Different Opening and Locking System of a Pocket Knife

Locking System of a Pocket Knife

When you don’t know much about pocket knives, it is difficult to understand the technical vocabulary use by connoisseurs and salespeople! Linerlock, thumbhole, flipper, if these words don’t mean anything to you: don’t worry, just read this guide to help you become more comfortable with the vocabulary.

The main opening systems

The difference between thumb stud and thumbhole

Also call ”  Tab thumb  “, “Teton opening” or “button”, the stud thumb is this small tab on the steel blade. It can be either on one side only, and in this case, it is on the left side, making it easier to open with one hand for right-hand people only; either on both sides of the blade and in this case the knife is also suitable for left-hand people who will have no trouble opening the blade with one hand.

Be careful, this is not a button that you press to open the blade, you just have to pull it with your thumb.

The thumbhole, also call “Thumb slot”, “spyderhole”, “  thumbhole  ”, or even “finger hole” is a simple hole in the blade. Originally invent by the Spyderco brand, this opening system has been widely adopt by many other brands. Just like the pin, you have to position your thumb at the level of this hole and pull on the blade to open it.

The Flipper

 It is a lug locate between the blade and the handle when the pocket knife is open. Damascus Pocket Knifes Provide that Valuable Knife, You can also Purchase it. It protrudes over the back of the knife when close. It will be necessary to pull on this lug using the thumb to deploy the blade, opening with one hand is therefore easier. The advantage of the pinball machine is that it serves as a finger guard when the blade is open, preventing your finger from ripping over the edge.

The Nail Nick

The oldest and easiest opening system for a cutler to create! Traditional knives such as Opinel and Laguiole, for example, have this system. A small notch on the blade allows you to open the knife with your fingernail. One-hand opening is not possible with this type of opening since one hand will be require to hold the knife and the other to pull on the blade.

Nail Nick of Knives

The main locking systems

Liner Lock 

The mechanism is widely use all over the world. A steel rod inside the handle abuts the blade of the folding knife to prevent it from closing. To unlock the knife and close the blade, simply move this rod with your finger. The expression  Liner Lock is often use incorrectly to designate  Frame Lock, so we must make the difference. Here we have a  short rod that blocks the blade  (we can see it well in the photo).

Frame Lock

The same type of mechanism as the  Liner Lock, except that here instead of a simple steel rod, it is an entire side of the steel structure of the handle which blocks the blade by making 

support on it. This locking system is normally stronger than the Liner Lock. The  Framelock is easy to distinguish when the handle is not cover with pads  (like here), but when wood or synthetic pads cover the steel plates, it is more difficult and it is then common to confuse. with a Linerlock. 

Back Lock / Front Lock

Pump locking system  (front or rear): The blade automatically locks as soon as it goes into the open position. To unlock it, press the pump at the back of the handle (back) or at the front (front). A spring then releases the rod which blocks the blade. We see this system on someBuckor Spyderco pocket knives for example.



It is a very popular locking mechanism on traditional folding knives like the Opinel. A steel ring is place by the manufacturer between the blade and the handle: to lock the blade, this ring must be turn manually. To unlock it, turn the ring again until the knife unlocks.

And there you have it, you now know the difference between the main blocking mechanisms!  

There are of course other opening systems such as automatic mechanisms and other modern systems, but those mention on this page are the best known and the most widespread. The list locking systems are also the ones you will find in greater numbers on the pocket knife market, but there are many more!