Gerber has long been known for quality, reasonably priced products. Their line of Gator folding knives has been extended with a fixed blade model which includes a partially serrated version and a gut hook fine edge version. They all utilize the same handle material as the folders. This is from the Gerber website.
The inner core of the handle is glass-filled nylon. Then we chemically bonded it to the outer surface, which is molded Santoprene® rubber…creating a soft, tactile grip over a very strong structure. All these years later, and no ones topped it.
- Overall Length: 8.86″
- Blade Length: 4.02″
- Weight: 6.6 oz.
- Blade Style: Drop Point
- Blade Material: 420HC Stainless Steel
- Blade Type: Fine
- Handle Material Glass-filled nylon with Gator Grip over mold
- Sheath Material: Ballistic nylon with molded plastic insert
I had long been an owner of a folding model with the partially serrated blade, but after an ill fated attempt to drill a hole through the handle for a lanyard, I was on the hunt for a replacement. Enter the Gator Fixed Blade. The idea of the Gator grip combined with a fixed blade appealed to me, as I’m not fond of folders as a main blade. I bought the knife with the idea to use it as a fixed blade for backpacking, and a medium duty survival knife. Sadly my budget precluded me from purchasing one at their debut.
I began shopping for the best bargain, searching my local stores, the Internet, and asking around on some forums if anybody had one they would sale. Then middle of last year I stumbled across a sporting goods store in Shelby, NC that was holding a sale on Gerber products. I bought the fine edge drop point version, due to my dislike of serrated edges. I used it that weekend on a backpacking trip to Mt. Rogers, Va.
The knife came stamped Portland, OR USA on the blade, hopefully signifying that it was made in the USA. A quick call to Gerber confirmed this. It was not packaged in the typical big box store bubble packaging but a cardboard box labeled with the Gerber logo. The sheath was a Condura and plastic liner affair, with a snap retainer and a belt loop snap to allow the user to put on or remove the knife without unbuckling their belt. The factory edge was razor sharp out of the box, and retained a reasonably sharp edge while being used for carving tent pegs, shaving wood strips for tinder and whittling around the fire. Several in my group wanted to handle the knife, and all mentioned how good it felt in the hand.
My one complaint at the time was the spine of the blade was not sharp enough to strike sparks from my ferro rod. While I could produce sparks with the edge, I was not inclined to do this unless it was an emergency. I believe that you should use the supplied striker with you ferro rods. Using a naked blade to strike the sparks gives me the willies, but I believe it should be possible in a emergency.
After the trip, I loaded my gear into my storage unit, and promptly for got the knife. Then a month or two ago I was digging in my old gear and rediscovered this knife. I pulled the blade out and inspected the edge. Hmm…… No rust on the blade or the edge. Not bad for a year in a storage area that wasn’t humidity and temperature controlled and without cleaning the blade. I took it on a trip back to Mt. Rogers where it performed well, shaving tinder and batoning kindling from some dead standing wood.
Since last summer I had attended PWYP (Practice What You Preach), and learned about convexed edges. Ive come to like convex edges, and a lot of my older blades have had the edges re profiled. I thought the Gator was a perfect candidate for the modification. I pulled out my belt sander, and using the slack portion convexed the edge. I also tried with less success to flatten a portion of the back to use as a ferro rod striker. I cleaned up the edge and sharpened with a combo of 2000 grit sandpaper, black compound, and green compound on a leather strop. The edge went from a hair pulling to a hair popping edge. Sharp enough that on a bet I shaved my neck line and won 20 bucks.
Ive used the Gator for the past month as my EDC. Its peeled apples, and cut oranges. Ive whittled with it, carved my first wood spirit face with it, and split many toothpicks from pieces of lumber. I took the knife with me on vacation to the Outer Banks of NC. I use my knives in the kitchen, and the Gator was no exception. It worked fairly well as a paring knife, but the blade is a tad thick. Its an efficient slicer, cutting up onion, garlic, and spinach for my stuffed salmon, and cutting up fruit for my breakfast cereal. The blade was too thick for skinning salmon for Jenna, my girlfriend, but it worked well for cutting up sashimi grade tuna. I took the precaution of washing it in hot soapy water after each use. No need to spread germs.
The knife went to the beach, stashed in Jenna’s beach bag. I used it for opening bait packages, and cutting up the bait. It was dropped in the sand and brushed off, then shoved back in the sheath. It was on hand when some rowdy beach goers looked like they were gonna hassle Jenna. The knife developed a small rust spot were I had sanded off the matte finish. This was easily cleaned up with a bit of compound.
The edge held up well, though the use and abuse. It stayed shaving sharp, needing only a touch up to return it to smooth shaving sharpness. During some down time at work due to rain, Ive used the re profiled edge to baton through some seasoned oak and maple logs. It split the 3-4 inch logs easily, with no apparent loosening of the handle. I shaved fuzz sticks with it, there being enough belly to curl the pine easily. The molded handle works well enough for a chest lever grip for cutting sticks in half.
I like some versatility in a sheath. I don’t always carry a knife in the vertical position. I find that riding around in the truck the knife jabs me in the side for EDC, but in the woods or hiking its OK. I carry in a SOB carry when I want to be discrete, and my Glock is on my right hip. For EDC I like a cross draw carry so I don’t get jabbed in the belly. Accordingly I modified the sheath. I drilled some holes in the backside of the sheath and used some old webbing, and Chicago screws to hold it together. It feels comfortable in the SOB horizontal carry, and also as a cross draw horizontal carry.
Overall, I feel that the Gerber Gator Fixed Blade is a value for the money. I’d like to see a different steel than the 420HC, say a S30V or D2, but what they have is definitely adequate. I’d also like to see squared edges on the spine of the blade. The Gator would be great for cleaning game, and I wouldn’t hesitate to carry it as my main blade on a trip. While a little lite for batoning, it handled what I threw at it with ease. Some judicial shopping can net it for 30 dollars or so, and around 50 dollars in a box store. Gerber has a proven track record with the Gator Folder, and I believe that the Gator Fixed Blade lives up to the Gator reputation.