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Lock Types

Kershaw knives close slightly differently depending on which type of lock the knife employs. Here’s how to unlock each type so that you can easily close your knife. Be sure to keep your fingers away from the blade edge while closing. You can find these Kershaw locks on our assisted and manual pocketknives, as well as knives that employ other Opening Systems.


Frame Lock

In a frame lock knife, the knife handle—its “frame”—consists of two plates of material on either side of the blade. When the knife is opened, the metal side of the frame, the lockbar, butts up against the backend of the blade (the tang) and prevents the blade from closing.

To unlock a frame lock:

  1. Hold the knife handle in one hand.
  2. Turn the knife so that you can see the interior of the handle.
  3. On the left side of the handle, you will see that one side of the handle (also called the “frame”) is positioned behind the blade. This is the lock.
  4. With your thumb, press the lock to the left so that it is no longer blocking the blade.
  5. With your other hand, hold the back of the blade (away from the edge) and begin to guide the blade back into the handle.
  6. Move your thumb out of the way as you finish guiding the blade back into the handle.

Hawk Lock

With a Hawk Lock, there are two stop pins set into the blade, one for the open position, one for closed. A spring-loaded latch plate, entirely on the interior of the handle, locks those pins into position. You manipulate the latch plate with the button, sliding the button back to allow the blade to open or close.

To unlock a Hawk lock:

  1. Hold the knife in one hand.
  2. To open the knife, pull back the spring-loaded latch plate in the knife handle.
  3. To close the knife, pull the lock slider toward the butt of the knife and fold the blade back into the handle.

Inset Liner Lock

The inset liner lock is a variation on the liner lock that enables Kershaw to provide the security of a locking liner in a knife that’s slimmer and lighter. We inset a sturdy steel plate on the inside of the knife’s handle. This partial liner is riveted into place in a machined cutout on the interior of the handle. We don’t need a complete steel liner on both sides of the handle, so  the knife can be lighter, thinner, and easier to carry.

To unlock an inset liner lock:

  1. Hold the knife handle in one hand.
  2. Turn the knife so that you can see the interior of the handle.
  3. On the left side of the handle you will see an inset piece of steel is positioned behind the blade. This is the lock.
  4. With your thumb, press the lock to the left so that it is no longer blocking the blade.
  5. With your other hand, hold the back of the blade (away from the edge) and begin to guide the blade back into the handle.
  6. Move your thumb out of the way as you finish guiding the blade back into the handle.

Liner Lock

The liner lock is the most common of today’s blade-locking systems. In knives with locking liners, the handle consists of two metal plates (the “liner”) on either side of the blade. Handle scales, which can be made from a variety of materials, such as G10, cover the plates.

To unlock a liner lock:

  1. Hold the knife handle in one hand.
  2. Turn the knife so that you can see the interior of the handle.
  3. On the left side of the handle, you will see the steel liner is positioned behind the blade. This is the lock.
  4. With your thumb, press the lock to the left so that it is no longer blocking the blade.
  5. With your other hand, hold the back of the blade (away from the edge) and begin to guide the blade back into the handle.
  6. Move your thumb out of the way as you finish guiding the blade back into the handle.

Mid-Lock

The mid lock is an older method of locking the blade into place, but it still operates similar to liner and frame locks. That is, a steel bar rests behind the blade, locking it in place until the user releases the lock. However, the mid lock deviates from its counterparts when it comes to the lock’s position. The steel bar is placed along the back of the knife, and you can see the mechanism on the handle spine. When you open the knife, the lock snaps into place in a notch cut into the back of the blade, behind the pivot. 

To unlock a mid-lock:

  1. Hold the knife handle in one hand.
  2. Hold the back of the blade (away from the edge) with the other hand.
  3. With your thumb, press down on the mid-lock to release it.
  4. Slowly guide the blade back into the handle, making sure to keep your fingers out of the path of the blade as you close it.

Push-Button Lock

With this lock, a mechanism blocks the back of the blade, preventing it from accidentally closing. You can see this lock on our automatic-opening Launch series.

To unlock a push-button lock:

  1. Hold the knife handle in one hand.
  2. Press the blade-release/lock button on the handle and hold it down.
  3. With your other hand, hold the back of the blade (away from the edge) and guide the blade back into the handle. Keep your fingers out of the blade’s path as you guide the blade back into the handle.
  4. Take your finger off the button.

Slipjoint

A slipjoint knife is a knife with no lock. However, these knives use other mechanisms to ensure safe use.

Many traditional slipjoints have a steel backspacer that acts as a leaf spring. This spring puts tension on the blade as you open and close it so you maintain control of the blade. The same backspacer puts tension on the blade when closed, biasing it towards the closed position and making it safe for pocket carry.

Others slipjoints have a ball detent. There is a small indentation on the blade into which a tiny steel ball on the frame or liner lock fits as the knife is opened or closed. This provides friction and a light "stop" that biases the knife to the closed position and ensures controlled open and close.

To close a slipjoint:

  1. Hold the knife handle in one hand.
  2. Hold the back of the blade (away from the edge) with the other hand.
  3. Slowly guide the blade back into the handle, making sure to keep your fingers out of the path of the blade as you close it.

Sub-Frame Lock

The Kershaw Sub-Frame Lock is our patented variation on the traditional frame lock that lets us make a slimmer knife while providing a strong, secure lock. In this lock, a piece of the lighter weight frame is machined out and a piece of steel is riveted into its place. This piece of steel acts just like a standard frame lock. When the blade is open, it moves into position behind the blade tang, locking it open.

To unlock a Sub-Frame Lock:

  1. Hold the knife handle in one hand.
  2. Turn the knife so that you can see the interior of the handle.
  3. On the left side of the handle you will see part of the frame is positioned behind the blade. This is the lock.
  4. With your thumb, press the lock to the left so that it is no longer blocking the blade.
  5. With your other hand, hold the back of the blade (away from the edge) and begin to guide the blade back into the handle.
  6. Move your thumb out of the way as you finish guiding the blade back into the handle.

The Sub-Frame Lock is covered under US Patent 9,120,234.


Tip-Lock

A Tip-Lock Slider is a small slider found in the back handle scale of a knife. It can be found on all Leek, Scallion, and Chive SpeedSafe® knives. When engaged, it ensures the blade will not accidentally open. It’s especially helpful in cases where the knife might be juggled in a briefcase, backpack, or purse.

To unlock a Tip-Lock Slider:

  1. Turn the knife so you can see the back handle scale.
  2. Slide the screw tab toward the butt of the knife.
  3. This unlocks the tip of the knife so you can open it.