When reviewing any of the Bear Grylls line of knives you have to deal with the whole attached baggage of having a recognized personality branding on your knife. Bear is a famous and in some outdoor circles, a controversial figure. We are not reviewing Bear in this article we are reviewing the Gerber Bear Grylls Compact fixed blade. It is a knife with his branding made by Gerber. Do not let first glances fool you. This knife is worth consideration on its own merits.
Stats wise the knife is a handy 7.8″ long overall Most will find a knife this size easy to pack and have with you. “First rule of survival is: have a knife.” Check.
It’s not bulky at around 5 ounces, so belt or pack or pocket carry is a breeze. There are a few multi-tools heavier than this and that does not keep the general populace of tool users from carrying them all day, every day. The knife you carry when everything goes south will be on you because you found it convenient to wear. If it’s not, chances are it will get left at home and that could be a problem. The blade Length is just under 3.5 Inches. Handy and legal in a great many jurisdictions with length of carry laws. Buying your super cool survival knife and finding out its illegal to carry in the country you are hiking in will not work well for your adventure.
The Color: let’s be frank, its orange and grey. Anyone who spends time in the bush with a knife or other piece of equipment that ‘losable’ will not cast an unloving glance at something designed to avoid that. This is also a factor for the ‘I-never-carried-a-knife before’ crowd. Some people just getting into outdoor sports and wilderness activities will shy away from ‘lethal black looking tactical things’ and buy a loud color knife for fashion reasons. After using The BG Compact they might soon become converted to the function-is-important crowd and realize that a good blade can come in many guises. If you have a knife in the bad times it could save your life. Most would not have thought a bright color would save them quite in that way. Be aware that the bright colors might attract young children’s attention possibly having them treat it as a toy. Always practice responsible knife use people!
The handle is a Nylon and soft rubber over mold type. It’s harder where it needs to be, and just a little softer in other spots for the grip. Its feel in the hand is good and the strength is substantial. This knife also balances well in the hand. The cross section of the handle is tapered towards the front and a slight swell in back. This allows a good grip for cuts. The pommel has a bit of the full tang extended past the grip material at the end. While this might be used for light hammering, it is not a lot of striking surface. The edges of the pommel are not polished off round however. I managed to strike sparks from a ferrocerium rod with mine and easily ignited test tinder. This is an unmentioned hidden feature that many will appreciate. There is also a lanyard hole for those who like that sort of thing. I had some orange cord handy at the time of my testing and tied a small lanyard so as to test if it got in the way much during use or helped out with some knife use techniques. The knife worked well with or without.
Blade steel for this knife is listed as 7Cr17Mov. If you have not used a knife made from this yet I recommend it having several blades of that steel type. It sharpens easily and can take a good edge. The blade shape is a center line point spear blade not easily described. The tip has a sharp point and was strong enough to survive my unscientific ‘jam-it-in-a-log-about-a-half-inch-and-pry-out’ test with no bending or damage to the point. There are standard Gerber serrations at the base of the edge but still plenty of un-serrated razor edge for any task requiring it. The finger grip notch at the junction between blade and handle is chamfered so as not to dig in to your finger. This is HIGHLY recommended and Gerber should be lauded for doing this little touch that most manufacturers might forget.
The sheath is a lightweight plastic. The blade locks in well without rattling and easily pulls free with a little thumb pressure on the draw. The two way clip on the sheath however could be better. While the nylon it’s constructed of seems strong enough for average use the clip releases from the sheath too readily. I did notice a slight gap there that could be shimmed with a piece of thin stiff material like a credit card or wooden stir stick material. This would preclude the unintended slippage of the clip away from the sheath and could be an easy fix.
My evaluation tests for the Compact fixed blade were simple and direct:
The Compact cut hard dried wood well, biting deep. It created feathered sticks for fire lighting easily. Having deciding to push it a bit more, I harvested a pine knot and shaved it into fat wood curls for a fire. Not the easiest of tasks but the knife performed well. The knife acquired a slight nick in a serration when doing so but it was minor and the knife soldiered on. When using it in conjunction with a baton the Gerber split small diameter wood for a test fire easily. As a versatility experiment I struck sparks from the pommel edge using a ferrocerium rod to light waxed tinder and fat wood for a fire. While not expressly designed as such it worked perfectly.
I was planning test for ease of resharpening but the blade really didn’t need it. A slight hone and polish would not seem out of order though. The one nick on the serrations was polished away with a ceramic rod and the rest of the blade came back up to very sharp from a simple leather stropping. The knife seems strong and well made. The blade’s Ti Nitride coating was only slightly scratched from use. The knife and handle appeared none the worse for wear. Besides, girls dig scars.
Recommended uses and user types: any scout or hiker looking for a light weight fixed blade for general outdoor or survival use. The Compact makes for a decent bushcraft blade though I am sure the serrations might not be some people’s cup of tea for that area of use. With its short blade length, light weight and serrations rock climbers would certainly adopt the blade for use in their sport as well. Give one a try, it has its merits. The Gerber Bear Grylls Compact Fixed Blade carries an MSRP of $43 and is available direct through Gerber or from any retailer that carries the Gerber line.
“Like” the Monkey on Facebook while you’re at it too!
Check out more discussions on the Woodsmonkey Forum: