At the time of this writing, automatic knives are legal in 44 states, with each state having its own set of regulations. But it’s important to note that no federal statutes keep you from owning and possessing an automatic knife.
For a deeper dive into what you can carry and where, the American Knife & Tool Institute has done a great job of breaking it down, by state.
The Pro-Tech Runt 5, meanwhile, is currently marketed as “California Legal.” This means that it has a blade of 2 inches or shorter. The Runt just makes this cut with a 1.96-inch blade.
But don’t be deterred by the Runt’s small stature; it’s not trying to be anything more than a knife designed to get you out of a jam, with only one hand.
In short: If you’re looking for a premium utility knife with all of the bells and whistles, the Pro-Tech Runt 5 should be at the top of your list of considerations.
- Blade length
- Blade steel
- Blade shape
- Lock type
Right hand, tip-up, deep carry
Handle texturing and overall finish
The spring is a bit intense
It’s a wee small to be your main EDC
Subject to local laws
Pro-Tech Runt 5 Review
Design and Features
Made in the United States by family-owned Pro-Tech Knives, the Runt 5 combines anodized aluminum handles that form a frame around its DLC-coated, reverse tanto, MagnaCut blade. Where some automatic knives have a lock to keep you from pressing the activation button, the button on the Runt 5 is flush with the handle to prevent it from opening accidentally.
It’s a small knife that disappears in your hand when closed and hangs over the sides of your palm when fully opened. It features a right-hand, tip-up, deep-carry pocket clip that matches the coating on the blade.
The spring on the Runt 5 is fierce. Once you depress the button, the blade flies into action.
The first couple of times, it’s a little startling.
That said, you want to make sure you’ve got a good grip on this little bugger before you open it up or it might fly out of your hand.
On the purple variant I tested, the anodized aluminum handles are patterned for grip. That pattern carries over onto the spine for your thumb or index finger, depending on how you’re holding the Runt 5.
The matte finish of the anodization increases your overall grip, and it feels very nice and grippy in your hand, even when working with it for extended periods of time.
I wanted an auto that wouldn’t raise any eyebrows and that I could either clip to the strap of my pack or my pocket for easy access. Of course, the idea of using it to get out of an emergency crossed my mind, but I’ve been on the hunt for a good utility knife for odd jobs in my life (like cutting up leather and pelts for sheaths and things).
And as a bonus, I wanted something I could take out on the trail and use to cut punky wood from rotting trees to make a quick fire at camp.
The Runt 5 is all of that and more. Out of the box, I was impressed with the form and finish of the knife. And this quickly became more admirable as I did more with it.
The purple on the handle is just as cosmic as it is electric, and it really takes the knife to another place. But more importantly, it’s easy to identify during the day and at night, so if I do ever get into a jam, I won’t be there for long.
Another noticeable feature: Due to its size, you can close the Runt with one hand. This is something that’s a little trickier to do with larger automatic knives. That said, you can feel the full force of that spring when you close it back down.
In the Field
MagnaCut steel is everyone’s latest obsession, and there’s a good reason for it — it’s resilient to everything. Even in the small package of the Runt 5, you can find a lot of things to do with the blade and not worry about it dulling prematurely, chipping, or snapping.
I’ve used knives this size for prying tinder out of dying trees for years. They’re easy to maneuver and fit into tight places, and the Runt does all of that, plus shaves down branches to make fur sticks to start fires. This, by default, makes the Runt 5 a shoo-in for making tinder bundles to start fires as well.
Though I didn’t get a chance to try it out yet, I believe the Runt 5 will make a great knife for harvesting fiddleheads and mushrooms this spring and summer as the reverse tanto allows it to slide into places and slice precisely.
What’s more, the Runt 5 performs well while working with hides and pelts. It’s small enough to hold in such a way that you can separate material easily. It’s also great with finished hides, leather, and strap.
In my review of the ZT 0006, I mentioned that I had made a new belt loop for the sheath. The material I used, Biothane, is incredibly resilient to scissors and razor knives. The Runt 5 made quick, precise slices without slipping out of the groove I made, which most razor knives would do.
This was due to the shape of the Runt’s blade, which made greater contact with the material.
It’s no secret that I don’t have to buy all of the knives I test out, but I had to buy the Runt 5. I was really picky with the fit and finish of it. This purple variation with textured handles is something to admire.
Beyond that, yes, the Pro-Tech Runt 5 is small, but that’s what I was looking for. I wanted a knife I could use in a multitude of situations, some of which involve only one free hand.
Admittedly, that initially meant cutting the rope on the Christmas tree after my family and I got it in the house. But it also applies to people climbing or tied off to one another, trying to champion mountains like Everest. The MagnaCut blade on the Runt 5 would slice through a thick, wet, icy rope in a single swipe.
Ultimately, the Runt 5 presents the perfect knife to help you out of a jam, and it’s also seriously nice as a utility knife. For anyone looking for a simple solution or a backup blade, give the Runt 5 a shot. Just double-check those state regulations first!