Superb Switchblades – Top 10 Automatic Knives

For those whose lives and the lives of those they serve depend on the tools they carry, speed and dependability can make all the difference in the world. Enter the automatic knife, or switchblades as they are commonly known, a knife that contains an internal mechanism operated by an actuating button to deploy the knife’s blade. The legality of owning and carrying these types of knives vary from state to state, but switchblades and automatic knives are very serious tools and as such are normally reserved for military and Law Enforcement professionals only. After reading our post on the Top 10 Tactical Tomahawks many of our friends in the L/E, security, and military sectors requested we do a similar breakdown for switchblades. We’ve heard their call and thus tried to deliver dependable info they can rely on. So, in no particular order here is our list of the Top 10 Automatic Knives:


1. Gerber DMF Automatic Knife

The DMF model, which is an acronym for Dual Multi Function, comes from the military line of Gerber tools. The “dual” in Dual Multi Function is all about the ambidextrous ability of this automatic knife.  The blade’s deployment button is accessible on both sides of the Gerber DMF auto so that it can be used equally well in either hand you find the need to use.  And by locating the safety switch on the spine of the handle, it further accommodates lefties and righties. This particular DMF model sports a solid tanto shape with partially serrated blade made of S30V steel. S30V is a hardened stainless steel that offers quality corrosion resistance and although some manufactures have had some difficulties in gaining a consistent heat-treat, this Gerber should exhibit better than average sharpness and toughness.  The nicely shaped handle is made of G10 which offers a nice robust feel while benefiting from low weight. The end of the knife handle has a wide hole for mounting paracord or lanyard and the pommel comes to a blunt point to aid the user in smashing through whatever is in their way.

  • Blade Shape: Tanto (half Serrated)
  • Blade Material: CPM S30V Steel
  • Blade Length: 3.50″
  • Open Length: 7.35″
  • Closed Length: 4.45″
  • Weight: 6.70 OZ
  • Handle Material: G10



Spyderco Embassy Automatic Knife2. Spyderco Embassy Automatic Knife

This stylish switchblade by Spyderco looks good and feels even better. Spyderco bills it as the ambassador of their automatic knife lineup, and for good reason. As a very affordable option, the Embassy Auto has a nicely finished aluminum handle with a wicked Wharncliffe shaped blade in CPM S30V steel. The release button is recessed in the handle so that the blade won’t accidentally be deployed, when set down on a hard surface for example, and features a secondary lock button as a further safety measure. Although this automatic knife is set up primarily for right handers, the three position pocket clip can be easily swapped for tip up or tip down carry for either right or left handers.

  • Blade Shape:  Wharncliffe (Flat saber-ground)
  • Blade Material: CPM S30V Steel
  • Blade Length: 3.125″
  • Open Length: 7.375″
  • Closed Length: 4.281″
  • Weight: 3.60 OZ
  • Handle Material: Aluminum Handle with G10 insert



MOD Harkins Triton Switchblade3. Masters Of Defense Harkins Triton

If you’ve seen James Bond: Quantum of Solace, you may recall a bad guy attacking 007 with a slick looking switchblade. That automatic knife was none other than the Harkins Triton by Masters of Defense. Jeff A. Harkins is a master knife builder and the designer of this beautiful Automatic OTF (Out The Front) knife. The masterpieces Mr. Harkins creates with his own two hands are extremely limited and will cost you a pretty penny, so this collaboration with MOD is a welcome opportunity to own one of the definitive tactical automatics on the market. The Triton is a double action OTF which means it fires the blade from the top of the handle by pressing a release switch forward, then retracts the blade back into the handle by moving the lever in the opposite directions. The combo edge 3.6” blade is made of 154CM stainless steel and coated in a black DLC finish to match the all black case.

  • Blade Shape: Spear (Combo edge)
  • Blade Material: 154CM Stainless Steel
  • Blade Length: 3.375″
  • Open Length: 8.375″
  • Closed Length: 4.875″
  • Weight: 4.1 OZ
  • Handle Material: Aluminum Handle with textured inserts



Benchmade Bedlam Automatic Knife4. Benchmade 8600 Auto Bedlam

This unique side opening automatic knife by Benchmade is the 8600 Auto Bedlam. This big bad boy features an aggressive upswept scimitar-like blade available in either plane or combo edge. The G10 handle has a very organic texture of raised ridges which slightly aids in grip and gives this switchblade one of its most distinguishing characteristics.  The Bedlam auto knife features Benchmade’s Auto-AXIS lock, a fully ambidextrous design that positions a small bar that extends through a slot on both sides of the handle and deploys the blade when slid forward. Because the button runs through the handle it can be depressed from either side and gives more versatility for both left or right handed users, and a safety lock is located on the spine of the knife for added versatility and simple access for either hand also.

  • Blade Shape: Upswept (Combo edge)
  • Blade Material: 154CM Stainless Steel
  • Blade Length: 4″
  • Open Length: 9.76″
  • Closed Length: 5.76″
  • Weight: 7.3 OZ
  • Handle Material: G10



Piranha Excalibur OTF automatic knife5. Piranha Excalibur OTF Automatic Knife

This double action Out The Front (OTF) tactical knife from Piranha is called the Excalibur.  As mentioned above, double-action refers to the ability of the knife to deploy and retract the knife blade with a single hand; sliding the button that activates the release mechanism for this switchblade also retracts the blade once slid in the other direction.  The aggressive shape of the double edged dagger with partial serrations on each side definitely lives up to the nasty namesake of the brand Piranha. The handle design is a cool coffin shape that is pretty common to OTF automatics in the Harkins style. Made from aircraft grade alloy, the handle is strong and light, and although it doesn’t’ feature a texture for positive grip reinforcement it does get style points for interesting finish options like the camo version shown above.

  • Blade Shape: Spear
  • Blade Material: 154CM Stainless Steel
  • Blade Length: 3.2″
  • Open Length: 7.9″
  • Closed Length: 4.75″
  • Weight: 4.4 OZ
  • Handle Material: 6061-T6 Type 3 Hard Coat Anodized Aircraft Alloy




Zero Tolerance Automatic Switchblade Knife6. Zero Tolerance 610ST Automatic Knife

This purpose built little beast is the Zero Tolerance 610ST Automatic Knife. ZT (Zero Tolerance) as their name implies takes their role as knife manufactures very seriously, aiming to produce products of the highest caliber. This switchblade features a tanto style blade of 154CM stainless steel with with a black DLC coating and combo blade that is partially serrated. Aircraft grade aluminum handles features textured finish for excellent gripping surface and lend to the purpose-built look. The firing button is only one sided, but solid enough to operate with gloves on, and a slide safety is located just under the button for added convenience and security. Overall a very solid side-folding switchblade that feels great in the hand.

  • Blade Shape: Tanto
  • Blade Material: 154CM Stainless Steel
  • Blade Length: 3.5″
  • Open Length: 8.75″
  • Closed Length: 5.25″
  • Weight: 5 OZ
  • Handle Material: 6061-T6 Aircraft Alluminum with G10 scales




SOG Tac Automatic Knife7. SOG TAC Automatic Knife

If you’re looking for a basic but reliable automatic knife on a budget, then the SOG TAC Automatic Knife may be just what the doctor ordered. It’s a big knife, but has a slim profile that makes it a suitable choice for everyday carry. And while the plain exterior may not be gaining you any envious stares, it has the ability to take a beating and get the job done. The straight edge drop point blade is made from AUS-8; which can be razor sharp when given a good edge, but results can very on how well it holds that edge. If your’e the type that needs an automatic knife they can slam around without fear and isn’t afraid of the sharpening stone, the SOG TAC is a good choice.

  •  Blade Shape: Drop Point
  • Blade Material: AUS-8 Stainless Steel
  • Blade Length: 3.5″
  • Open Length: 8″
  • Closed Length: 4.5″
  • Weight: 3.8 OZ
  • Handle Material: Anodized Alloy 6061-T6




Benchmade Infidel Automatic Knife8. Benchmade 3300 Infidel OTF

The Benchmade Infidel is the brand’s top-of-the-line Out The Front automatic. This double edge dagger is deployed at lightning speed with the firm press of the sliding release button. There’s little doubt this is a serious tool and because it’s a double-action auto it can be fired and retracted by the slide of a button, requiring just one hand to use and put away again. The blade is made of D2 Tool Steel, and while some contend D2 is not the top choice for knives, when done correctly D2 can deliver great results and withstand years of harsh treatment. The Benchmade Infidel is not the showiest of OTFs but it will  take – and deliver – a serious beating.

  • Blade Shape: Dagger (Double Edge)
  • Blade Material: D2 Tool Steel
  • Blade Length: 3.91″
  • Open Length: 8.91″
  • Closed Length: 5″
  • Weight: 4.9 OZ
  • Handle Material: Anodized 6061-T6 Aluminum Handle




Microtech Combat Troodon Automatic Switchblade Knife9. Microtech Combat Troodon OTF 

This awesome Out The Front switchblade by Microtech is the Combat Troodon OTF. If you are looking for a hardcore and heavy-duty OTF, then this double action dagger is a solid choice. Unlike most OTF automatic knives, the trigger is placed on the spine of the handle, which we found made for a much more natural transition from firing the blade to using the knife.  The blade itself is one of the meanest looking we’ve come across, and this double edged dagger is made of S35-VN which is scary sharp and displays excellent edge retention. Actuating and retracting the blade feels very solid and seems to lock up tighter than most other OTFs. The T6 handle is a simple design, but features nicely machined grooves for positive gripping and includes quality details like the claw logo and specialty screws holding everything tightly in place. Generally, Out The Front automatic knives are pretty thick due to the mechanisms required for them to function, even more so if it is a double-action OTF, but the Combat Troodon feels surprisingly slim and light for being such a large knife. In keeping with its nasty nature, the Microtech Combat Troodon also features a stylized glass breaker spike sure to handle whatever smashing needs the operator may have.

  • Blade Shape: Dagger (Double Edge)
  • Blade Material: CPM S35-VN
  • Blade Length: 3.75″
  • Open Length: 9″
  • Closed Length: 5.25″
  • Weight: 5.5 OZ
  • Handle Material: Anodized Alloy 6061-T6




Pro-Tech TR-4 automatic Knives10. Pro-Tech Tactical Response 4 (TR-4)

The Tactical Response 4 from Pro-Tech Knives is one of the best all-around automatics for any tactical operation you may find yourself in. Pro-Tech is a family owned business specializing in switchblades, and they make limited numbers of their knives in small batches so as to ensure high levels of quality and maintain excellent craftsmanship. The TR-4 is the fourth generation of their tactical automatic knife series, and this beast is BIG. The long drop point blade and ample handle give plenty of options for how this automatic knife can be utilized, along with providing for various gripping preferences. The build quality of this automatic knife is outstanding. The whole knife has a very solid feel with refined construction and tight tolerances. There is absolutely no play in the blade or actuation button. Even the safety selector, a place many manufactures skimp, has a solid feel and audible snap when engaged. The handle has been well machined with plenty of finger grooves and ridges for great grip feel and the pommel features a steel glass breaker and large lanyard loop opening. The firing button and safety switch are only one sided, but recessed into the handle as an additional safety and leave plenty of room to be utilized with a gloved hand. There are many options available for the ProTech Tactical Response 4, many of which feature a 154-CM stainless blade in various finishes, but they also offer more refined versions of the TR-4 switchblade like the beauty shown above. This model has a steel frame in sleek stonewash finish, black DLC glass breaker, push button with pearl insert, and an awesome Damascus blade from Chad Nichols to create a very capable and drool-worthy automatic knife.

  • Blade Shape: Drop Point
  • Blade Material: Chad Nichols Damascus (154-CM Stainless Steel TYP.)
  • Blade Length: 4″
  • Open Length: 9.25″
  • Closed Length: 5.25″
  • Weight: 5.4 OZ
  • Handle Material: Anodized Alloy 6061-T6






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