example.
Frequently Asked Questions
I collected some of the other questions that you might have about these knives here.
As more important questions emerge, I’ll update this section to give you the best overview of these knives as you might need them.
How legal are assisted opening knives?
Assisted opening knives might mimic automatic knives but they are not the same, Thus, they are considered legal under knife laws in all 50 states of the United States.
To ensure total compliance with the regulations, check the resident knife laws to see if the blade length and other provisions conform to your assisted opening knives.
How do I sharpen an assisted opening knife?
The mode of opening might be different, but this is still a folding knife at the end of the day.
Thus, you can sharpen the knife in the same way you would a regular pocket knife. I have written a comprehensive folding knife sharpening guide here that you can check out. I also included tips in sharpening serrated edges, in case you go for one of those partially-serrated assisted opening knives that I recommended above.
What’s your preferred pick?
Of all the assisted opening knives discussed here, as well as their alternatives, which is your best? I’d like to hear from you in the comments section. Don’t forget to tell me what stood out to you the most about that knife also.
Likewise, let me know if you have had/ still have an assisted opening knife that is not on this list. Everyone here, including me, would like to know what you loved about the knife and how well it is still serving you.