The Cutting Edge: Pro-Tech Autos

I had planned to write this column on Pro-Tech Knives six months ago, but decided to give one of my Pro-Techs another half-year of testing to see if I could overcome one of my prejudices first.

I have always felt that Pro-Tech makes quality automatic knives, however, their knives do not have a secondary lock. Based on a couple of bad experiences with autos coming open in my pocket many years ago, I generally only use or recommend autos with a secondary lock. Nevertheless, Pro-Tech autos are widely used among military special ops units and high-speed law enforcement units, and they haven’t seemed to find the lack of a secondary lock a problem.

TR3 X1 Tactical Response.


To see for myself, I’ve been carrying a Pro-Tech TR-3 X1 Tactical Response auto around for several months.

I’ve carried it clipped to a back pocket and sat on it; clipped to a side pocket that I had to get into and out of frequently; inside a side pocket with keys, coins, cell phone, etc; and even in the side pocket where I carry a pistol in a pocket holster, which rubbed up against the knife constantly. I realize that tactically this was not sound, as it kept me from readily accessing the knife, but I really wanted to see if it would stay closed. When wearing a tactical vest during training, I clipped the Pro-Tech to the vest.

Through it all, the Pro-Tech stayed securely shut. As a result, I am now willing to recommend the Pro-Tech auto to S.W.A.T. readers. What seems to work for keeping the Pro-Tech secure in the pocket is a dished area in the handle around the button, which prevents anything from pushing it or rubbing against it.

Other features of the Pro-Tech line include blades made of stainless 154-CM, which offers a good combination of strength, hardness, edge retention and ability to sharpen. Black finished blades, which I recommend for most military or tactical law enforcement usage, are coated with Tungsten DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon), which is designed to be durable on stainless steel. Pro-Tech pocket clips are finished in the same coating. Pro-Tech knife handles are machined from solid bars of T6 6061 aircraft-grade aluminum, which gives strength but keeps the knives light.

Dished area around deployment button on Pro-Tech TR3 X1 prevents items from pushing against button and accidentally opening knife. Fish-scale handle is extremely non-slip.


The TR-3, which is my favorite, is widely used by military and law enforcement personnel. In fact, the TR-3 and some other Pro-Tech knives are GSA approved (GSA Contract #GS-07F-5489R) to ease federal law enforcement and military orders. The TR-3 has a 3.5-inch blade that is designed to be quite slender. In fact, one of the great advantages of the TR-3, whether for uniformed or plainclothes personnel, is that it is compact enough (4.5 inches overall folded) and light enough (3.6 ounces) to carry just about anywhere.

I especially like the “fish scale” handle of the TR-3, which remains non-slip no matter how wet it gets. There is also a hole for either a wrist thong or lanyard. Some SEAL units and LE dive units have ordered Pro-Techs with this handle because it offers such good gripping in water.

As an aside, one reason combat swimmers and other divers use automatic knives extensively is that they allow opening with one hand in very confined areas. In fact, some combat swimmer units use OTF (Out the Front) autos because they may be opened in an even more confined area.

Pro-Tech autos can be engraved with unit markings and in different colors. Border Patrol TR-3 is in green.


I have also been told by a special ops contact that one reason some operators buy the Pro-Tech is specifically because they do not want a secondary safety. If they need an auto to cut themselves free from a parachute, underwater lines or anything else, they want to be able to grab the knife, deploy the blade, and cut free. That makes sense to me.

Pro-Tech uses a flat wire spring as opposed to a round wire spring, because this lets them make less of a counterbore, which allows greater blade strength and also spreads tension over a wider area, thus granting the spring longer life. I should note that even prior to switching from the round springs, Pro-Tech was known for durable springs.

I had a Pro-Tech I had tested for my book Combat Knives some years ago then stuck in a drawer closed and left untouched until a few weeks ago. Along with it was an auto from a very well-known German manufacturer. When I got them out, the Pro-Tech sprang open in a blur, while the German auto opened as if I had stuck it in a vat of molasses. Have no worries about the strength or durability of Pro-Tech springs.

Pocket or vest clip allows knife to be carried conveniently.


Of interest especially to military or law enforcement units, but also to civilian clubs or organizations, Pro-Tech does a nice job of custom laser-engraving unit or department crests or other logos along with text. Handles without the fish scales will be necessary to take the engraving, but they can be in different colors. Such engraving gives the knife a certain cachet among those who have it and, for unit or department knives, makes them less appealing for theft! Contact Pro-Tech for information about custom engraving.

I recently talked with Dave at Pro-Tech Knives, and he mentioned two new autos that will be coming out. One is an auto version of the Emerson CQC-7—a popular military and LE folder—and the other is the TR-4, which will have a secondary safety for agencies that require one on any autos ordered. I will report on them after they become available and I’ve had time to test them.

Pro-Tech makes very good automatic knives that are reasonably priced given their quality. The TR-3 X1 that I use has a suggested retail price of $240.00.

SOURCE:

Pro-Tech Knives
Dept. S.W.A.T.
11009 Shoemaker Ave.
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
(562) 903-0678
www.protechknives.com

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