Fixed Blades

Knife Review: Gerber Ghostrike

gerber-ghoststrike-hero1

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.


Detailed Specs
Manufacturer: Gerber
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.

gerber-ghoststrike-hero2

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.

gerber-ghoststrike-sheath1

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.

THE GOOD

  • 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.

gerber-ghoststrike-sheath2

  • 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.

gerber-ghoststrike-blade-spine

Regardless of performance, the Ghostrike is put together very well.

THE BAD

  • 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.

gerber-ghoststrike-in-hand

  • 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.

gerber-ghoststrike-ricasso

  • 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.

TESTING

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.

gerber-ghoststrike-rope

Cardboard

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.

gerber-ghoststrike-handle

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.

Woodcarving

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. 

gerber-ghoststrike-saber-grip

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. 

CONCLUSION

gerber-ghoststrike-hero3

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.

Discussion

10 responses to ‘Knife Review: Gerber Ghostrike

  1. I think the worst part is the price. Similar skeletonized tactical knives made of a comparable steel can be had for $10 or less. The design is attractive enough, but for $40 I expect better materials. In that price range I can get 1095 Cro-Van steel on a similar product. It’s probably worth $20(rubber coated handle) or $25 if the 420HC is on par with the likes of Buck.

  2. I agree with Jacob’s comments above. We’re dealing with antique steel (even 440C would have been a legitimate step in the right direction), substandard ergonomics and a price point that isn’t justified. I have to many US made knives that are done properly for their purpose with competent materials and in this dollar range. It’s not something I’m proud of (and I do keep looking/hoping) but legendary Gerber hasn’t manufactured anything worthy of the name in quite some time.

  3. I’ll stick with the Gerber StrongArm I picked up two months ago an Amazon for $35.00 total.
    Same steel.
    Thanks for the review!

  4. It isn’t the type of steel that matters so much as the heat treat. Buck used 420HC and it is fantastic. Why? Because their heat treat is on point. People whine about Gerber not making knives in the U.S. and having “cheap crap” made in China. Well, guess what folks, you are going to pay more for any knife, made out of any steel that is produced here. You will see this knife for lower than $40. I found it for $30 in just the first few google hits. Imagine, if I just would have looked more.

  5. David
    I know it is a bit of a late posting this but have only just saw the review.

    I agree that the Ghostrike is a poor performer in the everyday genreal purpose duties a knife might have to perform as you have articulated in your review.

    I however use this knife for it’s intended use of a tactical knife. You have all proberly herd of the saying never turn up to a gun fight with a knife, well we turn up to gun fights with knifes but we also carry the gun! This knife is used in close quarter engagements along with our secondary weapon system for weapon retention. When the engagement range is 1 meter down to zero (sorry I am an Australian, that’s about 3 foot), one must have alternative means of taking down the target as the target will be fixated on the fire arm for his own survival. Here you could strike him or use a knife and do more damage. That’s where the Ghostrike comes in. It’s small and does not atract attention like a bulky item would as this is displayed openly horizontal on my belt. Also it does no interfer with body armour. It is very lite and easily deployable with a smooth action and can quickly be returned post engagement without the need to look down. The fact the blade can be flipped up either way in it’s holder makes this ideal for left or right handed operators since this is used in my non-master hand. I find punch daggers or knifes don’t really work in this application due to the deployment action is not smooth being the fact you somehow got to get knife in between your fingers usally resulting in cutting yourself or dropping the knife in a high stress environment. But they look nice and that’s about it.

    The only problem I see is, there is no training knife resembing the Ghostrike so we have to use different looking and feeling training aids in different holders which detracks from the actual piece of kit used.

    So as you can see the Ghostrike is well suited for it’s intended purpose and I would never use this as an every day knife unless it really got bad! For that I have multitools and knifes which are more suited to any random tasks like the Strongarm which I also rate quite highly.

  6. My biggest beef about this knife is the sheath. Although the sheath fits nicely on my belt and has strong retention, (I carry this knife horizontally) the tabs that snap into the notches on the knife for retention are made of metal, and rub on the edge of the blade when returning the knife to the sheath, which dulls the edge rather quickly.

  7. I was surprised Bryan was the only person to mention the sheath dulling the edge, which is probably the reason that the reviewer’s factory edge was so poor. It seems like they didnt do any product testing whatsoever prior to releasing the knife, as it is a very obvious flaw.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *