Automatic Knives with Jim Skelton

Today, we’re taking a look at automatic knives. Bladesmith Jim Skelton walks us through the world of automatic knives in the video you’ll find below. He introduces us to several different models, which should whet your appetite if you are interested in such devices.

Jim Skelton reviews five automatic knives.
Jim Skelton reviews five automatic knives.

Why choose an automatic knife?

  • Cool Factor!
  • Gadget Factor (they’re just kinda neat).
  • Ninja Factor (Mystique, Intrigue).

Jim jokes that it’s cool how the blades deploy. We can’t see what’s going on inside the knife—there could be magic elves in there deploying and retracting that blade! The mental imagery is certainly entertaining!

He also cautions to check state and local laws because many localities prohibit the mere ownership of this type of knives. Other states permit people to own them in their houses, but do not allow people to carry them outside the home. This benefits collectors but leaves people who like to use knives coming up short in the satisfaction department. He explains that in Florida, people can carry automatic knives as long as they have a license to carry firearms.

Automatic Knives

Watch the video to see Jim’s review of five different models.

Let’s take a closer look.

Microtech Limited Edition Scarab

This is a double-action automatic knife that deploys OTF (Out The Front), featuring carbon fiber inlays that are black. The inlays do give the knife a neat appearance and make it more interesting than plain models.

Microtech Limited Edition Scarab features carbon fiber inlays.
The Microtech Limited Edition Scarab features carbon fiber inlays.

The switch of the Scarab has a Tritium tube insert that glows so that the user can see it in the dark, which is a cool addition. Another neat feature is the glass breaker in the butt of the handle that is constructed of Tungsten Carbide.

To deploy the blade, the user moves the switch forward and the blade shoots out the front. When the switch is moved back, the blade retracts into the handle. Some people worry that the knife might deploy easily when it’s in their pocket, but Jim assures us that such an event is quite unlikely because the springs are at rest in the handle until a goodly amount of pressure is placed upon it. At that point, the springs cock, and Jim likens it to the springs inside a Glock firearm. It takes deliberate effort to fire the blade, so there’s no need to fret.

The Scarab’s blade is double-edged with a black coating. Jim reports that it is screaming sharp (he needed stitches from an accident that he had with it).

Automatic knifes - Microtech Scarab out the front double-edged blade
The Scarab deploys OTF (Out The Front) and has a double-edged blade.

Jim relates that this is one of the larger Microtechs that is available. The appearance really is quite nice, given those black carbon fiber inlays. When it opens and closes, there is a satisfying “CLACK!” sound, which I found attractive. The price of this auto knife is around $750 at the time the video was made.

MicroTech UltraTech Zombie Tech

Another one from the MicroTech lineup. This is an interesting-looking knife, in that the finish is a bright green and features red blood splatters, in keeping with the ever-famous zombie motif that we see on so many items nowadays. The black-coated blade is of the tanto variety and is approximately 3.5 inches long. This one features a glass breaker in the butt of the handle.

The Microtech UltraTech Zombie Tech sports a cool, blood-splattered finish! It deploys OTF.
The Microtech UltraTech Zombie Tech sports a cool, blood-splattered finish! It deploys OTF.

Jim notes that this is not his favorite glass breaker, though, because it is very pointy and can dig into one’s skin. He mentioned that he sometimes jabs his finger or hand on the breaker, which is not comfortable.

The size of this knife is smaller than the Scarab. While not a tiny knife, it is definitely not one of the larger ones. He notes that, at the time of filming, the price is between $275 to $300.

Microtech UTX-70

Jim notes that this is the smallest knife of any reviewed, and it sure is! The partially serrated blade is 2.42 inches long, constructed of M390 steel. The overall length is 5.95 inches and Microtech states it’s small enough to fit into the watch pocket of your jeans.

Microtech UTX 70 mini automatic knife
The Microtech UTX 70 is a tiny knife with a 2.4-inch blade that deploys Out The Front.
UTX 70 automatic knife, partially serrated blade
The UTX-70’s blade is partially serrated.

The entire knife weighs a whopping 1.25 ounces! Jim clearly adores this knife for the cool factor, and it is definitely a neat one. He uses this one for opening letters and such quite a bit.

Pro-Tech Godson

This knife looks quite fetching because of its wood inlays, they are gorgeous. This one is a side-opening automatic, and flies open with the touch of a button on the bolster.

Protech Godson automatic knife with wood inlays and side-deploying blade.
The Protech Godson features beautiful wood inlays and is an attractive automatic knife that has a side-deploying blade.

The 3.15-inch blade is extremely pointy, coming to a needlepoint, and it has a nice swedge. To close the blade, the user pushes the button and pushes down on the spine of the blade.

Protech Godson automatic knife swedge and tip
The Godson’s blade is 3.15 inches long and has a very nice swedge and a needle-sharp tip.

It also has a pocket clip. This particular version runs around $400, but plain versions typically go for around $200.

Protech ATAC

Jim explains that this one is designed by Jeff Harkins, based on his ATAC design. He further extrapolates that Harkins’ knives often go for thousands of dollars, so it’s nice to be able to purchase one of his designs for appreciably less than a custom knife.

One of the things that makes this knife unique is the fact that it has a hidden deployment button underneath one of the carbon fiber panels. Unless a person knows where it is, the knife does not appear to be an automatic knife. Now Jim does not suggest that anyone should deceive law enforcement with the fact that this knife doesn’t appear to be an automatic. Quite the contrary, he advocates being truthful and upfront with the law.

Protech ATAC automatic knife
The Protech ATAC was designed by Jeff Harkins, a custom knifemaker. The blade can be deployed via a hidden button.

But wait…there’s more! A second way to deploy this knife blade is to open it with the thumb stud, just the way you’d open a regular liner lock knife (this knife does have a liner lock). The blade for this one deploys out the side rather than the front.

Jim notes that the Microtechs have a system that, if the blade is fired into something solid, the knife won’t break, it will derail internally. At that point, the user just grabs the flat sides of the blade and pulls it forward so that it goes back on track.

A Few Caveats About Automatic Knives

  • More moving parts equals more to break.
  • Autos can be less durable than many other knife designs.
  • Care must be taken because dirt/debris can enter the opening where the blade is and create issues. It’s an advantage for the user to know how to disassemble the knife for cleaning.
  • Certain knives require a special tool to disassemble so that the warranty is not voided.
  • Quality autos can be quite expensive.

Jim suggests spending the money for quality, especially if your life might depend on it. But then this applies to pretty much any and all gear that you plan on staking your life on.

All in all, this is an informative video about a specific genre of knives, with a definite trend pointing toward Microtech.

So what are my thoughts on this subject?

Truth to tell, I’ve never been an ardent fan of automatic knives, having considered them a sort of “James Bond” type of gadget. Although I do have a number of friends who are fans of the concept.

This video opened my eyes to how relevant automatic knives can be. I have to admit, I found a couple of them to be pretty neat. Attractive, even!

That said, I still consider them to be overly complex in their construction, which is not a plus in my book for the reasons already mentioned above. However, I’d say my mind is more open now toward them. Unfortunately, my state is not friendly toward auto knives, as are many states these days.

Despite my thoughts, these knives are popular in the knife community, and many are sold each year. If you’re inclined, pick one up and give it a spin.

Jim Davis served in the PA Dept. of Corrections for 16 ½ years as a corrections officer in the State Correctional Institute at Graterford and later at SCI Phoenix. He served on the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), several of those years as a sniper, and also the Fire Emergency Response Team (FERT). For 25 years, he was a professional instructor, teaching topics including Defensive Tactics, Riot Control and Tactical Operations, Immediate Responder, and cognitive programs as an adjunct instructor at the DOC Training Academy. He was then promoted to the title of corrections counselor, where he ran a caseload and facilitated cognitive therapy classes to inmates. His total service time was close to 29 years. He was involved in many violent encounters on duty, including incidents of fatalities. He is a dedicated Christian and attributes any skills that he has to the glory of God.

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