Last month I joined the Ohio Gun Collectors Association. While collectible guns and other vintage items are the main focus of the Association’s shows, there are also newly manufactured items for sale there. A table full of U.S.-made, black tactical knives on display immediately caught my eye. These particular knives were what one would call an automatic opening knife. And the spring-assisted knives were priced at only $120.

Defcon’s Spring-Assisted OTF Tactical Knife

Out-the-front (OTF) knives have a speed advantage over finger-flipper, spring-assisted blades … if there is no manual safety to release first. No portion of the blade is visible when closed. Unlike side-opening automatics, you can maintain an OTF knife fully gripped in your hand and instantly ready to deploy. Pushing the sliding switch forward pops the blade out, and pulling the switch back closes it. Unlike any other style of automatic or assisted opening knife, OTF’s are 100 percent one-hand-only operated. This makes them incredibly handy for individuals with physical limitations.

I picked up one of the Defcon OTF knives and immediately noted the solid heft. It weighs 6.8 ounces. Before opening it, I also noticed upon inspection that there was no additionally manually operated safety; just the sliding opening switch.

The switch took a good amount of (but not too much) pressure to open the blade. The blade sprung out and locked with a satisfying “click.” Same thing on closing. Blade lock was solid, with a small amount of play that one would expect from the sliding operating system.

Thom Hiltibran of World Class Blades said the Defcon knives were made in Cincinnati and the blade was made of crucible steel. Crucible steel is also known as tool steel — a high carbon steel that keeps a fine edge but will rust. There is a lightening cut below the spine, and the blade is partially coated with a non-resistant matte black. I keep it coated with a dab of gun grease.

Safety and Utility

Grip design is excellent. The blade end is angled slightly downward, which provides an excellent grip angle and creates an indented control area for the index finger. The indented area continues to the rear, forming a peak in the middle of the grip that fits between the middle and ring finger. The grips are stainless steel with a comfortable yet firm non-slip checkered rubber coating.

There are two blade styles available. Both are Tanto blades: full, plain edge and partial-serrated edge. I purchased the partial-serrated blade because it is wicked-looking and photographs well. The length of the extended blade is 3.5 inches. A handy length for the utility chores this knife will be put to.

At the other end of the Defcon is a combination lanyard hole and steel car window glass breaker. There is a hole drilled through the side of the glass breaker that accommodates a lanyard. It is a nice touch.

Hiltibran pointed out a safety feature of the Defcon blade as well. Despite the blade popping out quickly and forcefully, it will not open when held against something soft. At any point between exit and before locking, the blade will be derailed off track. If the knife is in your pants pocket and somehow activated, the blade will stop before it can cut anything valuable. Anytime the blade is stopped before lockup, it is reset by pulling it out until it locks in place.

Carrying the Defcon Knife

The Defcon is a great knife, period. I found that needing just one had to close the blade is as handy as only needing one hand to open it. I am already spoiled by it. There is a non-reversible pocket clip at the closed end, and it carries comfortably in the pocket. It made short work of my most common cutting task — box opening. And the blade is very sharp on the plain and serrated edge. The Defcon has a lifetime guarantee.

The ordering process is old school. Hiltibran does most of his business at gun and knife shows, and World Class Blades does not have a website to order from directly. The $120 bargain (before shipping) includes a nylon holster. As with any knife, make sure you are familiar with state and local laws governing knives and their carry before purchasing.


World Class Blades: (937) 409-9060