The case for backlocks

January 13, 2019

Does any knife ‘aficionado’ still consider backlocks when buying a new folding knife? There doesn’t seem to be much interest in them, on social media at least. Sure, I understand it. The old venerable backlock can’t compete with the current wide variety of newer and stronger locks. Many modern lock offer more strength, comfortable unlocking, wow-factor and more. However, most cannot easily be unlocked one-handed, with gloves. The backlock might not be the newest, strongest or easiest to operate, but it’s still the ticket for when you work a knife with gloves on.

Personally, I don’t care much which lock is on my folder. I’ve been using so many over the years that my muscle memory can easily transition between linerlock, backlock, and compression lock etc. Strength is not my main consideration for a lock either. After all, I know how to use a knife and my experience using knives hasn’t shown any need for extreme lock strength. My main concern for locks is that they’re reliable, i.e. not defeated by pocket lint and lock up easily each and every time. Another feature I look for in locks is that they’re ambidextrous, since I’m mostly left-handed. So for me, backlocks work just fine.

Another feature of the backlock to consider, is its history. Many quality knifemakers have been making backlocks for a long time. Much longer than most other locks on the market. What’s my point? A backlock from a quality maker is remarkably consistently made. I can still see different levels of lock engagement in linerlocks, integral locks and compression locks. Backlock? Every single one, from Spyderco at least, locks up great the same way straight from the box.

I realize the backlock isn’t the newest or strongest lock on the market today. However, they are very reliable, very lefty friendly and … the best lock to operate when wearing gloves.

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