Everyone who carries every day has been around a frame lock and a lock back. These are as elemental to folding knife lock styles as steel is to a blade.
And, while liner locks, frame locks, and lock backs are still very popular mechanisms, there are some new(-ish) lock styles that have been soaring in popularity. The following are the two you need to discover (if you haven’t yet).
Kershaw calls it a DuraLock, Schrade calls it a Pivot Lock, CKRT calls it a Deadbolt Lock, and Kizer calls it a Clutch Lock. Call it what you want, they are all variations on a theme pioneered by Benchmade in 1988.
This lock style, which Benchmade calls an AXIS Lock (and which is generically known as a bar lock) is a revolutionary knife lock style that has utterly transformed the world of folding knives thanks to its simplicity, strength, safety, and friendliness to both right and left-handed users.
The basic design in each of them (notwithstanding the minor variations) is the same. The lock consists of a cylindrical bar set into a slot between the liners and the scales. The bar can slide backward and forward in the slot.
When the bar is slid to the rear, it allows the blade to swing freely open and closed. In the forward position, the bar locks into place in a recess machined into the shoulder of the knife blade. A U- or Ω-shaped spring applies pressure to the bar, keeping (but not locking) the knife closed when the bar is at the rear and locking the knife open when the bar is forward and the knife opened.
The open or close the knife, the user simply has to pull the bar to the rear against the pressure of the spring, allowing the blade to swing freely.
Since the bar extends from one side of the knife to the other, AXIS-style locks are friendly to both right and left-handed users. They are also exceptionally strong, can be operated with one hand, and keep the user’s fingers out of the path of the blade’s travel when closing.
But there’s more. In 2018, the utility patent on the AXIS lock expired, and since then, other knife manufacturers have been reiterating this style in droves.
Look out for them in all of this year’s lists of “best new knives.” You’ll see them there, featured on many a CRKT, Kizer, Schrade, and Kershaw pocket knife.
The next hot lock we need to cover is a button lock. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll see this lock style featured on many hot new knives, including the CJRB Pyrite, CIVIVI Elementum II, and CRKT BT Fighter.
The button lock offers a lot of the advantages of the AXIS-style lock, including the facts that it neither favors right nor left-handed users and that it is strong and easy to use.
When closed, the button lock may or may not lock the blade closed through a crossbar or crossbolt. On opening, however, the blade swings forward until the lock bar, which under pressure from a spring, engages a hole, slot or recess in the blade, locking it open.
To close the knife, the user simply has to depress the button (which disengages the lock bar) and swing the knife closed.
Like the AXIS-style lock, button locks do not favor one hand over the other, can be operated with one hand, are strong and reliable, and keep the user’s hands out of the way of the blade when closing. Button locks also tend to be very fidget friendly.
Looking for a Hot New CRKT or Kershaw Pocket Knife with One of These Locks?
Good news is that, whatever your brand loyalties may be, there are a lot of knifemakers jumping on this trend. Expect to find knives from Schrade, Buck, Kershaw, CRKT, CJRB, CIVIVI, Kizer, and many others getting on board. Most of them already have, so whether you’re looking for a (semi) traditional Buck of a bleeding-edge Kershaw pocket knife, you’ll be able to find at least one with some variation of a button lock or an AXIS-style lock, regardless of what they call it.
If you’re looking for new Schrade, CIVIVI, Kershaw knives (or other pocket knives) check out White Mountain Knives online at WhiteMountainKnives.com. They carry a wide range of high-quality fixed blades and pocket knives that are perfect for everyday carry, including automatic knives and options with assisted opening mechanisms.
Check out their collection via the previous link and if you’re looking for a specific model, get in touch with them at WhiteMountainKnives@gmail.com today.