Gerber blade steels?

May 22, 2000
Hi there

I have a 10 year old Gerber Mk1, but have no clue as to what balde steel was used.

I recently acquired a (black-coated) Guardian. There was no leaflet in the box with details, so once again I have no clue what steel was used.

Can anyone help?
They used to use 440C a lot, but switched to 440A. I'm not sure what year the change took place. Some of their newer ones have ATS-34 blades, but they always make sure you know it if it is ATS-34.
lambertiana, really? Cool I didn't know that. I had always thought that Gerber stayed with the 440 series for the Mark II's
I think mine from the early 80's(?) is in A-2, purchased just before they switched to 440C? Sorry I'm not much help. :(

The blade is not marked with the steel designation but I routinely mark the steel type and price on the boxes of knives when I buy. Unfortunately I never bought another Mark 1.

FWIW, the point on mine was so sharp that resting it on my jeans with only the weight of the knife would draw a bead of blood from my thigh!

Although Gerber has used ATS-34 in some of their knives in recent years, I haven't seen it in the Mark II yet. I do recall reading a couple of years ago that they were starting to forge their Mark I and Mark II blades. A long time ago they also made some knives with M2 blades.
Thanks for the responses guys.

I also emailed Steven Dick of Tactical Knives. He suggested 440A or 420 modified, but gave me an email address for Gerber. I'm waiting for a response from them.

If I look at all the info supplied then I guess the Mk1 is probably 440A or maybe 440C. The Guardian is brand new and was imported weeks ago, so I assume this could be ATS34?

Thanks guys, you've been most helpful. Will try to get definitive Gerber input as well.

Gerber came back to me....

The very old Mk1 and Mk2 models had M6 blades.

The newer Mk1 models either had 440A or 441 blades.

The newer Mk2 models and the Guardians have 420 high carbon stainless steel blades.

Cool :D Mystery solved!
Its my understanding that Gerber used M2 high speed tool steel in their MK1 and MK11 daggers up until a certain point(early 80s maybe?), and from that point on, have used 440A. I have a MKII that I bought from the USMC exchange in 1977 or 78 and it is definitely not 440A.
I have read in older Gerber literature where L6 was used on the
Vietnam war era Mark-type knives and M2 was used on the high speed tool steel hunting knives. The hunting knives then were hard chrome or electroless nickel plated. I have several of their older high speed steel hunting knives and they are excellent edge holders.

The older Folding Sportsmen line and Magnum folding hunter were 440C until the early 80's I believe. They are also great old folders.
IMO, When Pete Gerber sold and left the company the greatness left with him.
The older MKI and MKII were made from L6 (sawmill steel) and at some point in the very late 70's they switched to stainless.

One way you can tell what you have is by the serial number. I have found that the L6 blades had only numbers in the serial. The stainless blades contained an "S" and many times a lot letter like B55678S.

The earliest stainless used in these knives was 440C...then 440A....according to my collection of past literature from Gerber.

L6 was the best but had higher maintenence to prevent rust. It was tough and held a tremendous edge which gave these daggers much more utility than their design. When they switched to stainless, the MK series became little more than just daggers.