When buying a knife, there are hundreds of features, options and styles to choose from. Specifically, if you’re getting a folding knife, there’s the issue of selecting the type of locking system fits your needs and preferences best. Locking systems are essential for folding knives because they prevent the knife from closing on your hand during use. Instead of having to frantically search around the web to learn about all the different types, here’s a comprehensive list of the locking systems used in most folding knives.

Liner Lock

The liner lock, originally known as a Walker Lock after its inventor Michael Walker, is one of the most popular types of locking systems. When the knife blade is opened, a vertical metal lockbar is angled from the side of the interior toward the center where it butts against the tang of the blade. The pressure of the lockbar, also called a leaf spring, prevents the blade from moving. To fold the blade back into the knife, the lockbar has to be moved away from the tang to its original position.


A lockback is sometimes called a spine lock because it has a metal spin that spans the entire back of the knife handle. Within the handle, the top of the spine and the tang of the blade resembles a hook. When the blade is opened, it pushes the spine out until the notch on the spine and blade are hooked into place. The two notches exert pressure on one another to keep the blade opened securely. Replacing the blade into the handle of a lockback knife requires pressing on the bottom of the spine until the two notches clear one another.

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