ProTech TR-5 Tactical Response 5 Assist Knife Review

TR-5: Tactical Response 5

The Tactical Response 5 is Pro-Tech’s first Spring Assist knife. You wouldn’t know that with how quick the knife launches out. This spring assisted knife has the power and speed of an automatic knife. As of January 2016, it is the newest of the Tactical Response folder family which features the new Titanium Assist mechanism designed by Matthew Lerch. The TR-5 is a smaller version of the popular Tactical Response TR-4.

The TR-5 Story
Pro-Tech is a family owned company. Established in 1999, they have been creating and developing high-quality knives that are made here in the United States. Recently I inquired of Pro-Tech’s President, Dave Wattenberg, about the new Tactical Response. This is what Dave had to say,

“A few years ago I was chatting with my good friend and custom knife maker Matthew Lerch at the blade show—he had an idea for a spring assist mechanism that would combine the ‘snap—and quick action’ of our cool spring with a spring assist mechanism. After a few years of tinkering – we were able to engineer the mechanism into this new smaller version of the TR-4 (the new TR-5).”

Rumor also has it that following this conversation, the idea for this new spring assist mechanism was developed in a matter of minutes where many ideas take a greater amount of time to come up with. Whether or not this is true, we have this amazing knife with us today to enjoy.

Matthew Lerch
Matthew Lerch is the mastermind behind the new Tactical Response TR-5. He was initially trained in the watchmaking industry and as a jeweler but later moved into manufacturing and tool making. Aside from the mechanics of the TR-5, Matthew has a few patents under his name for knife mechanisms such as the Fire Safe. He has also been honored with some prestigious awards, including the Buster Warenski award. Matthew views knives and knife making as something more than a tool and a process. He sees them as functional pieces of art. Of Matthew Lerch, Dave Wattenberg, said about him, “Matt Lerch is really one of my favorite knife makers—he’s a mechanical genius.”

Specs
Below is an overview of the different specifications of the Tactical Response 5. Many of the things listed will be covered later on, but here is a simple glance at what the TR-5 has to offer.

  • Product Type: Spring Assist
  • Overall Length: 7.66″
  • Weight: 3.5 oz.
  • Handle Length: 4.36”
  • Blade Length: 3.30″
  • Blade Thickness: 0.125″
  • Blade Material: 154-CM
  • Blade Edge: Plain
  • Blade Style: Drop Point
  • Blade Finish: Stonewash
  • Handle Material: Anodized 6061-T6 Aluminum
  • Handle Color: Black
  • Pocket Clip: Tip-Up
  • Glass Breaker and Lanyard Hole Included
  • Made in the USA

One thing that can be pointed out here is the handle. At a first glance, it doesn’t look too special. But at a closer examination of it proves otherwise. The black anodized aluminum handle is smooth to the touch and feels great when holding it. When deployed, the knife has comfortable finger gripping that serves for an easier hold, as was as a more secure hold. The handle is accented with a glass breaker and lanyard hole to give flair to the rest of the knife. The overall look of the knife looks great and pleases the aesthetic eye.

Out with the Old, In with the New

The Tactical Response 5 is the newest knife in the Tactical Response Series. It is an alternative to the older Tactical Response models. It is smaller in every way but still performs just as well.

TR-5 TR-4 TR-3
Overall Length 7.66″ 9.25″ 8.00″
Blade Length 3.30″ 4.00″ 3.50″
Handle Length 4.36″ 5.25″ 4.50″
Weight 3.5 oz. 5.4 oz. 3.6 oz.
Product Type Spring Assist Auto Auto
Steel 154-CM CPM-D2 154-CM

All of the knives in the Tactical Response line are phenomenal knives. Each has their own unique properties to them. They are all quick and sharp right out of the box. The TR-5 allows more people to carry Pro-Tech with the same speed as an auto but still be classified as a spring assisted knife.

New Mechanics
The Tactical Response 5 features new mechanics that make allow the assisted folder to compete with automatic knives. It is difficult to even begin describing how this thing works. It is absolutely flawless. Here is my best shot. Most, if not all spring assisted knives to have either a thumb stud, or a thumb hole, or some other device that a thumb can move which allows the blade to partly open before a spring takes over and launches it into its “on” position. Other spring assisted knives may include a flipper on the back of the handle that will flip the blade open. A typical spring assist knife has a variety of mechanisms that make the knife work. They more or less have a common theme among them all. A normal spring assist knife has a spring or tension bar that acts as the main part that moves everything else around. There is tension all around inside these knives. They help flip the knife open, but they also help keep the knife closed. Thus, there needs to be some sort of manual force to overcome the resistance the spring gives off to open the knife.

The new mechanics that are featured in the TR-5 are unique and different in many different ways. The first major difference is that the Tactical Response 5 does not have a traditional spring or tension bar. The TR-5 utilizes Pro-Tech’s high-quality springs that are found in their snappy automatic knives. And rather than having a typical tension bar that runs the length of the handle, there is a bar that is in the shape of a half circle on both sides of the handle, on the inside, that is connected by a metal peg. This half circle bar functions similar to your standard spring bar. It provides the same amount of pressure when opening and closing the blade. It is difficult to describe how it all works, but the most important thing to know is that this knife is sweet. The new mechanics make it quick, if not faster than many automatic knives in the industry.

In that inquiry with Dave, he was able to help me out in describing how the knife operates. This is what he had to say,

“The mechanism he (Matthew Lerch) invented is really very simple and one of the really strong points is that there are only a few parts.

“The parts, however, have to be extremely precise. Two wire EDM (Electrical Discharge Machine) cut titanium springs are installed on the inside of the frame—they hold a dowel pin across the inside of the handle, there’s a notch in the blade that this pin locks into. Since our coil spring is strong it takes a strong detent to keep it closed in the locked position.

“As you open the knife with the thumb stud, at the moment you push past where the pin locks into the blade our Superior Coil Spring Action takes over! And of course, our proven button lock works to lock the blade into the open position.

“Since there are only a few (albeit very precision) parts—the mechanism is very sturdy, even more so than some spring assist mechanisms on the market.”

Hopefully between both of our descriptions, the mechanics of the knife works make more sense. The bottom line is that the TR-5 is quick, it is dependable, and it is awesome.

Steel

The steel used in making the drop point blade on the TR-5 is the sturdy 154CM. 154CM is a favorable steel when it comes to knives. It is a high-end stainless steel made in America by Crucible Industries. It is a newer stainless steel that is just as good as or better than 440c stainless steel. The Rockwell test for this steel is around HRC 58-61. 154CM is popular in survival and tactical knives because of its corrosion resistance. It may be exposed to salt water and other corrosive material for long periods of time. This steel is comparatively cheaper than other high-quality steels such as BG-42 and S30V. Having this steel on any knife, especially the TR-5, makes it an even better knife.

Blade Finish

A stonewash finish is fairly new in the knife community. The process begins when a blade is rolled and tumbled with pebbles and an acid of sorts, then smoothed. In theory, it can hide scratches or other abrasions to the blade. This is a favorable characteristic that many knife owners desire. Because of the tumbling process to create this finish, it looks as if there are already hundreds of markings on it. Yet, the markings are done in a natural way to form a work of art. Similar to a snowflake, no two stonewashes are the same. The finish has a different look to it. The stonewash finish on the Tactical Response 5 almost has a satin finish to it. Direct light reflects off the blade. Because of the style of the finish, there need not be any concern about scratches or other markings to the blade. The knife can be used for its intended purpose of cutting and doing any other type of work. Some suggest that because of the process, a stonewashed knife can become more resistant to rust as well. The acid oxidation it goes through in the process enhances a blade’s rust resistance with a stable oxide barrier between the steel and its surrounding. Another benefit of stonewashing a blade is their low maintenance and their ability to preserve their original look over time.

Tactical or Every day Carry

“The size, shape, mechanism of the TR-5 spring assist really make it a perfect knife for every day carry. I started carrying one myself in January and just can’t seem to swap it out for any other knife from my pocket!” –Dave Wattenberg

The Tactical Response is a highly functional knife. It works great as either an everyday carry knife or as a tactical knife. For some, a tactical knife and an everyday carry is the same thing. Either way, there are several key characteristics to consider before purchasing a knife. The designed purpose, the ergonomics of the knife and its size, the materials used to make the knife, and the blade design and style, are all factors in choosing a great knife.

Designed Purpose:

Some knives are created for those in the armed forces to help them out with their problems they encounter while other knives are created for a more day to day type of carry that can be of use in self-defense or other menial tasks. As the name of the knife suggests, the TR-5 is a tactical response to the need for a decent knife in the industry.

Ergonomics and Size:

A knife that is built with the highest quality of material would be utterly useless if it does not feel right when holding it. When a knife feels secure in your hand, you can feel secure as well. The TR-5’s size is great for an everyday carry or a tactical knife. It is small enough to carry, yet big enough to do some damage.

Materials:

Any knife, no matter its purpose, is going to be going through a major beating. Because of this, it needs to be built out of a strong, high-quality material. This includes both the blade steel and the handle material. The handle on the Tactical Response is made of an aluminum alloy. This is perfect for the knife to help it be lightweight and durable at the same time. And of course, the steel is made of a high-quality material.

Blade Design and Style:

The blade for a tactical or an everyday carry should be an all-around useful tool to tackle all sorts of tasks. The blade can make or break any knife. A good versatile blade is a drop point. And that’s just what the TR-5 has equipped on it. With this blade, the TR-5 is useful for any number of tasks.

Conclusion

“I’m very pleased to produce a knife with my friend Matt Lerch’s design and very proud of the product that it’s become.” These were some of the closing remarks that Dave had with me when discussing this knife. Truly, this knife is remarkable. It shares the best of both worlds when it comes to automatic knives and spring assisted knives. Along with Dave, I would highly recommend picking up the Tactical Response 5. You will not be disappointed with it. The TR-5 awaits your response.

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