Three Rivers Manufacturing Picks Up Speed with the Thunderbird

The next knife to roll out of the shop at Three Rivers Manufacturing (TRM) will be a retro-styled framelock flipper called the Thunderbird. Reminiscent of classic American car design, the company hopes the Thunderbird will help it race to the front of the high-end production knife pack in 2017 and beyond.

Designed by company founder Les Halpern, the Thunderbird’s distinctive geometry injects some new life into familiar tactical knife attributes like a wharncliffe blade, titanium framelock, and sculpted pocket clip. The narrowing frame is embellished with deep milled out grooves to create a look that harkens back to the tail fins found on classic 1950s American-made automobiles. Its angular blade features a massive swedge and a needle tip, making for a 3.4” blade that is truly capable of detail work.

TRM Thunderbird

This ambitious project didn’t come out of nowhere. Three River Manufacturing is a subsidiary and the in-house brand of Halpern Titanium, a manufacturer with an influential track record.

Based in Three Rivers, Massachusetts, Halpern has been providing OEM services for big name knife makers since 1997. The company is known to have mastered many materials and even helped pioneer G-10 for knife handles. Marianne Halpern, co-owner of the company, tells us that most of us are familiar with Halpern even if we don’t realize it. “90% of KnifeNews readers have our G-10 on something,” she says. Incorporating Three Rivers Manufacturing was a way to grow Halpern’s reputation among end users.

Since its start in 2014, TRM has collaborated with Bob Terzuola on the TR-BT1000, and with RJ Martin on the Machine. “TRM is our chance to add another dimension to our future in the knife industry,” Marianne Halpern explains. “We are planning to add new designs at the end of 2017 into 2018. We’re considering working with other custom makers for future collaborations.”

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The Thunderbird will be available directly from TRM later this year. The first limited batch of Thunderbirds will be debuting in dressy Chad Nichols Damascus to emphasize its premium looks. A standard run in Elmax will soon follow. The Damascus model will retail for $450 with the Elmax coming in at $350.

Knife featured in image: Three Rivers Manufacturing Thunderbird