Knife Review: Gerber Reflex Mini

Image: Chris Dumm

This Gerber design caught my eye last year from a Wholesale Sports clearance rack. I figured I couldn’t go wrong picking up another Gerber for less than $15 , even if it was pink, so I parted with some pocket money and pocketed the Mini Reflex.

I’ve had a Gerber knife in my pocket (or on my belt buckle or in my desk drawer) for the better part of 30 years. My first was the innovative Touche belt-buckle knife, which has now become a collector’s item. My last Gerber purchase was an early-model EZ-Out that has served me faithfully for 18 years and cut lots of rope and cardboard boxes, and is still as sharp and shiny as the day I bought it.

The Reflex Mini’s design looked interesting, with a pivoting sheepsfoot blade and a finger-hole just the right size for my index finger. It measures only 5/16″ thick by 3 5/8″ long by 1 1/4″ wide, and has a thumb stud, liner lock and point-down pocket clip.

Image: Chris Dumm

With dimensions like these, I thought I might try it as an extra-slender EDC knife. I quickly saw that that would never work. This picture shows how the minimalist design gives your four fingers nothing to grip as your thumb tries to twist the blade open.

The blade pivot is also exceptionally gritty, even after oiling it and working it open and closed many times. This is no ‘speed-opening’ knife, and in fact it’s just barely capable of (slow) one-handed operation at all.

Image: Chris Dumm

 

The thumb stud is only reachable with your right thumb, so left-side carry is impossible. Right-side carry doesn’t work too well either: the pocket clip is bolted to the side of the knife’s frame in such a manner that your pocket catches up inside the clip. You cannot force it all the way down over the lip of your pocket, and the result is uncomfortable, indiscreet, and insecure. The knife is just waiting for its chance to fall out of your pocket.

The 2″ sheepsfoot blade itself is some mystery metal, described in the Gerber catalog only as ‘stainless steel.’ (That’s never a good sign.) It took a decent edge from my Lansky stones with very little effort, but after a half-dozen long slices through a cardboard box it simply stopped cutting and started plowing through the cardboard.

The cutting edge had rolled so badly that you could see the ding with the naked eye. It took considerable re-grinding to put an edge back on it; an edge I will never trust to perform hard jobs again.

Image: Chris Dumm

Which is kind of a pity, because with a better blade it would have made a good folding utility knife, even if it was slow and awkward to open. With your finger through the hole, there’s no way to drop this knife and no way for your hand to slip up the grip and slice yourself. The finger-hole gives it a really comfortable and secure grip for my average-sized hands.

But comfortable or not, it’s a grip I won’t be using very much. I’ll probably stuff this into a survival bag as a very lightweight (2.2 oz) backup knife. The soft steel won’t shave much kindling before losing its edge, but it will re-sharpen easily on a small stone.

I had modestly high hopes for this inexpensive little knife, but unfortunately the Reflex Mini seems to share nothing with my older Gerber knives except its brand name. I can’t recommend it, even at the very low price of $15.

Ratings (Out Of Five Stars)

Styling * * *
Its minimalist design is lightweight and modern, but less isn’t always more.

Blade * 1/2
The soft mystery metal didn’t just ‘lose its edge’ to cardboard: it was seriously dented.

Ergonomics * * *
Awkward (and rough) to open and close, but surprisingly comfortable and very secure to grip once opened.

Ruggedness/Durability * *
The edge doesn’t hold up, and the thin ring of mystery metal holding the blade to the frame is a likely failure point.

Overall Rating * *
It’s hard to recommend this to anyone, when just a few bucks more can get you a vastly better knife. On the bright side, at least the liner lock worked.

comments

  1. Steve in MA says:

    Chris, I’ve been wondering. What kind of oil do I use for my knives actions?

    1. VaqueroJustice says:

      I’m not Chris, but I’ll chime in. If you use an oil that is too heavy, it will
      attract debris. To light, and it will evaporate and not protect or lubricate.
      I find it harder sometimes to find a good folding knife lube than to find a
      good firearm lube, as what works on one knife may not work as well on another.
      Three in one, while too heavy, does a decent job of keeping a blade rust free, and is easy to find. It’s better used on fixed blade knives than folders. WD-40 is good for cleaning a blade, or blasting crud from the action, but offers no protection, in and of itself, from corrosion. It does a stellar job of removing moisture from a blade prior to lubricating, however, as that is what it was designed for.

      I sometimes use WD-40 first, to clean, then 3 in 1 to lubricate, if I cannot find better products. It works, but is far from perfect. You have to use what you can find, though.

      Firearms lubricants work well. Break free or other premium lubes will do the job quite well. I’d suggest cleaning the action first, with WD-40 or another metal cleaner, then lube. Using a toothpick to clean debris from engagement surfaces can really help function.

      The oil that came with my Lansky system is great. I do believe it’s available separately.

      1. Steve in MA says:

        Thanks. I was cleaning the action today with a freakin’ q-tip. Suffice to say it didn’t work well

    2. Chris Dumm says:

      I usually use a light gun oil, and if that doesn’t work I improvise and try other lubricants. Many good knives don’t really need lubrication except every few years. This knife’s creaky action is impervious to any lubricant, however.

      1. For what it is worth, I am a big fan of Froglube for my knives (and firearms). Hit the hinge with a hairdryer for a few minutes and then squeeze a small drop of Froglube and work the blade back and forth. It also works well to prevent corrosion (and makes your knife smell piney fresh – it is non-toxic and food grade solution).

  2. Azimuth says:

    I bought the other ring-hinge Gerber the Remix. It impresses muggles.
    Same story, but with a better blade shape, and better grip. S-l-o-w-w-w opening. Interesting concept, but not an worthwhile EDC.

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Knife Review: Gerber Reflex Mini

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