Smith & Wesson OTF9TB Dark Grey Spring Assist Knife Review

While Smith & Wesson is normally associated with firearms, they do have a line of knives. Smith & Wesson themselves are not the producers behind these knives, but they do carry the name and are still part of their rich history.

The company began in the early 1850’s when two friends, Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson, became partners who began marketing a lever action pistol. This first company was actually a bust and they ended up selling it. However, the company did give way to their first big success, which was the Model 3 American, also known as the world’s first caliber cartridge revolver. Since that point in time, Smith and Wesson has lead the industry.

They started to make knives in 1974. Since their company had been focusing on the safety and security business, it made perfect sense to step from guns to knives. The first few knives were manufactured in house, but from 1986-1993, it was Vermont Cutlery Co of West Rutland that made the knives for Smith and Wesson. Today, it is Taylor Cutlery that makes and sells Smith and Wesson knives.

The bulk of these knives are made with police and military in mind. In fact, some of their most popular knives today are the Smith & Wesson Military and Police knives, which are often large folding pocket knives that have been outfitted with Multipurpose Assisted Generational Innovative Cutlery (MAGIC) technology. This company mainly produces rescue, tactical, automatic, and assisted opening knives—all at affordable prices.

Today we will be discussing the Smith & Wesson OTF9TB Dark Grey Spring Assisted knife.


The Blade:

The blade on this knife is made out of AUS-8 stainless steel. This steel is an upper level steel. AUS-8 is made in Japan and is often compared to 440B steel, although it is superior in terms of resistance to rust and corrosion. This steel is pretty tough, although it hasn’t been known for holding its edge as well as some of the more premium steels that have more carbon in them—and the more carbon means the harder the blade is and the better it will hold an edge. This steel is very easy to sharpen and is easy to get a crazy sharp edge on. Overall, this is a good all-around steel that will get the job done and won’t be a hassle to take care of.

The blade has been finished with a black coating. Because the blade steel has been coated, the likelihood of the blade rusting goes down considerably. This is because the blade now has a barrier in between itself and the environment. Coatings also look very sleek and reduce all glares and reflections, which is ideal for a tactical blade. You would not want the sun to glint off of your blade and give your position away. Unfortunately, coatings do not alter the steel itself, but instead it is just applied onto the steel. This means it is not permanent and will scratch off after continuous use or heavy use. If it does scratch off, you lose all the benefits of a coated blade and will have to re-coat the steel to get those back.

The blade on this knife has been carved into a tanto style blade. A tanto blade shape is not designed to be an all-purpose blade, but instead, it has been designed to be able to excel at piecing through tough materials. This blade style originated from Japanese long and short swords that were specifically made for piercing through armor. The tanto style blade was later popularized by Cold Steel and can now be found in many tactical blades. The shape of this blade features a high point with a flat grind, which leads to an extremely strong point that is perfect or stabbing into hard materials. The point is very thick because it contains a lot of metal near the tip, which means that it is capable of absorbing the impact from repeated piercing that would cause most other knives to break. The front edge of the tanto knife meets the back edge at an angle, instead of the traditional curve. Because of this, the tanto blade does not feature a belly, which is why it doesn’t make a good all-purpose blade. The tanto blade shape is often found on tactical knives, because they do allow you to pierce, they aren’t prone to breaking, and you don’t require a belly in those scenarios.

There are two versions of this knife that you can get at BladeOps. The first has a plain edge and the second has a combination edge. The plain edge is one, long continuous edge without any teeth across the edge. The plain edge is going to be easier to get a fine edge on the blade as well as being easier to sharpen overall. The combo edge does have teeth, which can inflict more damage because it gives jagged cuts instead of the clean ones that you can expect from a plain edge. One of the selling points about a combo edge is that you get the best of both worlds: you have the plain edge portion as well as the serrated portion. At face value, this means that you can still do fine detail work with the plain edge, but you have the serrated portion that allows you to saw through some of the harder tasks. However, one of the biggest complaints is that because each of the sections (the plain and the serrated) are small enough to accompany the other, you do not get any of the benefits. This is all personal opinion though, because the teeth do come in handy in certain tactical situations.


Smith & Wesson OTF9TB Dark Grey Spring Assist Knife
Smith & Wesson OTF9TB Dark Grey Spring Assist Knife

The Handle:

The handle has been made out of aluminum. Aluminum is known to being a very durable material for knife handles. It is also a low density metal that provides a nice, hefty feel to the knife without actually weighing the knife down. This is a major benefit in a tactical knife, because you want to have the heft behind the knife to defend yourself, but you don’t want to have a heavy knife weighing you down when you are in the field. On the other hand, aluminum has been known to be slippery, unless it is properly texturized. To guarantee that the user has a secure grip on this knife, Smith & Wesson has added etchings onto the face of the handle. The handle has always been carved so that each side of the handle (the spine and the bottom) curve twice. This gives the user a secure grip, while it still will be a comfortable grip on their knife. The face of the handle also has a strip going down the length of the middle that is raised, which will work to add texture and grip.

One of the other drawbacks to having an aluminum handle is that aluminum is a very conductive metal. This means that if you were planning to use your knife during colder items, it will bite into your palm.

The handle has been anodized a dark grey color. The anodization process offers harness, protection, and adds color the knife. Anodizing is an electrochemical process that converts the metal surface into a decorative, durable, corrosion-resistant anodic oxide finish. The anodic oxide structure originates form the aluminum substrate and is composed entirely of aluminum oxide. This aluminum oxide is not applied to the surface like paint or plating, but is fully integrated with the underlying aluminum substrate, so it cannot chip or peel. This process is accomplished by immersing the aluminum into an acid electrolyte bath and passing an electric current through the medium. A cathode is mounted to the inside of the anodizing tank the aluminum acts as an anode, so that oxygen ions are released form the electrolyte to combine the aluminum atoms at the surface of the part being anodized.


The Pocket Clip:

The pocket clip on this Smith & Wesson knife is light grey, which contrasts nicely with the dark grey handle. The clip has been designed for tip down carry only on the traditional side of the handle. On top of the pocket clip, there is an integrated glass breaker function. This is a great addition to this tactical knife, because it allows you to take on another category of situations. And, even though the tanto blade makes it less of an all-purpose blade shape, adding in the glass breaker makes this knife more accessible and desirable to have with you at all times.


The Mechanism:

The OTF9TBS dark grey knife is a spring assisted knife. In more detail, it is an Out the Front knife that is a single action deployment.

An assisted opening knife is a type of folding knife that uses an internal mechanism to finish the opening of the blade once the user has partially opened it using the blade slider on the face of the handle. In terms of an Out the Front Knife, a spring assisted means that the knife will have a small helper spring to kick out the blade. This partial spring drive is not sufficient to classify this type of knife as a switchblade, because it does not drive the blade out to full lock.

An Out the Front knife, or OTF knife, is a pocket knife with a blade that opens and closes through a hole in one end of the handle. This is different from the typical pocket knife, which either have the blade fold out of the side of the handle, or have no mechanical operation. OTF only refers to the basic portion of the knife’s mechanical operation where the blade slides parallel with the handle to deploy. And, in the level of spring assist OTF knives, you can break it down into either double action or single action. Single action OTF knives deploy when you push slide the lever on the on the handle, but it must be manually cocked or retracted to close. The blade slider helps manually start the blade before the spring officially engages and deploys the blade but needs.


The Specs:

The blade on this knife measures in at 3.6 inches long, with a handle length of 5.2 inches long. The overall length of this knife when it is opened is 8.8 inches long. This knife weighs in at 6 ounces even. This tactical knife is one of the larger knives that you are going to carry with you, so it is going to be a little heavier than you are used to. However, for the size that you get, this knife is actually pretty lightweight.



The Smith and Wesson OTF family of knives has finally been reincarnated after being discontinued in 2013. The exact functionality of these knives are defined as OTF spring assisted models–meaning they are single-action out the front knives and the “blade slider” helps manually start the blade before the spring officially engages and deploys the blade but needs to be manually retracted. Each model features a hollow ground blade comprised of AUS-8 stainless steel which is the ideal balance of edge retention and ease of maintenance. Additionally, the wide-body handle design offers an ergonomic feel especially since the trigger is on the broad side of the handle and every OTF includes a slide safety found near the base. The legacy of Smith & Wesson knives and tools is built on fine craftsmanship, quality and dependability. Their expansive line consists of assisted opening, folding and fixed blade knives, as well various multi-tools and accessories in an effort to offer something for every need and every job. This model features a dark grey aluminum handle, an integrated glass breaker function, a tanto style blade, that you can get in either partially serrated or plain edge, in a black finish and the pocket clip is statically designed for tip down carry only on the traditional side of the handle. Pick up this phenomenal tactical knife today at BladeOps.