Something people often wonder about with regard to out-the-front knives is their origins. Where did they come from? Who invented them?
I’ve actually been wondering about the history of knives in general recently, so I did some research on OTF knives. In the past, I haven’t had much trouble finding the history of the balisong or of the knife in general, but finding the history of out-the-font knives proved to be a little bit more difficult.
When I finally did find some information on the background of OTF knives, it was actually a little overwhelming, and yet it was underwhelming at the same time. Crazy, right? I found lots and lots of patent dates from different types of OTFs, but not much more.
In this post, I’m going to try to break down the information that I felt was useful, and hopefully it helps you learn about the history of the amazing OTF.
History of Knives: OTF Evolution
According to the information I found, the first OTF-like knife was invented in 1862. It was actually a “Gravity Knife.” Have you heard of those?
A gravity knife is sort of what it sounds like; you utilize gravity to open the knife. It seems kind of crazy, but it’s really not. To open a gravity knife, you have to point the OTF down toward the ground and then push the button or lever on the knife to release and deploy the blade.
From the information I found, it wasn’t super obvious who the inventor was, other than the attribution I saw that said, “1862-Winser-Patent#35,964.” As far as who or what “Winser” is, I unfortunately have no idea. But, you can sleep soundly at night knowing that the first OTF was actually a gravity knife, and it’s been around for quite some time.
Evolution of OTF Knives
Since 1862, the OTF knife has evolved time and time again. The gravity knife has transformed into a “compressed spring OTF” in 1866 and then other versions of the OTF knife we know and love today starting in the 1900s.
OTFs today utilize springs to deploy the blade. When a button or lever is pushed, the springs release and deploy the blade.
Main uses for OTF knives today
OTF knives are not hard-use knives. They are typically just intended for light use, although the amount of abuse an OTF knife can handle will vary depending on the brand and also on the specific knife model. Often people use OTF knives as letter openers, but they’re also often just fun show pieces. You wouldn’t believe how fun and addicting it can be to open and close an OTF knife over and over and over again. An OTF is something you can show your friends that’s eye-catching, fun, and novel for many people.
What other questions do you have about out-the-front knives? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below!