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Thread: Gerber LMF II Blade Material (420HC or 12C27)

  1. #1

    Gerber LMF II Blade Material (420HC or 12C27)


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    Hello, I am interested in buying a Gerber LMF II knife, but I am a little confused about what material the blade is made of. The Gerber website (gerbergear.com) lists the blade material as 420HC stainless steel, but almost EVERY OTHER website that sells the knife lists the material as 12C27 Stainless Steel. Does anyone have the knife that can confirm which metal the blade is made of? Was there a change in the blade design recently that would explain the discrepency? Also, what are the major differences between the two metals?

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    I did a bit more research on 420HC vs 12C27 (should have done more before posting, sorry) and realized that you would definitely want this knife in 12C27 rather than 420HC. I also found out that the LMF II definitely used to be 12C27, but it is questionable if it still is. All retailers that I have found still list the blade as 12C27, but Gerber's website lists the blade as 420HC. Can anyone confirm that the blade material has changed, or if this is an error on Gerber's part?

  3. #3
    Just received the following from Gerber in an email. What a bummer.
    ***NOTE*** January 2006 – December 2007 this steel type was comprised of Sandvik 12C27 SS.



    ***NOTE*** January 2008 – April 2008 the steel type was temporarily changed from the Sandvik 12C27 SS to 440A U.S. SS.



    ***NOTE*** May 2008 – current: Production had not resumed with the Sandvik 12C27 SS due to complications with material availability, but switched to a more closely matching steel, the US 420HC. Below is a chart comparison between the Sandvik 12C27 and the U.S. 420HC products:
    Due to inconsistencies with the Sandvik 12C27 and quality concerns; the decision to move forward with the U.S. 420HC was determined to be the best choice and closest match to the Sandvik 12C27 SS. The U.S. 420HC not only exceeded overall performance but also met our high volume and quality production requirements.



    Please note that the blades are not stamped or etched as such. The product specifications will be specifically marked on the accompanying packages. The differences between all the steels used, are so closely matched, we believe you will be sincerely challenged to find any performance differences at all.
    Last edited by crab886; 07-30-2009 at 06:00 PM.

  4. #4
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    If I paid that much for 440A, I'd be a little upset.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by fen View Post
    If I paid that much for 440A, I'd be a little upset.
    440A doesn't seem like a good steel for this application? I mean, it's one of the tougher stainless steels out there. It tends to bend and blunt rather than chip out or break because of brittleness. Doesn't hold an edge for very long, but the sheath has a built-in sharpener [I don't know how well it sharpens though]. For a thick piece of steel meant to saw through fuselages, it seems like a fine steel for that purpose.

    And $60-$70 isn't that expensive for a US-made fixed blade with a proper heat treat. I would prefer it was made out of carbon tool steel [even cheap spring steel], but they probably choose stainless for corrosion resistance. 440A does that very well, too.

    The LMF always struck me as a multi-purpose sharpened prybar/survival knife than a slicer or camp knife.

    And anyways, I bet if I gave you 3 different versions of the knife, one with 440A, one with 420HC, and one with 12C27, you couldn't tell the difference in the field.

  6. #6

    Inconsitency from Sandvik???

    "Due to inconsistencies with the Sandvik 12C27 and quality concerns; the decision to move forward with the U.S. 420HC was determined to be the best choice and closest match to the Sandvik 12C27 SS. The U.S. 420HC not only exceeded overall performance but also met our high volume and quality production requirements."

    For some reason I find it hard to believe that Sandvik is having problems with consistency, or quality. I do however believe the part about 420HC being more available to meet their high volume needs. If 420HC is truly a superior steel why didn't they use that from the begining??

  7. #7
    Thanks for all of the info everyone!

  8. #8
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    Although there is quite the following for sandvic steel on this site, properly done, 440A and 420HC are quite comparable. My guess is that 12C27 was becoming too expensive and scarce to meet the volume needs of Gerber. 420HC and 440A can be locally (as in US) sourced, and there are plenty of manufacturers who can produce them, unlike a proprietary steel. For most tasks, knives in the 440A, 420HC, 12C27 range perform the same.

  9. #9
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    quality concerns on 12C27? Really? Info would be appreciated...

  10. #10
    The answer is "whatever is cheapest at the time", this is GERBER we're talking about here.

  11. #11
    they are using the 420 hc because it is cheaper!!! That was the "inconsistency" with the sandvic 12c27, the price!!

  12. #12
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    Gerber is very confusing . . . . (more)

    If Gerber were really concerned about making more money per unit sold they would offer a non-serrated LMF and Prodigy for the same cost as the serrated model. I've got to believe that the extra step of cutting serrations is an added cost. They use a cheaper steel to save cost but won't consider making a non-serrated version.

    I would definitely buy a non-serrated version of either of these knives even with the "lesser" steel being used.

    Guess I'm in the minority on this one.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by MassMatt View Post
    The answer is "whatever is cheapest at the time", this is GERBER we're talking about here.
    Quote Originally Posted by americanvagabond View Post
    they are using the 420 hc because it is cheaper!!! That was the "inconsistency" with the sandvic 12c27, the price!!
    We don't know what the real story is, obviously, but I was impressed with how forthcoming and detailed Gerber was in its email.

  14. #14
    I broke down and purchased one. Should be here tomorrow. I'll let you know what I think when I get it.

  15. #15
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    Gerber doesn't cater to knife collectors and steel junkies.... they're in the business to sell knives at Big Box Stores at a low price.

    Be glad the LMF II is still made in Oregon - the only quality stuff Gerber makes comes from that factory. With the proper heat treatment, both 420HC and 12C27 are excellent user steels. You couldn't tell the difference between either if you put them head-to-head against each other.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by D R E View Post
    If Gerber were really concerned about making more money per unit sold they would offer a non-serrated LMF and Prodigy for the same cost as the serrated model. I've got to believe that the extra step of cutting serrations is an added cost. They use a cheaper steel to save cost but won't consider making a non-serrated version.

    I would definitely buy a non-serrated version of either of these knives even with the "lesser" steel being used.

    Guess I'm in the minority on this one.
    I too would get a non serrated version if they'd care to make it....

  17. #17
    So I received the gerber LMF II as a Christmas gift. Upon inspecting the knife it seemed as if the blade edge was not profiled correctly on one side near the serrations. It was basically quite dull because of this. I don't have a ton of knives, so I do not own any hard core sharpening gear yet. I decided to order another Gerber LMF II and compare them to see how the blade profiles compared. To my surprise the new one I ordered came in completely different packaging than the one I received as a gift.

    It seems as if the knife I got as a gift was a 2006 model, so my assumption is that it is made from Sandvik 12C27. The one I purchased doesn't say specifically what steel it is, but it does say high carbon on the package. I am assuming this is 420HC given what it says on the package, and because it's a 2008 model.

    This leaves me in a dilemma. I thought they are were the Sandvik 12C27 steel. Either way I am returning one, but now I am trying to decide if I should attempt to correct the profiling errors on the Sandvik 12C27 one, or return it and keep the 420HC model which has a much better profiled edge.

    Any thoughts? How easy would it be to re-profile the edge if I bought the right tools down the line? Would a good diamond stone kit be able to accomplish this? Its hard to describe, but the physical edge of the blade gets really shallow near the serrations and does not match the back side or the rest of the edge up to the tip.
    Last edited by DarkKnight369; 12-31-2009 at 02:11 AM.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by crab886 View Post
    Just received the following from Gerber in an email. What a bummer.Please note that the blades are not stamped or etched as such. The product specifications will be specifically marked on the accompanying packages.
    Yeah, that's what they told me too. I've got one and I have no idea what steel it's made of. I'm assuming 440A, but the blade isn't marked and there was nothing in the packaging stating what it was made of.

    Quote Originally Posted by fen View Post
    If I paid that much for 440A, I'd be a little upset.
    I am

    Quote Originally Posted by symphonyincminor View Post
    Doesn't hold an edge for very long, but the sheath has a built-in sharpener [I don't know how well it sharpens though].
    Not very well.

    For a thick piece of steel meant to saw through fuselages, it seems like a fine steel for that purpose...The LMF always struck me as a multi-purpose sharpened prybar/survival knife than a slicer or camp knife.
    The blade is 5mm thick. It's plenty tough, and the handle is comfortable but soft. I put a gouge in it the first day I had it.



    Quote Originally Posted by MassMatt View Post
    The answer is "whatever is cheapest at the time", this is GERBER we're talking about here.

  19. #19
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    Again, I'll post my personal experience with the LMF. It's a sore subject with me. I'm extremely partial to the design of this knife, it fits my hand extremely well, is well balanced and a superb overall design for bushcraft and E&E use. It is very hefty and tough, it's got just the right amount of steel in all the right places. However I have yet to see a 2 dollar keychain knife with steel as poor as what I saw on my LMF. The edge chipped, cracked, rolled and dulled if you looked at it the wrong way. I gave up on trying to sharpen the damn thing, it was too much work between weekend camping trips and I was removing an eighth of an inch from the edge every time just to get it down to a useable edge again. God help the tip, which disappeared the first time I pulled it out of its sheath. The steel is just a joke. A 80 dollar joke, that's on Gerber. If this knife were made from a decent high carbon or tough stainless steel it would be one of my alltime favorites and it would probably be on my hip now as we speak. Don't waste your money, get a real knife.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by PayetteRucker View Post
    Again, I'll post my personal experience with the LMF. It's a sore subject with me. I'm extremely partial to the design of this knife, it fits my hand extremely well, is well balanced and a superb overall design for bushcraft and E&E use. It is very hefty and tough, it's got just the right amount of steel in all the right places. However I have yet to see a 2 dollar keychain knife with steel as poor as what I saw on my LMF. The edge chipped, cracked, rolled and dulled if you looked at it the wrong way. I gave up on trying to sharpen the damn thing, it was too much work between weekend camping trips and I was removing an eighth of an inch from the edge every time just to get it down to a useable edge again. God help the tip, which disappeared the first time I pulled it out of its sheath. The steel is just a joke. A 80 dollar joke, that's on Gerber. If this knife were made from a decent high carbon or tough stainless steel it would be one of my alltime favorites and it would probably be on my hip now as we speak. Don't waste your money, get a real knife.
    Interesting. Do you have any idea what steel yours is made of?

    For the money I spent I'm disappointed in the knife and wish I'd gotten something else, but I haven't had the same experiences you've had with chipping or lost tip. Rolling and dullness I attribute to soft steel, but mine seems to sharpen up okay using flat stones or the Sharpmaker. The built-in sharpener is probably better than nothing in a survival situation, but not something I'd choose to use normally.

    You may be using yours harder than I do. Give me a few simple tests to perform to see if mine behaves like yours does.

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