SpeedSafeĀ® VS Autos: How Do They Compare?

Two of our fastest opening systems go head-to-head.

It’s easy to take for granted the many ways a knife can be opened. The truth is, deployment method is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a new knife.

After all, you’ll need to use that opening mechanism again and again, every time you need your blade. It can be helpful to try different models in-hand to see which opening style feels right to you. But in this article, we’ll offer some insight to help point you in the right direction.

If you need something to open quickly, our SpeedSafe® and automatic opening methods are appealing options. But what’s the difference? For starters, SpeedSafe opens with a flipper or thumb stud, while an auto deploys at the push of at button. But the distinction goes deeper than that.

To gain a full understanding, we have to look under the hood. For SpeedSafe, the internal torsion bar is connected to a hole in the blade. It keeps the blade closed and moves it open when the user activates the flipper or thumb stud.

SpeedSafe knives feature easy assisted opening.

As it opens, and as the blade crosses a certain threshold, it becomes biased toward the open position. Likewise, when you close a knife, you can feel when the blade becomes biased toward the closed position. If you have a SpeedSafe knife handy, try feeling the bias with your fingers. This patented technology makes Kershaw easier to use than standard spring-assisted knives, which offer resistance the entire time you close them. 

Conversely, automatic knives always “want to open.” The only thing keeping the blade closed is the button lock that blocks its path. Once the button is pressed, the lock moves to the side, and the blade quickly activates.

The Kershaw Launch series opens at the push of a bottom. From top to bottom, Launch 3, Launch 2, Launch 1. 

Which is better? It depends on your preference. Automatic knives tend to have a bit more of a “kick” when they’re opened, while SpeedSafe is more gradual (but still fast).

As an experiment, we decided to test which mechanism was faster. This can be challenging, because each SpeedSafe model has a different torsion bar that behaves slightly differently. For a fair comparison, we chose knives that are similar in size, weight, and shape.

Here’s how it went!

As you can see, opening speed is virtually identical, although the automatic knives fared slightly better in some cases. Users have to put a small amount of pressure on the flipper and button in order for the blades to start moving. Either way, you'll benefit from lightning quick deployment. 

For one, you should consider the legal aspect. Are automatic knives illegal/restricted in your state? California users will want to opt for automatics with under-2-inch blades. On the other hand, assisted knives are not considered switchblades and are generally subject to fewer regulations. The American Knife & Tool Institute is an excellent resource that should clear up what the state law is in your area.

Whether you prefer one opening method over the other, you’ll soon be flipping your knife into action with speed, safety, and style. Follow the links below to discover a Kershaw right for you.

SpeedSafe knives

Launch automatic series

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