Knife Terminology – Terms Used By Knife Enthusiasts

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Are you familiar with all the lingo used in the knife industry? There are many terms, phrases, acronyms and other jargon used by knife collectors and enthusiasts that may fly right over your head. The following is a collection of that terminology along with a brief description of what it all means; arranged in alphabetical order.

Choil | Detent | EDC Knife | Edge Retention | Frame Lock | FRN | G-10 | Jimping | Liner Lock | Nail Nick | OTF Knife | Pivot | Safe Queen | Scales | Serrated | Slipjoint | Swedge


A rounded section of the blade that is unsharpened to provide more accurate control and leverage when choking up on the blade. Can also act as a safety measure if the locking system fails by stopping the blade from closing on your hand.


Indentation in the blade of a folding knife in which a ball bearing located on a frame or liner lock slides into place when opening or closing. Used to minimize wear on the knife, help hold the blade in place when closed and provide built up tension on flipper knives that aid in fast blade deployment.

EDC Knife

EDC is an acronym of Every Day Carry, and EDC knives are those which can be easily carried and used on a regular basis. Usually folding knives with a blade length somewhere between 2-5 inches and light enough to be carried in a pocket.

Edge Retention

Ability of a blade to retain a sharp edge before it needs to be touched up or sharpened, usually determined by the type of steel used for the knife blade.

Frame Lock

Locking mechanism similar to a liner lock which uses a milled out section of the knife frame as a leaf spring for securing the blade in the open position. Frame locks do not usually include liners or scales.

FRN (Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon)

FRN is a lightweight, inexpensive material often used for handles. FRN can easily be formed into complex patterns and shapes with injection molding.


Popular handle material used on many modern single blade folders. G-10 is a laminate made from multiple layers of fiberglass that is very strong and relatively lightweight. Generally more expensive than FRN and depending on the pattern capable of providing more grip. Is machined, not patterned with injection molding like FRN, so G-10 handle designs are usually very simple.


Jimping is the grooves or notches cut into the spine or choil of a blade (and sometimes the handle) to provide better traction.

Liner Lock

Locking mechanism built into the liner of the knife handle which uses a portion of the liner to hold the blade in place and stop it from closing until the lock is disengaged.

Nail Nick

Cut out portion of a knive blade (usually slipjoints) used to assist blade opening by improving grip.

OTF Knife

OTF (Out The Front) knives feature a blade that deploys and retracts through a hole in the handle. Many OTF knives are automatic, but there are also manual sliding knives.


The pivot is the mechanism by which the blade swings or “folds” in and out of the handle. Many knives have adjustable pivots with pivot screws that can be tightened or loosened to eliminate blade play or make blade deployment smoother and quicker.

Safe Queen

A knife that is valuable, collectible and/or special to the owner that gets stored away (possibly in a safe) and used very minimally to keep the knife as close to mint condition as possible.


Refers to the handle material, i.e. G-10, FRN, titanium etc.


A serrated blade has jagged edges or saw like “teeth” running along the blade. They have multiple points of contact with any material they are used to cut. Serrated blades are notoriously hard to sharpen, but they capable of holding and edge longer than blades with a straight edge.


Folding knife in which the blade(s) do not lock, but are instead held in place by a “backspring” which applies pressure to to the blade when opened or closed.


Bevel located on the spine (back) of the blade near the tip that is usually not sharpened.