What is a gravity knife

April 21, 2023
what is a gravity knife

The gravity knife is one having its blades embedded in its handle, the blade gets open when the force of gravity is applied, just as its name connotes. The key distinguishing feature of a Gravity Knife and Switchblade is the mechanism of opening both knives. For a switchblade, the mechanism involves pushing a button, which has a spring; the spring-propelled blade opens automatically at the push of the button.

Gravity Knives provides the advantage of opening and closing with the use of one hand, whilst the other hand is engaged. This features is an historical feature which has been quite helpful for those flying a parachute, cutting of lines tangled in trees when one is in motion and need one hand for balance and control. 

what is a gravity knife

You may also wish to know why the gravity knife was invented, despite the availability of other similar knives.

As we noted earlier, the one hand handling and control of the Gravity Knife is a key contributing factor to its invention. The German airscrew and paratroopers were issued this special knife as an accessible pocket tool to cut themselves free of a possible parachute rigging or the harness when emergencies arises.

The knife was invented for a practical and not fighting purpose, which is noticeable by the shape of the blade, with a relatively blunt end. A fighting knife usually has a more pointed blade end. 

The history of the Gravity Knife dates back as far as the 18th century. 

Its original design was very simple, such that the release of the blade was done by simply pressing a button on the knife’s handle. The original intent of the gravity knife was to help the German Soldiers and Paratroopers cut through their parachute cords after landing or when theirs rigging of the lines, it also served as can opener and a tool to cut through barbed wire. 

german gravity knife

It’s also important to take into cognizance the legality issues of the gravity knife. There are some legal complexities of the Gravity Knife. In countries like Canada and the United Kingdom and in certain states in the U.S.A a gravity knife is proscribed by law, it is considered a prohibited weapon, which has its attendant criminal consequences. 

In New York for instance, selling or ownership of a gravity knife is illegal, whereas in a state like Florida the ownership of a gravity knife is not prohibited. This is due to the discrepancy in definition of a gravity knife in the different state. New York’s definition for gravity knife is any knife that can be opened with “the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force.” This is a broad definition and includes other knives not traditionally considered as gravity knives.

Types of Gravity Knives

Gravity knives are generally classified into the following types:

Out-The-Front (OTF) Gravity Knives

These are set of gravity knives featuring blades that slide from the handles and locks in place when opened.

OTF gravity knife

Ball Bearing Gravity Knives

To enable the release and closure of their blades, these gravity knives makes use of the ball-bearing feature.

Ball Bearing Gravity Knife

Lever Release Gravity Knives

These gravity knives have a lever or button that releases the blade when pushed.

Drop Point Gravity Knives

These gravity knives earned the name “drop point” due to the opening mechanism, the blade drops, when the user opens the knife.

Drop Point Gravity Knife

Tactical Gravity Knives

Tactical gravity knives are mainly designed for the military or tactical use. It features a partially serrated or serrated blade.

Flip Open Gravity Knives

These gravity knives are similar to the switchblade as the opening mechanism allows the blade flip out of the handle.

handmade custom knives

Popular Gravity Knives Range

The most popular gravity knife range are the German Paratrooper Knife, the OTF knife and the Warlock knife. Some of the most popular Models and Brands are:

The German Paratrooper Knife

The German Paratrooper was first produced in 1937. It was called “Fallschirmjägermesser” and was mainly used by German aircrews and Para troops. Its primary purpose  was to cut a parachutist trapped  from his rigging in case he lands with the parachute tangled or became entangled in trees or in the water with the shroud lines. 

ww2 german paratrooper knife


German Paratrooper Knife


Its mechanism of opening is different from that of a switchblade, the blade is using relieved by gravitational force with the use of one hand, while the other hand may be engaged.


Convenient to open and close with one hand.

Swift utility instrument


It’s heavy to carry about

Considered illegal is some countries and states.

Fallschirmjager gravity paratrooper knife ww (II) era

A modern replica of Fliers folding knife. It is a drop knife, featuring a locking mechanism of an original leaver-operated spring.

Blade: Steel

Handle: Wood & Steel

Blade Length: 4.0”

Total Length: N/A

Lock Type: Leaver-Operated Spring Catch.

Price: $130



LL80X260 Original German Army Paratrooper Gravity Knife

The handle comes in green or black with straps. Also has an awl or screwdriver. Its design doesn’t require maintenance. Featuring a Leaver style lock, which opens and closes the blade when the leaver is turned down along its handle and released to move in the direction when the lever is swung towards its handle.

The blade drops to the extended position, when the knife is opened down or horizontal by flicking of the users wrist.

Blade: Stainless 440-A steel (HRC 56)

Handle: Fiberglass reinforced polyamide grip

Blade Length: 3.346”

Total Length: 8.740”

Lock Type: Leaver

Price: $190

LL80X260 german gravity knife

Akc Gravit – E Manual OTF Knife Black/Wood 3.7″

Features a Lockback mechanism that is set in its spine of the Gravit-E’s handle. 

Blade: Stainless Steel

Handle: Wood & Aluminum

Blade Length: 3.75”

Total Length: 8.50”

Lock Type: Lockback.

Price: $125



Roberto Ottonello gravity knife

This is a high-end drop knife. Its design is quite minimalist but very sleek. Featuring a hinged outer lock, which pivots open and releases the blade, its opening is really stylish.

Blade: Bohler N690

Handle: Stainless Steel

Blade Length: 2.75”

Total Length: 6.88”

Lock Type: Hinge Lock.

Price: $270



HEiLON Everyday Carry or Hunting Use Tactical Folding Pocket Knife

This piece is composed of a stainless steel clip pointed blade, stainless steel handle and genuine Wenge wood inlays. It feature a leaver-operated opening and locking mechanism.

Blade: Stainless Steel

Handle: Wenge Wood & Stainless Steel

Blade Length: 3.66”

Total Length: 8.97”

Lock Type: Leaver-Operated Spring Catch.

Price: $60


The OFT Knife

The OFT Knives are designed as switchblade. A switchblade is an automatic knife; at the pressing of a button, the blade is automatically deployed. The blade comes out of the front. Generally speaking, there are two types of the OFT knives. They are the Single action OTF and Double action OTF.

In the Single Action OTF: the switch button powers Release of the blade, the blade is returned manually into the handle.

In the Dual Action OTF: the release and retraction of the blade are both automated by pushing same control switch button in different directions.


Features a dual locking and release mechanism. The dual action is open by a single trigger and manually closed. The double action is opened and closed automatically by the trigger button.


Can be opened easily


Can be opened in a very confined space




Least Durable

Near impossible to fix

Popular Models and Brands:

Benchmade 3300BK Infidel

In the OTF Collection, the Benchmade 3300 Infidel is rated as one of its best; it’s available in two main size: the older version -full fat 3300 infidel. The total length of the knife is 8.9”, the blade alone accounts for 3.9” of the total length. The Benchmade 3300 Infidel is a dual action OTF

Blade: Stainless Steel

Handle: 6061-T6 Aluminum

Blade Length: 3.95”

Total Length: 8.95”

Lock Type: Steel liner.

Price: $550

benchmade 3300bk infidel knife

Asheville Steel Paragon Para-X OTF knife

The Asheville Steel Paragon Para-X is a single action OTF, having a powered deployment, but manual retraction. Its steel is super solid. All models of the Para-X are designed to deploy snappy fashion. A safety switch below the plunge opens, closes, and locks the blade. Its an affordable OTF as compared to the Benchmade, Microtech and Para-X.

Blade: Stainless steel

Handle: Aluminum

Blade Length: 3.60” 

Total Length: 8.75”

Lock Type: Push / Lock button.

Price: $199.


Microtech Combat Troodon Hellhound

The Microtech Combat Troodon derives its name from a bird-like dinosaur, which lived during the Cretaceous period and one of the very first discovered in the United States, which is very similar in shape to various raptors. Microtech is the larger version to the regular Troodon knives. The handle is made of anodized aluminum in variety of colors.

Blade: Premium Damascus steel

Handle: Black-anodized aluminum handle

Blade length: 3.8”

Total Length: 5.50”

Lock Type: Slide

Price: $648.

microtech combat troodon hellhound

Hogue Compound OTF Auto knife 3.5″ S30V

The Hogue’s Compound design focuses more on looks than use. It’s the most popular powered steel in the market and heat treated to 58-61 HRC. This power tool is designed and controlled by a double-action automated trigger for its release and retraction. Its works smoothly, swiftly and perfectly. The Hogue Compound is ab absolute delight to handle.

Blade:  CPM-S30V

Handle: G10 G-Mascus/Aluminum

Blade Length:  3.5”

Total Length: 8.40”

Lock Type: Button lock

Price: $350

hogue compound otf auto knife


The Warlock Knife

The Warlock Knife is one of the most popular modern gravity knives, largely partly about its blade deployment method, which is unquestionably unique, and its top-shelf material.

The Warlock is available in an attractive range of colors and fine finishing.

Mechanism: The safety mechanism of the warlock knife makes it unique and stands out in the gravity knife collection series. When the oversized pivot housings are grasped and squeezed, the halves of the handle split open, exposing the blade and the user manually swings out the blade and swings again to return the blade.


Smooth operating knife

Stainless steel blade made from CPM s30v

Extremely sharp

Stonewash finish


Unique safety mechanism

Gravity powered blade


Illegal in many places 

Big and boxy to carry in one’s pocket

Lacks practicality

Popular Models and Brands:

The Asheville Steel Paragon-Warlock Dagger Black s30V

The Asheville steel paragon warlock dagger grind black S30V is obviously a beautiful to behold gravity warlock knife, its made up of a tactically coated black CPM-S30V double-edge cross dagger blade. Its handle is made of black 6061-T6 aluminium with cross shield design and black clip.

Blade: CPM S30V

Handle: Aluminum

Blade Length: 3.875″

Total Length: 9.375″

Lock Type: Button Lock

Price: $270

the asheville steel paragon warlock dagger black knife

The Asheville Steel Paragon-Warlock Knife

This knife features a cross shield design; with sword pearled two-tone satin design. Its beautiful to behold and handle.

The mechanism of opening the paragon. The user has to ensure both sides of the pivot are pushed at same time, the makes the handle separate and the blade is released. With application of gravity and wrist flick of the user, the blade of the Warlock emerges and locks in place.

Blade: Material: S30V

Handle: Aluminum

Blade Length: 4.00”

Total Length: 9.375”

Lock Type: Push lock

Price: $ 285

The Asheville Steel Paragon Warlock Knife

custom hunting knives

What to consider when buying a Gravity Knife

A few aspects of gravity knives are not different from regular pocket folders or autos, there are a couple of points of specificity when it comes to a gravity knife space. We’ll highlight some points to help you make a choice when shopping for a new gravity knife. This will help you assess the authenticity of the Gravity Knife, review your personal needs and make an informed decision.

Blade Steel: The blade of the gravity knife is durable.  The more recent gravity knives are designed constructed by extracting metals from metal ore, which makes them even more powerful and durable.

Blade Profile: The shape of a gravity knife’s handle limits the type of blade profile that can be used, however the gravity knives are produced with a range of different blade shapes, namely: spear point, drop point and clip point, spear point. It also features a tanto/reverse tanto silhouettes. 

Handle Construction: The material used to crafting a gravity knife’s handle plays an integral role in its features, such as its lightness and durability. This is the reason why Gravity Knives have the pairing of wooden elements and stainless steel, though; some of the more recent knives employ more premium materials such as titanium, micarta and aluminum. 

Locking Mechanism: Although they all gravity knives simply disengage a lock and the blade falls into place due to the gravitational force at work, locking mechanisms differs to an extent across the various models. For instance the Luftwaffe Paratrooper’s knife employs the leaver-operated spring catch system, whereas the more modern knives or operated by the slide-operated mechanisms. By this mechanism, the handle opens up and make room for the blade to fall into place. 

Price: Gravity Knifes are produced in smaller numbers and most times produced on request, which is mainly because of the legality in the possession and sales of this unique knife piece. The aforementioned factors tend to make the gravity knife more expensive than their counterpart. Therefore, price is a crucial factor in decision making for these set of knives.

Style & Design: There are a whole lot of traditional and conventional knives mimicking or look-alike models of the gravity knife. Plenty of gravity knives also range is style, size and shape. It’s advisable to check a wide range of options before deciding which to purchase. 

Care and Maintenance of the Gravity Knife

You can be sure Noblie Knife Blog won’t leave you helpless without some tips to care for and maintain your newly acquired Gravity Knife. Unlike other pocket knives, the Gravity knives doesn’t need too much care and maintenance to remain optimal, functional and durable. Here are some guidance tips to care for and maintain a gravity knife:

• Cleaning should be focused on the locking trigger; a sharp object should be used to get rid of dirty and garbage.

• Keep the blade sharp always, but do not use a power grinder to sharpen a gravity knife. Honing rod, steel or electric sharpener are the preferred options.

• Lubricating moving parts with mineral oil as well as the handle.

• Do not leave extra oil on the knife before closing; wipe the extra oil.

• Proper storage, keep away from humidity and direct heat. 

When we think of a gravity knife, we think of a small pocket blade, folded in a safe metallic and wooden frame and one having a leaver. In the design of a gravity knife, the leaver serves as its safety mechanism, preventing accidental opening, as the knife uses the force of gravity to open up when flipped.

Notwithstanding the gravity knife is still a dangerous tool, which is considered illegal in some countries and states; in New York, for instance many citizens were arrested for been in possession of Gravity Knife illegally. The Gravity knife was banned in the USA because of its size, ease of use and danger when in the possession of an illegal user.

The illegal possession and use of Gravity Knife can lead to various degrees of penalty including fines and jail terms, so it’s of utmost importance to know the legal implication in your district or city before acquiring one of these special knives.

FAQ on Gravity Knives

How does a gravity knife even work?

It’s pretty cool—instead of springs or manual unfolding, you just use a flick of the wrist or gravity to get the blade out.

Can I just carry a gravity knife anywhere?

Not everywhere. Some places lump them in with switchblades and have rules against them. Always a good idea to check your local laws first.

So, how’s a gravity knife different from a switchblade or a usual pocket knife?

Well, switchblades pop out with a spring. Regular pocket knives? You gotta open them by hand. But with a gravity knife, just a quick flick and you’re good to go.


The Gravity Knife has been around pretty long and has remained popular despite the emergence of more recent pocket knife brands. Gravity knives were mainly used by paratroopers, soldiers and sailors, but have become common utility tools for daily activities in our present day such as, hunting, camping, fishing, cutting, opening of cans, etc. The gravity knives are amongst the popular choice for knife enthusiasts, due to their convenient and unique mechanism, as well as adaptability.

However, the issue of legality is to be considered before purchasing a gravity knife in certain states in the U.S and a few other countries in Europe, but still a very popular and handy tool amongst rescue workers and military personnel.

Various types of gravity knives are available in the market, having different features and suiting different purposes, so your personnel engagement and intended use, will determine which is most appropriate for you.

At Noblie Collectibles, we are keen to provide you with the best information and guidance in making a decision for best knife pick for your need, style and class.

If you’ve enjoyed this blog post, and you would love to learn more about gravity knives and other types of knives, simply click our subscribe button Noblie Knife Blog today!

NOBLIE COLLECTIBLES @noblie.eu provides exclusive content, reviews, tips, and discounts on our amazing collection of knives. Whether you’re a collector, a hobbyist, or a professional, don’t miss the opportunity to join the Noblie custom knives community and discover the world of knives with us!



  1.  Campbell, Jon. “How a ’50s-Era New York Knife Law Has Landed Thousands In Jail”. Village Voice. Village Voice. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  2. ^ Kertzman, Joe, Sporting Knives: Folders, Fixed Blades, Pocket, Military, Gent’s Knives, Multi-Tools, Swords, Krause Publications, ISBN 0-87349-430-X, 9780873494304 (2002), pp. 60-62
  3. ^“Federal Judge Rules New York’s Dumb ‘Gravity Knife’ Law Is Unconstitutionally Vague”. Reason.com. 2019-03-28. Retrieved 2019-04-13.
  4.  Ladd, James D., Melton, Keith, and Mason, Peter, Clandestine warfare: weapons and equipment of the SOE and OSS, London: Blandford, ISBN 0-7137-1822-6ISBN 978-0-7137-1822-5 (1988), p. 29: These British SOE gravity knives are NOT the same knives as the standard British Army soldier’s and sailor’s clasp pocketknife, which featured a short, thick marlinspike.
  5. ^ Thompson, Leroy, Survival/Fighting Knives, Paladin Press, ISBN 0-87364-347-X, 9780873643474 (1985), p. 76

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  • FoldNFlipFanatic

    Super informative post! I’ve heard the term “gravity knife” tossed around in knife circles but never really understood its mechanics and distinguishing features until now. It’s intriguing how such a simple mechanism can be the center of so much debate.

  • Jordan

    Thank you for this detailed post on gravity knives. I’ve always been intrigued by their unique mechanism. How do gravity knives compare in terms of safety and practicality to other folding or switchblade knives?

  • Jackson Hartley

    Can i own a gravity knife in the US?


    The legal status of gravity knives in the U.S. is complicated and varies from state to state. Here’s a general overview:

    Federal Law: On a federal level, the Federal Switchblade Act, which historically regulated the interstate commerce of switchblades, did not directly address gravity knives. However, in many instances, they were lumped in with switchblades for prosecution purposes. It’s important to note that federal law mainly addresses the import and interstate transport of these knives, not necessarily individual ownership.

    State Laws: Each state has its laws regarding the possession, sale, and carry of gravity knives. Some states may classify gravity knives in the same category as switchblades, while others have specific laws addressing them.

    For example, New York historically had strict laws against gravity knives, leading to many arrests in NYC. However, in 2019, New York decriminalized gravity knives by removing them from the penal code’s list of prohibited weapons.

    Other states might have restrictions based on blade length, the manner of carry (open vs. concealed), or where the knife can be carried (e.g., schools, government buildings).

    Local Ordinances: Even if a state permits the ownership of a gravity knife, local city or county ordinances might have their restrictions. For instance, what might be legal in one part of the state could be illegal in a specific city within that state.

    Intent and Use: Even in jurisdictions where owning or carrying a gravity knife is legal, using it in a threatening manner or as a weapon can result in criminal charges.

    If you’re considering owning or carrying a gravity knife, it’s crucial to:

    Check the specific laws of your state.
    Investigate any local ordinances or regulations in your city or county.
    Consult with an attorney or legal expert to ensure you fully understand the regulations and any potential risks.
    Always ensure you’re in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.

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