There are numerous advantages to owning a one-hand knife. It’s always at hand when you need it. From opening letters to cutting an apple on the go – the knife is a useful helper in every situation.
The following is about all the advantages that it brings with it. There is also an insight into the various opening and closing mechanisms as well as the handle materials. Of course, there are also valuable tips on cleaning and maintenance.
The advantages of a pocket knife that can be operated with one hand
Different areas of application require the use of different knives – the one-hand knife, which is popular in many areas, is considered particularly versatile. As the name suggests, one-hand knives are models with an opening aid on the handle, with which the blade can be unfolded with just one hand. This way, one hand remains free and the wearer remains flexible.
Some models can also be folded in with one hand, although this function is not decisive for the categorization as a one-hand knife. The advantages of buying a pocket knife that can be operated with one hand and which model is right for you are shown in a clear list of all the special features. The competent team at Knife Master is very knowledgeable and is happy to advise you on all the basics.
Variations – the opening aid determines the model
One-hand pocket knives differ in their function and construction, especially with regard to their opening mechanism. The mechanism enables the one-handed operation of the pocket knife without the risk of injury and time-consuming pulling out.
The most commonly used opening mechanism is the so-called opening pin, a pin that is firmly connected to the blade and is usually attached with rivets or screws. With this opening mechanism, the blade is pushed back and forth with the thumb, just like with the stylishly crafted outdoor carbon one-hand knife.
The opening pin provides a great advantage. It allows a knife to be easily converted to a two-handed opening without any noticeable loss of appearance.
However, there is a disadvantage when sharpening the blade. The pin is simply in the way of the grindstone, which makes the process difficult. In addition, it can be perceived as annoying if the knife is pulled out of your trouser pocket, for example.
Another variant of the one-hand knife is the patented folding system with a hole in the blade. The blade has a finger-sized hole that makes it easier to open and close the knife. Models with this opening aid allow for an attractive design – the hole and handle are matched to one another, as is the case with the functional Pazoda 2 by CRKT in an aesthetic metallic look.
The flipper as an opening mechanism
The third common opening aid for pocket knives, which can be opened with one hand and, depending on the version, also closed again, is the so-called flipper.
It can be described as a small nose that protrudes from the blade hinge. When the one-hand knife is closed, it protrudes from the spine of the booklet. With a little practice, the blade can be folded out by quickly pulling back the lever protruding from the spine.
A smooth blade hinge is particularly important with a pinball machine. The reason for this is that the finger gives the blade only a slight impulse because of the short path. This is achieved with washers or ball bearings.
On some models, a small cam holds the blade in place lightly. This allows the finger to build up a little more strength. Other models, on the other hand, nonetheless require a quick sweeping motion from the wrist in order for the knife to open completely.
The flipper doubles as a crossguard when the one-hand knife is unfolded. This is a small cross piece between the handle and the blade. It is used to protect your own hand. It prevents the blade from slipping forward, which can happen quickly, especially when cutting hard clippings.
The pinball machine is often combined with an opening pin. The pocket knife with ball bearing 1013BK from MTech USA with a stainless steel handle is an example of a flipper pocket knife with a ball bearing that can be operated with one hand; certain models also work with the help of washers. Pocket knives with ball bearings that can be operated with one hand are legal in the USA, unlike switchblades.
Switchblade knife: one-hand operated knife with an automatic opening mechanism
Like a switchblade, any knife applies with an automatic opening mechanism or a spring-assisted opening aid.
Laymen like to equate one-handed and switchblade knives. There are some significant differences. For example, switchblades open automatically as soon as a button is pressed. One-hand knives, on the other hand, have to be unfolded by hand.
However, there is some kind of intermediate stage. Such knives are equipped with what is known as an “assisted opener”. This is a folding mechanism that is supported by springs. The knife has to be opened by hand up to a certain point. Then a spring takes over and brings the blade into its final position.
In the USA, switchblades with a total length of more than 12 cm and a blade length of more than 5 cm are considered weapons and may only be purchased with a permit. In contrast to firearms, which are required to practice certain sports, it is difficult to justify a license for a switchblade. Carrying switchblades even requires an appropriate weapon license.
These are only issued to the police, private detectives, bodyguards, and similar professional groups and are only rarely used to carry a switchblade. For the sake of simplicity, switchblades are to be regarded as simply forbidden in the USA.
Pocket knife with lockable blade: Locking mechanism for one-hand knives and other folding knives allowed since 2008.
The mechanism for locking the blade is often confused with the opening mechanism. A locking mechanism is used to lock and unlock the blade of a pocket knife and has been allowed in US since 2008. This makes the handling of a knife much safer and is standard with most one-hand knives and many other pocket knives.
Nevertheless, there are also critical voices. Why it is like that? Because one-hand knives can be opened within a few seconds, even by potential attackers. They reach into their trouser pockets for a moment, take out the knife and open it quickly and unobtrusively behind their backs.
In addition, if an attacker stabs it, it does not collapse because the blade is locked. This increases the risk to the victim. It looks different with a folding knife without a fixed blade. It would collapse when stabbed and injure the attacker himself.
However, the explanation of all common and somewhat more specific locking mechanisms offers enough information to make another blog article out of it. So stay tuned.
About the locking mechanisms of one-hand knives
Locking mechanisms ensure that the knife does not close accidentally and thus contribute significantly to safety. Basically, almost all mechanisms can be used with one-hand knives that are also used with knives that can be operated with two hands. A few of the most common representatives should now be presented:
- Liner lock
- Frame lock
The most widespread one-hand knife is the liner lock. There is a steel leaf spring along the blade. When the knife is closed, the blade pushes this spring to the side. When opening it jumps behind the blade and locks it in place.
If the knife is to be closed again, the spring must be pushed to the side with the thumb. At the same time, the index finger presses the back of the blade and the blade is locked.
The frame lock is a variation of the liner lock. The grip shell has an elastic part that serves as a leaf spring. The frame lock allows the use of a thicker spring, which is a clear advantage. However, the spring also determines the handle design.
As a result, the lock can be accidentally released more often than with a liner lock. The process of closing, on the other hand, is identical to the liner lock.
The slip joint is known from the classic pocket knife. A spring holds the blade open. To close, all you have to do is overcome its resistance, there is no mechanical lock. However, the slip joint is rarely used on one-hand knives.
Lockback and Axislock
The Lockback closure is also less common among one-hand knives, but it still occurs and should therefore be mentioned. If a knife is opened with this lock, a hammer hooks behind the blade. A lever in the back of the knife must be pressed to close.
With classic versions of the Lockback, the release is located quite far back. Closing with one hand, therefore, requires a lot of practice. This is sometimes even impossible with long blades. That is why there are newer variations that move the release closer to the hinge.
These are then referred to as “mid lock” or “font lock”. These models make it easier to press the release button with your thumb while pressing down the blade with your index finger.
Last but not least, the Axis lock should be mentioned briefly. It is a very stable system. The blade of an open one-hand knife with such a lock is held by a spring-loaded bolt. To close, this bolt must be pushed back and the blade closed.
An insight into the handle materials
When asked which handle material is the best, every respondent answered differently. Because that is mainly a matter of taste. Nevertheless, it is very important how the knife lies in the hand because its performance depends on it. Therefore, an overview of the most common handle materials, as well as their advantages and disadvantages, follows.
When buying, the prospect has the choice between handles from:
- stainless steel
- fiberglass reinforced nylon
Stainless steel impresses with its very long service life, as it has considerable corrosion resistance. However, compared to other materials, it is quite heavy and can also be slippery. In order to eliminate the latter point of criticism, the steel is often roughened.
Combinations with rubber or plastic are also quite common. These should increase the grip. Steel is rarely used as a handle material for one-hand knives, which is simply due to the weight.
Light aluminum handles
Aluminum is significantly lighter, which is why it is very often used as a handle material. In addition, there is its very high durability. Despite its low weight, it makes a massive impression, but at the same time is light in the hand. The aluminum alloy T6-6061 is most frequently used because it impresses with its very flexible hardness.
This material is also roughened to ensure a good grip. Elevations in the knife handle are also possible. If left untreated, aluminum, like steel, can be very slippery. But here, too, there is a negative aspect to be mentioned: The material is quite susceptible to scratches. So if you attach great importance to long-lasting optical integrity, you should use other materials.
Hard and sturdy G10 handles
G10 is robust and light at the same time. This is a layered material made of fiberglass. The fiberglass layers are dipped in resin, then compressed and pressed under the influence of enormous heat. G10 owes its hardness and robustness to this process. So that handles made of G10 also sit comfortably in the hand, they are often given a scaly texture or slightly roughened.
In terms of its properties, G10 is very similar to carbon fiber, but it is significantly cheaper. The models are very popular not only because of their low weight and durability. In addition, the material allows different colors.
Inexpensive fiberglass reinforced nylon
In contrast to the G10, the fiber strands in the glass fiber reinforced nylon have a completely random arrangement. However, the manufacturing process is almost identical. This material is also dipped into a resin mass, compressed and hot molded, and pressed.
Glass fiber reinforced nylon is quite cheap because it is injection molded and can therefore be made into almost any shape. If you have handles made of this material in your hand, you get an inexpensive plastic feel. It is also less grippy than, for example, the G10.
Take good care of a one-hand knife
Anyone who has finally found a high-quality one-hand knife that meets all their own requirements naturally wants to keep it for a long time. In order for it to bring joy to the owner for many years, it must be well looked after. Otherwise, it will lose quality, and safe working with it is also at risk. Proper maintenance is therefore essential.
What may sound like a lot of work at first, is actually not at all. Basically, three things are crucial:
Anyone who has already gained some experience with knives knows that a blunt specimen can quickly become a source of danger. What seems contradictory is still true, because blunt knives are more difficult to handle. It takes significantly more force to penetrate the clippings with a blunt blade. This makes the entire movement much more uncontrolled, and the risk of slipping and getting injured increases.
It is also possible that the knife could break due to the amount of force applied to it. In addition, of course, there is an unclean cut. To prevent all of this, the blade of the knife needs to be sharpened regularly. As soon as you can feel that the knife is penetrating the clippings more and more, it’s time to sharpen.
The blade can be sharpened with these utensils, for example:
- Sharpening steel
- Knife sharpener
- Whetstone or whetstone
Whetstones or whetstones are popular because they deliver a particularly good final sharpness. You start with coarse grain size and work your way up to increasingly fine grain size. The result is a razor-sharp blade that, when used properly, no longer causes any problems when cutting.
Nowadays, particularly hard types of steel are very often used, which can pose a great challenge to traditional whetstones and whetstones. Water whetstones, for example, can help. Of course, these are not suitable for on the go. Then you can fall back on diamond sharpening stones. They are used dry and therefore require less preparation time. The application is therefore significantly less complex.
Clean and lubricate carefully
Keeping the knife clean is not rocket science as long as a few things are observed. A very important point is moisture. It is one of the greatest enemies of steel blades. On the one hand, it can cause rust, on the other hand, it can also cause problems with the mechanisms that are built into the knife. It is therefore important to dry the knife well afterward.
Compressed air is helpful to remove dust and other dirt from the nooks and crannies. This means that hard-to-reach areas can be easily blown out. If you want to clean your knife particularly thoroughly, you can completely disassemble it. Then all the individual parts can be carefully cleaned and, if necessary, oiled.