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Thread: Compression Lock vs Liner Lock

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    Spyderco Forum Registered User Wolverine666's Avatar
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    Compression Lock vs Liner Lock

    Is there a big difference between the Compression Lock and a Liner Lock ? I have to say , I am not crazy about Liner Locks at all. They just don't impress me. But I am very fond of the Compression Lock on my Para Military 2. Maybe it's just because the release is on the back side of the knife instead of the front.

    Anyway , I was just curious if there was a difference in design and strength. Or if there were any significant pros or cons for either lock (?)

  2. #2
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    Unless you're doing really harsh stuff with your blades, you'll be fine with either. The comp lock is stronger, though. In my opinion, I prefer just a little bit more the liner lock because it is easier to use, though I find the comp lock easy as well.
    I guess you could say that the comp lock is stronger and is more lefty friendly.
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    Work both slowly and look for the difference from a few angles. A liner lock blocks wedges a long piece of steel between the front of the blade tang and the attachment point for the lock. The compression lock wedges a short piece of steel between the rear tang and a stop pin. A compression lock works very similarly to an axis or ball bearing lock, only using a little piece of metal that looks like a liner lock instead of a bar or ball bearing with a spring. I see the only advantage to a liner lock being that it is cheaper to produce (it seems at least) and to add diversity to a collection. In every way I can think of I feel the compression lock is superior and perhaps the best all around lock for a folding knife.

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    Spyderco Forum Registered User Wolverine666's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wvguy8258 View Post
    Work both slowly and look for the difference from a few angles. A liner lock blocks wedges a long piece of steel between the front of the blade tang and the attachment point for the lock. The compression lock wedges a short piece of steel between the rear tang and a stop pin. A compression lock works very similarly to an axis or ball bearing lock, only using a little piece of metal that looks like a liner lock instead of a bar or ball bearing with a spring. I see the only advantage to a liner lock being that it is cheaper to produce (it seems at least) and to add diversity to a collection. In every way I can think of I feel the compression lock is superior and perhaps the best all around lock for a folding knife.
    Oh good to know. I'm sure it has a lot to do with the knife itself but the Compression Lock on my Para Military 2 just works together perfectly with my hand. Very impressive. Thus far I would say that the Compression Lock is tied with the Ball Bearing Lock as my favorite locking mechanisms. And the Lock Back design on the Native5 is a close second (outstanding lock up on that thing !).

  5. #5
    Spyderco Forum Registered User Evil D's Avatar
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    I prefer not to have fingers in the path of a closing blade, thats my problem with liner locks. Compression locks eliminate the risk, and we all know there are times when multitasking its easy to lose focus and get cut so less risk is always good.

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    Spyderco Forum Registered User Blerv's Avatar
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    The theory behind a Compression Lock is genius really. It's an evolution of the standard Michael Walker liner lock which doesn't devalue the original but has benefits it doesnt. Similar to what Chris Reeves did with his RIL.

    The wedging of the lock between the stop pin and tang make it virtually impossible to close without destruction of the knife. It's the difference between throwing a large wrench between two gears rather than shoving a large block under the bottom of a door preventing it to open.

    The main disadvantage is price and complexity to manufacture. It's self-close takes a bit of finesse which is something Spyderco has had to work on through the years...but they got it down to a science now .

    Liner lock, RIL/frame lock, Caged Ball Bearing, Lockback, Compression...they are all amazing and very tough when done by Spyderco. Different flavors but all very tasty.
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    Spyderco Forum Registered User Bolster's Avatar
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    Do I understand this correctly:

    A compression lock places a small piece of springlike steel between what acts like the jaws of pliers (the stop pin and the blade tang). For the lock to fail, the pliers would have to actually fold (or crush) that piece of steel...which is exceedingly unlikely to happen on a short piece of steel, which is much more difficult to bend than a long piece of steel.

    Whereas a liner lock uses a much longer piece of springlike steel to block the base of the blade from closing. While not likely on a quality knife, a long piece of thin steel has "more places it can go," more chances to bend or pop out of the blade trough.

    I learned about liner locks the hard way with a knife made by ****, considered by many to be a quality knife. In use, the liner popped up and out of its trough to the far side, allowing the blade to close across the liner lock and onto my fingers. All four fingers were cut. I understand a higher quality liner lock would not allow this to happen, but in principle, that long liner lock spring had "more places to go" than are allowed for a compression lock, which has almost "nowhere to go" except the jaws of those analogous pliers.

    Does the pliers analogy work, more or less?
    Last edited by Bolster; 10-16-2011 at 08:11 PM.
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  8. #8
    Spyderco Forum Registered User Blerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bolster View Post
    Does the pliers analogy work, more or less?
    Yes, exactly .

    Much like pliers or steel stuck in gears though even if crushed it would have to shear completely. More likely it's going to slam the piece of steel through the top of the knife breaking the stop pin. Again, extremely unlikely.

    It's my understanding that like the CBBL/BBL lock once a compression lock fails (on a lock-breaker machine) the knife basically self-destructs like an old revolver. Considering the quality of steel though you really would need mechanical pressure or shock loads beyond the norm.

    I would trust my fingers to any Spydie lock but the comp lock being available in platforms like the Para2 and Junior make it a great pick for right handed folks. Even some lefties don't mind it. Sorry about your fingers bud!
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  9. #9
    Spyderco Forum Registered User Bolster's Avatar
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    I would love to see a compression or CBBL lock tested to failure on a hydraulic machine. (As long as my four fingies were far away from the action.) The way you describe it sounds like it would be way cool to watch.
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  10. #10
    Spyderco Forum Registered User Blerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bolster View Post
    I would love to see a compression or CBBL lock tested to failure on a hydraulic machine. (As long as my four fingies were far away from the action.) The way you describe it sounds like it would be way cool to watch.
    Same here . I'm just going off the "self-destruct" quotes from those who have posted in the past. My wild west revolver imagery was likely more fantasy than realism.

    Still, would be fun to see metal put to the test. People forget what 200+ lbs/inch of lock strength looks like. /flex
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    Administrator TazKristi's Avatar
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    If you scroll down about 2/3 of the page, you'll see the lock information... http://spyderco.com/edge-u-cation/knifeanatomy.php
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    Spyderco Forum Registered User Wolverine666's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evil D View Post
    I prefer not to have fingers in the path of a closing blade, thats my problem with liner locks. Compression locks eliminate the risk, and we all know there are times when multitasking its easy to lose focus and get cut so less risk is always good.
    I agree 100%.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blerv View Post
    The theory behind a Compression Lock is genius really. It's an evolution of the standard Michael Walker liner lock which doesn't devalue the original but has benefits it doesnt. Similar to what Chris Reeves did with his RIL.

    The wedging of the lock between the stop pin and tang make it virtually impossible to close without destruction of the knife. It's the difference between throwing a large wrench between two gears rather than shoving a large block under the bottom of a door preventing it to open.

    The main disadvantage is price and complexity to manufacture. It's self-close takes a bit of finesse which is something Spyderco has had to work on through the years...but they got it down to a science now .

    Liner lock, RIL/frame lock, Caged Ball Bearing, Lockback, Compression...they are all amazing and very tough when done by Spyderco. Different flavors but all very tasty.
    I don't see much similarity with a liner or frame lock, other than being a piece of metal that supplies its own spring force. I see it much closer to a bolt action or axis lock, in terms of the concept at work. It is a beautiful idea because it is so simple yet why it would be strong is obvious as well.
    Last edited by wvguy8258; 10-16-2011 at 09:27 PM.

  14. #14
    Spyderco Forum Registered User Blerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wvguy8258 View Post
    I don't see much similarity with a liner or frame lock, other than being a piece of metal that supplies its own spring force. I see it much closer to a bolt action or axis lock, in terms of the concept at work. It is a beautiful idea because it is so simple yet why it would be strong is obvious as well.
    No, the function and theory is completely different. I have to think it took some inspiration from the limer lock based on compoments tho. Same as the modern wheel looks nothing like a rounded stone.
    Blake

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    Spyderco Forum Registered User JCP1969's Avatar
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    I have knives with all the locks mentioned and then some. I like them all. I am glad I have a broader preference. I get to enjoy a lot more knives.
    I believe in safe queens , they do exist!

  16. #16
    Spyderco Forum Registered User Jet B's Avatar
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    I have no problem with a well made liner lock. That's why I have an M390 Military on order.

    That being said, if I was the type of person to abuse a folding knife... I would rather do it with a compression lock. It really is a great design and I look forward to seeing Sal's Stoplock some day if he perfects it and puts it in the next generation Military.

    I really don't think you would ever have a liner lock fail on you if it's made well and you stick to normal use. Even a liner lock is overbuilt for the type of tasks that a folding knife should be used for.

  17. #17
    Spyderco Forum Registered User The Deacon's Avatar
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    Totally different physics involved. The compression lock is less likely to slip and theoretically stronger.

    Quote Originally Posted by Evil D View Post
    I prefer not to have fingers in the path of a closing blade, thats my problem with liner locks. Compression locks eliminate the risk, and we all know there are times when multitasking its easy to lose focus and get cut so less risk is always good.
    Odd, that's one of my objections to the compression lock. It's the only lock I've ever cut myself while closing. On a liner lock I turn the knife edge up, release the lock with my thumb, start the blade closed with my index finger, then shift my fingers and finish closing with my thumb. Have yet to figure a way to keep my fingers out of the blade path when closing a compression lock, regardless of which hand I use.
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    Spyderco Forum Registered User Tdog's Avatar
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    On the Para 2 I simply face the knife down, use my index finger to press/pinch the compression lock an it virually closes itself (gravity). I'm having a hard time trying to figure our how you get your fingers in the way This is my favorite lock design. It's supposed to be on the YO2. Wish they'd use it on more models. I love this lock.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Deacon View Post
    On a liner lock I turn the knife edge up, release the lock with my thumb, start the blade closed with my index finger, then shift my fingers and finish closing with my thumb. Have yet to figure a way to keep my fingers out of the blade path when closing a compression lock, regardless of which hand I use.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdog View Post
    On the Para 2 I simply face the knife down, use my index finger to press/pinch the compression lock an it virually closes itself (gravity). I'm having a hard time trying to figure our how you get your fingers in the way This is my favorite lock design. It's supposed to be on the YO2. Wish they'd use it on more models. I love this lock.
    Deacon, that is exactly how I close mine too. And the Para2 lock, I usually close by using my index finger as a stop, which is what I am assuming you did when you cut yourself.

    I can and have closed it the way that Tdog suggests, but then I find that I have a poor grip on the knife and that I do not like at all. I would much rather have a liner lock and have a controlled closing, than have a compression lock and either have my fingers be a "stop pin" or have there be a possibility of dropping the knife; which has happened a few times when just pinching it to close it.
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    Spyderco Forum Registered User jackknifeh's Avatar
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    I don't have a compression lock so have never used one. I know exactly the problem of having my thumb "in the way" when closing a liner lock AND not paying attention when closing the knife. I believe if both locks and the knife are made of quality materials either is as strong as any folding knife needs to be. If you "break" the lock in any Spyderco folder with either lock you should have been using a fixed blade. What did intrigue me about the compression lock when I read it was that it was chosen for the Junior because there wasn't room for the liner lock due to the shape of the handle. To me that means the handle shape doesn't need to be limited because of the type of lock. From what I read if it wasn't for the existence of the compression lock the Junior's handle shape wouldn't have been possible as it. I don't know that for sure. Maybe a back lock would have worked for the Junior. I just remember that is why the compression lock was chosen for the Junior.

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