Gerber Legendary Blades, more commonly known as Gerber Knives to most, may not be at the forefront of your mind when it comes to cutting edge cutlery. Lots of more niche brands steal the thunder with high end products and adventurous designs, and sometimes Gerber finds itself as the punchline of jokes for some knife nuts. Of course, some of that is deserved – their association with Bear Grylls and the general drop in product quality following the buyout by Fiskars in the 80’s hasn’t helped.
Best Gerber Knives: Summary
But it’s also fair to say that Gerber walked so that some of these newer flashier knife brands could run. Gerber was home to Pete Kershaw as well as Al Mar before they both started their own successful knife brands, and they’ve cranked out designs with household name collaborators like Bob Loveless, Chris Reeve, Rick Hinderer, and Ernest Emerson. Gerber has been on the upswing as of late, coming out with creative and appealing products that offer more than just a low MSRP to entice buyers. Here are the best Gerber knives currently on sale, according to us.
We reviewed the Fastball last year, and were pleasantly surprised by the good bones even if some of the details could be better. It’s a pretty compelling option for a day-to-day EDC knife, with aluminum handles and a premium CPM S30V blade that’s a modified drop point/wharncliffe combo for a balance of cutting performance and toughness. Gerber’s amusingly named B.O.S.S. bearings (Balls Of Stainless Steel, seriously) give this knife a surprisingly good deployment considering this was Gerber’s first attempt at a bearing flipper. It has a well-balanced detent and a reliable steel liner lock and has a fairly high “fidget” factor, if you’re into that.
The clip on the Fastball is a three way- right hand tip up or down, or left hand tip up. It’s a fairly light knife at 2.8 ounces, so it won’t weigh your pockets down. The Fastball always seemed like a reimagined Kershaw Leek to me, but with no assisted open and better steel. For Gerber’s first salvo into more expensive “enthusiast grade” EDC gear, I was blown away – as were a lot of people I showed it to.
Boy, the Flatiron just came out of nowhere didn’t it? Five years ago, no one made folding cleavers. Now a lot of people make folding cleavers, and Gerber lead the charge on this strange concept. I can see why they sell a lot of these: they’re inexpensive and they’re super cool looking.
You have your choice of materials – a less expensive version with 7Cr17MoV steel and aluminum or tan G-10 handles, or a newer variant with Micarta scales and tougher D2 tool steel, as well as a polished clip and frame lock overtravel plate. Speaking of clips, the Flatiron has a very wide, very short pocket clip – like a billfold almost – which anchors the knife very low in the pocket. Opening is via an oval shaped thumb hole, and there’s a very pronounced forward finger choil to choke up on when you’re cutting. The cleaver blade has a lot of belly to it so it’s great for roll cuts and food prep, which makes sense. It’s not a light knife, owing to its size and full stainless framelock, at 5.35 ounces. But, these are very cool knives for very little cash! You can even pimp out your Flatiron with aftermarket scales from Flytanium that cost more than the knife itself does – just like in the old days with the Spyderco Tenacious. How cool!
Building on the success of the Flatiron is the recent Asada, which is also a folding cleaver blade pocket knife. Like the Flatiron, its main calling card is the dramatic cleaver blade shape, here with a full flat grind all the way to the spine. You have your choice of 7Cr17MoV and aluminum handles – in either drab red or onyx black – or canvas micarta with an upgraded D2 tool steel blade. All the blades on the Micarta are stonewashed, so they don’t show wear and they look cool.
The big difference is deployment and size. The Asada uses a caged ball bearing pivot – like the Fastball – and a flipper tab for fast, snappy deployment. It also uses a stainless framelock to secure the blade, like the Flatiron, with what Gerber calls an “anti-pinch plate” which serves as a lockbar overtravel stop to prevent metal fatigue on the lock, as well as preventing your finger from pressing on the lock bar and increasing detent tension accidentally. The blade itself is shorter, 3” to the tip, with a 2.5” cutting edge owing to the large forward finger choil. The Asada has more of a straight profile to the sharpened edge than the Flatiron, and it’s a good bit lighter – 4.8 ounces versus 5.6 when comparing aluminum versions.
The 06 Auto is a modern day classic, one of the definitive heavy-duty automatic knives favored by military users. Heavy-duty isn’t an understatement: this knife weighs in at a considerable 7.15 ounces, so make sure your belt is tight! A quick look around the knife and you’ll see why it’s so heavy: everything is super beefy. The handles are 0.59” thick(!) and quite tall, with upper and lower finger guards at the leading edge to ensure a solid grip in use. The blade is a classic drop point shape with a false swedge, cut from 0.13” thick CPM-S30V stainless powdered steel for long wear and a tough edge.
Deployment is aggressive, via a coiled spring and a plunge lock/release button. To prevent accidental deployment, there’s a secondary safety on the handle which keeps the blade locked closed- but also serves as a secondary lock to keep the blade open after it’s deployed. These knives fire hard and fast, and people at church aren’t going to be amused, but this is designed to take a beating in the desert, not skin an apple at a picnic.
With the new Reserve line, Gerber is aiming for a higher-end market than its usual products, with higher prices and better materials on designs only sold through its online site (www.gerbergear.com). All Reserve products are small batch production runs made in Gerber’s domestic plant in Portland, Oregon.
The Sedulo is the one of the first two products in the Reserve line, and on paper it’s aimed straight at the Benchmade Griptilian in price, materials, and function. It’s similar size-wise to the full size Griptilian (Gerber doesn’t list a blade length on their website) and has a drop point style blade with a full flat grind made from CPM S30V steel. The lock is a pivot lock, which functions similarly to an AXIS lock (now that the functional patent has expired.) Also like the Griptilian, the Sedulo features contoured and textured glass-filled nylon handles and an ambidextrous tip up carry pocket clip, and weighs in at a reasonable 3.6 ounces. The Sedulo seems like a very promising EDC option at this price point (other than the restricted availability) and we frankly can’t wait to get our hands on one for a review.
The Terracraft is the other knife launched with Gerber’s upscale Reserve line, along with the Sedulo. It’s an upgraded version of the Principle, but swaps out the Scandi-ground 420HC blade for a high flat ground S30V drop point. The blade is extra wide, 0.166” across, so the flat grind brings the thickness behind the edge down so it will still cut well while enjoying the extra strength the thicker cross section brings along. It’s full tang construction as well so you can beat on it without worrying about breaking it.
This is a gorgeous fixed blade, with a striking stonewash finish and highly contoured G10 handle scales, secured by hollow rivets that serve as through-holes for lashing. The spine has a sharp 90 degree angle edge to serve as a fire starter, and the butt is designed as a hammer pommel. The Terracraft comes in a hand-sewn leather sheath, and will sure to have fellow campers asking “wait, that’s a Gerber?”
About a year after the original Fastball debuted to a surprising amount of fanfare, Gerber brought this to market: a combination of the Fastball’s high end EDC bona fides with the popular cleaver blade shape of the Flatiron. So the cleaver swaps out the original model’s drop point/wharncliffe (dropcliffe?) pattern blade for a full flat ground cleaver style blade with a blunt tip. But, it also upgrades the steel from CPM S30V (which was state of the art 20 year ago) to CPM 20CV (which is state of the art today.) You’re getting into steels that require specialty equipment to sharpen properly, but 20CV will hold an edge virtually forever anyway.
The Fastball Cleaver doesn’t have a forward finger choil like the Flatiron and Asada, so it’s less oriented for fine control, but it also leaves more sharpened edge available – the Asada only has 2.5/3” available, the Flatiron has 3/3.5”, but the cleaver Fastball has almost all of its 3” blade still sharpened. So if you’re looking for the pocket food prep knife with a modern super steel and snappy deployment of your dreams, maybe your ship has finally come in!
Now we’re getting into some of Gerber’s newer budget offerings, which are a lot more compelling than the stuff you might remember – like the Paraframe. The Highbrow is a new folder that combines a pivot lock – like the Sedulo – with a spring assisted action for fast deployment. Much like the SOG AT-XR lock, the Highbrow combines the Benchmade-style pivot lock with assisted deployment as well as a secondary safety to keep it from deploying accidentally. The Highbrow is opened via a low profile flipper tab only.
The blade on the Highbrow is a sabre-ground drop point from 7Cr17MoV stainless steel, with a stonewashed finish. On the full-sized Highbrow it measures 3.25” long and 0.12” thick at the spine, making it a reasonable mid-sized knife. A bent steel pocket clip is configured for ambidextrous tip up carry. If you look closely, you can see the Highbrow’s other party trick: the aluminum handles have two different textures creating a false “bolster” area around the pivot. If the 3.25” blade is too long for you, there’s a compact version with a 2.8” blade and the same features for an even cheaper $32.
This seems to be the one Gerber automatic that no one’s heard of – most people are familiar with the chunky 06 and the thin Covert, but if you’re looking to EDC a push-button auto, the Empower is probably the best of the bunch. It’s based on the Propel, but shortens the blade from 3.5” to 3.25” and drops some of the military features to make a more usable day to day knife. It still has pushbutton automatic deployment powered by a coil spring, as well as a secondary safety switch on the side that function in the closed and open positions.
The blade is a spear point with DLC coating made from CPM S30V powdered stainless steel or a stonewash finish (depending on model.) Handles are anodized aluminum in either blue, grey, or black with an inlayed scale towards the rear of the blade. The pocket clip is configured for reversible right hand carry. The Empower seems like a great deal for people who like to EDC automatics, especially considering the price and materials and that it’s built in the USA.
And we get to the end of our list, with the absolute sleeper of the Gerber catalog. A full sized knife (with nearly a 3.9” blade!) with a manual action pivot lock, contoured multi-color G10 handle scales, all for under $40? This might be the budget knife of the year.
The Sumo is a no-nonsense big knife that stretches 10” long when open (!). It has full stainless liners to support the pivot lock, and weighs in at a hefty 5.4 ounces. The multi-colored G10 scales are a surprising nicety at this price point, with black and grey over a base layer of red that peeks out near the liners. You can’t get a Benchmade with an Axis lock anywhere near this price, but for the price of an expensive lunch for 2 you can probably forgive this knife for having 7Cr steel. Just wait until Gerber puts this bad boy out in D2 or S30V!
Well, that’s our top ten list of best Gerber knives. Did we miss your favorite? Send us an email and let us know!