In lots of places around the world, locking folding knives are illegal for everyday carry while non-locking folding knives are much less restricted.

Almost everyone I know who carries a knife daily has a locking and my biggest concern would be the blade closing when I don't want it to and cutting me.

If I don't need to worry about the legal aspect because of my location, are there any advantages of a non-locking knife over a locking knife?

  • 1
    In many jurisdictions, Legality is context based. While I would be arrested for carrying my locking knife into town on a Friday pub crawl, exactly the same knife would be legal in my at my campsite.
    – user5330
    Nov 15, 2017 at 19:06
  • 1
    @mattnz Sometimes it seems that legality is based off how scary a knife looks instead of how it functions Nov 15, 2017 at 20:34
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    @CharlieBrumbaugh a LOT of knife laws have their history in criminalizing otherwise-legal behavior of suspected gang members. For example, in my state Butterfly knives are illegal, despite being impractical and unwieldy, because they wanted to criminalize groups of Filipino men hanging around having a good time. I can legally buy a one-handed-opening knife that is far more practical and dangerous, because it's not associated with anything other than old white men. Nov 16, 2017 at 14:14
  • @Fistbeard they're illegal where I am as well so I bought mine in Poland. Once you get the hang of it they're brilliant for one handed opening and use.
    – Separatrix
    Nov 17, 2017 at 21:36

3 Answers 3


Sure there are advantages!

First and obvious one: You can close them without unlocking the blade!

Second: They are mechanically simpler to construct, making them potentially cheaper, lighter, smaller and/or more durable.

  • one could argue that a slip joint or friction holder would be simpler and easier to construct than a framelock/linerlock. Also, I am VERY certain, that the locking collar used by Opinel is one of the simplest and most cheapest way to construct a folding knife. So we are back to the one obvious reason: you do not have to unlock your knife to fold it shut. - Possible reason number 2: The locking mechanism can't break (but the friction holder/slip joint can too! so no real advantage there...)
    – Peter1807
    Nov 20, 2017 at 11:42
  • My mother used an Opinel for 40 years. Never uses the locking mechanism. It´s usually stuck after yeas of non-usage (rusted or glued up by dirt). It may not be a big advantage, but nonetheless, they could have just omitted the metal ring and sold it to her 10 ct. cheaper ...
    – Daniel
    Nov 20, 2017 at 11:48

The sole difference between a locking and non-locking knife is the blade folding in without any locking/unlocking mechanism. For this comparison i will assume, that you can close the blade with locking mechanism one-handed, otherwise you have an advantage right there.

Short FYI: The (legal) reason is that non-locking knifes can not be used as a stabbing weapon as easily as locking knifes (could be considered a downside in the great outdoors?). Some laws (for example in germany) even disallow folding knifes that can be opened with one hand, as they can be used as a hidden weapon.

Now back to your question. There are no obvious advantages for a blade to not have a lockable blade. But we can get creative! If an accident seriously disables you, closing a non-locking foldable knife with one (impaired?) hand might be easier. Also, when using your knife for batoning (for which you SHOULD use a FIXED blade knife!), the folding blade might put less stress on the pivot, so you don't break the non-existent locking mechanism.

Finally, an anecdotal advantage of normal looking, non-locking, red, classical victorinox knifes: you can take them out of your pocket and use them without having everyone else around you think, that you were up to no good. - As opposed to those tactical folding knifes (which usually lock!). But this is off-topic.

So, you might get creative and find advantages for non-locknig folding knifes, but apart from the fact that their non-existing locking mechanism can't break, there is no real advantage to them, especially in an outdoor situation.


Knives which are restricted in some places may still be threatening in others. Obviously this applies especially to large knives, but there are plenty of small vicious-looking knives (such as the one attached to my buoyancy aid when kayaking).

The vast range of compact knives with features for daily tasks (e.g. almost anything by Victorinox) has to be one advantage. I do have a locking Victorinox but it's too big to carry in a pocket. Many of the small locking knives have rather annoying blades for simple tasks.

For most slicing or pressing cuts, there's no force to close the blade so you don't have to worry about it closing on yourself. I include whittling a pencil in this, but not a bit of tree that might have snags. That said my default grip with a normal penknife doesn't put my fingers in the way of the blade.

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