Liner lock versus frame lock

Joined
Sep 1, 2021
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4
I've not had a nice liner so I can't say if I'd ever choose one over a frame lock. Have had a bunch of nice frame locks and have no issue with them
 

SALTY

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Mar 19, 2000
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5,505
If I had to choose I would pick a frame-lock over a liner-lock, but I usually avoid both.
I'd much rather have a lock-back or an Axis-lock.

This ^^
Or, better yet, a fixed blade.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program. Both liner locks and frame locks have their advantages. Though I much prefer (and use) fixed blades for field dressing game, there have been times when I only have a folder on me. While I have gutted countless critters with a Buck 110 and kept the action clean with soap, water, WD-40 and compressed air - those things aren't always immediately available. For dirty jobs that can (and do) get "stuff" in the internal goins' - ons of a folder I prefer a frame lock. Stuff can still get in there, but it seems easier to clear.

As for liner locks, yes, the symmetry of the handles looks nicer to some (not a big criteria for me personally) and yes, for extended use sessions handle slabs on both sides can be more comfortable but out of the two, I still lean towards a frame lock - especially if it has a (replaceable) steel insert for engaging with the blade.
 

jstn

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Jun 27, 2012
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3,273
There are hybrids, too, i.e. symmetrical scales but frame-integrated lock:

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That is one of the best-looking Full Tracks I've seen. I'm always on the lookout for Hinderers in both S35VN (my favorite steel from them) and a lockbar insert. If you ever decide to sell it....
 

3fifty7

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Dec 24, 2016
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I’ve had 3 liner locks from decent quality manufacturers that wore out and failed in the span of 2-3 year each.
No more liner locks for me.
 
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BTGuy

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Jul 5, 2016
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479
I prefer liner locks in general. Highly depends on the particular knife though. For instance, out of all the knives I have that have a frame or liner lock, I'd choose my Sebenza 21 (frame lock) as most secure feeling. Next would be my Gayle Bradley 2 (liner lock). In comparison to most of my ZT (frame lock) knives, I'd pick almost any other liner lock instead. I used to think of my ZT 562 as my "beast" folder, but after one too many times of it slipping off the lock I don't rely on it much for harder use. I'm not a fan of most every frame lock knife I've tried that has an insert because they tend to not be "fitted" well and slip easily into disengaging.
 
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Aug 29, 2019
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Bottom line: while the frame lock might be a little stronger and might benefit from being reinforced by your grip, any activity that could be considered "testing the strength" of any lock is NOT an activity that you should be doing with a folding knife.

For instance, consider the following activity:

I was recently using a large Civivi liner lock knife to chop ice off off a commercial walk-in freezer door. I was using the BACK of the blade to whack, and unseated the liner lock. Blade closed onto my thumb, and left a nice clean laceration! Ouch!

Of course I learned my lesson on handling the liner locks with more attention, but I now prefer frame-locks, as they are somewhat more robust.

The lesson isn't to use a folding knife with a stronger locking mechansim. The lesson is that this is NOT a job for a folding knife in the first place. Beyond the immediate risk of the lock failing and the knife closing on your hand, or any discussion of other design features such a flipper tab that acts as a guard or the choil section on knives like the Sage 5, such activities also create the potential for damage to the knife, handle, locking mechanism, etc.
 
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
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I learned my lesson, Chronovore, but I really enjoy using my folding knives for "non-cutting" activities-
opening malty beverages, for instance!
 

K.O.D.

Chief Navigator, Lemming division
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I learned my lesson, Chronovore, but I really enjoy using my folding knives for "non-cutting" activities-
opening malty beverages, for instance!
That's like using your gun to open the mail. Right tool for the right job. Maybe if you enjoy non-cutting activities and knives, an SAK would be the right choice. Don't take my word for it though, I'm not quite sane.
 

midnight flyer

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Jan 12, 2009
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Staying on topic, I like the liner locks the best. I use them out on site many times a day, sometimes doing some pretty hard tasks. On cheap liner locks (think Gerber 20 years ago when this happened) I was using the knife for routine chores, like trimming 2X4 end cuts to fit in a space, cutting really heavy strapping, etc., and the lock bar over traveled the blade. Scary. Had another knife do that, too. Both were gifts and both in the trash immediately. Too dangerous in my mind to even give away to someone.

Switched to a ZT (?) frame lock (don't remember model number), and hated it. I often sweat in the middle of the summer to the point that sweat drips not only off my face, but off my elbows, and down my arms to my hands. The metal was much too slippery for me, and he rougher edges made the knife really uncomfortable to use. Plus, too hard to one hand close for me (although NO DOUBT many here have mastered that).

When the RAT 1 was discovered by the group here and received such great praise, I bought one. Wow, great work knife! I carried that so much, nearly exclusively as my main work knife for 3 years or so that the scales are now shiny and smooth. Never had a problem with the liner lock, and an occasional cleaning to remove gunk using charcoal lighter fluid keeps it working great. Replaced with a ZT 0909, also a liner lock and it works very well for me, too. Between the two locks asked about, from a working knife standpoint I like the liner lock because it is more comfortable in use (no metal side with metal edges), no quality knife with a liner lock has failed me, and they are convenient to open and close.

BTW, using the back of a blade of a knife to chip and break ice? Did it occur to anyone that a non double edged knife is made to be used cutting in one direction (hint: not from the spine side) and not as a striking tool? I remember when spine whacking was the craze around here, and for a while became a metric of quality. Still don't use my knives backwards or use the blades backwards to hit things, so I am at a loss on that one.

Robert
 
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
Messages
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In a pinch, I needed a tool for striking at ice. Started using the blade, but decided it would better to not mess up the sharp edge. Hell, the knife had a locking mechanism! I thought it would be fine....lesson learned. Remember, I work with knives as part of my career, (chef), so I know better than to destroy a blades edge by striking non-food things.

I would have preferred to use a big fixed blade, but I didn't have one on me in the freezer. I only shared this story so others may learn from my brief interaction between the sharp part of a liner lock and my delicate flesh! The right tool for the job, blah blah blah. At the end of the day, though, I have a good reason to prefer other types of locks, now.

My newest knife is a Spyderco PM3 with M4 steel and a compression lock. While the steel used in the compression lock doesn't look very cool, or robust, I really like it because it is harder to unlock the blade accidentally. I was never a fan of the FRN material, because it seems kinda "budget", but it is growing on me. Perhaps a Rit dye job will help with the funky mint green color- it will be my first mod on a knife!
 

Mitchell Knives

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May 21, 2000
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6,103
I vastly prefer liner locks because they are more comfortable in the hand.

I'd rather have symmetrical G10 or Micarta scales than bare titanium/steel in my hand.

A liner lock is perfectly adequate for most EDC tasks. You can make virtually any liner or frame lock fail if you try hard enough.

If I want something that I know will not fail, I'll carry a fixed blade.
 
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