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Older Gerber Knives

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by ASBOB, Apr 27, 2012.

  1. ASBOB

    ASBOB Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 8, 2008
    There is a general sense here that Gerber knives, pre-Fiskers, were quite good.

    I'd like to find out more. Can anyone recommend models worth looking into?

    I'm interested in folders, roughly 4" handle. Any of the old school models particularly good?
  2. Russ Andrews

    Russ Andrews Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 27, 2002
    In the late 70s, Gerber made a version of their "Folding Sportsman" which
    used VascoWear as the blade steel. They were HTed to 57-59Rc.
    They were marked "V steel" on the back of the ricasso.

    Gerber stopped using VascoWear in the early 80s. They show
    up in the used market only occasionally.

    Very good knives.
  3. The Mastiff

    The Mastiff

    Apr 21, 2006
    Correct. It was only the sportsman 2 with the V steel. Great stuff!

  4. jdm61

    jdm61 itinerant metal pounder Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 12, 2005
    The regular brass and rosewood handled folders from that era were nice knives for the time. I still have one. With that said, the ultimate collectable Gerber may still be the very early Mark II's with the canted blade and "cats tongue" handle. I have one from the second series in the early 70's with the straight blade. They were still made from forged L6 at that time and were very nice for a factory knife.
  5. hardheart


    Sep 19, 2001
    They made quite a few fixed blades with tool steel. The stainless ones were marked with an S inside a circle on the edge side of the metal handle. Their kitchen/field/combat knives were pretty much the same knife with just a high polish for the kitchen/table knives or the cat's tongue coating for the sheath knives.

    I have a V-steel folding sportsman, bought the second one I saw on the bay because I saw it about five years after the first. Rare bird.
  6. The Mastiff

    The Mastiff

    Apr 21, 2006
    I wasn't able to get one or even afford it when it came out. I was not long out of the army and already married. It took me almost 15 years before I finally had one and a lot of looking. Another dealer at a gun&knife show I used to work had one at home NIB and she sold it too me after a year of asking. It was worth it. By then I already had customs with Vascowear and knew the steel pretty well. Mine had the dating paper inside the box which put a manufacture date at 1986. That must have been close to, or the last year they made them.

    The folding hunter they made in M2 steel and walnut is going for even bigger bucks nowadays.

  7. OrdnanceBubbaUSMC


    May 23, 2004
    Had a tiny Gerber lockback with black blade and gray handle that I liked a lot, think my dad let me take it home in 1988. It was super smooth, very good edge retention, and quick to get a very keen edge.

    No idea what model it was or what blade steel was used.
  8. ArfinGreebly


    Apr 3, 2008
    The Sixties

    My introduction to Gerber knives occurred around 1964 when my dad brought home a Gerber French kitchen knife from the Aerojet General company store. The blade was chrome-plated high-speed tool steel and the handle was (also chromed) cast aluminum. Not dishwasher safe, as the chrome would blister. Not a problem in those days, I mean, who had a dishwasher?

    It was shiny and sharp. It looked like this:



    The Seventies

    Some years later (1971), I would purchase some Gerber hunting knives at the base exchange on Ramstein AFB (Germany). I got a Mini Magnum, a Shorty, and a little knife called the Pixie. The Mini Magnum and the Shorty were fairly close in size, with the shorty being somewhat longer and having a slightly wider blade. The Pixie was about the right size for a bird-n-trout knife.

    This brochure shows what they looked like:

    Sadly, I broke the Mini Magnum and re-profiled it into a kitchen utility knife and gave it to my mom along with the Pixie. I still have the Shorty. I dug it up in 2007 when we moved to Idaho.

    I took some quick-n-dirty pix. The quality kinda sux. Sorry.

    The Shorty is to the left of the small Gerber Guardian dagger.



    The handles on those are also cast aluminum, but it's coated with something called Armorhide; very grippy, even when wet.

    The Eighties

    Several years later (1982), I would pick up another couple of old-school Gerbers at the Cutlery World store at the Meadows Mall in Las Vegas.

    From the same photo spread, you can see the traditional tool-steel-and-aluminum-with-armorhide fishing knife, the Muskie above the Shorty and the stainless-bladed Guardian (dagger) in the shot above.

    And here's the Guardian by itself:


    In that same time frame and at the same store, I picked up a Gerber Silver Knight, a small gent's lockback (not pictured here), which I would carry for twenty more years as my primary EDC.

    The blades on the tool steel knives were very hard, but unfortunately also somewhat brittle, as one might expect with high-speed tool steel.

    The (stainless) blade on the Guardian was somewhat tougher, if not as hard.

    Something else to remember about the tool steel blades: even though they were chromed, the cutting edge was, of course, exposed steel, and would develop pitting with a very black oxidization if left in the sink without cleaning & drying.

    I have a better camera now, so maybe I can pull those pieces out and do them justice with some better clarity.

  9. aquaman67

    aquaman67 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 27, 2012

    I for one would love to see a good picture of the Guardian pamphlet you have. I have a Guardian but no paperwork.
  10. Confederate


    Sep 5, 2005
    One of the best known Gerbers was the EZ-Out. Some of the older models had S30V stainless blades. The knife frames were/are very light, which made them popular to carry and use. I have one of the later knives and find it still quite useful. The rest of the Gerber line is more than borderline awful...and unless you get the EZ-Out cheap, or if someone gives you one, the thirty dollar price tag is something of a joke.


    Another popular folder was the AR300. I picked up a few several years ago for a great price and have used them as gifts. They also are light weight, the rubber insets make the knife feel comfortable in the hand and the blades have a beautiful finish on them. As for the steel blades themselves, Gerber has been using some really crappy stuff. But unlike the Paraframes, they seem to cut okay.

    Gerber, as of a few years ago, made the conscious decision to fall back on their reputation and use crappy blades billed as "surgical stainless steel," which almost universally means garbage steel blades. (Virtually all stainless steel instruments used in surgery is disposable, and is of poor quality. They're used once and then thrown away.)


  11. Zidfeldts

    Zidfeldts Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 28, 2010
    I have all 3 sizes of the Sportsman and they are really good knives. Just a little bit heavier than everyone seems to like nowadays. The middle sized one is a handy sized and it was my second good quality knives. I now have hundreds of knives and that Gerber is as good a cutter as any of them. The edges on mine were quite thick so I had to do a major re-profile.
  12. ArfinGreebly


    Apr 3, 2008
    I'll dig it up and see if my new camera can do a better job.


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