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Preview – Unusual Suspects Assisted-Opening Knives

“Thwack.” It’s the sound of a spring-assisted blade opening, and it makes us all warm and fuzzy inside. That reassuring sound tells us that our knife is locked and ready to go. This type of folder, sometimes called an assisted-opening (AO) knife, contains an internal mechanism (usually a torsion spring) that catapults the blade out when the user applies pressure to the knife’s thumb-stud or flipper. Think of it as the semi-automatic of the knife world, straddling the line between manual folders and automatic blades.

Preview   Unusual Suspects Assisted Opening Knives  photo

Brand: Zero Tolerance Knives
Model: ZT Assisted Folder
OAL: 7.75 inches
Blade Length: 3.25 inches
Blade Material: S30V
Weight: 6.6 ounces
MSRP: $175
URL: www.ztknives.us

Activate beast mode! This heavy-duty knife feels wonderful in hand, thanks to balanced weight and a textured, ergonomic G-10 handle (which has a “quad-carry” pocket clip). The blade is crazy sharp. The ambidextrous SpeedSafe opening can be activated either with your thumb on the large stud or your index finger on the flipper, which also acts as a nice finger guard when the blade’s deployed. It comes as no surprise that this genius design is by famed knifemaker Ken Onion, credited as creating the first AO knife. Though it might be a bit beefy for some as an EDC, everything about this U.S.-made knife spells top quality.

Preview   Unusual Suspects Assisted Opening Knives  photo

Brand: Columbia River Knife & Tool
Model: Fire Spark
OAL: 8.63 inches
Blade Length: 3.88 inches
Blade Material: 8Cr14MoV
Weight: 5.3 ounces
MSRP: $100
URL: www.crkt.com

The Fire Spark features CRKT’s Fire Safe mechanism, the knife equivalent of Glock’s trigger safety: The user must firmly press downward on the thumb-stud first before nudging it out. For the uninitiated (or a bad guy who’s stolen the knife), Fire Safe makes it impossible for the blade to be deployed without first disengaging the safety – making this AO knife an interesting choice for law enforcement and military. (Two notes: it’ll take some practice to open the blade consistently, and the location of the safety pin in the thumb-stud makes this blade right-handed only.) The Fire Spark also has CRKT’s LAWKS safety lever, which locks the knife into a virtual fixed blade.

Preview   Unusual Suspects Assisted Opening Knives  photo

Brand: Gerber
Model: Propel Downrange AO
OAL: 8.5 inches
Blade Length: 3.5 inches
Blade Material: S30V
Weight: 4.28 ounces
MSRP: $164
URL: www.gerbergear.com

This U.S.-made knife features Gerber’s next-generation AO technology, meaning a faster opening without sacrificing safety. The semi-serrated tanto blade is made of razor-sharp S30V, while the tactile desert tan G-10 handle blends well with various camo patterns — making the Propel Downrange AO ideal for military, survivalists, or hunters. Plus, the pommel houses a lanyard hole if you don’t want to use the three-position pocket clip.

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