I recently sat in on a “Whittling Chip” knife safety course being taught to my son and his Cub Scout pack. As part of the class they showed the Scouts some various styles of knives and explained how they worked. While they didn’t have an automatic knife present, they did address them and explained to the boys that “switchblades” were illegal to own. I didn’t say anything during the class but afterwards I approached the instructor to see whether or not that’s what he truly believed, or whether he felt it was simpler to just tell the boys they were illegal rather than explain the nuances of the law, and the fact that they are not in fact approved for Scouting use. As it turns out, he truly did believe they were illegal and was rather surprised to find out that there were exceptions for police and other first responders, and that some states did in fact allow anyone to own and even carry them.

He was further surprised when I explained to him that even California, with their otherwise rather restrictive laws, had a provision for legal automatic knives. The California penal code actually allows for automatic knives with blades under 2 inches long. This has created a niche market for knife manufacturers and there are a variety of “California Legal” autos being offered for sale now, many of questionable quality and value. Fortunately, the folks at Pro-Tech have a very successful series of autos in their Sprint line for people who’d like to take advantage of the ability to legally carry and use an auto and want one of quality.

Is Two Inches Enough?

So, why would you carry a 2-inch auto you might ask? Well, my first answer to that is because you can. Autos are fun, and autos are handy. The Pro-Tech Sprint in particular is lightweight, easy to carry, and fast to put into action. The second reason is that, even with a 2-inch blade, there’s not much you can’t do when it comes to everyday tasks. Think about what tasks you do day-to-day with a blade, and chances are the vast majority of them simply need a sharp edge. The Sprint is extremely compact and light weight as well, so even if you aren’t limited by state law to a knife of this size you might well consider it just because it’s so darn handy and easy to carry. It’s the gentleman’s auto.

Keeping that theme of a gentleman’s auto in mind, Pro-Tech makes everything from a basic black blade to extremely elegant models with Damascus blades and sterling silver or brass engraved inserts. At the time of this writing Pro-Tech’s website showed seven different models ranging in style and price from $150 all the way up to $450 for the limited edition Damascus models.

For testing I received a basic black anodized T6-6061 aluminum model with a stone washed blade and a silver model with carbon fiber inlays and a black Diamond Like Coated blade. Both knives measure a petite 3.05 inches long closed and carry a 1.95-inch blade of S35NV stainless steel at a Rockwell of 60. The Sprint is only 0.39 inches thick and comes in at a feathery 1.6 ounces. A discrete matte black pocket clip is attached and can be set up for tip up or tip down carry. Opening is accomplished by mashing down a firing button located on the right scale of the knife. The blade releases with impressive authority when you do so. Lockup is quite solid with no noticeable blade play. There is no safety on the Sprint but the button is recessed enough that accidental firing is unlikely. I didn’t have any issues over the three months that I carried a Sprint off and on in a variety of circumstances.

Everyday Carry
I see the Sprint as more of an everyday carry blade than anything else, and it does a superb job in that role. With that said, if it’s the tool you have on you when push comes to shove I wouldn’t hesitate to put it into play in a defensive role. As a police officer I’ve seen plenty of damage done with box cutters and utility knives, and Sprint’s excellent S35NV blade is certainly a lot more capable than any of those.

If you live in California and would like to take advantage of the quirky state auto laws, or you just want a quality-made, compact auto, then Pro-Tech has probably got something that fits your budget and style in their Sprint line. To find out more, call 562-903-0678 or visit

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