Updated June 2022
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Buying guide for Best Gerber knives

A good pocket knife is part of the daily outfit of many working people. It’s an invaluable piece of gear for camping, hiking, and a host of other leisure pursuits. Knives have been with us since the Stone Age, and with the variety of styles now available, they are perhaps more popular than ever. Gerber makes some of the best.

A leading manufacturer of quality knives, Gerber has been around since 1939 and is still based near Portland, Oregon. It claims to be the largest supplier of knives to the United States armed forces (some styles are also available to the public) and is second only to Leatherman in sales of multi-tools.

There are more than 70 different Gerber knives, and while the good news is that there’s something for everyone in terms of budget and performance, it can make choosing a knife difficult. The easy option is to go for one of Gerber’s popular utility knives, and we doubt you’d be disappointed, but it could mean you miss out on something that’s perfect for your needs. To help you with as much useful information as possible, we’ve put together the following buying guide and included some of our favorites.

Gerber’s stainless-steel blades are extremely durable, but salt water should be rinsed off as soon as possible. It’s highly corrosive.

Key considerations

There are a number of areas you’ll want to look at when shopping for a Gerber knife, including blade material and style, handle material and style, whether the knife is fixed or folding, and a few other features.


Material: Most Gerber knife blades are made of high-carbon stainless steel (also known as surgical stainless steel). It contains manganese and chromium, so it’s highly resistant to rust. It’s also much harder than normal steel, so it stays sharp longer. However, if there’s one drawback with this type of steel, it’s that it doesn’t flex well. Those Gerber knives designed for prying have a slightly lower carbon content, which makes them incredibly tough. The blade on the Gerber LMF II Infantry knife can cut through an aircraft fuselage!

Shape: There are numerous blade shapes to consider, too, each with particular advantages:

  • Drop point: This shape gives good support along the back and is common on everyday carry (EDC) and hunting knives because it’s very versatile.
  • Clip point: This one tilts up a little at the end (like a traditional bowie knife), tends to give slightly more cutting length, and can be used with more precision.
  • Tanto point: This is a variation on the Japanese samurai design. It creates a very strong blade with a piercing tip, though it’s less easy to control.
  • Wharncliffe: This blade has a straight or almost straight cutting edge and a back that slopes acutely to meet it. The focus is on creating a strong, well-supported edge.
  • Sheepsfoot tip: This has a rounded, unsharpened end that descends to meet a flat, straight blade. It’s similar to a chef’s knife and is best for slicing.
  • Trailing point: This curves upward noticeably at the end. It’s most useful for skinning and filleting, though Gerber also makes specific filleting knives.
  • Spear and needle points: These are very similar and found on daggers and throwing knives and usually sharpened along both edges.

Serration: This is common on Gerber knife blades and is excellent for sawing through tough, textured materials. Serration adds versatility, but at the expense of a standard cutting edge, and many people never use it. It’s an important consideration when making your choice.


Gerber knife handles are made of a variety of materials. Some are durable steel (and may have a fiberglass inlay), some are lightweight aluminum. Rubber and a variety of composites are also used. Skeletal designs make for a very light weight. Other handles have a variety of surface textures to improve grip, and many look pretty cool, too!

Of course, with Gerber, the handle can be much more than just a way to hold the knife.

Finger guard: The handle often incorporates a finger guard to protect you from injury if your hand slips.

Lanyard holes: These are common on handles, and some knives include a lanyard.

Butt: The handle butt may be hardened steel specifically designed for hammering. Others have a glass/ice breaker.

Grip: The handle may be sculpted to provide an index finger position for a tighter grip.

Release mechanism: On locking blades, the release mechanism may be incorporated into the handle, maintaining a classic, smooth look.

Ballistic nylon sounds impressive, and it is considerably tougher than standard, but it doesn’t mean it’s actually used by the military or that it’s bulletproof!



Fixed vs. folding

Fixed: A Gerber fixed knife with a full tang is an extremely rigid tool, and at up to 12.75 inches long, it has the potential to be a fearsome weapon. Gerber Infantry survival knives have been field tested by American troops. Need we say more?

The drawback to a fixed blade, of course, is portability. A well-designed sheath is great in combat situations or when hunting, but it isn’t practical (and in some states it’s illegal) for EDC.

Folding: Gerber’s range of folding knives is extensive. Some of them you don’t even recognize as folding knives at first glance. Others are so small that they can fit on a key ring. You’ll want to look at both blade length and folded size to work out which will suit your purposes best.

You’ll also want to consider the method of opening (whether it’s manual or spring assisted), the mechanism, and position, because each impacts the comfort and ease of use. The finest Gerber knives have ultra-smooth ball bearings, allowing slick, rapid deployment even on non-spring-assisted models.


MOLLE (Modular Light Load-carrying Equipment) compatibility means the knife has been designed to integrate with other MOLLE gear — a type of backpack and ancillaries designed for British and United States armed forces but now widely available. Gerber makes a number of MOLLE-compatible knives as well as other gear.


Sheath: Ballistic nylon sheaths are very tough, and some are fire retardant. A few have built-in sharpeners.

Fire starter: Several Gerber survival knives include a fire-starter rod. You run the blade along it to create sparks.

Clips: Belt and/or pocket clips are provided with most Gerber knives.

Be careful. There are a lot of fakes on the market. Only buy your Gerber knife from a reputable source so you know you’re getting the genuine article.

Gerber knife prices

Inexpensive: We often need to suggest caution with low-cost products, but even the cheapest Gerber knife is a quality item. There are several mini and utility knives that cost less than $25.

Mid-range: Your widest choice is in the $30 to $80 range, with a huge variety of knife styles and blade types, either fixed, folding, or assisted opening. These cover the majority of people’s needs.

Expensive: Even the largest and most specialized Gerber knives remain affordable, particularly when compared to leading rivals. The most expensive we found was still under $130.

EAB stands for Exchange-A-Blade, Gerber’s clever knife design that accepts either standard or contractor-grade box-cutter blades for quick and easy changes.



Gerber knives need little care, but a few minutes’ work every couple weeks (or if the knife gets dirty) will prolong its useful life.

  • Clean off any residue. Normally, you only need tap water, but you can use spirit or rubbing alcohol to clear sticky residue.
  • Clean locks and hinges. Use a toothpick or cotton swab in areas that aren’t easily accessed, such as locks and hinges.
  • Dry the knife. Use a lint-free cloth or paper towel. Do not apply heat.
  • Oil the knife. Apply a light coating of three-in-one or gun oil.
  • Keep the blade sharp. Maintaining the blade can be done with a variety of sharpening stones. For a serrated blade, you need a round file.
The law pertaining to “assisted opening knives” and “automatic knives” (also called switchblades) varies from state to state. If you’re considering this type of Gerber knife, you should check local legislation.


Q. Is it easy to sharpen a Gerber knife?

A. Gerber knives have stainless steel blades, which hold an edge for longer than standard models. Being harder, they take a little more work when they do need sharpening, but like all blades, it’s not difficult once you get comfortable with the technique. There are numerous helpful videos online. It’s also easier if you do it regularly, rather than letting it get dull. Serrated blades require a different tool (mentioned above). Gerber provides a resharpening service, though, of course, that means being without your knife for a period. Also, they don’t resharpen serrated models.

Q. Does stainless steel mean a Gerber knife won’t rust?

A. Stainless steel is made with chromium and is highly rust resistant. It’s not completely rustproof because all steel contains iron, which reacts with oxygen and water and causes corrosion. However, the care instructions above will minimize the problem and should keep your Gerber knife in great condition for many years.

Q. Does the black coating on some Gerber blades make them better than others?

A. No. It’s Teflon or black oxide (depending on the model), and according to Gerber it is “ornamental” (though it is antireflective). It doesn’t have any impact on the strength of the blade or how well it retains an edge. The underlying stainless steel is the important thing.

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