I’m going to start this article with a discussion of the venerable manual-opening barrel knife, something that most collectors are well familiar with; these knives offer some insights for the seldom-seen auto barrel knives, the main subject of this article.
Barrel knives, popularized by those made in Sweden in the last quarter of the 19th and early 20th century, are oval-shaped in cross section with birch or burlwood handles that are wide in the middle and taper toward both ends in an equal end pattern. Common versions of these pocket knives have a body that measures about 3½ inches from one end to the other; each end is capped with a plain steel bolster. The bottom bolster has a tab in the end that, when pressed, unlocks the enclosed brass frame of the knife and allows it to be pulled straight out via a ring bail originally attached to the fixed ring bail stem. The clip-point blades have a saber grind. Most were made with a single, manual-opening blade, albeit an unusual folding blade that rotates open and closed from the brass frame that slides into the body, basically creating a fixed blade knife when open.
This article appeared in the September 2020 issue of KNIFE Magazine. Online Premium Members can read the whole thing by clicking on the blue box below.