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Date Published: 2023-03-27

Are Switchblades Illegal?

Are switchblades illegal?

By Desiree Weeks

What is a switchblade?

An automatic knife, better known as a switchblade, is a knife that can release its blade automatically through the use of a button, lever, or switch. Almost all switchblades have a blade that can be locked, eliminating the possibility of the blade accidentally closing when in use.

When it comes to the style of opening, there are side-opening (OTS) and out the front (OTF) switchblades. A side-opening knife more closely resembles a traditional manual folding knife but has a spring which allows the blade to be automatically released.

OTF knives can either be double action or single action. Double action means that the knife ejects from the front of the knife and, by using the thumb stud, can be extended or retracted. Single action means that the knife will only automatically extend the blade and then must be manually retracted by the user.

While they may appear similar on the surface, an automatic knife is not to be confused with an assisted-opening knife. Assisted-opening means an internal mechanism finishing the opening of the blade after the user has already partially opened it using a flipper or thumbstud.

A bit of history

When someone says the word “switchblade,” do you automatically think of leather clad 1950s delinquents whipping one out in a fight? There’s a reason for that.

It was in the 1950s that the switchblade caught its bad reputation and led to federal and state laws being made about the weapon, some of which are still adhered to today. Housewives became concerned when an article called “The Toy That Kills” showed up in the November 1950 copy of Woman’s Home Companion. The lengthy piece called the switchblade a “wicked weapon which teenagers in many communities are taking up as a fad” and even included tips for what women could do to stop them. The author of the article and ghostwriter for then-senator Harry S. Truman, Jack Harrison Pollack, did not cite sources in the article and it’s uncertain where his information stemmed from.

The sensationalism carried into Hollywood and continued to be a platform for politicians of the time as laws went into effect, including the 1958 Federal Switchblade Act and several state laws. Advocacy groups began fighting against these restrictions and, since that time, restrictions have been rolled back in more than 40 states. This may go down as a dark mark on their history, but switchblades continue to stand the test of time and are proven to be sleek, functional tools.

If you’re in the market for a reliable switchblade, check out these great new products from BudK!

M48 Camo Automatic OTF Knife

Blend in while still standing out with the M48 Camo Automatic OTF Knife. This knife’s 3 3/4" stainless steel tanto blade quickly ejects from the front of the TPU camouflage handle. The handle is multi-purpose with its inclusion of a glassbreaker pommel and can be easily carried using the pocket clip on the back.

Black Serrated Automatic Knife

In the market for something tactical and discreet? The Black Serrated Automatic Knife may just be the perfect fit. It has a black, non-reflective 3 1/2" 440C stainless steel tanto blade that can be deployed by pushing the button on the handle. The handle itself is also non-reflective and made of G10 with deep grooves and heavy texturing. The knife’s safety lock ensures that the knife won’t accidentally deploy.

Transparent OTF Automatic Knife and Sheath

See just how your knife works with the Transparent OTF Automatic Knife. It’s the handle that makes this knife a true conversation piece with its transparent TPU side and glassbreaker pommel. The 3 1/2" stainless steel tanto blade is two-toned black and silver and effortlessly slides from the handle using the slide trigger. The blade also features cutouts down the spine and weight-reducing thru holes. Carry it wherever you go with the metal pocket clip or in its included MOLLE compatible nylon sheath.

Automatic Italian Black Stiletto Knife

A stylish choice for a switchblade, the Automatic Black Stiletto Knife is an impressive 13” when open and a compact 7 1/4" when closed. With a non-reflective black 5 3/4" stainless steel blade, this knife can be quickly deployed while remaining discreet. It’s given a uniform appearance with black ABS handle scales secured with black metal bolsters and brass pins. The black button for deploying the blade is located on the side. It includes a nylon pouch for easy carrying.

Bronze Serrated Automatic Knife

A great knife for everyday carry is the Bronze Serrated Automatic Knife. The bronze-colored G10 handle has grooves and texturing for a secure grip while the 3 1/2" 440C stainless steel tanto blade with partial serrations and stonewash finish can handle any cutting task. Quickly deploy the blade using the button on the side of the handle. The knife’s safety lock ensures there is no fear of accidental deployment.

Shop All Automatic Knives Here

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