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Most reliable folding knife lock?

Discussion in 'Knives' started by Splat, Dec 26, 2007.

  1. Splat

    Splat Loaded Pockets

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    I don't know if this is a dead-horse question.,,,, With so many different styles/types of locking mechanisms for folding knives these days, is there a generally-considered best, most reliable, one? Thanks.
    --
    Splat
     
  2. jackknife

    jackknife Loaded Pockets

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    I've had alot of different locking blade knives, from the old Buck 110 to the Gerber bolt action, to a liner lock. I think for plain old simple realiability the Opinel has to be up there. You have to put the blade in a vice and force the blade down, then the locking ring digs into the wood handle and you have to keep presure on it to force it to 90 degrees. You destroy the knife of course. It's a pretty reliable lock.
     
  3. bquinlan

    bquinlan Loaded Pockets

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    I think most people who've looked into the question have concluded that the type of lock is less important than its design and construction. For instance, I'm inclined to trust any type of lock on a Spyderco. However, some types do seem to be harder to mess up than others. :) In general, lockbacks and framelocks are among the most reliable while liner locks are among the least.

    --Bob Q
     
  4. HoopleHead

    HoopleHead Banned

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    personally im a framelock fan
     
  5. RGNY

    RGNY Empty Pockets

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    quality and execution win this one.

    by quality, i mean fit and finish, how the part 'mate'.

    by execution, i mean 'does the design protect against accidental unlocking in heavy use?'.

    the Boye detent did a lot for back locks, the Sebenza showed what framelocks could be, etc....


    on basic design, i'm partial to balisongs. to bad about the 'mall ninja' reputation. i still edc rotate one though.
     
  6. Codeman

    Codeman Loaded Pockets

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    The short answer is no. There's lots of opinions, but there isn't a consensus on a single best. I seriously doubt that there ever will be since locks are, by nature, a compromise between a fixed-blade's simplicity and a folder's convenience. As long as the need for the compromise exists, approaches to it will vary. Some will be more suitable to certain users for certain tasks, while others will be better for other users. Under such conditions, a best pick simply can't exist. But it can lead to some fun discussions! So...

    If it weren't for the varied laws on them and fickled public perception of them, a Benchmade Balisong would top my list as most reliable, over my Axis Locks, Spyderco's, even my Sebenza. It's not even a close race. A well-built Balisong is, from a lock standpoint, as close to a fixed blade as a folder can get. It also has fewer possible failure modes than any other lock mechanism.
     
  7. TKC

    TKC Loaded Pockets

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    My favorite and personal preference is for frame locks. They have been exceptionally reliable for me.
     
  8. phatch

    phatch Loaded Pockets

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    Axis lock is my preference and none of the clones (Arc, Ball etc.).

    I've never held a framelock that did not flex disconcertingly. Lockbacks are pretty good but a little pocket lint can defeat them.

    Balis are very good.
     
  9. TKC

    TKC Loaded Pockets

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    I have never had any issues with frame locks. I have never had any of them flex.
     
  10. phatch

    phatch Loaded Pockets

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    I mean the lock bar itself. I can feel the lockbar flex in my grip.

    And while not a reliability issue, the way the grip shifts right at my forefinger with a framelock engaged is a bad trade-off for use in my opinion.
     
  11. Chux

    Chux Loaded Pockets

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    Personally I'll pretty much judge each knife I have individually as you might get a badly made rogue from any source. However, as a general rule, I don't trust liner locks for heavy use and I have great concerns as to whether Spyderco ballbearing locks/ Benchmade AXIS locks can deal well with dirt or crud in the mechanism.
     
  12. RGNY

    RGNY Empty Pockets

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    a search on Bladeforums will turn up a torture test (or two) for the Axis lock. while i don't care for Benchmade, they showed that even when working around dirt and mud the Axis could be handled with a good rinsing in clean water and some basic lubrication.

    big downfall of the Axis is that long term users have found that the omega springs eventually break, like any other spring....
     
  13. HoopleHead

    HoopleHead Banned

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    although i will say that from my online research, axis locks do come manually disengaged when held in some grips while doing some work, when torquing. true, the same has happened on framelocks, but doesnt seems to happen as often as with axis locks.

    the arc lock has been shown to fail during spine whack tests, although take that as you will if you think spine whack tests are legit or not.
     
  14. Codeman

    Codeman Loaded Pockets

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    Not all of them. I have one that's been in use since 1998 and it's still going just fine. I don't abuse it, but it has been thumb-flicked open daily during the past 9 years. Based on comparisons to an identical knife bought at the same time as a backup and never used, the spring tension has not decreased noticably. Plus, I own 16 other Axis Locks and none of them have failed. Now, if the knife is forcefully flung open via wrist action, I could see the springs breaking. But such treatment is concerned abuse, which is why I don't treat my knives that way.

    Of course, a spring might break tomorrow. If it does, I'll consider that a part that served me quite well, and I'll send the knife to Benchmade for a new spring. :)

    In general, I value my own experience and that of those I know and trust, over what I see on the internet. Reader beware!
     
  15. RGNY

    RGNY Empty Pockets

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    oh, absolutely. i wasn't trying to say that the failing of the Axis was that the springs break, just that it has happened and that all things wear out in time. (as i reread my post, i see it was poorly worded)

    i'll definately go with personal experience. i had an Emerson with horrible lockup and was told by fans that it must have been a bad QC. so i went to a show for my next one and every single Emerson i picked up had lousy lockup. if i ever find a Commander with decent part fit, i'll probably buy it, but it hasn't happened yet. whereas every Spyderco Military (for example) has had excellent lockup. so i go with Spyderco, based on personal experience.
     
  16. carrot

    carrot Loaded Pockets

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    I'd say any modern locking mechanism on a quality folder is going to be reliable.

    If I had to pick two locking mechanisms that I felt were overall the most reliable, I'd say the Chris Reeve Integral Lock (frame lock) and the Spyderco Compression Lock (like a cross between the liner lock and Axis). I believe when the Spyderco Stop Lock comes out, it will also be among my top locking mechanisms.

    Reason for this is, both are known to be extremely strong locks, and lockup is generally not affected by debris or particulate matter. They are both very simple in design -- the lock is a simple spring bar and only relies on four main parts -- the pivot, stop pin, tang, and lockbar. In the Integral lock, failure is unlikely because the hand gripping the knife puts pressure on the lockbar itself, and squeezing pressure only tightens the lockup. This design takes the one greatest weakness of the otherwise superb (when well-designed) Walker Liner lock -- lock bar slippage -- and makes it nearly impossible when the knife is gripped in most positions. The Compression lock's reliability is also inherent to the design -- it uses a spring bar like the liner lock, but put the locking bar above the blade pivot, and suddenly there's no possibility of lock slippage. This takes advantage of the same physical forces the Axis lock does, but with less moving parts, and much less sensitivity to debris. The Compression lock correctly (from a physical standpoint) utilizes more certain properties of the locking mechanism -- physical strength, instead of spring tension or friction. Once the lock clicks into place (which it will with as much certainty as one can say about the liner or integral lock), the only possible failure is if either the stop pin and lockbar are physically broken (no easy task, if you examine closely the design of a compression lock knife) or the pivot and the components it holds together (blade, handle/scales) break.

    After those two, I'd pick the Spyderco Ball lock, Benchmade Axis lock, and well-made (Spyderco) lockbacks.

    Once engaged, failure is only possible when the main (and usually sturdily built) component of the lock breaks -- the ball bearing, lock pin, and lock bar, respectively. But their weakness lies in a susceptibility to debris, from what I can tell by examining the design -- enough grit, lint, or large matter will prevent the lock from even fully engaging. In the Axis with its more delicate Omega springs, the small springs are more prone to breakage than most other designs. Thoughtfully, Benchmade utilizes two Omega springs.

    Liner locks CAN be reliable, but I'd say they are amongst the weakest of the designs I have outlined.
     
  17. faca

    faca Loaded Pockets

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    what do you think abour OPINEL system?
    For me is very segure but a little slow to operate and you need to use two hands.......
     
  18. Smith357

    Smith357 Empty Pockets

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    I have used all the current systems and have never abused a knife to the point of failure, and I abuse the hell out of my knives. I found the Axis system to be one of the easiest to use.
     
  19. 0dBm

    0dBm Loaded Pockets

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    My vote goes to the Paul Knife locking mechanism: it locks the blade in the open and closed position.
     
  20. nicknwong

    nicknwong Loaded Pockets

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    I remember reading that lock backs will withstand more "sloppiness" from the manufacturer as compared to liner or frame locks.

    Im personally a framelock guy because the lock surface is so much greater and the tighter you grip the tighter it looks. Though that can be bad if you overdo it. But better a knife that stays open than one that cant. Framelocks are also extremely easy to clean and if you dont like it you can tweak the lock bar for a stronger lock or weaker lock.