Assisted opening knives, also known as A/O knives, torsion assist knives, spring assisted knives, and alternative automatic knives, are the most underrated when it comes to folding knives. Owing to their semi-automation, they offer several advantages, legal and otherwise, that are often overlooked when users opt for the manual or automatic counterparts. Here is our little token of love for, and information on, assisted knives, and some tips for finding the one made for you.

Assisted Opening Knives


An assisted opening knife, as the name suggests, requires you to open it partly (generally, 45 degrees or 1/4th of the tang-blade angle) for the internal mechanisms to take over and complete the same. The natural position of the blade of an assisted knife is closed (or within the handle), and a torsion spring or a torsion bar is used to propel it to open. The biggest advantage of this operational mechanism is that the assisted opening knife can be converted into a manual opening version upon the removal of the torsion spring or bar, when they fail, or, if desired.

The torsion bar or spring is typically operated through a flipper or a thumb stud, and sometimes using a thumb hole, thumb tab, nail nick or dual action. The opening methods, varying in the degree of safety while handling, can help you determine the exact assisted folding knife you want to buy. The flipper, also known as ‘kick’ or ‘trigger’ is an extended tang on the side of the back spine of the knife, which protrudes through the handle when closed, and serves as a rear lever. This can be securely operated with your index finger, and at a safe distance from the cutting edge of the blade. On the other hand, the thumb stud, sometimes mounted on both sides of the knife, puts your hand close to the blade and through the risk of accidentally slicing your thumb.

The confusion between assisted opening knives and switchblades is commonly occurring, hence, it is important to note that it is the contrivance of opening that differentiates the two. Switchblades or automatic knives can be opened with the simple push of a button and without employing any force on the blade itself. The natural or resting position of a switchblade is open, and the blade is held within the handle using the continuous pressure of a spring.


Assisted opening knives are a blessing in a different guise that can be used in place of switchblades, which are largely illegal and hold the risk of being confiscated under the US law. Assisted opening knives and one-hand opening are perfectly legal under the federal government, thanks to Exception (5) to Section 1244 of the Federal Switchblade Act, that became law in 2009:

“a knife that contains a spring, detent, or other mechanism designed to create a bias toward closure of the blade and that requires exertion applied to the blade by hand, wrist, or arm to overcome the bias toward closure to assist in opening the knife.”

Of course, laws prohibiting use of all kinds of knives and weapons, and those forbidding use of knives based on blade length hold true for assisted knives. Therefore, before buying any spring assisted knife or tactical folding knife, know the local law, blade length restrictions, and the most recent amendments to it. Currently, assisted opening knives are legal in all 50 states, but, 5 boroughs of New York City, unless other constraints (blade length or otherwise) apply.


Assisted opening knives can be easily deployed with one hand, and when correctly used, their performance speed equals that of their automatic or switchblade equivalents. A lot faster than manual folders, they often require lesser force to be exerted for opening than automatic knives, making them perfect for those with relatively weaker hands and fingers, or while operating under harsh weather conditions, and with gloves on.


Atlanta Cutlery’s assortment of the best assisted opening knives, with an all-inclusive range of manufacturers (Kershaw, Master Cutlery and Cold Steel), styles and aesthetics, and pricing, is the perfect destination for anybody looking for this kind of folders.

If it is going to be your first assisted opening knife, we recommend the easy-on-the pocket Eagle Folder, the multitasking, seat belt cutter and glass breaker Black Rescue Knife, or the super stylish Silver Stiletto Style Knife for you. If you are looking for heavy-duty ones, Rescue Folder, Purple Fantasy Folder, USMC C2 Leather Neck Folder (now on closeout sale) are cut-out for your use. Check out the complete collection, and let us know how your folder feels in your hands and what you love about it!

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