Commonly known as a “pocket knife,” an assisted-opening knife is a type of folding knife that serves many functional purposes.
While folded and closed, the knife is at its natural resting state. To open it, typically there’s a thumb hole, stud, or flipper that the user engages, manually moving the blade forward, thus triggering an internal spring in the knife and allowing the blade to fully erect. The deployment of the spring is directly dependent on the user pushing the blade. The ease of opening the knife single-handedly and the speed of the blade makes assisted-opening knives a popular choice in comparison to traditional manual knives. In addition, they’re a safe legal alternative to switchblades, which are commonly mistaken for assisted-opening knives because of their similarity as “pocket knives.”
Because of their similar appearance and folding mechanisms, the assisted-opening knife is often confused with a switchblade. The key difference between these two knives is manual versus automatic operation. A switchblade typically has a button, that once pushed, releases the blade automatically. The assisted-opening knife is operated by a spring mechanism that deploys upon external pressure.
Because it requires manual intervention to operate effectively, assisted-opening knives are generally legal in most areas whereas switchblades are not. Switchblades were outlawed under the 1958 Federal Switchblade Act because of their association with crime and use as a weapon in the earlier 20th century. The assisted-opening knife generally serves the same purpose as a switchblade, but is acceptable under law because of its manual operation.