Gerber Gear: A Tool for Every Situation

Whether you’re trekking through deep woods, driving down the highway, or just heading to the office, a knife is an essential tool you should never be without.

I’ve always had a thing for knives, not sure why.  When I was a kid, I had a fairly large knife collection just because of how cool I thought they were, though I rarely ever carried one or used them in any serious way.  Now, all grown up, I’ve come to find that my fascination with knives is back in full effect and these tools are far more useful than they are cool.  Though they’re still pretty cool.

One of the first names in knives is Gerber, an Oregon based company that started crafting knives back in 1939, when men still carried knives everywhere, every day.  Somewhere along the line, many men lost sight of the value of having a pocket knife or specialty knife at hand because life got softer.  I say softer rather than easier because personally, I’ve found that always having a knife at hand makes life even easier than it already is for most of us.

The key to selecting a knife depends on what you’re going to be doing that day or where you’ll be at a particular time.  Bearing that in mind, we’ve selected three examples from Gerber and explain why and where you should be carrying them.

Every Day, Every Where: Gerber AO Fast 3.0

I can’t stress the value of carrying a decent knife with you every where you go, whether it’s to the office or a movie theater.  Some days I’ll draw my knife a dozen times just to open packages, containers, or cut thread or rope.  Why go searching for scissors when you can reach for your belt?

The AO Fast 3.0 is an Assisted Opening knife meaning that once you start opening the knife, the “FAST” system takes over, springing the knife fully open.  This allows for easy one handed operation, requiring only a single finger to reveal the blade.  You may be skeptical, as was I, at first, at the need for an assisted opener.  After all, even with my old carry folder, I could open it with one hand.  But the rub is this: being able to open a knife with one hand and opening a knife designed to be opened with one hand is a whole different world.

I can’t even go back to my old knife because I’m so used to the FAST action of this knife.  Opening it is lightning quick and a breeze, which is valuable for many reasons.  Number one, it’s easy, which is good.  Number two, you may have your hands full, or a hand incapacitated, and yet still need the knife.  Enter the 3.0, which springs into action at a moments notice.  The knife features a modified drop point blade, a carabiner clip, a belt clip, and even a bottle opener.  A sweet knife perfect for keeping on you at all times.

In the Glove Box: LMF II Safety Knife

Available for purchase on its own or as part of a set with the LMF II (see below), the Safety Knife is a specialist tool not really necessary for every day carry – but perhaps a life saver any day in your car.  The safety knife is so called because the twin blades are completely inaccessible to the human finger, or other body parts, so it’s virtually impossible to cut yourself on purpose, much less on accident.

With this in your glove box, or nearby in the car, you’ll never have to worry about being trapped by a broken or malfunctioning seat belt.  Simply line up the canvas of the belt with the knife and pull through – instant freedom.  While not specifically designed with this in mind (or at least not mentioned to us), with a firm grip and a sharp punch, I’m fairly confident you could use the safety knife to punch through glass as well.

The safety knife comes with a tough sheath that is MOLLE compliant to fit in with the rest of your gear and has a paracord loop attached.

On the Trail: LMF II Survival Knife

When your life is on the line, you want to have the best tools available at your disposal.  In terms of survival knives, this means having the LMF II on your hip, or attached via the MOLLE system to your gear.  Built with the military in mind, the LMF II is a serious knife.  It weighs in at a hefty 11.4oz, with an overall length of 10.59″ of which almost half is a 420HC stainless steel blade.

Just using it as a blade, the knife is excellent.  It’s got weight behind it, which allows you to punch through just about anything in your way, while the half-serrated blade also gives you the ability to slice and saw, even tearing its way through sheet metal.  But  that’s not enough to warrant being listed among the best.

The LMF II features a full tang blade hidden underneath a comfortable, no slip overmolded handle.  Attached to the butt of the knife is a buffer pad and a metal hammer punch.  With a heavy point, the knife will easily shatter glass with minimal effort while the flat edge is designed to be used as a hammer.  Yes, your knife is also a hammer.


Further, there are three holes in the handle, allowing you to lash the knife securely to a pole or stick to create a spear – hey, when you’re lost in the woods you need every edge you can get.

The LMF II comes with a vast series of webbing and attachment options, whether you want to wear it on your vest, your belt, or strap it to your leg.  The sheath itself has double straps and a retainer clip to keep the knife secure while also housing a sharpener.

All of these things combined make the LMF II a great choice for hikers or anyone putting together a survival bag.  It’s a strong knife that can take the abuse, was designed with wilderness survival in mind, and comes with enough serious whistles to increase your odds of surviving if you ever find yourself stranded.  This knife is Primer Approved for Survival.


There are a million uses for a knife, whether you’re opening packages at the office or fending off a bear in the wild.  Obviously some uses are mundane and useful everyday, while others are things we hope we never have to face – but being prepared always increases your chances from success.  So if you’re looking for a knife to save your life, or just one to ‘save’ the picnic by effortlessly opening chip bags, do yourself a favor and get one.  You could do a lot worse than selecting a Gerber knife, and not much better.

Robert Fure is a fitness, lifestyle, and entertainment writer living in Los Angeles. He is also a certified Personal Trainer and the Creator/Editor of Fit and Furious, an online outlet dedicated to the pursuit of a fit lifestyle. His entertainment work can be viewed at Film School Rejects.

  • http://eyebolts.org Helen

    I remember my hubby bought a set of surviving knife before when he was going to jungle tracking last year. There were so many pieces and all different shapes and sizes. It came so handy when we’re running out of wood for fire camping.

  • mark

    I dont have a Gerber product, but I have carried a little Swiss Army knife everywhere I go for the last 25 years. I use it daily and I cannot understand any man not having a knife.
    There’s a saying ” you’re only as sharp as your knife”

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Helen, They are so vital, especially when going in the woods, there’s a million uses for them. Glad you guys had one!

    Mark, I had never heard that saying before, but I like it!

  • Greg Schneider

    I’m a fan of getting more people to carry knives, but did Gerber pay you to write this? I’m a professional knife sharpener, and I own some very high end knives. With that in mind, modern Gerber sucks. Their steel is not up to par, their workmanship is shotty, and they’re warranty isn’t that great.

    Some different knives for each of those levels:

    Normal pocket knife:
    If you want an assisted open knife, look at Kershaw. The leek, Shallot, Chive, and Blur would be a great place to start for a good price. Higher end, Benchmade Nitrous, Barrage, and Torrent. Benchmade is one of my favorite knife brands due to their materials, often being the leaders of the pack, their warranty, and their craftsmanship. Their steel is often some of the best out there and their handles aren’t just POS aluminum, but rather machined G10, Carbon Fiber, and other high impact plastics.
    For a NON-AO knife, Spyderco, or Benchmade again. Spyderco, look at the Endura, and Delica. Cheaper, look at the Spyderco Tenacious. It won the knife of the year award a few years ago. Benchmade, look into the Griptilian, or the Mini-Grip. Both are great industry standards of what a knife can, and should be.

    Safety/Glovebox:
    I have to address an issue here first. If you have to cut your own seat belt after an auto accident, you’re not going to be able to. You’re most likely unconscious, or severely injured. I’m not saying you’ll never need to, but it’s very slim. With that said, a Benchmade 7 is a great tool. It’s a hook that is sharpenable. Something the Gerber isn’t. Benchmade has lead the industry in safety knives for the past decade. They also make the Houdini which has a glass punch, whistle, and seat belt cutter. Look into their safety products.

    On the trail:
    The LMF is pretty good actually. Some features you missed (and I’m pulling this from memory, from when I spent some years selling in a brick and mortar knife store). It has a separation between the tang and the pommel. This means, you can hold onto the buttcap where it’s steel, with your hand away from the blade fully, and cut live wires. This was made for Helicopter extraction. The point on the butt is to break Plexiglas. The one problem I have with the knife, is it’s to heavy, and stocky, for as short of a blade as it has. If Gerber had about 2 more inches on the blade, it’d be great. Also, 420HC is a POS steel.
    My suggestion for a more rounded knife on the trail? ESEE Cutlery. That entire brand is made for the military, and survival usage. their owners run survival classes for elite military units. The HEST is probably your most rounded knife. It’s not huge, but it was developed for extreme conditions. Bottle opener, wire breaker, pry bar, lashing points, space between the micarta scales to store survival gear (fishing line, matches, tinder…). But, for a knife like the LMF II there, I’d say the ESEE-4 or ESEE-5. The four is a little thinner, and can be used as a general knife, while the five is a thicker, stockier blade, and has a small divot in the handle to help as a spot to spin a stick when creating a friction fire. All ESEE knives come with the BEST WARRANTY I’VE EVER SEEN! They say that if you break your knife, they’ll replace it. Period. Even if you cut it in half with a blow torch. Also, their steel is 1095, which is a hard use, high carbon steel. It can rust, but they say just keep using it, it won’t affect anything.

    I’ve been a part of the knife world for years now, and I’m fairly well versed in knives from low end to extreme high end. Feel free to shoot me an email with any questions regarding knives.

  • Deno Molus

    Gerber is just resting on it’s laurels. In this day and age, gerber quality is the pits. I own a few decent quality knives mostly spydercos and I’d never look at a gerber folder.

  • dePaul

    Pardon me for saying this: “What a pile of crap” ;)

  • Stillz

    Gerber makes knives that are excellent quality for the money. Are they high-performance knives you would take in to a potentially serious survival situation deep in the jungle? Maybe not. But the fact is, I own 6 gerbers (multi-tools, Gators, LMFs) and they’ve all performed very well. They keep an edge, take a beating, and are very reliable. Period.

    Spend $40 on a Gerber & get a really decent knife vs. $100+ on a Benchmade. I go with the Gerber.

    Also, you love knives. It happens. I’d rather lose a Gator and replace it than my fancy custom-made Bear Grylls number.

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  • http://www.primermagazine.com Robert Fure

    You guys don’t run barefoot, do you? (Inside joke).

    It’s the articles you never expect that generate the most apparent controversy. I’d hate to hear your thoughts on the knives I’ve carried in the past – an Eagle Claw plastic handled folder (sharpest out of the box blade I’ve ever seen) or a generic “Emergency” folder distributed by Jeep. Tell you what, for $15 it cut everything I ever asked it to.

    I carried the AO Fast every day for awhile before writing the article and still carry it now. The LMF II, as even conceded above, is a good knife. It’s won praise from the media and consumers alike – it’s got almost perfect reviews from Amazon.

    Other than mentioning the steel, none of the comments here actually address anything factual. It’s cool that you like your own brands or whatever, but just because you prefer A doesn’t mean B is a pile of crap.

    The LMF II can be purchased for under $75 and the AO for under $45. If you want to spend more on a knife, by all means, go ahead, but as Stillz mentioned, dropping a $175 Benchmade knife down a crevice is a lot more painful than dropping the LMF II down the same hole.

    Like they say, there is always an excuse to spend more, but rarely a reason. Gerber knives give a lot of bang for the buck and they do what they’re supposed to, and do it well. If you need a certain level of steel to be happy or this or that, by all means buy what you prefer. But for those who aren’t blade-philliacs, the Gerber knives here are a great step up from a $20 Rambo knock-off, won’t break the bank, and will serve you well.

  • Snappy

    Modern gerber is garbage, the steel they use now sucks, try to sharpen it once and you will have to agree. Their workmanship is awful, I stopped using their knives when a folder closed on my hand because of the shoddy quality of the lock. They lost all semblance of quality when they became the walmart house brand. The author of this opinion piece must have gotten paid by gerber to endorse such garbage.
    Yes benchmade makes the best non-custom knives, but some of the commenter’s left out a lot of other good high quality low cost brands. Bark River knife and tool is an excellent brand, my camp knife is from them. http://www.barkriverknifetool.com. CKRT is also a great brand. My every day carry is a $40 spyderco that will outlast and out perform any gerber. Kershaw, Buck, Old Henry, Schrade…you can get a Benchmade VEX for under $40 or a Timberline for the same cost as a gerber…I would even take some SOG models over a gerber.
    The author needs to actualy do some research, or better yet the readers should find a better resource for knife advice.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Robert Fure

    Snappy I can guarantee you Gerber did not pay for this review. We don’t write paid reviews.

    I’ve done my research and that lead to a few places, Gerber was one. We also tested a bunch of knives from SOG for a future article. Sounds like you had a bad experience with a Gerber folder. Happens I guess.

    As I’ve mentioned several times, the AO Fast hasn’t left my hip since I got it and it has worked perfectly every time, cut every thing, and has never failed.
    .-= Robert Fure´s last blog ..Gerber Gear- A Tool for Every Situation =-.

  • martin

    This is a paid for indorsement right?. I love knives and support more people carring them as well, but to thinf gerber as the grail of knives is just laughable to anyone with knowledge about knives. Please, you and everybody else who likes knives(like me) &/or supports the usefulness of knives to go to:
    http://www.bladeforums.com
    and get some real, unbias, useful information on knives of all sorts

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Martin, As Robert already addressed above, we have never accepted paid endorsements, or written opinions for pay.

    We’re not touting Gerber as the holy grail of knives. But for most guys who are reading this their quality for price is great.

    There’s clearly a lot of resentment towards the brand in the room today, but there’s no doubt for the average guy these are great knives. I have 3 myself and have been nothing but happy so far.

  • cisco

    great bang for your buck. i’ve used a suspension multi-tool for several years and it’s come in very handy, at work and at home but i only use the knife blades on the rare occassions i forget my folder. the gerber blades chip and chink like nobody’s business, as long as it takes to sharppen them out it’s just not worth using them. also, the velco on the holster has never held causing the suspension to hit the floor on a couple times.

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