Assisted Opening Knives vs Switchblades: What’s The Difference?

It can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between an assisted opening knife and a switchblade, particularly if you are not familiar with either type of knife (or knives in general). 

If you are unsure of the differences, then keep reading, as we are going to be going through all the differentiating factors when it comes to an assisted opening knife and a switchblade.

Assisted Opening Knives vs Switchblades: What’s the Difference

We are also going to be looking at each type of knife in general to get a better grasp on each one individually. 

Let’s get started.

What is an Assisted Opening Knife?

An assisted opening knife is a folding or fixed blade knife that has some sort of mechanism that allows for easier opening. This is usually done by pressing down on a button located on the handle of the knife. 

The most common assisted opening mechanisms found in assisted opening knives tend to include push-button assisted openers, pull-out assisted openers, and thumb studs.

These types of assisted opening knives are typically used for hunting purposes and are often referred to as “hunting knives”.

The History of the Assisted Opening Knife

The first assisted opening (or auto) knife was designed by Blackie Collins in 1995 and was called the Strut-and-Cut. This was due to a design that was based on the struts of his Ducati motorcycle. 

A similar concept was developed three years later by knife maker Kenneth Onion, with Onion’s idea being based on a similar mechanism on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Onion applied for a U.S. patent on his design in 1999.

Why Use An Assisted Opening Knife?

There are many reasons why people choose to use assisted opening knives over traditional pocket knives. Some of these reasons include:

Easy Opening

Unlike a traditional pocket knife which requires two hands to open, an assisted opening knife only requires one hand. This makes opening the knife much faster than a traditional pocket knife.

No Need to Remove Your Finger From the Trigger Guard 

When using a traditional pocket knife, it is necessary to remove your finger from its position inside the trigger guard before you can open the knife. With an assisted opening knife, this is no longer necessary.

Less Chance of Injury 

Because there is less force needed to activate the assisted opening mechanism, there is less risk of injuring yourself while opening the knife.

More Control 

Since assisted opening knives require less force to operate, they allow the user more control over how far the blade opens.

For example, if you want the blade to open halfway, you can simply press down on the button instead of having to fully depress the button.

Easier to Carry 

Since assisted opening knives do not have any sharp edges, they are safer to carry around. They are also smaller and lighter than traditional pocket knives.

Types of Assisted Opening Knives

The first type of assisted opening mechanism is the push-button assisted opener. A push-button-assisted opener is simply a button that needs to be pressed before the knife will open.

There are two main types of push-button assisted openings; single action and double action. Single action means that once the button is pushed, the knife will stay open until the button is released.

Double action means that after pushing the button, the knife will automatically close itself once pressure is removed from the button.

Another type of assisted opening mechanism that is commonly seen in assisted opening knives is the pull-out assisted opener.

Pull-out assisted openers are similar to push-button assisted openings in that they have a button that needs to be pressed to activate the knife.

However, instead of having the knife stay open once the button is pressed, the knife will automatically open once the button is pulled out.

Another kind of assisted opening mechanism commonly seen in assisted opening knives is the thumb stud. Thumb studs work much like the other assisted opening mechanisms mentioned above, but require the use of your thumb rather than a finger.

The final assisted opening mechanism which is more rarely seen is the automatic assisted opening mechanism. Automatic assisted opening mechanisms do not require any buttons or thumb studs to operate.

Instead, these knives have a spring-loaded trigger that automatically opens the knife when the user pulls back on the blade.

What Are Assisted Opening Knives Used For?

Assisted opening knives are primarily used for hunting purposes. They are designed to make opening the knife faster and easier than using a traditional fixed blade knife.

This makes them perfect for hunters who want to quickly access their blades without having to fumble around trying to find the right pocket or the right hand.

Popular Brands of Assisted Opening Knives

There are many popular brands of assisted opening knives available today. Some of the most well-known names in this industry include the following:

  • Gerber
  • Victorinox
  • Wusthof
  • Swiss Army
  • Leatherman
  • Kershaw
  • Takumi
  • Schrade
  • Glock
  • Buck

What Is a Switchblade Knife?

Switchblades are also called “switchback knives” because of how they look. Unlike assisted opening knives, switchblades don’t fold up into a compact size. In fact, they are generally larger than assisted opening knives.

Most switchblades are made with either a drop point or clip point tip.

Switchblades were originally developed during World War II when soldiers needed something easy to carry in combat situations. Because of this, switchblades are often referred to as military-style knives.

Although the term “military” has been taken away from switchblades, they still maintain the same characteristics as the original design. These characteristics include a large handle, a long blade, and a strong lock.

The History of the Switchblade

Although the switchblade was created in the 1850s, it didn’t start gaining popularity until the 1950s, where it gained notoriety in America due to its association with crime and gangsters.

The switchblade became associated with criminals because it was cheap to manufacture and hard to trace. It was also very easy to conceal and could be easily hidden in your clothing.

The concerns over youth violence escalated to the point where the Switchblade Act of 1958 was created. Not long after this, a similar law in the United Kingdom was passed, known as the Restriction of Offensive Weapons Act.

The Federal Switchblade Act allows for the possession of automatic knives in United States territories- as well as Native American Reservations- but it also prohibits consumers from purchasing any type of automatic knife if they are not manufactured in the state in which they are being purchased. 

The act also prohibits any importation when it comes to foreign automatic knives and knife parts, no matter whether the importer or the manufacturer is a United States company or not.

The act does not apply to any contracts that are set up by or entered into by the Department of Defense, nor does it prohibit the sale of- or the possession of- automatic knives within any state in the US or within the District of Columbia.

Why Use a Switchblade?

If you’re looking for an all-purpose tool, then you should consider a switchblade. It’s small enough to fit in your pocket, yet big enough to take on larger projects.

A switchblade can be used for everything from camping to fishing. It’s lightweight and easy to use, making it ideal for those who need a knife that won’t weigh them down.

Most people think of switchblades as being dangerous, but there are plenty of safe uses for one. For example, you can use a switchblade to cut through rope, wood, plastic, etc. You can even use it to open cans and jars!

As long as you are safe and smart with your switchblade, it will serve you well. However, keep in mind that some states have strict laws about carrying switchblades. Be sure to check local regulations before purchasing a switchblade.

Types of Switchblades

The three main types of switchblades are straight-bladed, folder, and hybrid (or combination). 

Straight-bladed switchblades are the simplest and easiest to use. They consist of only one piece of steel with no moving parts. Folder switchblades can be opened by pushing down on the top part of the blade while closing it.

Hybrid switchblades combine both features together. The blade folds into a closed position, and then the user pushes down on the top portion of the blade to open it.

To open a switchblade, you first need to unlock the blade. To do this, simply push down on the top of the blade until it clicks into place. Once unlocked, the blade will automatically spring back out. If you prefer, you can also pull the blade out by holding the bottom end of the blade and pulling upwards.

What Are Switchblades Used For?

Assisted Opening Knives vs Switchblades: What’s the Difference

Since their inception, switchblades have become an extremely popular tool among outdoorsmen and hobbyists. Today, there are many different uses for switchblades including camping, fishing, hiking, hunting, gardening, and even home improvement projects.

Popular Brands Of Switchblades

Some of the most popular names in the switchblade industry include the following:

Buck Knives 

Buck makes some of the best quality switchblades available today. Their blades are made of high-carbon stainless steel and are designed to last. Many of their products come with lifetime warranties.


Gerber has been around since the 1930s, and its switchblades are still considered some of the best available today. Its blades are made of high-grade stainless steel and are very durable.

Most of Gerber’s blades come with a lifetime warranty.


Leatherman is another name known for producing high-quality switchblades. Leatherman offers a wide variety of styles, sizes, and colors to choose from.

Some of their blades feature serrated edges, which make cutting through material easier. Leatherman also produces other tools such as multi-tools, knives, and flashlights.

Swiss Army Knife 

Swiss Army Knife was founded in 1884 and continues to produce high-quality switchblades today. These blades are made of high-quality materials and are designed to withstand years of heavy use.

Many of these blades feature ergonomic designs that allow them to fit comfortably in the hand. All Swiss Army Knives come with lifetime warranties.


Spyderco is another company that specializes in making high-quality folding knives. Although they don’t offer any specific models, Spyderco does produce several different types of folders.


Takumi is a Japanese manufacturer of high-quality switchblades and folding knives. Takumi’s blades are made of high-strength steel and are designed to hold up under extreme conditions.

What is the Difference Between a Switchblade and an Assisted Opening Knife?

Although both switchblades and assisted opening knives are similar in appearance, there are some major differences between these two tools.

First off, assisted opening knives are usually much smaller than switchblades. On average, they measure anywhere from 4 inches to 6 inches in length.

This makes them easier to manage than switchblades, which tend to be around 8 inches in length. Additionally, assisted opening knives are typically lighter weight than switchblades. Many of them weigh less than 1 pound.

Although both switchblades and assistant opening knives are similar in shape, their blades are very different. With assisted opening knives, the blade actually moves back to allow the knife to open.

With switchblades, the blade stays put, and the entire handle moves up or down to open the blade.

The most important difference between switchblades and assisted opener knives is the way that they open. A switchblade will automatically open when you push it forward.

An assisted opening knife requires that you pull on the tab located at the end of the blade before it opens.

The Switchblade vs The Assisted Opening Knife: Which is Right For You?

When choosing between a switchblade and an assisted opening knife, you should consider your needs and preferences.

Below, we compare the pros and cons of each type of knife so that you can make an informed decision about what works best for you.

Pros & Cons of Switchblades


  • Easy to carry.
  • Lightweight.
  • Very compact when locked.


  • It may not be suitable for certain activities due to its size.
  • The blade may break if dropped.
  • More expensive than assisted opening knives.

 Pros & Cons of Assisted Opening Knives


  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  •  Compact when folded
  • Durable


  • Requires more effort to open
  • The blade may break if accidentally dropped

Assisted Opening Knife Safety Tips

If you choose to purchase an assisted opening knife, here are some safety tips to keep in mind.

  1. Always lock the blade after use. When carrying an assisted opening knife, always keep it closed and locked. Never leave it unattended.
  2. Keep the blade pointed away from yourself at all times. Do not point the blade towards your body or face.
  3. Store your assisted opening knife in a safe location where it cannot be accessed by young children.
  4. Avoid sharpening your assisted opening knife with any other metal object. Sharpening stones will dull the edge of the blade overtime.
  5. If you drop your assisted opening knife, immediately pick it up and place it back into its sheath. Don’t try to re-close it. Instead, gently push the blade out of the sheath until it snaps shut.
  6. Be sure to store your assisted opening knife in its original packaging.
  7. Never attempt to repair or sharpen your assisted opening knife. Doing so could cause damage to the blade (or to yourself!).

Switchblade Safety Tips

There are many things to consider before purchasing a switchblade. Here are a few safety tips to help ensure your safety while using this type of knife.

  1. Always keep your switchblade closed and locked.
  2. Make sure that you have a pocketknife license or permit in order to legally carry a switchblade.
  3. Never let anyone else hold your switchblade.
  4. Always keep your switchblades locked in a safe place when not in use.
  5. Never give your switchblade to someone who does not know how to safely operate it.
  6. Never attempt to fix or sharpen your switchblade. This could result in serious injury.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between a switchblade and assisted opening knife is a personal choice. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks. For instance, a switchblade is very lightweight and easy to carry around.

However, it is also much larger than an assisted opening knife and may not be suitable for certain types of activities. On the other hand, an assisted opening knife is heavier and bulkier but easier to handle.

It requires less effort to open as well.

The most important thing to remember when purchasing either kind of knife is to make sure that you are comfortable with the knife and that you feel confident in handling it.

You also need to make sure that you remember how to stay safe when handling knives at all times, as well as how you can keep your knife in the safest place to avoid any accidents. 

This is particularly important if you have children in your home, so don’t forget to be smart, safe, and responsible when it comes to owning a knife, be it an assisted opening knife or a switchblade. 

Tom Bower