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Button Lock Knives: What They Are and Why They’re So Popular

There’s something irresistible about pushing a button. The satisfying nature of making something happen with just a push can be addictive and wonderfully fun. From ordering food to taking pictures, buttons are everywhere—including your next pocket knife?

Over the past two years, there’s been a lot of interest in button lock knives. In 2022, there were more new models of these knives than ever before. Typically, button lock mechanisms have been most popular on automatic knives, but we’re seeing them more and more on manual-action knives—and for good reason.

Today we’ll be focusing on the button lock mechanism on manual pocket knives and diving into what they are and why they’re so popular. Then we’ll get into some of our favorite non-automatic button lock knives.


What Do You Want to Know?


  • What is a button lock knife?
  • How do button locks work?
  • How strong are button locks?
  • Why are they so popular?
  • What are the best button lock knives?

What Is a Button Lock Knife?

A button lock is a folding knife with a push button that allows the blade to lock into place and not move until the button is then pressed again. When the button is pressed on button lock pocket knives, the lock is released allowing the blade to deploy.

Button locks are not only popular in automatic knives, but they are also found on many manual knives and assisted opening knives as well. Sometimes, a button lock knife can be both opened and closed with just a touch. Often, there are other alternative mechanisms that can open the knife, like thumb studs, flipper tabs, thumb holes, and others. Multiple options mean you have hours of fidgety fun ahead of you.

There are also some benefits of a button lock versus a liner or frame lock. When compared to a liner lock, a button lock is easier and quicker to disengage. A liner lock is a side-spring lock and, much like the button lock and the frame lock, can be opened and closed with just one hand. When it comes to the frame lock, the lock is built into the handle with no extra parts which tends to lead to simpler and cleaner designs. However, some say that the button lock knife is the simplest to use whether you’re a new knife fan or an experienced collector. Closing the blade with a button rather than manipulating a liner lock or frame lock is obviously much quicker and easier.

How Does It Work?

Before pushing the button on a button lock knife, the button is under spring tension, which pushes a sort of plug (like a cork) into one of two cutouts in the tang of the blade, preventing it from opening or closing. When you push the button, you separate the plug from the cutout, leaving the blade free to move. In the open position, the cutout is deep, letting the plug plunge into it fully (which is why button locks are sometimes call plunge locks), locking the blade firmly until you press the button; in the closed position, the cutout is shallower, creating a detent that you can overcome by pushing the blade’s flipper or thumb stud.

There are a variety of different ways to open manual-action button lock knives, including flipper tabs, thumb studs, nail nicks, and thumb holes. With a button lock, you can even use gravity to open your knife for you by pushing the button down and letting the blade swing into place—a benefit enjoyed exclusively by button lock knives.

As for the button on automatic knives, these locks are a little different, but also use the same fundamentals. What sets this style apart is the lock that holds the blade closed as well as open, making it necessary to push the button to deploy and disengage the knife. The added coil spring in automatic button lock knives does the heavy lifting for the user. The coiled spring flings the blade out of its handle with satisfying power, speed, and a gratifying thwack sound. It’s just plain fun!

How Strong is a Button Lock?

A button lock mechanism is as strong as the knife’s frame. Because the button lock’s spring rests on a cutout in the blade’s frame, tension is created when the tang of the knife pushes against the button, which is embedded into the frame. While not quite as strong as lockback or crossbar lock mechanisms, button locks are comparable in strength to pocket knives with frame locks or liner locks.

In practice, a button lock knife is strong enough to handle any challenge you’d reasonably expect to face with a pocket knife. Button lock knives do score extra safety points for never requiring you to put your hand in the blade’s path as it closes. This all but eliminates the chances of catching your fingers between the blade and frame as you put the knife away.

Why Are They So Popular?

Button lock knives are so popular because they are exceptionally smooth and lightweight. There tends to be less steel used on a button lock than on other lock styles, which helps keep the weight down. It also allows for the blade to glide smoothly without any obstacles.

Another reason button locks are so popular is because of how simple and accessible they are. We mentioned before that in 2022 we saw more new models of button lock knives hit the market than ever before. These new models are available in nearly every style of blade, opener, material, and price point.

There’s also the fidget factor to consider. These knives are extremely fidget friendly, which is a huge factor in their popularity. You can open them using the opener, such as the flipper tab or thumb studs, but you can also open these knives by pressing the button down and flicking your wrist, as we mentioned before. You could spend hours opening and closing you button lock knife. Trust me, I know. I have.

What Are the Best Button Lock Knives?

There are many of these knives out there available. Blade HQ has button lock knives from the best budget-friendly companies to those produced by high-end knifemakers. A lot of these styles will appeal to different tastes, of course, but here is a basic list of some of the best button lock knives:

Pro-Tech Malibu


Pro-Tech Malibu: These high-quality knives deploy like a breeze with their flipper and button openers, and they lock tightly with the button lock. They are available in two blade shapes and many different colors. This is one of the best button lock flipper knives out there! It is the perfect knife for any collection. It’s also worth taking a moment to talk about the Pro-Tech Mordax. The Mordax features a burly drop point blade made from CPM MagnaCut steel, an aluminum handle, along with the same flipper tab and button lock as its younger sibling.

CIVIVI Elementum


CIVIVI Elementum Button Lock Knives: The CIVIVI Elementum establishes a natural balance between convenience and durability. The Elementum is modest, ergonomic, and endlessly functional. The push button lock doubles as the knife’s opener, lending itself well to fidgeting and quick blade deployment.

CJRB Pyrite


CJRB Pyrite: This wonderful knife has budget-friendly options as well as high-end versions that can both be opened with thumb studs or the button and gravity. It is comfortable, easy to use, and has excellent cutting action.

BRS E-Volve Apache Button Lock 

BRS E-Volve Apache Button Lock: With a wide, leaf shaped blade and an ergonomically curved handle, the BRS Apache packs a lot of utility into a pocket-friendly EDC package. The flipper tab and reversible titanium pocket clip provide a fully ambidextrous design that is as versatile as it is functional. The flipper tab and button lock combination makes using this knife one-handed smooth, simple, and endlessly fun.

Kizer Assassin
Boker Kwaiken

Kizer Assassin: The Kizer Assassin is an ideal knife for everyday carry. The Assassin is famous for its smooth flipping action, lightweight construction, and impressive durability. This is another knife with the fidget friendly flipper tab and button lock combo, giving you multiple ways to open this knife one handed — and making you look more dexterous than you actually are. Kizer button lock knives are amazing, and there are so many different models to choose from.


Boker Kwaiken Button Lock – This blade runs on ball bearings for a smooth transition from closed to open. This adds significantly to its fidget factor. Boker button lock knives are always a great choice for automatic or manual knives.












SENCUT Sachse: The SENCUT Sachse is the most accessible and budget friendly button lock knife we have to offer. SENCUT knives are made by the same artisans behind WE Knife Co and CIVIVI, bringing cumulative decades of experience to these reliable flipper knives. SENCUT’s designs are always clean cut, straightforward, and elegant. With multiple options to choose from, the SENCUT Sachse is the perfect entry point into button lock knives.

Hogue EX-01




Hogue EX-01: The EX-01 was the first in the Hogue/Elilshewitz Extreme Series of knives. Designed to be extremely durable, the knife has an oversized pivot and tactically textured G-10 handle. The stop pin and button lock are heat-treated stainless steel, providing robust lock-up and security during use. Finally, a manual safety ensures that the lock cannot disengage, giving fixed blade-like reliability.

Kansept EDC Tac



Kansept EDC Tac: Designed by Danish knifemaker Mikkel Willumsen, the EDC Tac rides the line between a tactical knife and everyday carry folder. The EDC Tac incorporates tough, reliable materials along with the versatile handle ergonomics that you’d expect from a tactical knife. At the same time the EDC Tac’s design is sleek and low-profile, letting this knife fit into your pocket comfortably.

Fox Knives Radius





Fox Knives Radius: Winner of the 2019 Blade of the Year award from Blade Show, the Radius is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Although it’s not a conventional button lock knife, it is similar and we just can’t get enough of it. Its unique lock is button based, but it rotates around the pivot. To open, use the stud to cause the rotation that engages the blade. To close, just push down on the stud, and rotate it back. The blade comes in Bohler M390 or Damascus steel and in a variety of handle materials and patterns, making this knife worthy of any collection.


These knives are more than hot right now, and it’s hard to not like them. If you want something a little bit extra to add to your collection, choose a button lock knife. If you are already a fan of button locks and want another (who wouldn’t?) consider the suggestions above.

These ingeniously designed knives are easy to use, durable, exciting, and look great! We have many different styles, colors and materials in stock. There really is one for everyone.