The Columbia River Knife & Tool – TSR (Terzuola Survival & Rescue) fixed blade survival knife is one of the newest designs from the mind of legendary custom knife maker Bob Terzuola. I’ve covered Terzuola’s background before, but a quick glean of his background is in order.
Custom Knife Maker Bob Terzuola
Before becoming a legendary custom knife maker, Bob Terzuola was into carving jade jewelry in Central America at one point. Then he moved to New Mexico and started making custom knives. Back in 1984, I saw an ad for his knives and sent away for his brochure. It was nothing but drawings of his designs and no pictures! However, I was taken by his clean and simple designs. The order was placed for one of his knives. I also had a conversation or two with Bob while awaiting my knife. I was not disappointed in the least when the knife arrived either.
CRKT Knives – Columbia River Knife and Tool
Many will agree that Terzuola might well be considered the Father of Tactical Knives. I’m not about to dispute that title either. Bob produces both fixed and folding knives, and they are rock-solid designs, too. The BT70, which CRKT produces, is one of the stoutest folders to be had; we are talking super-strong.
A Fixed Blade “Tactical” Design Survival Knife
I was more than a little interested in Bob’s newest fixed blade design collaboration with CRKT– his TSR fixed blade knife. This one is a little out of character for a tactical knife designer, at least at the onset. However, once you see the TSR for yourself, you can see the fixed blade “tactical” design to it. Yet it is still a survival knife, and we aren’t talking about an overly large, fixed blade knife with saw teeth on it, either. While those types of survival knives have their place, most of us will be better served with a smaller knife.
Overview of TSR Knife
The TSR has a 4.350-inch long blade, manufactured out of 8Cr12MoV stainless steel that is heat-treated to a Rockwell hardness of 56-58, making it easy enough to re-sharpen and not brittle – like so many stainless steel blades are. It is also an affordable steel, too. The edge on the blade is plain with no saw teeth, as mentioned. The knife only weighs a mere 4.3 oz so it’s very light-weight. Its overall length is 9.25 inches. The handle is glass filled Nylon and is removable. (There’s more on this later.)
I like that there is a lanyard hole in the butt of the blade, and it has a length of 550 paracord attached to it. There is a hole in the lower rear of the blade, so you can lash it to a stick or tree limb and use it as a spear in a survival situation. Friction grooves are milled into the top rear of the blade for a sure hold when using the knife in the fencing position. The blade has a drop point design to it, which is very useful.
The Special Sheath
The sheath, at first glance, really isn’t anything more than, well, a sheath to hold the knife in on a belt. However, such is not the case! The sheath is molded to the knife and holds it nicely, but I would have liked a safety strap as an added form of protection against losing the knife. Ya never know… Upon closer examination, you will note on the back of the sheath, under some tape, is a signal mirror. It’s very handy for signaling, if you have the need if lost in the wilderness and need rescuing. That’s nice, very nice. However, the sheath extras don’t end there.
On either side of the sheath are a couple dandy survival devices. On one side is a ceramic sharpening stone. It’s small, but it will get the job done of re-sharpening your blade when the time comes. On the other side of the sheath is a magnesium stick for starting fires. This is very, very cool indeed. Both of these small rods are securely embedded in the sides of the sheath and are easy to miss, if you don’t know they are there. There is also some more 550 paracord laced around the sheath, if you need it to help build a shelter or for other uses.
Why A Survival Knife?
So, what makes this medium-sized, fixed blade knife a “survival” knife? Just about any knife can be used to help you survive, right? Well, as already mentioned, the sheath has some unique features that will sure help you survive out in the wilderness. The glass filled Nylon handle scales can be easily removed from the knife itself. Simply use a coin or any similar object to turn the screw holding the handles on the blade. The slot in the screw is overly large and easy to unscrew. Under the handle, you will find it is hollowed out, and there are some very important survival items– a fishing line, dental floss, fish hooks, and needles. And, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t catch fish with this set-up. You can! In the past I’ve tested this fishing method and have caught fish myself with a little patience.
Wilderness Survival Teaches Fire Is Extremely Important
In a wilderness survival situation, you just don’t know what you might be up against, and making a fire is extremely important. My long-time friend, the late Chris Janowsky, ran the Wilderness Survival Institute up in Tok, Alaska for many years, and he put out a series of survival videos. In one video, Chris talked about the “magic” of a fire that talked about how it can not only keep you warm and help you cook some food but be therapeutic too. It is. If you’ve ever sat around a camp fire, you know what I’m talking about. So, the magnesium rod on the side of the sheath is one mighty good idea. Using the edge of the knife’s blade and some tinder, you can start a fire that will most likely save your life.
TSR Easily Sharpened With Rod On Sheath
All knives get dull and need to be sharpened and the TSR is easily sharpened. Don’t believe those commercials you see on TV for knives that never need sharpening. It’s a lie! Sooner or later, if you are out in the wilderness lost for any length of time, you will need to re-sharpen the TSR, and the small, ceramic rod on the side of the sheath will easily do this for you.
Signaling Mirror On Sheath
Don’t forget the signaling mirror on the back of the sheath. Quite often, when a Search and Rescue operation begins they use aircraft to look for a lost camper or hunter. The mirror on the back of the sheath will sure help you be seen if the sun is out, so don’t forget about this important tool on the sheath. It can save your life.
Testing the TSR
I tested the TSR knife around my small homestead, using it for the usual chores in the kitchen as well as opening UPS and FedEx packages and cutting the very tough blackberry vines. It also easily sliced paper with the super-sharp edge on the blade. I was so impressed with the TSR knife that I ordered several more of them for my family members and a couple close friends. I always have plenty of knives around to test and knives that I own. So, it is a rare occasion, when I will order knives and use my own funds to pay for them – that’s how impressed I was with this survival knife. My wife put her TSR knife in her SUV already, and I actually need to order another TSR knife for myself since I gave my sample away to a friend who fell in love with it.
Not An Ordinary Hunting Or Camping Knife
Remember, at first sight, not everything is as it appears to be, because the CRKT TSR knife, designed by Bob Terzuola, is just such a knife that it might appear to be just an ordinary hunting or camping knife. However, it has some hidden secrets in the handle scales and on the sheath itself. Full retail is $89.99; however, if you shop around, you can usually find CRKT products deeply discounted. Make sure you order more than one. Your spouse and other family members will surely want one for themselves. It’s one dandy survival knife!
JWR Adds: For the sake of full disclosure: Some of CRKT’s knives are made in the USA. Some of them are made in China. The TSR is made in China. That might make a difference to some readers.