Review: Pro-Tech Runt 5 Automatic Knife

Review: Pro-Tech Runt 5 Automatic Knife

In today’s article, Scott Wagner reviews the Pro-Tech Runt 5 knife. The knife, provided to Wagner by the company for review, offers a variety of features that make it excellent for EDC. As with all weapons, you should know your local laws before carrying it. Seek out qualified counsel to assist you with any questions regarding the laws in your jurisdiction.

There is no doubt in my mind that a automatic “one-hand opening” pocketknife is the handiest utility tool around. While there are manual or spring assisted knives that don’t qualify as “fully automatic” — or in more common street parlance a “switchblade” — that are very fast and handy, there is just something about of the allure of a knife that is fully automatic. And sometimes, full autos are easier to use than their “semi-automatic” kin.

What’s the difference between the two types? Well, the difference is not so much the speed — like I said the right spring-assisted knives can match the speed of an automatic knife — it’s the feel of the “push button” opening switch that makes all the difference. An assisted-opening knife relies on pressure of the human finger on the flipper portion of the blade to move the blade outward so the spring can work to assist in locking the blade into place.

The one other area that is different is that of legal status. While a semi-auto “finger-flipper” semi-auto knife tends to be nearly as fast as its full-auto cousin, the full-auto knife tends to be illegal simply on a technicality. There is no manual action of a finger moving the blade first before the spring takes over. The push-button switch or sliding lever on a full-auto releases the blade, which has been under spring pressure the entire time. The difference between the two types is really splitting hairs, which is why many jurisdictions have made adjustments over the last 20 years in the legality of fully automatic knives. Be sure to check the laws in your locality.

About Pro-Tech

Pro-Tech is a custom knife manufacturer with an amazing line-up of blades of all types and operating systems located in Placentia, California. I ran across their booth while attending the NRA Annual Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. Pro-Tech caught my attention due to their numerous display cases located along one of the convention hall’s walls. The knives were gorgeous and of high quality, with very reasonable price points. I spoke with Pro-Tech’s Matt Yuen and learned what made Pro-Tech knives different that either a standard production factory or a custom hand-built/forged manufacturer.

In this photo, the author shows the overall length of the knife with an open blade. The sharp knife lies on a pine log in the forrest. The knife's texture is plainly visible making for an interesting take on their classic Runt knife design. The author found the knife was an excellent performer in testing. If customer reviews are to be believed, a lot of people like it. Similar to the classic Runt model, the sub-two-inch blade is the perfect size at 1.96-inch.

According to Matt, Pro-Tech is a family-owned company that has been building knives since 1999. Pro-Tech combines modern CNC machining, wire EDM, and laser cutting with traditional hand assembly and fitting to complete the final product. The end result is a custom knife built at production speed and pricing. Matt pointed out the 1.96” blade of the fully automatic Runt 5 knife, and explained it was because of its short blade length that the Runt 5 series (there are a number of different versions) were legal to sell in California. I handled the Runt 5’s he showed me — one with OD green anodized handles and a Reverse Tanto blade profile. When I popped it open, I immediately noticed the powerful level of torque that snapped the blade open. I was hooked and made arrangements to get a sample for testing.

Pro-Tech Runt 5 Automatic Knife Specifications

Overall Length 5.08″
Blade Length 1.96″
Closed Length 3.12″
Weight 1.86 oz.
Blade Material CPM Magna Cut Stainless Tool Steel
Opening Mechanism Pushbutton

Blade Details

The Pro-Tech Runt 5 is a name that implies that it is firstly small, and secondly of limited or no value or purpose. While the first part is true, the second point could not be further from the truth. After five months of nearly daily carry in my front trouser pocket, I can attest that the Runt 5 series of knives is not only one of the most handy pocket knives ever developed, it is hands-down the handiest automatic knife series ever developed.

In this photo, the author demonstrates the size of the Runt 5. The black-anodized aluminum handle can be had with aluminum scales that are not too thick making it easy to maneuver while still keeping it secure when locked open. The matte finish, most people agree, won't accidentally rub off. It's easy to clean and it's also a better user experience than polymer handles found on some cheaper knives.

My Runt 5 arrived packed in one of the nicest display boxes I had ever seen on a knife in this price range. My test sample has the now-discontinued Reverse Tanto blade that I saw at NRA. The more rounded profile Wharncliffe blade is currently the only blade profile available. Like the Reverse Tanto blade on my sample, the Wharncliffe blades are formed from CPM-MagnaCut stainless steel tool steel and given a stonewash finish. According to the Knife Basics Website, CPM MagnaCut is a “powder metallurgy stainless steel specifically created for use in knife making. MagnaCut is designed to deliver great balance in toughness, edge retention, and corrosion resistance.” It was definitely a perfect choice for the Runt 5 series of knives.

The Runt 5 has only one operating control — the slightly recessed push-button switch on the left side handle. I have carried the Runt 5 in my pocket and there has never been anywhere near enough pressure exerted against the operating button to cause an inadvertent release. But push down on the button while maintaining a firm grip on the Runt (a firm grip is important), and the blade pops out with force and locks into place. To release the blade and close it, push the button down again and the blade will release and can be closed back in the grip with the support hand. A lanyard can be attached if desired through a discreet hole located in the end of the grip.

In this image, the author is skinning a sapling with the Runt 5 automatic knife. In his niche market, there are a lot of knives from companies like Benchmade, CRKT and Spyderco. Nevertheless, this automatic knife textured black model uses the latest magnacut steel as the newest take on their classic knife. The pocket-friendly auto comes with a CPM-20CV blade that's especially strong along the spine. Welcome to the blade club.

I’ve never carried the Runt 5 using the stainless-steel, stone-washed belt clip — I prefer to carry my blades deep within my pocket where they can’t be inadvertently dislodged or purposely pulled free by an unauthorized person. The Runt 5’s handle is lightly checkered with an indented type of checkering that provides a sure grip without unnecessary roughness. The top of the grip where the thumb rests while engaged in cutting operation also is checkered.

Big Enough Knife to Do the Job?

Sure, the Runt 5 is small enough to pass legal muster for sale in California, but is it big enough to handle reasonable cutting tasks you will throw at it? The answer is yes, it absolutely is!

In this photo, the author is showing how to handle the Runt 5 knife. Note his thumb on the spine of the blade where one would expect jimping. This allows you to put force behind the cutting motion. Combines with the Wharnecliffe design, this provides exceptional cutting power at the tip.

First, understand that the Runt 5 isn’t — nor was it ever intended to be — any sort of fighting knife. While it could cause serious physical harm or even death, it’s quite obvious that infliction of serious physical harm isn’t its primary mission. Its automatic opening capability adds to its ability as a utility tool. That remains true as long as you use the Runt 5 for the 99% of daily tasks that knives are commonly used for. Here are some of the reasons why I think the Runt 5 excels as a utility blade:

  1. Its small size ensures that you will always have it with you — no excuses. Keeping your Everyday Carry Loadout to a minimum is critical. It is particularly critical for your back and hips as you get older and critical to your appearance when younger so that you don’t look like a walking Tactical Shop with equipment bulges popping out everywhere.
  2. Much of the blade length of the knives we carry is wasted and infrequently used. This pains me to say this because I like all KINDS of knives, but the truth is that the aforementioned 99% of daily tasks are exceedingly easy to complete and totally boring. They don’t require massive full-length blades. I confess that I use my pocket-carried tactical knives mostly for opening packages in a similar repetitive fashion — usually by slicing through packing tape that holds the package flaps closed (and not the cardboard) — or for slicing through padded envelopes like those from Amazon.
  3. Fully automatic one-hand-only-opening knives are the handiest of all blades. With a great design like the Pro-Tech Runt 5, there is minimal physical manipulation needed to bring it to bear. For example, there is no additional safety switch backing up the activation button and thus slowing activation down and increasing the chance that you might drop it in precarious situations.
  4. The CPM Magna Cut Stainless Tool Steel sharpens well and holds an edge. My trusty $15 key chain knife sharpener quickly brings it to a fine edge with just a few strokes.
  5. The quality runs deep in Pro-Tech knives, which is why they offer a Limited Lifetime Warranty which covers everything except shipping and deliberate abuse or neglect.

Wrap Up

My Runt 5 knife has become my primary utility knife for most occasions, having superseded the other knives in the “pile” of knives my wife claims that I have. However, the “left-behind” knives still get taken out for exercise periods. They are like guns — you can’t have too many. However, the Runt 5 has proven to be the most intriguing and entertaining blade to show to others as the “wow” exclamation is heard when the Runt 5 leaps open and locks into place in their hand. Actually, using it rounds out the experience.

This image shows the knife with a Springfield Armory xd-m pistol, a 9mm handgun. The anodizing process on the Pro-Tech Runt 5 adds color to the aluminum handle through an electrochemical method that also enhances corrosion resistance. This results in a durable and vibrant finish that can come in various colors while maintaining the lightweight nature of the knife.

The Runt 5 R5305 with checkered black handles (green is no longer available) and Wharncliffe blade has a retail price of $220. There is a smooth handle model that retails at $200. Considering the force that the blade opens with, I recommend ordering the Model R5305 with checkered grips. The Wharncliffe blade is just as effective as the Reverse Tanto of the model I tested — I personally think the Reverse Tanto just looks cooler. There is also a Runt 14 version available with a 2” blade and different grip rather than the 1.9” blade of the Runt 5.

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