Can't say if Gerber's quality has improved or not. I picked up at the same time a Gerber Air Ranger I didn't know what it was just that it was $3.50 in the knife clearance section, it has no steel markings so I'm guessing its nothing impressive. I've dedicated it to being my box opening and recycling cardboard knife. I'm thinking that the LST has always been what it is though, a super lightweight lockback much in the same style as a lot of the lockbacks were making back in the 80's. This one just happened to be the first FRN type handled knife to come out in the market. 420HC steel I think. Not impressive either but it holds a hair shaving sharp edge and it is so easy to pocket. I just love it. The US1 is like an updated version of it and ppl must be nostalgic because they say it's not as good as the LST but they're pretty much the same knife. Can't beat the format at 1 ounces. It's a lot of knife and you don't even feel it in your pocket!