The New York Drop Opening

ny2I’m not sure just why this folding knife opening method has been attributed to New York as opposed to somewhere else, but we’ll call it that for the sake of this article. The “New York Drop” is a means of opening a locking folding knife with only one hand. It works best — actually, I should say it only works — with knives whose blades protrude above the handle far enough to provide purchase for the fingers.

The New York Drop is the preferred opening method of RENOTT, a knife fighting school in Ohio. I reviewed some RENOTT materials and spoke about my reservations concerning this opening method in that review. (RENOTT, as far as I know, was driven off the Internet by The Martialist’s ridicule of its training curriculum.)

The “New York” open previously described appears to be the foundation for RENOTT’s knife defense, in that it is presented as the fastest way to open and attack with a knife. No repositioning of the hand is done (unless there is “time” for that). Rather, the RENOTT trainee opens his or her knife with the handle drop, and then, gripping the razor-sharp blade with his or her fingers, slashes with the exposed one or two inches of the knife. The companion text describes this as follows:

“How to execute the New York Open from a pocket draw. The only type of knife that should be carried is a blade-down clip-knife. The high profile blade (blade sticks up above the handle for gripping — a hole is not needed at all for opening) is gripped with the thumb pointed down to the tip and the index finger bent 180 degrees on the blade so it is pointed to the tang. Remove knife from pocket and keep the last three fingers of the hand off the handle. The knife will not drop out of your hand just because you hold it by the blade. Raise the butt of the knife from vertical in the pocket to horizontal with the ground or even higher.

“Keep the forearm steady and drop the wrist sharply into the body at a 30-45 degree angle. The handle will open and lock into place. If you drop the wrist straight down the handle will hit the palm and fail to lock. …AFTER the knife opens fully you can wrap the last three fingers of your hand around the handle. You cannot cut yourself with this grip. Your three fingers are locked onto the handle and your thumb and index finger are on the side of the blade away from the edge. You lose half of the blade length with a NY open…”

This technique strikes me as quite unsafe, anchored fingers notwithstanding. If my knife is sharpened to RENOTT’s razor standards, I can’t imagine wanting to hold it by the blade (even with two fingers) and execute slashes against resistance (clothing, muscle, skin with bone beneath it, etc.) in this manner. Additionally, I think opening a knife this way under stress would cause the user to drop it as often as not.

With practice it’s very easy to draw your knife by the handle and quickly snap it open as it was meant to be opened. The RENOTT NY Open is useful to know, but teaching it as preferable sounds to me like a solution to a non-problem.

The fact remains that while it is useful to know how to do this, I don’t consider it safe or preferable to a wrist snap (or to simply using your knife’s opening stud or hole if the knife is equipped with one).


To perform the New York Drop, grasp the blade of a closed folding knife between your fingers as shown. The more the blade protrudes, the better your grip will be. The New York Drop works very well with Spyderco knives, as most of them have pronounced “humps” in which the opening hole is set. (As there is no functional advantage that I can see to performing this opening over using the thumb hole or a wrist snap, I’m not sure why you would do a New York Drop with a Spyderco, but the fact remains that it’s easy to do with such knives.)

Holding the blade as firmly as possible, snap your hand sharply using the action of your wrist. The weight of the handle should cause it to arc down and lock into place. (This means, obviously, that the New York Drop is easier to perform with a knife that has a heavy handle. Metal or wood-scaled handles are preferable to plastic handles for this reason.)

When the handle snaps into place, aided by the force of your wrist and by gravity, you will be holding the knife by the blade. You could, I suppose, attempt to manipulate it while holding the blade (in the fashion recommended by RENOTT), or you could shift the blade in your hand so that you’re holding it properly.

As I said earlier, the risk of dropping a knife while performing this opening is very great, as is the risk of cutting yourself (you’re holding a knife by the blade, after all). Still, there may be times — particularly in utility scenarios — when it’s useful to be able to open a knife with one hand while taking advantage of the handle’s weight.

Decide for yourself.

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3 thoughts on “The New York Drop Opening

  1. Good grief. I’ll have to go back and read the earlier shredding you gave these folks.

    Sound reasoning based on solid premises and the ruthless application of logic; or hell, just basic critical thinking skills: There are few domains were a commitment to critical thinking is more important than that of self-defense.

    Unfortunately…well, you know.

  2. Phil,

    I don’t know how it became the “New York Drop” either, all things named after New York being cool I’d assume. In addition, a would-be guru out there has tried claiming it for himself going so far as to apply his name to the technique. I find both of these as odd because we were doing this technique, as kids in Chicago, many years ago. Now that I think about it, a friend of my fathers showed it to me so it goes way back. Unfortunately, we never thought to apply a name to it, it was just a convenient method of opening a knife one-handed (assuming it worked on your particular knife).

    Much depends upon the type and style of knife used. As a youngster, I carried a Hawkbill knife for years and, after breaking it in, with practice, I could get the knife out and open rather quickly. Remember, these were the days before pocket clips and thumbholes and studs. Done at full speed, the hand is safe and easily winds up back on the handle…though it is a technique that is obsolete nowadays.

    Take Care and Stay Safe,
    Ken (kilogulf59)

    “REMEMBER – What works for you may not, necessarily, work for me. Keep an open mind!”

  3. I recently learned the reason it’s called a New York Drop – since “gravity knives” and “flick knives” are illegal to carry in the City, the Police, upon confiscating almost any pocket knife, can open it this way easily – and call it a gravity knife if there’s a desire to add this charge.

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