Treeman TASS: A Combat Knife Actually Used by Navy SEALs — Review

The Treeman TASS.

The TASS from Treeman Knives.

Introduction

A lot of knife makers use Navy SEALs and other elite military units as a way to market their blades to the general public. The sales pitch being, if it passes muster with the SEALs, well, then it should suit your pedestrian needs too.

A very good-looking knife.

A very good-looking knife.

It’s an effective strategy. But I often wonder how many knife makers that claim to have an affiliation with these units actually do? How many are just blowing smoke to move product? I don’t have the answers to those questions, but what I do know is that Jim Behring of Treeman knives actually makes knives for Navy SEALs. His story is an interesting one and it’s no B.S.

Recently, he sent me a TASS knife for review. TASS stand for Teams And Shit Shank. It doesn’t get more authentic than that. Yes, it was named by the SEAL platoon that helped design it. They voted on it, and that’s what they came up with.

There is one special point worth mentioning, that the SEAL’s version of the TASS is called the “TASS E-4.” The E-4 designation was added in honor of Matthew Kantor, a SEAL and Bronze Star recipient who was killed in Afghanistan in 2012. E-4 was Kantor’s SOCOM-issued call sign. May he RIP.

Overview

According to Behring, each of the 22 members of the SEAL platoon had a hand in designing every aspect of the knife, from the blade contour to the thickness to the color and even the sheath configuration. As operators, it appears they wanted a highly-portable knife built for hard use that also excelled as a penetrating weapon. And that’s exactly what they got with the TASS.

The TASS is made from .1875-inch O1 tool steel stock that is heat treated to a Rockwell hardness of 56 on the C scale. It has a wonderful hollow grind and a sleek black Cerakote finish. The blade itself is 5 inches long and very sharp. Handles on the TASS are machined black and green G-10 and are affixed with removable screws.

A nice shot of the spine.

A nice shot of the spine.

Specs

A close up of the blade.

A close up of the clip-point blade.

  • Overall length: 9.625 inches
  • Blade length: 5.00 inches
  • Cutting edge: 4.75 inches
  • Blade thickness: 0.1875 inches
  • Blade material: O1 Tool Steel
  • Hardness: HRC 56
  • Blade style: clip point
  • Finish: black Cerakote
  • Handle length: 4.75 inches
  • Handle thickness: 0.94 inches
  • Handle material: G-10
  • Handle color: black and green
  • Weight: 10.00 ounces
  • Sheath: Kydex
  • Sheath finish: Kryptek Highlander camo
  • Brand: Treeman Knives
  • Model: TASS
  • Made in the USA
  • MSRP: $345

Utility

Pounded into a large log. The Tass is no worse for the wear.

Pounded into a large log. The Tass is no worse for the wear.

The TASS is really an all-purpose combat knife, a quintessential tactical blade. It’s meant to do all sorts of military-related tasks: breaking down crates, opening ammo boxes, slicing paracord, cutting wire or penetrating the skull of the enemy. You name it, the TASS can do it and be no worse for wear. That’s the kicker, you see, a lot of knives can do a lot of things but not all knives are built to withstand years and years of hard use. The TASS is.

Generally speaking, I’d say the TASS is like a miniature tank. It’s got some bulk and heft to it, but it’s also easy to conceal and carry. Thankfully, I don’t have to go to war, but if I did, I think the TASS would be my go-to blade for the battlefield. As a one-size-fits-all combat knife, it doesn’t get much better than the TASS.

Performance

I freaked out my GF's mom when I pulled out the TASS to help with the gardening work. LOL.

I freaked out my GF’s mom when I pulled out the TASS to help with the gardening work. LOL.

I took the TASS out to the backyard to do some ad-hoc testing. I chopped up some branches, batoned some big logs, cut some mulch bags, threw it around a couple of times, sliced some cardboard, stabbed some tree trunks and pried the tip into those tree trunks, among other things.

The TASS performed well on all tasks but did not excel at any particular one. That’s what you get from a one-size-fits-all blade. It’s good at everything but not great at anything. Due to its compact size and even balance, it’s not a great chopper. Due to its limited spine, it’s not the best at batoning. Due to its wide belly, it’s not the best penetrator. You get the idea.

As far as the edge goes and the knife’s cutting ability, the 01 tool steel held up really, really well. I got through the first round of testing without having to resharpen the blade at all. After some more use and abuse, I touched up the edge a little. Overall, I’d say in terms of slicing ability and edge retention, it’s about as good as any knife I own (including my Busses).

To be clear, my knife testing is anecdotal. It’s backyard testing. I don’t have a laboratory or the equipment to do empirical experimentation. That said, I like to think I have enough experience to tell a good blade steel from a bad one. Generally speaking, 01 tool steel is a solid knife steel, but Jim’s processing and treatment of the steel to a Rockwell hardness of 56 is what really brings the TASS to its full potential.

5 Points Worth Mentioning:

  1. Handle

I have large, almost extra large hands. The handle fits me perfectly. Snug as a bug in a rug. However, if my hands were a bit larger, I think the handle would be too small for me to grip comfortably. So, if you have large hands or smaller, you needn’t worry. But if you have big, fat mitts, well, you should definitely try a TASS before you buy one. Honestly, this is the only legitimate drawback that I saw. I bet the SEALs wanted to make it as compact as possible so they chose to make the handles not any bigger than they needed it to be.   

My large hands fit perfectly. But if you have XL hands, it may be too small.

My large hands fit perfectly. But if you have XL hands, it may be too small.

2. Civilian EDC

For a civilian EDC knife, it’s a bit heavy. Treeman makes the Recon Hunter that is arguably more aptly-suited for fixed-blade civilian everyday carry. But again, this isn’t a civilian EDC knife, it’s a combat knife, designed by warriors who’ve experienced combat. Can you still carry it for EDC? Yes, when I placed it on my belt, I didn’t notice the heft all that much. Would it be my go to for EDC?  No, just because it’s a little more blade than I’d actually need day-to-day. However, if I knew I was going to encounter some tough tasks, absolutely I’d carry it for that day.

I adjusted the kydex sheath so I can wear the knife parallel to my belt, on the left side, so I do a cross-body draw with my right hand. Works perfectly.

I adjusted the sheath so I can wear the knife parallel to my belt, on the left side.

I can do a cross-body draw with my right hand. Works perfectly.

I can do a cross-body draw with my right hand. Works perfectly.

3. Pack Knife

While I may not carry it on my belt every day, I would definitely put it in my pack. It’s a great pack knife. Due to the relatively small size, it doesn’t eat up a lot of room. If you have MOLLE webbing on your pack, you can attach it to the outside. And if you don’t carry a pack that often, the TASS would be a great truck knife. You could put it anywhere, from the glove box to under the seat to the center console the TASS will fit almost anywhere.

With its compact size. The TASS is a great on-the-go knife, whether that's in your truck or in your pack.

With its compact size, the TASS is a great on-the-go knife, whether that’s in your truck or in your pack.

4. Modifications?

I thought about this a bit. What would make this knife a little more perfect? Well, if weight was truly a concern, you can lighten the knife by removing the G-10 handles and wrapping paracord around the tang. I’ve seen folks do this on various knives. I’m not a big fan because I can never seem to get a good purchase on a paracord-wrapped knife, but to each his own. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can attempt to skeletonize the tang by drilling holes through it but I wouldn’t go that far — or I’d leave that up to Jim to do.

Skeletonizing the handle actually isn’t that bad of an idea for Jim to consider. It would actually give the knife a more blade-forward balance and would probably help to improve the chopping ability of the TASS.

As you can see, disassembly is easy.

As you can see, disassembly is easy.

Now, if you wanted to, you can wrap the handle in paracord. But to be honest, the scales don't weigh that much at all.

Now, if you wanted to, you can wrap the handle in paracord.

5. The Swedge

The aggressive swedge on the spine of the knife has both pros and cons.  Pro: it makes penetration that much easier.  Remember, the SEALs wanted a shank. They wanted a knife that could penetrate, so they opted for a swedge. The con: the swedge is not ideal for bushcraft. Specifically, batoning; that swedge will eat up a batoning stick or log pretty quickly. It’s not a huge drawback, and you can work around it by pounding on the spine closer to the handle where the edges are squared, but it’s something to be mindful if you plan on splitting a lot of logs — an ax is the obvious tool of choice for that chore — or a lot of batoning.

The swedge, which greatly improves penetration.

The swedge, which greatly improves penetration.

Another look at the swedge.

Another look at the swedge.

Warranty

Treeman offers a 100 percent guarantee on all their knives. Basically, if you break it, they’ll fix it or replace it. I probably don’t have to tell you but they rarely get returns on their knives. Again, Treeman knives are built like tanks. To bust one, the user has to really be doing something crazy with it.

Battlefield or backyard, doesn't matter. The TASS is suitable for any environment.

The Battlefield or the backyard, doesn’t matter. The TASS is suitable for any environment.

A look at the naked version, i.e. no scales. Love the design.

A look at the naked version, i.e. no scales. Love the design.

Conclusion

I can already hear some of you balk at the price (MSRP: $345). Yes, it’s not cheap, but optimal quality tools are seldom cheap. In most cases, you get what you pay for. No exception here. The TASS is an awesome tactical knife. Is it worth the money? Well, if you buy one, you’ll have it for the rest of your life. To me, that sounds like a pretty sound investment.

And, not to sound like a shill, but if it’s good enough for the SEALs, it’s probably good enough for you!

Check out Treeman Knives. I’m sure you’ll like what you see.

Oh, and in case you still have doubts about the toughness of Treeman Knives, check out this video from Blade 2010. It made me laugh.

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Roch November 9, 2016, 11:08 am

    Great review. I see a lot of comments on price. If you are serious about buying a quality tactical knife, then you are going to have to swallow the cost. It’s almost impossible not to associate price with quality in this field.

  • Roch November 9, 2016, 11:01 am

    Great review. It does seem the portability doesn’t hinder the performance or special features of the knife which really is awesome. Thanks for sharing!

  • Chance July 6, 2016, 3:43 pm

    Well guys, I got pretty tired of listening to you whine about the cost. Yeah, it’s spendy, but when you need something you can depend on – you NEED something you can depend on! I don’t know where most of you live or what you actually do on a day to day basis. I live in N. Idaho – a long ways from town – and live a professional life where I’ve spent more time afield in single a year than 99% of folks do in their entire lives! I understand the need for less expensive gear. People have budgets, kids, truck payments, etc. But, you too need to understand – when you say you can buy 5 Gerbers for the same price – you’d probably need all 5 of them, eventually – while a knife like this would still be by your side and you’d know exactly what you had! To some of us, that means everything!
    So, my advice is this: Always buy the best you can possibly afford – you never know when “something” might happen and you won’t be able to run to Walmart to buy another Gerber. If you can’t afford top quality, don’t begrudge or belittle those of us who can and do! We’re not all a bunch of city-wannabe’s who’ve got a $2000 “72 hour pack” in the back of their closet, behind their suits. I’ll leave you with this one thought: I’ve never once bought the very best (gun, knife, camera, etc.) and looked back and thought “gee, I wish I would have bought the cheaper item”. The good stuff is expensive for a reason and yes, the old adage still applies “you get what you pay for” – especially when it’s made in America! Enjoy the 4th and take a moment to pause for those who have fallen…

  • Irish-7 July 6, 2016, 1:35 am

    Looks great! However, I have to agree with the previous comments that $345 is a lot to spend on one knife. I recently purchased a Schrade SCHF1 fixed blade from CH Kadels. It listed as $70, but I ordered it while they had a 25% off sale. That will fulfill my outdoor purposes. If I had extra cash on hand right now, I’d buy another gun! Excellent review, though.

  • BOWSER July 5, 2016, 11:59 pm

    I like a lot of the articles on this site, but some of the comments kill me. Can all the opinions of those who either can’t or won’t pay to play please be removed? I love these two most common, “more money than sense” and the “i can buy a shitty, mass produced version of this with inferior materials for $.13 at Wal-Mart” comments. Of course, there are exceptions, but most people make their money with their sense, so who are you to tell them what to spend it on? Maybe they appreciate quality, handmade craftsmanship, which as I recall used to be a virtue of the American institution. Maybe they want an heirloom quality tool to pass to a child. Or maybe they depend on their tools in arduous situations and want the best. That being said, I agree with Tom that about a tree-fiddy is a bit steep for O-1. I would go with a bark river bravo variant, which was designed at the request of marine recon, abt two bills at knives ship free, but that is just my .02. I’m sure this Knife is very nice in its own right. Rant over.

  • captain July 4, 2016, 7:49 pm

    You nailed it with, “I can already hear some of you balk at the price (MSRP: $345).” I can buy almost SEVEN Gerber StrongArm 4.75″ knives (even at the new 20% higher price that Amazon gouges us with once we buy something from them https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00U0ILXGC/ ) which has a better acrylic-PVC (same stuff as brand name kydex) sheath (smaller, sleeker, less obtrusive), better design (non slip handle, pommel hammer point, probably won’t hold an edge as long but is much easier to sharpen, won’t rust as fast, and way tougher–I don’t think steel gets much tougher than 420HC! Probably other advantages too…). I doubt I’ll ever break the one I have, but it’s such a good knife I’ve considered buying a few more to have as backups, or to lend to friends who inevitably are unprepared. I guess that gunsamerica.com has veered away from being the goto site for the average Texan’s guns and knives needs. Lately, everything seems geared toward stuff the “1%” want for their “whoopee bag of I’m too rich to pay less than 7x retail stuff that I’m not even allowed to legally own in my retarded state”. :-p
    How about y’all review the Gerber StrongArm next? BTW, it’s MADE IN THE USA! Which is hard to say about most knives we can actually afford and would want to carry. 😉

  • Darren P. July 4, 2016, 4:19 pm

    I really wish you would show items that people whom DON’T make 250,000$ could afford.

    • Paul Strickland July 4, 2016, 6:41 pm

      Agree 100% ….. I can buy 6 or 7 SOG Flash II, Combat Folders for the price of this thing. I bought a S&W M-13, .357 for less than this knife…..phiiitt!! I’ll leave them for those with more money than brains.

    • Miles Huggins July 4, 2016, 10:09 pm

      I would make a knife (something i have no experiance in but feel i could do relatively well should i have to)before i spend 350 on something that could be lost relatively easily in the bush or elsewhere. for that matter there us no reason for a fixed blade knife to cost much more than a couple hundred bux even if its hand made im sorry if that affends some badass blacksmith somewhere but dam a chainsaw can be bought for the price of this knife.

  • Unlikely voice of reason July 4, 2016, 1:54 pm

    Very pretty knife, however it lacks a sufficient pommel for hammering. Apparently the SEALs never have a need the drive nails or eye screws when setting trip or perimeter wire, or driving a stack, or breaking bottles for an improvised foot barrier, or……….

    • BLips April 12, 2017, 11:15 am

      You’re a mall ninja aren’t you?

  • Tom Horn July 4, 2016, 12:36 pm

    Nice looking knife. I like the grind. $345 for 01 tool steel seems a little steep to me. Agree with Dan F.

  • Jay July 4, 2016, 11:52 am

    It looks like the photo illustrating the swedge is a different blade than the other photos.

  • Dan F. July 4, 2016, 10:03 am

    Great knife, no doubt, but it’s still just a status symbol. The guys who buy this drive Audis to the golf course. What do the monks who make these make an hour? Thanks, I’ll stick with my Kabar.

  • Mike Smith July 4, 2016, 10:00 am

    I think if the handle were textured it would be better, you know slippery blood. I sure like the sheath.

  • Tim Hecht July 4, 2016, 5:05 am

    My good friend Jim “The Treeman” Behring’s TASS is a winner. I got one from Jim at the Glass City Knife Show (Toledo, Ohio) about 3 years ago. I got mine with a leather sheath, with spring belt clip; I’m 6’2″ and north of 275# but it fits quite nicely in the small of my back allowing for a support hand draw. Despite the thickness of the scales, the knife is just first for me where it sits. I often carry a mini-Phalanx neck knife as well.
    From tactical and practical to a classic Scagel stay fixed balde knife, Treeman makes some great knives. You have to be quick though Jim doesn’t have too much trouble emptying his tables of knives at the shows he attends.
    A really great surprise though is Jim’s son, James, also a knife maker, in his own right; check out behringmade.com; James is in Missoula, Montana

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