This round of infographics focuses on something extremely important but seemingly complicated: locking mechanisms. You might be able to name off the different types of locking mechanisms, but do you really understand how they work? Have you really ever seen the inner workings of a knife? If you are already an all-knowing, locking mechanism master, then pat yourself on the back. If you don’t know much about locking mechanisms, fear not; we’ve got them broken down for you so you don’ t have to take your knife apart and void that oh-so-wonderful warranty.
This is just part one of this infographic series. It focuses on some (but not all) of the most common generic locking mechanisms. Part two will focus on brand-specific locking mechanisms like the compression lock.
Another side note: We are planning on combining this two-part infographic into one giant infographic, but we have it split up into separate sections for the blog to make it larger and easier to read.
Slip joint locks are very common in traditional pocket knives, but they can be found in other types of knives as well. When open, a leaf-spring mechanism keeps the blade in place. When enough pressure is applied to the back of the blade, it can be pushed closed. See different styles of slip joints in our Best Traditional Knives guide.
Modernized by Michael Walker, the liner lock utilizes a liner inside the knife handle. When opened, the liner gets snapped under the tang of the blade, and the liner must also be pushed to the side to allow the blade to be unlocked and return to its closed position.
“Frame lock” is the generic term used to refer to the Reeve Integral Lock (RIL), which was developed by Chris Reeve. The frame lock functions like a liner lock, except it uses a partial cutout of the actual handle, not a liner, to lock the blade in place.
The back lock or lockback utilizes a rocker arm located on the spine of the knife handle with a leaf spring to hold it under tension. When open, the rocker arm fits into a notch at the end of the blade’s tang to lock it in place. Pushing on the rocker arm causes it to pivot and unlock the blade, allowing it to be closed again.
This type of lock is mainly found in automatic knives, and it’s also referred to as a plunge lock. A button must be pushed to release the blade, and on autos, it must be pushed to deploy the blade. The button must be pushed again to unlock and close the blade.
What’s your favorite locking mechanism? Check out our Pocket Knife Lock Types Guide for a more in-depth look.