I first want to apologize for the absenteeism. We had a reorganization at my daily job which left me holding the bag on several projects and which severely cut into my personal time. This weekend I spent some time reviewing my notes for Blog Posts and realized that I hadn’t submitted the Gerber Ultimate Survival Knife Review after my camping trip. But, that is not what you want to hear. You want to hear what the Bear Grylls knife is all about in a real situation.
So we begin… I wanted to include the information from the actual marketing fluff so you can see what the knife is supposed to do and what it actually is.
From the GerberGear.com website
· MSRP: $62
· Open length: 10.0"
· Blade Length: 4.8"
· Weight: (with sheath): 14.7oz.
· Weight (no sheath): 11.2oz.
· Knife Features:
o ½ Serrated High Carbon Stainless Steel Drop Point Blade - Ideal for edge retention and cutting rope
o Ergonomic Textured Rubber Grip - Maximizes comfort and reduces slippage
o Stainless Steel Pommel - At base of handle for hammering
o Emergency Whistle - Integrated into lanyard cord
· Sheath Features:
o Fire Starter - Ferrocerium rod locks into sheath, striker notch incorporated into back of knife blade
o Nylon Sheath - Lightweight, military-grade, mildew resistant
o Land to air rescue instructions
o Diamond Sharpener - Integrated into sheath for on-the-go sharpening
o Priorities of Survival - Pocket guide contains Bear’s survival essentials
Now for the FACTS:
Let me start by saying, I like this knife. I like the comfort of the handle and the shortness of the blade. As you will see later, this is a downfall. The angled, what I would call a pistoled grip, works well and won’t slip out of your hands when wet.
Out of the blister pack was sharpened to my liking. I keep most of my blades very sharp and two not as sharp as the others because I use them for things that don’t require them to shave a fly’s backside. I have re-sharpened it after trying to dull it just to use some of the other claimed functions such as how easy it sharpens as well as the actual Diamond Sharpener. Again, it lived up to its promise. Gerber, in my opinion, has always used good steel and been great blade makers. I like the drop point to it as well because it was ergonomically easier to use and easier to sharpen.
The serrated edge.
Along with quite a few other people, I am not a fan of a serrated edge on my survival blade. The purpose is to minimize the number of tools you carry so it will, supposedly, replace a saw.
I was able to cut a 2” tree limb with a good bit of ease. I was able to use the shavings as part of my tinder bundle. I do not think I would cut anything bigger than 2 ½” as it seemed to be a longer process. If this was the only tool you carried, 3” would be fine but not larger otherwise you would spend all day doing it due to the hilt and the overall blade size. I think it should have been on the back of the knife personally.
I did not use this at length but did test it. My children decided to wonder around for a while and since they are older they are allowed to go “romping” with a walkie-talkie. At 100 and 250 yards, they heard the whistle very clearly during the day. I can see where it could be heard at further distances and at one point they heard it without knowing how far out they were. The walkies were good for a mile and a half so we will base it at some distance between 250 yards to 1 ½ mile.
I have mixed emotions about the pommel. The first is, the “hype” or negativism I have read online about these things busting apart when used. The other is what I actually experienced. It is hard to have faith in your tool when you are unsure if it is going to work when you really need it to. So let’s go with actual facts on my knife.
It worked great! I used the pommel to hammer in tent stakes, split a rock and open hickory nuts and hard-shelled pecans. I used it much like a normal hammer and thanks to the hilt and the rubberized handle, my hand never slipped down up toward the blade which could have caused a definite emergency situation.
I like the locking mechanism for the blade. It keeps the knife secured no matter what I did with it. I carried it both sideways and right side up. I also rigged it so I could carry it upside down and it worked well in that situation during a 5-mile hike.
I did get water down in the sheath during a downpour, as well as when my wife poured water on me, and as it promised, the holes kept the water from collecting. Just as a note, the hilt keeps a lot of the water out as it is.
I have heard so much whining about the angle and all that stuff around the sharpener. Here is the reality. It works great. I learned a long time ago how to sharpen a knife. There were no angles or plastic wedges to keep the blade at a perfect angle for sharpening. Although this sharpener is not at everyone’s ideal angle, it is keeps me from having to tote an extra stone in my backpack.
Okay, so I didn’t use all parts of what was included in the kit. For someone that is new to survival, the “Priorities of Survival” and “Land to Air Rescue Instructions” are a great add on, especially with the little pocket in the back of the sheath. I pray that I will never need to use them, but definitely keep them with the knife in case I loan it out or if I get hit in the head and am unable to perform the duties myself. They are easy to read and a great “survival” add in.
The fire starter.
I just want to give a huge shout out for this one item. The number of sparks that were produced by using this and the designated area on the back of the blade were enough to make a fourth of July fireworks show blush. I used the shavings from my earlier saw experiment and a little hand gel and had a fire within about 30 seconds. It was such a spectacular thing that my family backed up about three steps after showering the sparks. I then focused them on the bundle, focused a small puff of air and “woof”, FIRE!
I like the fact that it locks into place within the sheath. I do recommend a lanyard around the end of it and the end of the sheath in case it does fall out as it is mounted upside down.
The Bad and the Ugly.
I mentioned before the length of the blade had a downfall. In a survival situation, you can baton with this knife on a piece of wood up to 2”. Beyond those 2” is just asking for trouble. I used it on a 3” piece of wood and had to get my trusty refurbished $2 yard sale knife with a 6” blade. Although a 2” works great in a survival situation, I had some wood that needed preparation in order to get my fire blazing for cooking and warmth. I would have liked and could have used a longer blade. With this being the biggest blade in the family, I think it failed in that respect.
It is stiff. When I say that, I mean that when you slide it on your belt in the vertical position, it doesn’t give. So it doesn’t move easily with you as I think a sheath should. I found myself constantly rearranging it or eventually taking it off when I was sitting around the fire in the evening. I have a soft leather sheath for a 6” blade that does not give me the same trouble.
The fire starter.
Yes, I know I am in love with this thing but with the little I used it, I could see it won’t be long before having to replace it. Gerbergear.com does sell this as a separate item for MSRP: $5. That is not a bad price considering it does lock into the sheath.
I would use this knife over and over and have added it to my normal gear because I know the limitations. Would I recommend it? Absolutely. I think it is a great starter knife and medium task knife. I would give it as a gift or use it as a normal knife for camping or again, medium tasks. I would not consider it, yet, to be a heavy-duty knife. This is ONLY because I haven’t had the pleasure to use it as such. I do plan on it during my next several outings to see what will become of my $32 investment. Yes, $32 at the local Wal-Mart.
What will I review next? I am not sure but I think my Mora daily knife might be among the list.
Use your instinct to survive.