I wanted to open this post by thanking those of you who have been following my blog. I greatly appreciate each and every one of you who has subscribed to my blog, each and every one of you who has click “like” and also the many who communicate to me via email. It is due to repeated requests by readers like you that this very post is being produced.
Time and again I have been asked to review an automatic knife or “switchblade”. I owe it to you to respond to these repeated requests by doing just that.
So, Let’s Roll
The ominous snap of the switchblade knife strikes both fear and awe into the hearts of men. Films such as Rebel Without a Cause, West Side Story, China Town and others have solidified a rather sinister view of the switchblade in American culture. Films such as these have made it the seeming weapon of choice of the “roughian” and the villain. Fictional cinematic depictions did much injustice to this manner of knife. But let’s fast forward from 1955, 1961 or 1974 for that matter, today’s automatic knives have evolved much.
I have to admit that entering into the production of this post required a bit of research. In my youth I was rather fascinated by switchblades, all of a similar “Italian” variety. Of course, at the time, there were far fewer readily available options. In recent years a number of autos came to pass through my hands, for whatever reason mostly Benchmade autos. I found myself holding on to one for a while and then trading it off or playing it forward to some other interested party. I honestly like the Benchmade autos; I just don’t seem to be able to hold on to one for very long. In my research I took note of a number of companies and came to discover a tremendous selection ranging from rough and ready tactical to heirloom quality collectable.
I did not honestly know what to make of all that was available. I knew what I liked and liked what I saw in many cases but none of that mattered much to me if these knifes of flattering design did not hold up where the rubber meets the road. A few brands seemed to command much more attention from auto enthusiasts than others but I was looking for an opinion that I could truly trust. I contacted an associate who is an automatic knife dealer, the owner/operator of nicnac.net (check them out!). The manufacturer that interested me most turned out to have a stellar reputation for both production quality, integrity and customer service.
You may have noticed that I do not produce blog posts for just any widget on the market. I have acquired plenty of gear that I love and plenty that I have been disappointed or dissatisfied with, I do not however bother with writing about disappointing gear. Even if I paid some considerable amount of money for a product that dissatisfied me, I would not spend my precious time in trashing it. (Until the day comes that I purchase some product that I strongly feel may endanger your life, I don’t think that you will find me writing about it.) In so many words, the products that I review either make the grade or they do not get written about. The products that I review have an established reputation that I honestly believe that they live up to. This I determine through people I know, reputable industry sources and actual field use.
After a bit of research and discovery, I contacted Dave Wattenberg of ProTech knives to discuss the review that I intended to produce. He had a number of designs that interested me and a diverse product line that ranged from a 1.94 inch blade “Runt” auto to Walter Brend fixed blade fighters to the Emerson CQC7Auto. We discussed what I was looking to put forth in the blog post and Dave had a number of suggestions. My initial thoughts were to go for some manner of meat and potatoes tactical type model. But discussing with Dave had brought to mind the flair factor of auto ownership. Dave suggested that instead, I review the ProTech flag ship model “The GodFather”. As we spoke I browsed the website and realized that part of me had looked past The GodFather; it was some manner of force of habit, at first glance it seemed almost… too “sexy” perhaps. Now, having given the knife a second look, something deep down inside of me was screaming “hell yeah, you want that!” I was sold. With no further reservation I was taken entirely by the GodFather Tactical. My secondary idea was to include a “Runt” model for the purpose of demonstrating the range of the product line. Dave agreed with me in regards to this concept.
Little Green Boxes
A package arrived that contained two rather unassuming identical green boxes. I read the words – Quality, Craftsmanship, Integrity… With most everything I look for in a knife manufacturer printed on the box, I took a deep breath.
The funny thing is that in writing this now I cannot actually recall what knife I opened first. I tipped each box from end to end knowing that this would be an indication of what box contained the smaller knife and… that is all I recall before I recollect picking each up and snapping them open repeatedly while silently muttering to myself, “holy crap!”.
The action on each knife was incredible. Each snap rang out with crisp precision. The GodFather, even with its full 4″ blade, was perhaps faster than any auto I had ever seen. There is a tremendous amount of consideration that goes into the production of an automatic; the ratio of blade weight to spring strength is one of these. The ability of the GodFather’s powerful coil spring to force the mechanism into locked position, regardless of how far the blade had extended from the handle, was most impressive. I won’t be naming names, but I have seen some autos that fail in this regard. As this is one of the primary advantages of a coil spring design, the inability of an auto to force the blade open if its path has been obstructed is more than a letdown, it is a Tactical liability.
So let’s talk Tactical Auto for a moment here. There are some that will say that an automatic knife has no place in the Tactical environment AT ALL. In my personal experience many who speak in absolutes are speaking absolute nonsense. The prevailing theory seems to be based upon the dependency of an automatics mechanical deployment, because… when you need a knife, apparently you really need a knife… However we readily depend upon the mechanical processes of the M4 carbine and in the case of failure or malfunction, we train to transition. I have heard some arguments based upon “stealth deployment”. I don’t see this as a matter of any real value for the purpose of discussion. If you cannot think your way around that particular obstacle, you are not trying hard enough. Simply put, I feel that this is yet another arm chair quarterback concept from “the forums”. The fact of the matter is that automatic knives have earned a place in American Military history as well; the demand for the automatic knife in the modern theatre of war still exists, and continues to grow.
The ProTech GodFather, may not be the most Tactical auto in the ProTech line, but its fit, form, function and features speak to the variety of motives that drive the end user, people like me and people like you. The GodFather is sleek, sexy, fast, functional, rugged and razor sharp!
My typical period of review for any knife is at the very least 30 days. One solid month is usually required in order that the knife is exposed to the fullest variety of regular cutting chores, tasks and whatever tests I might choose to put the knife up against. I have said it before and will say it again; I do not torture test knives. I also do not typically execute any other feats of cutting that I would generally consider to be a bit… silly. I don’t typically cut through a line of water bottles or loosely rolled pieces of news paper. I simply use the knife, bearing in mind its intended purpose, and typically make use of whatever unique opportunity to cut things that happen to present themselves.
In my experience unique opportunities have a tendency to happen within a 30 day cycle. For whatever reason, this particular cycle was failing to deliver. I then began to think about some of the “typical” cutting demos that you see on the web; the line of water bottles cut straight through and so on.
I sat and skimmed away slices of paper with the GodFather while thinking; a task that barely seemed to do the knife, albeit it’s edge, justice but it didn’t seem to get old. I thought back on the days I had spent thus far with the GodFather in hand. From opening and breaking down cardboard boxes to peeling an apple, I got to thinking that this is what 99.9 percent of folding knives do 99.99 percent of the time. What I had gained in these 30 days was tremendous confidence in the knife, its build and its mechanism. The appeal of its sleek, slender form had grown on me tremendously and everyone who handled it was dazzled by its speed and balance.
It was evident that the ProTech GodFather is a born slash and or stab knife. I decided that for all the work that this knife had done within the last 30 days that I had an ever growing itch to stab something with it. I came up with a stabbing target that I am NOT going to recommend that anyone attempt to duplicate or replicate; but as I am going to show a photo of it, I may as well tell you what it is. One fine day (last Saturday) on the way out to the recycling bin I noted a mass of cardboard box that belonged to a big screen television. I spotted a few long strips of cardboard and I knew that my unique opportunity had arrived. I took both of them and headed back to the house. I decided to make a roll from them. I didn’t take measure of the strips before I took action, but the result of rolling them was a 6 inch tall, 4.25 inch diameter compact cardboard cylinder.
This would be perhaps the most daunting task that I would put the GodFather up to, but it would most certainly test the durability and structural integrity of the components, as the GodFather is not an over built slugger, but a smooth, slim and sleek operator. I admit my reservations in doing so, but I took the roll outside, put it in place and prepared to deliver a death blow.
I picked one of the flatter surfaces on the cylinder and prepared for a precision strike. Anything mildly off center would have caused the cylinder to rotate, dissipating the force and potentially causing damage to the knife or the operator. I am no stranger to the emergency room but was not interested in relaying the results of my test by telling of how many stitches it had taken to repair an injury of my own stupidity; I therefore took careful aim. In a flash of steel the knife found its target and the test its conclusion.
I couldn’t begin to speculate in regards to the weight and pressure that a full fledged hammer fist strike might generate from a highly practiced 6 ft tall 210 lb man, but whatever that force may be, the GodFather withstood that force as well as the violent delivery of it.
I might have instead visited the grocery store, picked up some over sized chunk of meat and sunk the GodFather repeatedly to the hilt or slashed it a few times in order to have more awe striking photos than that of a rolled tight piece of cardboard. But, had I went that route the GodFather would only have accomplished what I already knew it would be capable of doing. I have little doubt that with the GodFather in your hands you too will know in an instant that it is more than capable of making short work of flash, denim, leather and whatever else. The ability of a knife to take on and survive the impact of dense tissue is of a more primary concern to me.
The Pro Tech GodFather and Runt have both met and exceeded my expectations as both a knife owner and have made a renewed auto enthusiast out of a man who considers himself to be a reserved tactical realist. The Godfather has taken a spot in my EDC rotation and I happen to have a little guy already living in hopes of one day being gifted the Runt when he “grows up”.
All the best to Dave at Pro Tech, I hope to see them keep doing what they are doing there; designing, innovating and building a quality American made product to THE HIGHEST possible standard.
For more information please visit – www.protechknives.com