Friday, July 13, 2012

Protech TR-2 Automatic knife review

Protech TR-2 Automatic Knife (shown in green with US Border Patrol Seal)
NOTE: Click on any of the photos for a larger version 

DISCLAIMER: Automatic knives are illegal in many states. Know your laws before purchasing one or carrying one.

Being a knife collector, I have to have a few Auto's. Over the years, I've pretty much owned just about one from all major makers including Benchmade , Microtech , Spyderco and (as you can see) Protech . A few years ago, I saw one of my co -workers carrying a Protech auto with a Border Patrol seal on it and I knew I "needed" to get one for my collection. Forward to 2004 and I bought my first Protech by selling one of my Microtech Socoms for funding. To get the Border Patrol Seal on the knife, I had to call Dave Wattenberg directly at Protech. I have since dealt with Dave on many other occasions and can say without hesitation, he's a stand up guy who takes care of not only his customers but those of us in law enforcement and the military as well. On this occasion, I called him, told him what I wanted and he took care of it and produced the customized TR-2 you see in the photo above in short order. 

Being an automatic knife, I know many folks will not (due to their local laws) be able to purchase one. If however you can and are in the market, I'll try and touch on a few things. While I titled the knife review the Protech TR-2, this iteration is technically called the TR-2.3. The TR stands for Tactical Response, the "2" indicates a spear point blade and the various points (.3) in this case indicates the blade and handle color/coating. So I guess if you wanted to get down to brass tacks, this review is actually on the TR-2.3 but for the purpose of covering a wider range and since they are all made the same, give colors and maybe blade serrations, we'll just call this a TR-2 review :).

The size of the TR-2 is a very sheeple friendly (as sheeple friendly as an auto can be) 7.6 inches open. The blade itself is a very manageable and VERY sharp 3 inches. The green aluminum handles are 4.5 inches in length. Over all, it's just a good sized knife that fills the hand nicely for every day tasks. As you can see below, it is compatible in size to the Spyderco Gayle Bradley but much lighter at a diminutive 3.3 ounces.

Spyderco Gayle Bradley and the Protech TR-2 Automatic knife

The 3 7/8" blade is made from 154CM, a common steel in mid to upper priced knives. It wasn't too long ago when 154CM was considered by many to be the "super steel". It's properties are very similar to 440 C in that it holds an edge very well, is fairly corrosion resistant and holds up to fairly heavy cutting (albeit not as good as higher carbon steels). 154CM has seen use in many higher end production and custom knives. Most all of my older Benchmades and many of the newer ones use 154CM. 154CM varies in quality from manufacturer to manufacturer depending on the heat treatment. Benchmade seems to have perfected the process as the knives I have used from them with this steel have performed very well. The same can be said for Protech as I currently own 5 different knives and my one "user" has been used and abused and  Protech's 154CM has held up very well . 154CM is pretty corrosion resistant and none of my Protech's have had any issue with rust or corrosion. The extra coating they use on the blades protects the blade during use from abrasion and rust. All together, the blade on this knife is tough and should last many years under normal use. 


While I'm not usually a fan of purely metallic handles or scales on a knife, Protech pulls off the full aluminum handles nicely. The handles or scales are made of  T6-6061 aluminum. The added coating or paint adds just enough texture for it not to have any slippery issues. Add to that the fact the Protech adds some nice knurling to both ends of the scales and jimping on both ends, and I think slippage is well controlled. 


The clip is long enough and flexible enough to clip into and out of the pocket perfectly. It is held in place nicely with three torx head screws. I assume Protech uses some type of holding glue (loctite blue maybe?) to hold the screws in place because I haven't had any issues with the screws loosening on any of my Protechs; nice job Protech. The clip is not too tight, not too loose, very well done. The pocket clip on the Protech TR-2 is a one choice, tip-up carry. Opinions on autos vary when it comes to carry. The main concern or issue with auto's is accidental opening in the pocket. The proponents of tip down carry would argue that tip-up carry in the case of an accidental opening, could potentially damage a hand shoved into a pocket. Proponents of a tip-up carry would argue that very little adjustment is needed in your grip for knife deployment when removed from your pocket is needed. Since most law enforcement officers carry auto knives as a last ditch resort in a life or death situation, I would argue for the tip-up carry. There are other arguments but these are the main ones I've heard. With this model, you only get one choice; tip-up.


Right out of the box, all of my Protech's including the TR-2 exude quality. All torx screws have always been tight, blade springs fire like nobody's business and I find zero blade play. These are the reasons, I keep going back to Protech for my automatic knives; quality. The back of the knife is open for easy cleaning. After using and carrying this knife for several months, I can honestly say that in a production automatic knife, Protech matches or exceeds the quality found in my Spyderco and Benchmade autos. 


The lock found on most push button automatic knives is the button itself and the Protech is no exception. The button locks into a notch in the rear of the knife blade in the open and closed position. This provides for a nice secure lock up but depending on the tolerances, can cause slight blade play in some "cheaper" brands. I'm happy to report that with my Protech knives, including this TR-2, tolerances are very well controlled and there is zero blade play in any direction. I have put my protech TR-3 which uses the same lock under some serious pressure in use and have never had any issues of lock failure what so ever. The button lock on the TR-2 locks up night and solid. Of course you use to same button to activate/open the knife as you do to unlock it from the open position.


As I've stated previously, while I'm usually not a fan of all metallic handled knives, I have found the ergo's of this aluminum handled TR-2 to be nicely done. I think that due to the knurling on the sides of the scales and the jimping on top and bottom of the front of the scales and the jimping on the back, Mr. Wattenberg has remedied this potential slipping issues inherent with metallic scales.


As I've stated earlier, I have many autos from many different makers and can honestly say, Protech has some of the strongest springs and "snappiest" opening knives I've ever seen; and the TR-2 is no exception. Every time, I show this knife to anyone, I first qualify it with a, "Now, If you're going to open it, hang on tight". Without that statement, I've unfortunately seen my Protech knives inevitably pop out of loose grips and fall to the floor. These things, pop open with authority! When anyone does open it, every one gets the inevitable grin on their face and  I just wait for the, "WOW, this thing is strong!" which happens every time.

One word of caution, like all automatic knives, these knives should be used with caution. Like two of my other autos, there is no safety switch on these. The only safety lies in the fact that the button is recessed into the handle or scale to prevent accidental opening. Accidental opening in the pockets are usually a minor issue and rarely happens. If however you carry an auto without an external safety, I highly recommend you give it it's own pocket without other items such as keys than can inadvertently press the button and can cause accidental blade deployment. I also highly recommend that you get in the habit of NOT plunging your hand into your carry pocket. Checking first has become second nature to me as I've carried them for years. In probably over 13 years of carrying an auto, I've only had one accident where I was bitten and that involved a Benchmade that had an external safety but I chose not to engage it. When I carry an auto knife at work, I usually carry it in a dedicated pocket with no other items in it and even if there is a safety available, I usually do not use it. The reason being is that I carry an auto for one reason; a LAST ditch effort to save my life. In a life or death situation, simplicity is paramount and I don't want to have to fiddle with a little safety switch to save my butt. I also carry other knifes in other pockets but I usually do not use my autos for anything else so they remain sharp. Being a firearms instructor for many years, "duty carry" means being ready for all SHTF scenarios. A law enforcement officer does not go on duty without a round in the chamber and I apply the same theory to my auto knives.


Automatic knives are just like any other one handed opening knife, they can be used for anything that their blade shape and size allows. I've used my TR-3 for many things and have EDC'ed it many many times. Th TR-2 reviewed here has a blade shape that lends itself to many tasks from food prep to general cutting tasks. While being an "auto" might make the general public / sheeple beleive it only has one evil purpose, make no mistake, it has as many uses as any other knife of similar dimensions. The auto aspect was unfortunately demonized by movies in the 50's through the 70's and of course politicians took the bait and knife aficionado's suffered. In Texas, Joe Blow can tote around a fully loaded .45 cal. pistol, a deer rifle or even a fully loaded shotgun but not a knife with a spring?!?!? come on Texas. An auto knife is no different than any other and their uses are endless. In any situation where one hand is tied up with another task and you only have one hand to deploy your knife, an auto sure is handy.

In a Law Enforcement Officer's job, having an auto knife at the ready in a readily accessible pocket for a last ditch option to save your butt in a life or death situation sure is a plus. The TR-2 fits this bill nicely.

UPDATE 9-1-13: Texas has repealed the ban on "switchblade knives" See HB862 . The ban on double edged knives and several other items remain. Thank you Rep. Dutton


After I bought my first Protech many years ago, and I let a few co-workers handle it, they immediately wanted to buy some for themselves. In the span of three years, I think we purchased well over 100 knives in various models from TR-1's , TR-2. TR-3's, Godfather's to Godsons, Brend's #1, #2, & #3's and all have been great knives. Dave has earned the reputation of always taking care of everyone. Only once that I know of did one of our marine (boat crew) units have an issue with a spring breaking. He called Dave Wattenberg at Protech and within a week or so, had a good-as-new, re-sharpened knife. Well done Protech!


If you are in the market for an Automatic knife and can legally own one, you'd be hard pressed to find a better knife company that is pretty much dedicated to autos than Protech. The TR-2 reviewed here is a tough, well made knife by a company that stands behind their product. While this model does not have a safety that you can engage to prevent accidental pocket deployments, they do have models such as the Protech CQC-7 and the TR-4 that do have safeties. Fit and finish on the TR-2 is very well done, all screws came (and have remained) tight, no noticable blade play, the blade came very sharp and it opens like it's mad at someone. If I had to ding anything on this auto it might be the lack of external safety options and I might prefer some scale liners (this one is very grippy for an aluminum handle - think mag light). Protech does offer many scale liner options or customizations if full alluminum scales are not your thing. Other than that, the TR-2 is as good as any auto knife that I own and in most aspects better. If you're in the market for an automatic knife, I highly recommend the TR-2. I do like my Protech Brend #3 better but thats for another review. :)

Ergonomics: 8/10 (Great in the hand, all metal scales might not be as grippy as G-10 in bad situations)
Looks: 9/10
Materials: 8/10
Fit and Finish: 9/10 (for a production auto, very good)
Camp Use: 8/10 (while I don't usually use autos for this, My TR-3 has proven handy in outdoor situations)
Hard/Military/Police Use: 8/10 (Tailor made for last ditch police/military self defense use, but NOT hard use)
EDC Use: 7/10 (Very nice size but know your local laws and don't open around sheeple)
Food Prep: 8/10 (would work very good for food prep)
Skinning/Game Prep: 7/10 (while it would work for skinning, I wouldn't use it for this)
Warranty: 10/10 (Dave Wattenberg takes care of his customers!)
Zombie Usefulness: 8/10 (Not big enough for serious determined Zombies but like the sound of a shotgun racking, an opening auto, gets attention. For Zombie's get the medium to Large Brend)


  1. Nice review thanks. I got a dozen protechs....I find them a good bang for the buck on the standard models without upgrades. That's said I've found all had blade play fr om my doru to my brend 3 and all in between. I've also found weak lock up........due to incorrect cutouts for the plunge lock and as a side effect of this touchy buttons that fore way too easily. It's too bad a 35 buck boker ak74 has better lock up and a secure button push that leads to far better safety. Also Dave cali policy of no repair or return without police or military credentials is lame. Specially since many states now allow auto owning and carry for us lowly citizens. So be it though. Protech designs are top notch and still worth the money regardless of my minor complaints. Enjoyed your review thanks for doing and I'm off to do more reading on your blog.

    1. Interesting, I've owned a couple of Boker Auto and have found just the opposite. In fact, I've had everything from Benchmade to Microtech to Spyderco Autos and I find the Protechs equal to and in many cases better F&F than them all. I've had nothing but good reports about Dave's customer service....YMV

  2. Hi, Nice post about this Protech Automatic Knives. This knives is for great action, quick and controlled. the best part is it beautiful knife with a sleek look.
    Thanks for this post.