Looking for an affordable knife that will give top-notch service in the hunting fields?
Look no further than the Gerber Freeman Guide Folder.
In this article, Woods Monkey takes a look at this tough folder, and puts it though it paces on Colorado Elk.
The Gerber Freeman Guide Folder is a new offering from Gerber, meant to serve around the hunting camp without putting a hole in your wallet. Gerber has long been a producer of quality knives at affordable prices, and this latest product is exactly that. The Freeman Guide Folder (FGF) is a stainless construction folding knife, offered with either a straight spine or gut hook. The FGF uses a liner lock to holding the blade open, and includes thumb studs for opening the blade one handed. Intended to be used in processing game animals, the FGF wisely lacks a pocket clip and is meant to be carried in the included nylon belt sheath.
Normally reserved for the end of these reviews, I’d like to mention price up top. Gerber says the MSRP on the Freeman Guide is $31.99. A Google search turned up retail prices at $24 from major online knife shops. For twenty four bucks, you get a heck of a lot of knife for the money. It is imported, so you’ll have to get past that. But if you’re the kind of outdoorsman that’s squeezing every bit of a dollar, you’ll like this knife. With the belt sheath and Gerber’s excellent warranty, you’d be hard pressed to find a better deal. The money you save on this knife could pay for ammunition, fuel, food, or any of those other expenses you have to cover before you even get into the woods.
The Freeman Guide Folder comes in with a blade length of 3.6”, and a total weight of 6.6oz. As you can tell from those numbers, the FGF is a hefty knife. With a folded length of 4 ½” it is still compact enough to carry comfortably on the belt. Gerber uses their plain-jane stainless steel for the construction and blade of the FGF. I was originally doubtful as to how well this would hold up, but in use, I was surprised to find it held up extremely well. My version has the built in gut hook on the back of the blade, but this knife is also available without it for the same price. The sides of the knife are fitted with what Gerber calls TacHide to aide in grip. The TacHide seems to my untrained eye to be a relatively soft rubber, and in hand, it does feel tacky and ‘grippy’. In use, when covered with blood , snow, and elk fat, the TacHide stayed put very nicely in my hand.
Straight out of the package I found the edge to be very sharp. Not quite shaving, but plenty sharp enough for use. I was also happy to find the edge was evenly ground on both sides. This is an area that is often poorly done on lower priced knives, making future sharpening more difficult than necessary. If you needed to take the Freeman Guide Folder straight from the box to the field, you wouldn’t have any problems. But, as I was preparing for an elk hunting trip I decided to sharpen everything. I used a simple ceramic rod to bring the FGF to shaving sharp, and then finished that off on a charged leather strop. Total time investment was less than 10 minutes, and the FGF would scare hair off my forearm.
The first test for the Gerber Freeman Guide Folder was on an elk hunting trip in the middle of the Colorado Rockies. The hunting was spread out over several days, on a massive area that I was very fortunate to have access to. I spent hours of day one getting into and out of a SUV with the Gerber FGF carried on my belt. My hunting partner and I were traveling old logging roads, and had to leave the vehicle every time we wanted to check an area for game activity. Right away I appreciated the FGF’s size. The compact package of the FGF did not interfere with sitting in a vehicle and I did not have to fight to keep it out of the way. Both are often encountered annoyances with fixed blade hunting knives.
I was able to down an elk on that trip, and that provided plenty of testing ground for the Gerber Freeman Guide Folder. When my good friend and hunting partner saw the FGF come out of my hunting pack, he quickly commandeered it to begin the processing. Working in snow shoes in hip deep snow, we were able to have the big cow elk cleaned and quartered in a couple hours, after the pictures of course. When we were ready to pack the elk out, I just closed the FGF and dropped it back in the nylon pouch. I don’t even think I wiped off the blade. Back at the house, the FGF went in a soapy water bath, complete with the sheath. The open back design, beefy liner lock, and TacHide grip panels let me get the FGF cleaned up easily without a lot of fuss.
On the processing table I really got to test the Freeman Guide Folder in a controlled environment. I purposely didn’t sharpen the knife before I began so I could see how the edge was holding up. Using the gut hook to split the hide off the legs was a pleasure. Elk hide is thick, packed in grime, blood, and especially around the legs, dirt and mud. The gut hook has a wide enough opening so that the cutting edge doesn’t get clogged up with thick hide and hair. After the hide was removed, the FGF was used to separate and process the meat off the bone, as well as prepare pieces for the grinder. A good friend of mine and I took turns with the FGF, and we were both very impressed with how well it performed. After each quarter was separated, trimmed, and packaged, the FGF was touched up on a ceramic rod. With minimal effort, I was able to bring the edge back to crisp and clean. Ease of re-sharpening is crucial during game processing, and the FGF is quick to get back. Game processing is hard work, and a knife that will hold its own for under thirty bucks retail is impressive.
The Gerber Freeman Guide Folder is a heck of a lot of bang for the buck. For the general outdoorsman, the straight spine version might prove to be more comfortable in use. With an all stainless construction, I wouldn’t hesitate to use the knife in a fishing environment, even around salt water. Built with solid materials and ready for use in camp or field, the Gerber Freeman Guide Folder is a great choice for a hard worker that won’t break the bank.
Check it out at www.gerbergear.com