When is a Detent too Weak?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Cosmodragoon, May 25, 2019.

  1. Cosmodragoon


    Jan 1, 2019
    Hi everybody. I prefer a stronger detent. I like my pocket knives to stay shut when I don't want them open. I also like them to snap open reliably when I do.

    I know people have different preferences. When is a detent too weak for you? Is there a point at which you send a knife back over it?
  2. sharp_edge

    sharp_edge Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 30, 2015
    hard to quantify it but I am in the same boat as you. As long as it does not hurt my finger to open the knife, a stronger detent is preferred.
  3. Dadpool

    Dadpool Gold Member Gold Member

    May 18, 2015
    It depends a bit on the knife and how I intend to use it, but my minimum is passing the "salt shaker" test: If I shake it as hard as I would a shaker of salt when seasoning my food and the blade comes out, it's too light for me.

    I'm happier if my knives pass the "stubborn ketchup bottle" test, and happier still if I can whip my whole arm down at the floor like I'm throwing a fastball and the blade stays in place. Only a couple of my knives can be fastballed like that, but most pass the ketchup test and all pass the salt test.

    The terms might be a bit silly, but they're an easy way for me to explain the detent I like when, say, I'm buying a used knife online. :)
    Wharn, Sergeua, Alsharif and 6 others like this.
  4. brando555


    Sep 26, 2018
    As long as it can get jostled around in my pocket without opening I'm not too picky.

    All of my folders have a wide range of detents from weak to strong. My ZT0562 has a pretty weak detent, but it takes a good amount of force to shake it open, so I don't mind to much. It's basically got drop shut action after breaking it in which is nice.
  5. Bill1170


    Dec 20, 2007
    When it opens in your pocket, it’s too weak.
  6. petah


    Jul 22, 2008
    Having been pocket stabbed by my Emerson Persian (I know there are others) I prefer knives to not be shakeably open.

    UDIVER Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 10, 2013
    When you can shake it open, it's too weak.
    Alsharif likes this.
  8. DocT


    Mar 25, 2012
    All detents are too weak. :p :D

    I really prefer locks that do not depend on them because once overcome, the blades are free swinging and it is a recipe for disaster. My wife will not even look at a liner lock or frame lock or comp lock after having a couple of knives open in her purse. I have had some open in my pocket. Also, such locks are weaker by nature than other locks that do not depend on them. The only liner lock I trust to stay closes in the one on the Case Mid Folding Hunter since it uses a strong back spring instead of a detent.

    Such locks do have their uses, and I own a few. One advantage is that they can be cleaned easily. But, I am not a fan of knife flicking so a strong bias to close is more important to me.
    USMCPOP likes this.
  9. Night Rider

    Night Rider

    Apr 16, 2018
    When you can shake it open and/or it fails to "flick" repeatedly it is too weak and definitely if it opens in your pocket. A stiffer detent will give you a better snappier deployment but most guys with soft supple hands tend to complain about them making their finger sore Lol.
    Alsharif likes this.
  10. Cosmodragoon


    Jan 1, 2019
    I have no problem with liner locks. I actually prefer them to frame locks in a lot of cases because I like the comfort of unbroken scale against my hand. It just needs a good detent!

    Having a strong detent is arguably more important for loose carry. A clipped knife that keeps the blade against a pocket edge is less likely to cause trouble. That doesn't mean I'd like a weak detent in that case. It's just that I'm a tad more forgiving. For a knife to ride loose in a pocket (or a purse in the case of DocT's wife), it needs to stay closed! This is where I've occasionally preferred the Kershaw Speedsafe to some of my manual flippers.

    Speaking of Kershaw, I sometimes carry the manual Kershaw Fraxion loose without its clip. It is small, light, and wonderfully thin with a very strong detent. (One reviewer called it a "Little Hitler Detent".) If I could get that in better steel, I'd be a happy camper.
  11. Comeuppance

    Comeuppance Fixed Blade EDC Emisssary

    Jan 12, 2013
    For me, unless it's a flipper, it's only too weak if it's a legitimate safety issue. Aside from that, I've had knives that flipped open just fine despite being able to pretty easily open them with a single downward shake. I've also had flippers that didn't easily shake open that were also pretty unreliable to open if you relied solely on using the tang extension.

    I think the weight of the blade, smoothness of the pivot, and shape/position of the tab dictate what is and is not a good detent.
    Lance Leon and Night Rider like this.
  12. Grandmaster

    Grandmaster Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 14, 2015
    when I can shake it open with just one hand
  13. archieblue

    archieblue Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 19, 2001
    If it’s is not a back lock or a slippie the detent is probs too weak.;)
  14. DocJD


    Jan 29, 2016
    It's got to be strong enough to stay shut until I need it to open , but not so so strong that I can't inertial / "gravity" open with a deliberate HARD shake .

    Also , I will not carry one that has a sloppy detent that allows the blade to open just enough in pocket to be a danger . Blade has to be kept completely closed .
  15. AntDog

    AntDog Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 3, 2001
    Can’t get my vid to work...
  16. Monofletch

    Monofletch Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 14, 2010
    I am not a “knife mechanic” but isn’t the detent controlled by the lock bar tension is a frame lock flipped? It’s pretty easy to take apart and adjust and reassemble. It might take you more than once to get it right, but not worth hurting yourself with a pocket stab!
  17. sharp_edge

    sharp_edge Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 30, 2015
    Those saying cannot shaken open may want to try your folders. Most golders can be shaken open. Axis lock, tri ad lock, and frame lock are among the easiest. Even compression lock and CBBL can be so, just need a bit more force.
    DocJD likes this.
  18. Sharp & Fiery

    Sharp & Fiery Always Embellish Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 14, 2012
    I would say...interesting question...i feel that all depends on the knife. I like my flippers with a medium detent, my front flippers on the lighter side, and my thumbstud knives on the medium side. I have preferences on detent strenght differ on framelocks and liner locks. And even then, depending on the exact knife, that could change too. I guess my answer would have to be that its too weak if it can easily open in my pocket and “bite” me. Thats always a nasty surprise.
  19. willard0341

    willard0341 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 18, 2013
    I went through a back pocket carry stage in 05 or 06, I did not have the blade against the seam and this knife partially opened and went through my blue jeans and subsequently into the seat of my one year old Toyota Tacoma. I prefer a stronger detent image.jpg
    DocJD likes this.
  20. Lance Leon

    Lance Leon Gold Member Gold Member

    May 3, 2017
    Keeping the blade in the closed position is one purpose of the detent, and in that regard I agree with most others here that if it can shake open or come open when I do not intentionally open it, then it is too weak. However, the other purpose of a detent is as part of the opening mechanism, at least on most folders, and it's in this regard that weak detent strength is a tricky subject.

    From the perspective of knife manufacturers/makers, I've heard that this is a problem which doesn't really have a solution. Each person has their own preference, and a hard detent for one person is a normal one for another. Take my brother for instance. He's not into knives, but I do show him new acquisitions on occasion. He can somehow almost always get the blade to not fully deploy, whether it's a flipper, front-flipper, thumbstud, aperture, etc, and thus says a number of my knives have a weak detent even though some of them are widely acknowledged by us knife enthusiasts as finger breakers.
    Sharp & Fiery likes this.

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