Sunday, December 14, 2008

$18.00 Gerber Profile Folder

I should really kick my own ass every time I buy another Chinese made knife from a once-great American knife company. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a bargain. First it was a Chinese Buck Diamondback fixed blade this past summer, later the Gerber Steadfast, the new Chinese version of their classic LMF fixed knife. More recently, like a few weeks ago, I purchased one [okay, eventually 6!] of the Cold Steel Kudu folders, which I feel is an excellent value for between $5-$10 USD.

Enter the Gerber profile series...
I went to my favorite local warehouse sporting goods store, the one I refer to as "Redneck REI". It's a member co-op deal like REI, but their prices are way better and they carry guns, knives and a ton of fishing, hunting, climbing and camping suppies. It's my Toys R Us. Anyhow, I walked in there to get some stocking stuffers for family members...ya know, the type of shit I give as gifts, pepper spray, lexan sporks, keychain flashlights and trout lures. Useful stuff.
I chatted with Carl, the resident knife-guy there. Carl is knowledgeable, friendly and appreciative of the business that regulars like myself give to the store. I perused their usual selection of roughly 8-12 Benchmades, a similar number of Spydercos and CRKTs and Cold Steels. The only new knife line they carry is Blade-Tech, a local [for me at least] company. I purchased 2 excellent little foreign-made Blade-Tech folders the last time I paid Carl a visit. I still haven't gotten around to reviewing them, but they are getting carried and evaluated, so you'll see something new on them sooner rather than later.
I'd seen the Gerber Profile series of knives at this store, and also on knifecenter, beginning mid-summer. The price seemed right. What didn't seem right is that I couldn't find ANY info on what blade steel was used, not even on Gerber's own site! I call bullshit on that! The box of the Profile folder I obtained calls it a "surgical stainless steel", which in knife talk usually equals "SHIT". But hey, I'm willing to give it a chance. I'm guessing it's similar to one of the Chrome/Moly/Vanadium steels that benchmade and Spyderco have been using in their well-made Chinese-produced knives. Something similar to 8Cr14MoV Stainless Steel would be my best guess, unless it's a sub-standard version of 420J or something.
The blade has a titanium nitride-esque coating. It came sharp enough, but I made it sharper with an EZ Lap diamond rod followed by a fine white ceramic rod. Not bad.

This is the Profile folder I got for $18.00, it retails for $32.00 USD:

The handles look to be a new millennium update of Gerber's classic "Gator Grip" textured rubber. It looks and feels similar to Kraton. There's no clip, just like the old Gators, so they include a cheap "ballistic" nylon sheath. The whole package set me back just over $18.00...again, not bad for a knife with an MSRP of $30.00+.
What's the obsession with guthook blades by Gerber and Buck? I guess they tend to cater to hunters, but strangely enough, I've never known a real hunter who's told a success story about a knife featuring a guthook. My ex-brother in law is an avid deer hunter from childhood, Idaho born and bred. He once told me that he thought guthooks were all hype and that he preferred to just use the tip of his clip-point fixed blade, which was a no-name brand, and nothing special. I've heard similar stories from other makes you wonder. Anyway, both the folding and fixed versions of the Profile have a guthook-tipped counterpart. I can think of one use for a guthook, and that would be cutting oneself free of a stuck seatbelt after a car wreck. But I think any sharp knife can do that.
Here's the guthook version:

The fixed-blade Profiles also retail for around $32.00, but can be found online, or at honest retailers for less than $20.00
Here's the non-guthook fixed blade version of Gerber's Profile, it can be found for around the same price:

I don't even really think time will tell if this is a decent knife or not. I have so many goddamn blades that I never really get a chance to put any of them through any rigorous testing unless I really buckle down and make an afternoon of it. But I will try and give the Profile folder a day-in-court by using it as an EDC blade, however inconvenient its lack of a pocket clip might be. It's a good looking folding knife, if not a little Plain Jane. Kinda vanilla if you catch me. Oh well, I'd rather buy a bargain priced knife from an American-originated company that still employs [at least some] Americans and offers a warranty than some smokeshop mini mart garbage. I am confident in Gerber's warranty, when I worked in retail cutlery they were very easy to deal with and prompt in their response to both questions and issues, even long after they were bought by Fiskars Brands.
All said and done, I suppose I'm not just a sucker for cheap knives, but for cheap knives produced by brand names who offer a warranty on their blades. As I wrote about Cold Steel's cheapie Kudu folder, even their 1 year warranty is pretty generous for a knife that can be found as cheap as five dollars.

Gerber's inexpensive Profile knives can be found at GERBERretailers everywhere


lowly said...

I love the grip material on the gators and I really like the edge shape on this knife. I really wouldn't mind getting it for a utility knife, but couldn't find anything about the steel either. Any further info on this knife?

Aaron said...

I bet it's like a 420J stainless, or 440. Companies like Gerber and Buck who used to have a long and revered history of American manufacture seem reluctant to tell buyers what steel they use for knives out of their Taiwan/China factories. Buck just began this year with American manufacturing again, in a new Idaho facility, maybe Gerber will follow suit. I do know this knife is more than decent for the price, even if we aren't 100% sure about the bladesteel, thanks for reading Lowly!