On day two of Gerber Week, we are looking at another of the titular company’s US made knives, the Ghostrike. This blade is part of Gerber’s push to increase their domestic production and change the perception that the quality of their products has been declining. To see how they are doing, I’ll put this knife through our standard variety of tests. Rest assured, I will leave all preconceived notions at the door, and review this blade on its merits alone.
Blade: 420HC Clip Point, Hollow Grind, Black Ceramic Coating
Rockwell Hardness: unknown
Handle: rubber overmold
Tang construction: Full Tang, skeletonized
Sheath: Plastic with retention clips
Country of Origin: USA
MSRP/Street Price: $67/$40
Dimensions (measured on this test sample)
Overall Length: 6.8″
Handle Length: 3.6”
Handle Thickness: 0.21”
Blade Length (tip to handle rubber): 3.2”
Sharpened Length: 2.7”
Blade Thickness: 0.117”
Weight: Knife, 1.75 oz / 1.65 Sheath, oz
I need to get one thing out of the way right up front. The Ghostrike is marketed as a tactical knife. Says so right on the package. Unfortunately, I have no frame of reference for reviewing anything from a tactical standpoint. Since you can only write about what you know, this review will focus on the viability of the GS as an everyday carry/utility option.
What we get with the Ghostrike is a small, skeletonized knife, with a rubber coating on the handles. The steel is Gerber’s 420HC with a black ceramic coating and it sports a hollow grind. While certainly not my favorite steel, at least it isn’t some mystery metal! It also comes with a modular plastic sheath that works well for belt, neck, or pocket carry.
First impressions of the knife are a mixed bag. While the Ghostrike has many commendable qualities, it also has a fair share of demerits. Let me walk you through them.
- I think the sheath is fantastic. It is low-profile, light weight, and can be set up for vertical, inverted, or horizontal carry on either side of the body. The belt loops are also removable for pocket or neck carry. The knife is captured in place with two spring loaded clips on either side of the ricasso. Retention is good although I would sometimes get the angle wrong on insertion, and would have to pull back out and adjust.
- The black ceramic coating is evenly applied and held up well during my testing. The finish is much smoother than the thick powder-coat variety found on my ESEE Izula-II.
- The grind lines are very even, and the corners are all finished very well. The overmolded rubber handle is barely there – not enough to give you much grip but just enough to round off the sharp edges of the tang.
Regardless of performance, the Ghostrike is put together very well.
- The factory edge was abysmal. When I received it from Clay I tried to cut some magazine paper and only succeeded in ripping the page. Things were so bad I could run my thumb along the edge without having to worry about cutting myself. Needless to say it needed significant attention.
- The ergonomics on the Ghostrike’s handle just don’t work for me. The upward angle at the back means your pinky finger has nothing to grab onto, which throws me off because the information from my palm is telling me there should be something there.
- The balance is also all wrong. The tipping point sits directly in front of the index finger, making the Ghostrike feel blade heavy. Part of this can be attributed to the finger groove, which encourages the knife to dip forward
- The unnecessarily large ricasso is also partly to blame. If some of this area were given over to extra handle length, the balance would be improved greatly.
- The hooked bits in this area (that interface with the clips in the sheath) also affect hand comfort. Choking up onto this area is a no-go because the hooks are sharp when gripped. Same thing goes with a saber grip.
With all of that said, I’d say my impressions on the Ghostrike are less than favorable. Now to put it to the test.
EASE OF SHARPENING
As mentioned, the factory edge was atrocious but at least the bevel was even. It took some time, but eventually I was able to get a hair shaving edge using a Spyderco Sharpmaker.
Based on past experiences, I’ve found 420HC more difficult to sharpen than other entry level steels (such as AUS8 or 8Cr13MoV) compared to the amount of edge retention you get in return. Initial and subsequent sharpening sessions on the Ghostrike have done nothing to change my opinion.
For minor EDC use, the Ghostrike is competent, but for anything heavier I would look elsewhere. I never did manage to effectively sever ¾” manilla rope due to handle discomfort and the short sharpened edge.
The Ghostrike did about as I expected on corrugated cardboard. The knife went through 215 feet, against the grain, before it was too difficult to continue. The strips of cardboard were quite ragged by this point, and the blade edge could no longer cut paper.
The black coating held up extremely well, with nothing worn away by the cardboard (unlike the aforementioned ESEE) and only minor scuffing evident.
As to the comfort level of the knife, I was glad for the rubber grips, but I still would not choose the Ghostrike for heavy use. By way of comparison, a paracord wrap is more ergonomic than these handles.
The design of the Ghostrike is not conducive to whittling. The large ricasso puts the sharpened edge far away from your fingers. Without a robust handle this makes the application of force clumsy. This could be helped by placing your thumb on the spine to better direct the blade, but the irregular shape and sharp hooks get in the way again.
The thin handles are also no boon to your hands. I tried to make a few feathersticks and tent pegs but quickly moved on. An extended carving session with this knife would quickly reduce me to tears. Gloves don’t help very much, as they make the knife even more unwieldy.
If you are looking for a flexible everyday carry blade, look elsewhere. Even though the construction of the Ghostrike is quite good, the knife leaves me wanting; with the funky ergonomics and balance issues, I can’t recommend it.
To be fair though, Gerber does not market this knife as a utility/edc option, but from a tactical perspective. Again, this is not my area of expertise, but the Ghostrike makes sense to me as a last ditch defensive weapon. It certainly looks stabby enough, and the finger guard should do a good job of keeping your hand locked in place. The thinness of the blade and sheath will also aid in concealment but I still wish there was more handle to hold. By altering the shape or length of the grips, the Ghostrike could be much more useful on a day to day basis, as well as when your life depends on it.
If the Ghostrike has shown me anything, it is that Gerber’s U.S. manufacturing operation (apart from their sharpening) can still do a good job. The grind lines are precise, the coating is durable and rendered well, and they’ve executed the product to a high standard. Just please, apply those talents to a more useful product!
*Gerber provided the knife for this review with no stipulations on its use or return.
Click here to see all of our Gerber Week reviews.