There are a variety of lock types to choose from for your folding knife. In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the options.

Everyone can benefit from a folding knife or pocket knife. It is a practical tool that can be used in the most diverse situations. A folding knife is good to have with you in the forest, during the hunt, on long walks, or on mountain tours.

Even in the household and in the garden, the folding knife is used from time to time. The blade of the pocket knife folds easily into the handle with the help of a locking mechanism.

A safe knife

Since the blade of the knife can be folded into the handle, the folding knife is a very safe knife to carry with you. It takes up almost no space and can easily be stored in a pocket or backpack. With a simple hand grip, the blade folds out and the knife is ready for use. A good folding knife is stable and safe even during use. You don’t have to sacrifice user experience just because the blade can be folded in.

There is a large selection of folding knives on the market with large variations in price and quality. Some lock types are stronger than others. Otherwise, it is very much a matter of taste which type of lock you should choose. To get the most out of your folding knife, choose one that is of high quality and has a locking mechanism that you feel comfortable with.

Tri-Ad Lock knife-Knife Locking Mechanisms

Common locking mechanisms for folding knives

There are lots of locking mechanisms for folding knives to choose from. At first glance, it may seem hard, but there are some looking types that most other types of locking mechanisms are based on.

Slip joint

Slip-Joint lock knife

This is the most common type of folding knife. A slip joint means there is no lock holding the blade in place. Instead, it is a kind of spring mechanism built into the shaft that ensures that the blade does not fold in by mistake. It is not a spring in the usual sense. The mechanism is quite simply designed. And consists of a piece of metal that acts as a spring inside the knife handle.

An advantage of slip-joint knives is that they tend to take up less space than folding knives with locks. The disadvantages include that some slip-joint knives can be quite tough to open. Many slip-joint knives have a safety feature that causes the knife blade to meet resistance halfway between the extended and retracted blade. This means that the risk of catching the blade on your fingers is reduced.

Back Locks

Back Lock knife

Also called Lock-blade/Lock-back/Lockback. A Back Lock pocket knife is similar to the Slip Joint in its spring mechanism. The difference is that the Back Lock knife has a locking mechanism which means the blade cannot be folded in without unlocking. By applying pressure to the lock, the spring mechanism gives way and allows the blade to retract.


  • Tri-Ad Lock: It has a similar locking mechanism to the lockback. It is only found in Cold Steel brand knives. The difference is that these knives have a kind of patented locking mechanism that distributes the pressure from the locking mechanism, which increases the strength.
  • Mid lock: Mid-length locks are similar to a back lock, the release mechanism is in the middle of the handle spine, producing more tension and lock strength. They are famous for their ability to withstand large amounts of pressure.

Frame lock

Frame lock knife

Also called the Reeve Integral Lock(RIL) after the invented Chris Reeve. This lock consists of a titanium blade that is part of the shaft and is thinner in one place. This makes the material flexible. If enough pressure is applied to the blade in the direction it is being folded in, it will attach and be able to be folded in. By pressing on the side of the knife, you can influence how much force is required to fold in the blade, something that many appreciate.

The locking mechanism in Frame Lock knives (along with liner locks) tends to be a bit more sensitive to wear than other folding knives.


  • RotoBlock: A variant of the Frame Lock that uses a screw mechanism to secure the locking mechanism when the blade is deployed. It is mainly knives from Italian Lionsteel that have this locking mechanism.
  • Beta Plus: Some Frame lock knives have Beta Plus locks. It is a small control that prevents the knife from being folded by mistake. Beta Plus Bead Blast Framelock Folding Knife Pocket Folder.

Liner Lock

Liner Lock knife

This locking mechanism is similar to the Frame Lock. The difference is that the locking mechanism itself consists of a blade that stays behind the outer part of the shaft. Liner-Lock knives tend to use less material compared to Frame Lock knives, which keeps the price down. In addition, they are easier to carry around because the weight is lower.

A disadvantage compared to Frame Lock knives is that their construction is slightly more complex. It is very much a matter of taste what is best. Many people see advantages in a simple build as the risk of something going wrong is reduced.

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Special lock types

In addition to the main types, there are many other lock types for folding knives. Many knife manufacturers have developed their patented locking mechanisms. Many locks for folding knives resemble each other but are marketed under different names. We will look at some of the most common types of knife locks.

Ball Bearing Lock / Axis Lock

Ball Bearing Lock or Axis Lock knife

A folding knife that uses this locking mechanism uses a stock that opens and closes with a switch. In turn, the slider is held in place by a spring. The name Axis Lock is associated with the knife manufacturer Benchmade.

Ball Bearing Lock /Axis Lock is a common type of locking mechanism found in folding knives. The Ball Bearing Lock uses a small ball bearing that engages with a depression in the blade tang, while the Axis Lock employs a spring-loaded bar that slides across the spine of the blade. Both mechanisms provide reliable and secure locking, as well as easy one-handed operation for opening and closing the knife. These locking mechanisms are popular among knife collectors and professionals due to their strength and ease of use.

Folding knives with Axis Lock/Ball Bearing Locks are popular and often very durable. The weak point is the spring in the locking mechanism, which can wear out on some knives that have been used for a long time. Arc-Lock is a related locking mechanism with the main difference being that the slider is moved in an arc-shaped motion.

Compression Lock

Compression Lock-Knife Locking Mechanisms

Compression Lock is a locking mechanism developed by the knife manufacturer Spyderco. The locking mechanism itself is remindful of a Liner Lock. What makes the Compression Lock special is the locking bolt in the shaft. It is used to prevent a force applied in the cutting direction from pushing the blade back and stressing the locking mechanism. The construction is very robust.

The Compression Lock is a locking mechanism designed for folding knives. It was first introduced in 2004. The mechanism uses a leaf-like spring located in the spine of the handle to lock the blade in place when it is opened. When the user releases the lock, the spring moves away from the blade, allowing it to be closed. The Compression Lock is known for its strength and ease of use and has become a popular choice among knife enthusiasts.

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Friction Lock

Friction Lock

Also called Friction Folder. Once upon a time, folding knives were very simple, without any locking mechanism. We’ve already gone through the Slip Joint knives, which have a spring mechanism instead of a lock. Friction Lock knives are even more simply designed. There isn’t even a spring here. Instead, it is the friction between the blade and the shaft that holds the blade in place.

This type of folding knife is not particularly suitable for intensive use due to the risk of folding and causing damage. Some Friction Lock knives have a blade that continues up the handle when the knife is folded up so the user can secure the blade with their hand. Friction Lock knives are often sold in countries where folding knives with locking mechanisms are not illegal.

Strong Lock System (SLS)

One of the market’s strongest locking mechanisms for knives. This lock type is also called Hawk-Lock after the lock’s inventor. The SLS lock gives the folding knife almost the same strength as a knife with a fixed blade. The American knife manufacturer company Buck manufactures this type of folding knife.

Ram Safe Lock

Ram Safe is another locking mechanism for folding knives that withstands a lot of stress. The knife manufacturer Cold Steel is behind this patented lock for folding knives. A kind of piston is pushed forward when the folding knife is opened and wedges itself, which means that the blade is held in place with extra strength.

Button Lock

Button Lock knife-Knife Locking Mechanisms

Some folding knives have a small button that is used to unlock the locking mechanism when it is time to fold the blade. Benchmade has a variation of this locking mechanism that they call the Nak-Lok. Another variant of the Button Lock is the Push Button Auto Lock which means that the button must also be used to unfold the blade (not just to fold it).

There are also folding knives that have a Plunge Lock, which means that the knife blade folds out completely by itself when you press the button.

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Triple Action

Triple Action is a rather special locking mechanism for folding knives. Just as the name indicates, the blade unfolds or retracts in three steps. When the blade is retracted, it is enclosed by the shaft. To fold out the blade, open one half of the shaft. Then the blade is folded out and finally the part of the shaft that has been opened is folded back so that the blade is fixed. This is a type of folding knife that is not used so much daily these days, but it is all the better suited for different tricks.

There are many more types of locks types for folding knives. Most are variations on the types we’ve gone through here. Below is the name of that locks:

  • BladeLock
  • Interlock
  • Monolock
  • OCS System
  • Pure BackLock
  • Slide Lock
  • Smart lock
  • Sub-Frame Lock
  • TOL System
  • Triple Action
  • Virobloc
  • WX-Lock