Among our varied selection of knives are automatic knives, a group of knives that are widely misunderstood by consumers and lawmakers alike. Automatic knives have very legitimate purposes ranging from self-defense to hunting and fishing utility. We sell them because they continue to be popular items among customers of personal safety and self-defense dealers.
Automatic Knife Definition
For purposes of U.S. law, an automatic knife is defined as one with a folding or sliding blade that, when not deployed, is contained within the handle; the blade is deployed via a spring-loaded mechanism that is triggered with a button, lever, or switch. Most automatic knives incorporate a locking blade design to keep the blade firmly in place when deployed.
These knives go by many different names. In addition to automatic knives, they are also known as switchblades, ejector knives, pushbutton knives, springers, sprengers, flick blades, and flick knives. Regardless of the name or design, the one thing they all have in common is that they are quick and easy to deploy when necessary.
History of Automatic Knives
Historians trace the roots of automatic knives back to mid-18th century European craftsmen who designed spring-loaded blades that could be installed on flintlock pistols and coach guns and used as bayonets in hand-to-hand fighting. Handheld automatic knives used separate from firearms began appearing in England in the 1840s.
Automatic knives were seen here in the States as early as 1850. Makers began manufacturing them in mass quantities near the end of the Civil War and, by 1865, knife manufacturing became an industry. That industrialization led to mass production of automatic knives with constantly evolving technology that made them larger and faster to deploy.
Over the next hundred years, automatic knives became valuable self-defense weapons. However, the knives eventually became associated with gang activity in the 1950s, leading the federal government to pass the Switchblade Knife Act in 1958. That legislation greatly curtailed the manufacture, transport, and sale of different kinds of automatic knives.
Automatic knives are legal in the United States but with many restrictions. Federal and state laws have created a patchwork of regulations that can be difficult to navigate for interstate sales. For that reason, we encourage you to check the laws in whatever states you decide to sell automatic knives in.
Some states have almost no restrictions on automatic knives above and beyond what federal law dictates. Other states restrict who can carry automatic knives, how they can be carried, and how they can be obtained. It behooves you to familiarize yourself with state laws before you begin selling.
Know Your Customers
Because of the regulatory environment, automatic knives do not have as large an audience as something like pepper spray or personal alarms. So it really pays to know your audience here. Who do you sell to? How will you market to them? These are questions you should find answers to so that you can start making money selling automatic knives.
Right off the bat, there are three groups of people to target: members of the armed forces, law enforcement personnel, and government personnel with a legal right to carry concealed weapons. Soldiers and police officers are strong candidates for marketing.
Next on the list are hunters and anglers. They have legitimate uses for automatic knives based on their activities. Both hunters and anglers can make the case that automatic knives are more effective and easier to use in the field. For them, deployment is quicker than having to pull a knife from a sheath.
Marketing Automatic Knives
Selling an automatic knife is a pretty simple transaction in theory. Marketing is another matter. As a retailer, you have to be very careful about the language you use and the means by which you introduce automatic knives to your customers. We recommend choosing your language carefully so as to make it clear that you endorse the responsible and safe use of these knives.
Avoid using terms like 'switchblade' and 'flick knife'. Both are terms that conjure up images of gangs and crime. Stick to referring to them as automatic knives in all your marketing efforts. In describing them, stick to the facts of how they work. Talk about handle shapes, blade designs, deployment mechanisms, etc.
As for their use, feel free to talk about both utility and self-defense. The utility angle is good for selling to hunters, anglers, campers, and hikers. The self-defense angle is more suitable for customers amenable to the idea of firearms, pepper sprays, and stun guns for self-defense.
Note that you can cover the self-defense angle while still being careful about the language you use. Market automatic knives the same way you would market stun guns or pepper spray. Remind your customers of the need to take more responsibility for their safety in this dangerous world.
Lastly, we would urge you to make sure your customers know all applicable local and state laws. They need to know whether they can legally possess automatic knives where they live. They need to know how the knives can be used, carried, and stored. Encouraging your customers to educate themselves protects both them and you.
Dropshipping Automatic Knives
You might be interested in selling automatic knives even though you do not want to stock them yourself. That is not a problem. Every product Safety Technology sells can be dropshipped. That includes automatic knives. By electing to dropship instead of stocking yourself, you can reduce your inventory and overhead expenses by letting us handle stocking and shipping for you.
The dropshipping model is one that has worked well for us for many years. In fact, Safety Technology is the largest dropshipper in this country in our industry. We offer this service to our dealers absolutely free of charge. When you buy an automatic knife from us to be dropshipped to your customer, you pay the exact same wholesale price you would have paid by stocking the inventory yourself.
As for shipping and packaging charges, you pay exactly what we pay. We do not profit off shipping and packaging in any way. Our profit is built into the wholesale price of the item being sold. A lot of other dropshippers do not offer their service for free, but we do because we believe it is important to help our dealers succeed.
Dropshipping is a great business model for the following:
- Online Sales – Dropshipping allows you to set up your own e-commerce site and begin selling without having to stock the items you list. This means you can sell from the comfort of your own home without having to maintain a warehouse.
- Catalog Sales – You can sell by passing around the Safety Technology catalog at home parties, neighborhood gatherings, and the like. Here's an opportunity to sell without actually having to carry automatic knives with you.
- Word-Of-Mouth – Dropshipping is even a great method for facilitating word-of-mouth sales. Whether you go door-to-door or simply make a point of speaking to people in public settings, you can sell to your heart's content with the knowledge that we handle stocking and shipping.
Stocking Automatic Knives Yourself
You are not limited to selling our automatic knives by way of our dropshipping service. You are certainly free to stock your own inventory as you see fit. The nice thing about stocking automatic knives yourself is that we offer bulk pricing on orders of 1,000+ pieces.
Bulk pricing increases your profits by requiring you to pay less per piece. You have to make a considerable investment in your stock, but that investment more than pays for itself when the profits start rolling in. And just so you know, bulk pricing applies to every product in our inventory. Buy lots of 1,000 or more and you will pay less per piece.
Join the Safety Technology Family
Now that you know more about our automatic knives, we invite you to take the next step to join the Safety Technology family. Becoming a Safety Technology dealer will give you access to hundreds of personal safety and self-defense products at some of the lowest wholesale prices in the industry. We sell at wholesale so that you can make money selling at retail.
Are you ready to get started selling automatic knives? Then complete and submit our online dealer application. Completing the application takes just a few minutes, and we can have you approved in short order. You will be given your own wholesale account complete with a unique username and password. You can use that account to order automatic knives and our other products for either stocking yourself or dropshipping to your customers.
Automatic knives are definitely a niche product with a limited audience. So as long as you are taking steps to become a Safety Technology dealer, why not look through the rest of our inventory for other products you can sell alongside automatic knives? We have lots of great products for you to choose from. And given that we have been in this business for more than 30 years, we can confidently say that all of our products sell.