Folding Knife Lock Types


When you're a knife enthusiast, you spend a good amount of your life talking about design, blade, steel, engineering, handle material, machine cut, hand-forged, ergonomics ... it goes on. In a nutshell, you take apart the knives you have and talk about them all day. Crazy as it sounds, it's what we love doing. Because within the skeleton is an ingenious locking mechanism that sits at the heart of every good folding knife. Over the years, knife designers and smiths have come up with a variety of innovative mechanisms, each with its pros and cons. Here, we'll take a look at some of the most popular locking systems, so you know what you're getting next time you buy a knife.

Lockback Mechanism In Folding Knife

This is one of the most popular locking systems in folding knives. Also known as spine lock or mid locks, this system is a descendent of the non-locking slip joint. This is essentially 'spine on a spring'. When opened, the spine within the handle clicks and locks into a notch at the base of the blade. You push the exposed part of the spine, disengage the lock, and fold the blade back in place. Simple, and secure.

Liner Locks

This locking system is probably the most widely used in folding knives these days. It's easy to use, easy to assemble, and easy on the cost. Inexpensive in this case doesn't translate to low quality. It's hard to beat a liner lock. When executed properly these are one of the best locking systems in pocket knives. The basic mechanism is simple. One of the liners is cut and bent to create a spring effect. This engages the back of the blade when you open the knife and securely locks the blade in place.

For those who want a folding knife with a secure modern liner lock mechanism, check out the Cabonado and Shapu here. Both these knives boast a top-class liner locking mechanism.


There are plenty going for the liner lock, a host of reasons why its popularity is ever-growing. It's fairly inexpensive for the manufacturer, familiar and easy to use for all users, allows fast deployment and secure lock, thanks to the ball detent.

Frame Lock

These are probably the second most popular form of folding knife locking system after the liner locks. These are widely found on new generations of folding knives, especially top-end premium folding knives.

The system is quite similar to the liner lock, only simpler and more robust. One side of the frame (or both) is considerably thicker and forms the handle. A large portion of metal is placed against the blade that ensures a secure lock. There's a relief cutout down the axis of the spine which creates an inward pressure. When you open the blade, the lock bar shifts inward and engages the rear of the blade tang to securely lock the blade in place.
Check out folding knives with frame locks.