On the fourth day of Gerber Week this writer brings to you, a pretty good utility/camp knife. Did anybody sing that with me? No? I guess it’s still too early for Christmas songs, but not too early to think about getting this for someone as a stocking stuffer.
That’s right, I’m endorsing a Gerber product. While this review is not exactly glowing with excitement, I was personally expecting a low-quality, overpriced blade that was simply tagged with the Gerber logo. What I got was a fairly sturdy utility knife that will perform a wide variety of tasks around the campsite.
You might notice I have been using the word utility quite a bit. With the size, design, and sheath, it is a jack-of-all-trades kind of knife. It’s one that you carry on your belt in case you need it on the trail, but when you set up camp and begin processing wood you grab your ax or a larger blade for batoning. I wouldn’t use it for daily carry because of the sheath, which I’ll go into detail soon. It wouldn’t be great for kitchen tasks because of the grind, although I’d use it for the camp kitchen. This knife is in that weird middle-ground where it can do these tasks, but there are better options out there.
This knife is the premium version of their Gator. The blade is 4 inches long in a drop point configuration. It uses S30V steel, as opposed to 420HC and has a full tang handle. It has a textured rubber grip that is functional and visually appealing. The blade and exposed areas of the tang are polished, which for the role this knife plays is not a hindrance. If it was meant to be a tactical blade then it would not be acceptable. Overall the knife feels great in hand and balances well.
The worst part about the knife is the sheath. It is leather with a plastic insert, which doesn’t seem bad in theory, but in practice it falls short. I prefer my knife sheaths (and gun holsters) to clip on and off. This one just has a leather belt loop that needs to be put on when you put your belt on. The little leather snap gets in the way of reholstering the blade. I’m not a fan of them in the first place. The sheath flops around on my leg when walking due to how high the belt loop goes up the handle. Overall kydex sheaths are just a better option.
One of the first things I do when I get a fixed blade is try it out in the kitchen. My favorite kitchen test is to dice an onion. This test shows how good at slicing the knife is, as well as seeing if it can handle finer tasks. The Gator accomplished this task, but it definitely is not Michelin star worthy due to it not being a full flat grind. Like I said before, I think this would be great in a camp kitchen. (Didn’t have any kitchen test pictures because I got a new phone and misplaced my old one).
Before I get into the outdoors testing, I should say that I’m not the greatest outdoorsman. I know bits and pieces here and there but most of my knife use is cutting boxes with my EDC. Also with my increase in hours at work I was only able to take the Gator out once. With that being said, I think I still am still able to accurately assess the blade in this role.
I started off by hacking at a quarter-sized branch from a dead tree. The weight of this knife isn’t too conducive to for chopping, but the branch was small enough that it went through with no trouble. I then chopped off the mini branches coming off the sides to smooth it out. I even tried my hand at a fuzzy stick and did OK. (I didn’t start a fire with it though). Then I decided to make a spear out of the branch, and again the Gator did well. Overall with these small tasks well with no noticeable wear on the blade, except for a touch of tree sap. I even stabbed a stump a few times to try and bend the tip, but it is quite resilient.
While it is good with the small chores, it’s downfall is when it is needed to do something bigger. I believe that an outdoor knife should be able to baton, and the company should back up its product (I’m looking at you, Cold Steel). The grind profile on the Gator is not the best for batoning. Full flat grinds work the best because they serve as a wedge and help split the wood as you go. Even if it was FFG it would not be good for anything more than kindling-sized sticks because of the length of the blade. In a survival situation I’m sure one would be able to make it work, but it is definitely not well suited for the bigger branches.
In an EDC role it performs OK. For me a 4″ blade is at the upper end of comfortable. In the cardboard tests I did at work it broke down boxes well, even without touching up the edge between the outdoors test and the cardboard test. I sliced the boxes down the folds because I didn’t want to be a complete jerk to the next person that took the trash out and have a bunch of tiny pieces of cardboard flying around. Because of the sheath I would not carry it around town, and definitely not work. When cutting the cardboard, sometimes the blade would slip down to the belly, which did not seem to be as sharp as the rest of the knife. Maybe they had a new guy that didn’t sharpen curves well at the factory. Also sometimes the blade would slip from the folded part. When this happened the blade would not cut well and actually tear the cardboard. Besides the edge issues, the knife felt great in hand and is definitely comfortable.
I do have some tests that I wanted to do that I just did not have time to do. One of which is batoning large limbs. I explained above why I don’t think it would do good, but all I was able to baton was some kindling-size sticks, maybe a half-inch thick. Another test I would like to do is skin an animal. I’m not a hunter so I don’t know much about skinning, but I think that the large belly on this knife would do pretty well. Finally I did not get to sharpen the knife, which I like to do before concluding the review. I have sharpened S30V before and it is not as bad as some people make it out to be. It takes a bit longer than 8Cr13MoV and AUS-8, but it is not as bad as other steels I have come across. The grinds are also even, so it shouldn’t be tough to get the sharpening angles correct. I will most likely do an update post in the future addressing these tests.
- Blade steel: CPM-S30V steel
- Handle material: glass-filled nylon w/ rubber overmold
- Blade length: 4.0˝ (10.2 cm)
- Overall length: 9.0˝ (22.9 cm)
- Knife weight: 8.0 oz (249 g)
- Overall weight: 10.4 oz (295 g)
- MSRP $146
- Country of Manufacture: USA
As I have said before, this knife is able to perform tasks, but it does not really excel at much. This is not a bad knife, I just am having trouble finding uses for it. I have other knives that accomplish certain tasks better than this knife. Like I said in the introduction, this knife is a good knife for when you’re hiking into an area (if you don’t mind it bouncing on your leg).
The overall construction of the knife feels very solid. There is a wiggle in the bolster that is hard to notice unless you try to find it. I did not notice it wiggle at all during testing. The edge as it came from the factory was good, and as I said the only hang up was on the belly. This is the first good knife I’ve seen come from Gerber in a long time, and I was pleasantly surprised.
I don’t think this knife would fall apart, but the wiggle in the bolster is still present and brings it down a notch
One star because it’s a sheath. One star for not falling apart.
Jack of all trades, master of none.
I still have trouble finding a role for this knife. If you find one, I’m sure it will serve you well.
*Gerber provided the knife for this review with no stipulations on its use or return.
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