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Pantographic Knife: A Comprehensive Guide

Written by:
Aleks Nemtcev
May 24, 2024
paratrooper knife

Introduction to Pantographic Knives

Pantographic knives, also known as paratrooper or parachute knives, occupy a distinctive niche within the folding knife category due to their complex design. Originally developed for military applications, these knives are distinguished by their unique folding mechanism. This mechanism, commonly referred to as “pantographic,” operates through a series of scissor-like actions, enabling the blade to extend and retract swiftly and efficiently.

Despite the pantographic knife design predating the Second World War, there are no records indicating that German paratroopers were ever officially issued these knives.

Throughout this guide, we will explore the mechanical details and components of pantographic knives, highlight prominent brands that have pioneered these designs, and provide practical tips for their use and maintenance. Whether dealing with modern reproductions or authentic historical specimens, our aim is to ensure these knives maintain peak performance and condition.

pantographic knife

Understanding the Parts of a Pantographic Knife

A pantographic knife, also known as a pantograph or paratrooper knife, features two primary components critical to its functionality: the handle and the blade.


The handle of a pantographic knife stands out due to its dynamic construction, which differs significantly from the static, solid form of traditional knife handles. It comprises multiple interconnected arms or links that mimic a scissor mechanism. This sophisticated linkage allows for the rapid extension and retraction of the blade, providing both speed and fluidity in operation.

Handles are typically constructed from high-strength materials such as stainless steel or aluminum, often enhanced with polymers to improve grip and ergonomic comfort. This design does not merely facilitate mechanical motion; it also ensures durability and user safety under intense operational conditions.


The blade of a pantographic knife is designed for robustness and precision cutting. It is crafted from high-grade steel, which maintains sharpness and withstands rigorous use. The design and size of the blade are optimized for functionality, ensuring effectiveness in a variety of tasks while maintaining a compact and portable form.

Critical to the blade’s functionality is its integration with the handle through a secure locking mechanism. This mechanism locks the blade firmly in place when extended to prevent accidental folding, thereby ensuring user safety and reliability.

pantograph knife

How Does a Pantographic Knife Work?

The functionality of a pantographic knife also referred to as a pantographic paratrooper knife, hinges on a specialized mechanical principle akin to a pantograph. This allows for a compact and efficient blade extension and retraction through a unique folding mechanism.

The Pantographic Mechanism

Central to the pantographic knife is its elaborate folding system, which features a series of interconnected arms arranged in a parallelogram-like structure. In the closed position, these arms collapse into one another, concealing the blade within the handle. Activation occurs through a button or lever on the handle, triggering the arms to extend and swiftly project the blade outward.

This scissor-like action, essential for rapid deployment, was particularly valuable to paratroopers during WWII who required swift and reliable access to their blades in emergency situations. The design’s efficiency also makes the pantographic knife a preferred tool for contemporary tactical and survival uses.

pantographic knives

Safety Features

To mitigate risks associated with its rapid activation, pantographic knives include various safety mechanisms. These ensure the blade remains securely locked both when deployed and when stored. Enhanced models feature a double-locking system, providing additional safety by preventing unintended deployment or closure during use.

The durability of the mechanism is a priority, with high-grade metals used in the construction of the linkage system to withstand regular use and maintain reliability over time.

pantograph knife patent

Popular Pantographic Knife Brands

Several brands have become particularly renowned for producing these knives, each bringing a unique aspect to the design and functionality of the pantographic knife. Here we explore some of the most acclaimed models that have made a mark in the knife community.

Complicating identification, samples bearing German army markings and featuring brass handles with English text appear to be post-war marketing attempts from 1948, designed to capitalize on the term “paratrooper knife”

paratrooper knife

CARL EICKHORN Pantographic Knife

One of the most historically significant producers of pantographic knives is CARL EICKHORN, a name synonymous with quality German cutlery. The CARL EICKHORN pantographic knife, often dated back or later to WWII, is highly sought after by collectors due to its robust construction and precise engineering.

Carl Eickhorn pantographic knife

Smith & Wesson Power Glide Tanto Manual OTF Knife

Moving from historical models to modern adaptations, the Smith & Wesson Power Glide Tanto Manual OTF Knife brings the pantographic mechanism into contemporary contexts. This knife features a unique sliding mechanism that is manually operated, offering a reliable and secure deployment. The Tanto blade shape enhances its tactical utility, making it a popular choice among knife enthusiasts.

Smith Wesson Power Glide

Fury Pantographic Knife

The Fury brand (Taiwan) offers a pantographic knife that is accessible and widely used for general utility and outdoor activities. Known for its affordability and functional design, the Fury pantographic knife serves as a good entry-level option for those new to this type of knife mechanism.

fury paratrooper knife

fury pantographic knife

RUKO pantographic knife

RUKO pantographic knives are modern replicas of pantographic knives. Made from modern materials such as stainless steel, these knives are designed for novice collectors who appreciate pantographic design combined with affordability.

RUKO WWII pantographic knife

SS Paratrooper Collapsible Knife

A modern replica of the pantographic knife, this model incorporates advanced materials and an updated mechanism to suit modern needs. While not an original WWII item, it is inspired by the designs and needs of historical paratrooper knives.


Each of these brands and models offers a unique take on the pantographic knife design, from historical replicas to modern adaptations. Whether for collecting, everyday carry, or tactical use, pantographic knives continue to fascinate and serve users with their ingenious design and reliable functionality.

Using and Maintaining Your Pantographic Knife

Proper use and maintenance are crucial for maximizing the functionality and safety of your pantographic knife. Here are essential guidelines for handling, using, and caring for your knife effectively.

Safety Precautions When Using a Pantographic Knife:

  • Handling: Exercise caution when deploying or retracting the blade. Given the rapid action of the knife, it’s vital to handle it with full awareness and respect for its capabilities.
  • Deployment: Verify that your surroundings are clear before activating the knife. Due to its swift deployment, ensure there is no risk of accidental injury by being fully aware of your environment.
  • Locking Mechanism: Regularly inspect the locking mechanism to ensure the blade remains securely in place. This prevents the blade from inadvertently folding during use, which could lead to injury.

Basic Techniques for Safe and Effective Use:

  • Opening and Closing: Familiarize yourself with the specific mechanism of your pantographic knife, whether it involves a button release or a manual pull. Consistently practice these actions until you can perform them smoothly and without hesitation.
  • Cutting Techniques: Always position the knife so that cuts are directed away from your body. Maintain a safe distance between your free hand and other body parts from the blade’s path to prevent accidents.

Sharpening and Cleaning Your Pantographic Knife:

  • Sharpening: A sharp blade is safer and more effective than a dull one. Less force is needed to cut with a sharp blade, reducing the risk of slippage and injury. Sharpen the blade using a whetstone or a professional sharpener appropriate for the steel type.
  • Cleaning: Regularly clean the knife to eliminate dirt, debris, and moisture, which can compromise both the blade and the mechanism. Clean the blade with mild soap and water, thoroughly drying it before storage. Ensure that water does not seep into the mechanical components; dry them promptly to avoid rust.
  • Lubrication: Apply a light machine oil to the moving parts periodically to facilitate smooth operation and to protect against corrosion and wear. Focus on joints and pivot points, applying the oil sparingly to prevent over-lubrication.


Comparing Folding ‘Hirschfänger’ Pantographic Knife with Taiwan Pantographic Knife

Video Credit: JoergSprave @Slingshotchannel


Pantographic knives, historically known as paratrooper or parachute knives, encapsulate a rich legacy marked by significant advancements in design and functionality. Originally intended for military use, these knives were never officially adopted into service. Post-World War II production transformed them into rare collectible items. Their distinctive pantographic mechanism not only facilitates out-the-front (OTF) deployment but also underscores their continued allure among knife aficionados.

For collectors, pantographic knives represent a tangible connection to historical military innovation, showcasing the ingenuity and adaptability of past designs. For contemporary users, these knives offer a blend of traditional craftsmanship and modern engineering, providing reliable performance and precision. Whether one’s interest lies in mechanics, history, or practical usage, owning and maintaining a pantographic knife links them to a tradition of technical excellence and creativity.

By understanding their operation, care, and procurement, enthusiasts can ensure that these knives not only function optimally but also preserve their historical and aesthetic significance. As we continue to value and explore these exceptional tools, the pantographic knife stands as a prominent example of the seamless integration of functionality and design in the crafting of enduring and innovative tools.

Bonus Section: Where to Find Pantographic Knives

For enthusiasts interested in adding a pantographic knife to their collection or toolset, there are several avenues to explore. Whether seeking contemporary models or rare historical pieces, the following resources can help you find the right pantographic knife to meet your needs.

Online Retailers

For new pantographic knives, including modern adaptations and replicas, online retailers are a convenient option. Websites that specialize in knives and outdoor gear often feature a variety of pantographic knives. Brands like Smith & Wesson and Fury regularly appear on these platforms, offering both utility and tactical models. Always ensure that you are purchasing from a reputable site to guarantee the quality and authenticity of the knife.

Auctions and Collectibles Stores

For those interested in historical or rare pantographic knives, such as the German paratrooper gravity folding knife from WWII, auctions and collectibles stores are invaluable resources. These venues often carry authentic pieces with rich histories. Before participating in an auction, familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions, and if possible, review the knife’s provenance and condition reports.

Specialty Knife Shops

Specialty knife shops, both online and brick-and-mortar, may carry a range of pantographic knives. These shops often provide expert advice and can help you find a knife that suits your specific needs, whether for collecting or practical use. They might also offer custom services or modifications to enhance a knife’s performance or aesthetic appeal.

Knife Shows and Expos

Attending a knife show or expo allows you to see a variety of pantographic knives in person and engage directly with dealers and other collectors. These events are excellent for networking, learning more about different knife mechanisms, and even finding deals on both new and antique models.

Author: Aleks Nemtcev | Connect with me on LinkedIn


Pantographic knives

The pantograph knife – German patent.

Smith & Wesson Powerglide

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