BOKER-MATIC: Not Quite What It Sounds Like
On April 25, 1989, Denis Lemaire of Quebec Canada was issued U.S. patent number 4,823,463 for his new invention. It was a "POCKET-KNIFE HAVING A HANDLE PROVIDED WITH A SLIDABLE BLADE". The United States knife-buying public was soon to be introduced to the knife now known as the Boker-matic.
Switchblades had been effectively declared illegal in the U.S. in the late 1950s by the Switchblade Knife Act of 1958. The 1980s saw its own public "menace" in the form of so called gravity knives and OTF, or out-the-front knives. Lemaire recognized that gravity knives had been declared illegal in many countries. He wanted to fill the perceived need of the knife buying public for a knife that had a blade that slid from the front of the knife handle, yet was safe to carry and ergonomically friendly. He wanted to provide a knife that met legal requirements, yet was still a true one handed knife.
Lemaire stated in the patent registration:
"An object of this invention is to provide a pocketknife allowing sliding action of the blade in the handle but comprising a device which by restraining this action allows the knife to meet legal criteria.
Another object of this invention is to provide a pocketknife which is easy to use, safe, and ergonomical."
The heart of the Boker-matic was the addition of a clock spring that was utilized to withdraw the blade after it had been opened manually.
Boker presented the Boker-matic to an awaiting public in 1990. The knife was quirky, bulky, awkward to use, and did not have the feel of a quality knife. When the blade is extended, it tends to move around in all directions.
Yes, there is a little play. But it was a “legal to own” one-handed knife.
Sales data is difficult to find, but this quirky little knife quickly developed a following. The Boker newsletter, TREE TIMES, listed the 700 pattern Boker-matic as their U.S. National best seller in 1992 and 1993! The popularity of the Boker-matic is further evidenced by the fact that this knife has been made, and remade in the Solingen, Argentina, and now the Asian factories. The Boker-matic was made in Solingen until 1995. In 1996, production of the 700 pattern was moved to the Arbolito factory in Argentina. Argentina continued to make the 700 pattern until 2007, when it was dropped from the production line. Today, the Boker-matic has been resurrected as part of the international MAGNUM product line.
It is a most unusual knife.The Boker-matic is 4 3/8 inches long when closed. The handles are delrin, and the blade is made of stainless steel. In the pocket it remains locked in the closed position by both the spring and the pivoting handle. To extend the blade, the front face of the handle must be rotated clockwise and the thumb button is pushed forward. When extended, the blade is locked in place by rotating the handle face back counterclockwise. To retract the blade, the handle face must again be rotated clockwise. Then one hears the satisfying SNAP as the spring persuades the blade back into its comfy home. Rotate the handle counterclockwise again to lock the blade in place for safe carry.
Love it or hate it, the Boker pattern number 700 “BOKER-MATIC” is a unique pocket knife.