Over the years custom knife makers and manufactures have gotten creative with bypassing the Switchblade Knife Act of 1958. A few new innovations that came out early on were the thumb disks and thumb studs. Before flipper knives, these were the best ways to conveniently and quickly open folding knives.
That is of course until flipper knives became popular in the mid 90's. Many credit Kit Carson, CRKT and Ken Onion with their popularity, and I tend to agree. Rumors lead to Mel Pardue introducing the flipper to a few custom designers who made it into what is today.
Regardless of who gets the ultimate credit for the invention, I think we can all agree that flipper knives are popular because they are handy.
With that said, lets take a look at a few of the the best flipper knives available today.
This flipper knife has a simple, yet pleasing look to it. It is the result of a Kershaw and Rick Hinderer collaboration. The main difference between this knife and many other Kershaw and Hinderer knives is the price.
The Cryo comes out at 4.8 ounces. The blade is 2.75 inches long and has a closed length of 3.75 inches. The handle is 410 stainless steel with a titanium carbo-nitride coating.
The blade is made from 8Cr13MoV steel, a budget steel that has some good qualities. One flaw of this steel is it's edge retention, it's not great. You'll find you need to sharpen it more often. But not a huge deal as this steel is easy to touch up on a stone.
The Cryo features a frame lock, which is popular among many knives in this price range. It's popular because it just works, it locks up strong to help prevent accidents.
The Cryo is available in a couple versions. Partially serrated, Tanto, and with a black wash finish. Also, the Cryo 2 is a larger version with a blade length of 3.25 inches.
The Cryo features the SpeedSafe assisted opening, as if you needed it with the flipper. You just have to get it started and the SpeedSafe take over and flips the blade open with ease.
The Cryo won the "Best Buy of 2012" by Blade Magazine. No doubt the Kershaw Cryo is one of the best flipper knives you can buy in it's price range.
The Zero Tolerance 0801 is the product made from a Zero Tolerance and knifemaker Todd Rexford partnership. With a stonewashed finish and ELMAX steel blade, this knife is designed to resist the little scratches knives tend to get over time. The ELMAX blade allows Zero Tolerance to not only make the edges razor sharp, but also endure strength.
This American made flipper knife has a glass smooth KVT ball bearing system to help smooth it out when opening. This also helps to keep maintenance easy.
The ZT 0801 does not have a spring assist, but it isn't needed with the KVT system, it'll loosen up the more you use it.
The handle length comes at 4.70” with a blade length of 3.50”. The handle includes machined grooves for a secure grip. The ZT is also made for both hands, but the clip is only tip-up. You get the best protection from the frame lock feature. The knife is a bit thicker, which could be a deal breaker for some people.
The blade is about 6 ounces, so you will definitely feel the weight if you carry it in your pocket. A few extra ounces might be worth living with if you’re looking to buy a superior titanium flipper knife.
With the lanyard hole in the bottom, you don’t have to keep the knife in your pocket if it bothers you too much. If you like the monochromatic metallic look, then consider this shiny beauty.
How did Kershaw introduce this flipper? "You're going to like this one!" For the low price this flipper knife will cost you, this is a budget knife that should be owned by everyone.
A K-Texture grip is used on the handle. The closed length is 4 ¼”. The blade is set at 3”. The weight is 4.8 ounces.
This everyday knife has speed safe assisted opening, liner lock, flipper, and dual thumb studs. The stonewashed finish on the 8Cr13MoV stainless steel helps hide any minor scratches. This knife is made to withstand about any cut you perform.
The pocket clip is a deep-carry and is reversible. This allows you to change which side you prefer the carry.
This blade comes a little wider than on most knives. This leaves the knife a bit bulkier, but it still has a fashionable touch. The blade shape is drop point. The handle material is Glass-filled nylon and K-Texture grip. The grip has a Swerved look, which gave it it's name.
If you ever end up turning your Kershaw blade dull, Kershaw will sharpen the knife for you if you send it to one of their warehouses.
Kershaw knew what they were doing with this knife. Because it's low price tag, it's affordable and one the best flipper knives available if you're on a budget.
The ZT 0450CF is the product of a Zero Tolerance and Dmitry Sinkevich collaboration. This is the darker cousin of the ZT 0450.
One of the lighter knives available, this mini-beast comes at 2.7 Ounces. The blade length is 3.25”, and the closed length is 4.1”. With the Titanium frame lock and the hardened steel lock bar insert, you’re ensured to prevent any accidental closing or opening.
The handle thickness is 0.40”, with the blade thickness at 0.12”. ZT does a great job at keeping the knife small and light.
The handle has a carbon fiber front and a titanium back. The deep-carry clip is reversible. The blade steel S35VN is DLC coated for a matte-black look and extra performance. The blade is wear resistant and is very tough. The carbon fiber scale on the front helps keep the knife light, and well balanced.
As an eye-pleaser, ZT added two emerald-green anodized aluminum tube spacers that go well with the black handle. With the KVT ball-bearing system, the flip remains steady for either hand.
The blade style is drop point. Unlike most other knives, this one doesn’t contain dual thumb studs or an assisted spring. This everyday use knife is made in the USA.
To complete this list, I am showcasing a uniquely designed Benchmade flipper. This knife is a reissue of their first flipper.
Designed by Butch Ball, this everyday flipper is a knife worth showing off. The handle is a blue and black contoured G10. This makes the grip a lot more fitted and easier to handle. The blade edge is plain, with a Satin finish.
This blade’s shape is drop-point. The clip is a deep-carry that’s reversible for both hands with the tip-up. The blade length comes at 3.18” with a width of 0.13”. The closed length is 4.25” with a width of 0.59”.
The blade material is 154CM stainless steel. The BK 300-1 also comes with dual thumb studs. This knife has a nice round edge on the blade, which allows more of the knife edge to be used for cutting. This blade has a hardness level of 58-61HRC. The quality of this knife is second to none.
Unlike the other knives we mentioned here, this knife has an AXIS lock. AXIS is Benchmade's proprietary locking system and works flawlessly.
One thing people look at is where the knife is made, and what may come in favor for many is that this knife is made in the USA.
Which is the Best Flipper Knife for You?
With the thousands of knives available today, it can be overwhelming finding which knives are worth the money. Whether it’s a flipper or a classic folder, you could end up putting in many hours of research finding the best pocket knife to suit your needs.
Keep in mind, these knives are fit for tight to moderate budgets. Some of the best flipper knives sell for big money and are in high demand with a limited supply.
Do some research on a few of the custom designing names on this list if you’re interested in more exquisite flippers. But these five flippers are a great place to start exploring a few names that create some of the sharpest and best flipper knives on the market.