Gerber Gear has a charming backstory. What once started out as Gerber Legendary Blades, a young knife company, it quickly grew into a big business. Joseph R. Gerber started this company out in 1939 as a small batch of handmade cutlery sets given as holiday gifts. But this quickly turned into thousands of retail accounts around the country. By 1960, Gerber had quickly become one of the most trusted, appreciated, and collected names in knives.
It has now been 70 years since its founding and Gerber continues to grow. Still grounded in the same principles that first guided Joseph R. Gerber’s enterprise, Gerber is a company dedicated to making knives and tool that combine high quality materials and innovative designs that will stand up to a lifetime of use. The sleek, stainless steel sheath knives of the 50s and 60s have given birth to today’s lightweight, open-frame clip folders. Gerber is, however, no longer just a knife company. Multi-tools, axes, handsaws, machetes, headlamps, flashlights, survival kits, digging implements—these are the newest directions that Gerber explores with the same standards of quality and design that inform their revered knife making.
When talking about who they are, Gerber has said, “Like the mean and women who carry our gear, Gerber is Unstoppable. Decades of innovation and dedication have put us ere. Renowned as a master of knives and tools, Gerber’s problem-solving, life-saving products are designed with the unique needs of specific activities in Inc. Today that includes much more than a blade.”
These knives are carried extensively by hunters, soldiers, and tradesmen, and Gerber’s heritage runs deep. They are now looking toward the future, where tomorrow’s problems will be solved by the next generation of innovations.
All of Gerber’s products are designed and engineered in Portland, Oregon, where many are produced. They also tap their global supply chain to create a wide range of activity specific gear for wide variety of consumers. And no matter what, every product that bears the Gerber name is back by their famous lifetime warranty. “Quality, reliability, innovation. For over 70 years this is what our customers have expected from us. And whether our products are sued to save time, save the day, or save a life, Gerber always delivers.”
Today, we will be going over the Gerber Grey Shark Belly Wharncliffe folder knife, which was released just earlier this year.
The blade on this knife is made out of 420HC High Carbon Stainless Steel. This steel is a 420 stainless steel that has been modified with more carbon, which is actually where the HC in the name comes from—High Carbon. This steel also usually sports a better heat treatment than a regular 420 stainless steel would have. 420HC holds a higher carbon production rate than a stainless steel. The content is much softer than the higher number steel count 440, yet it is more rugged than other similar products. This steel material has a greater carbon base and is mixed to a harder content than 420 stainless steels. Buck Knives is well known for using this type of steel in their products. There are many different levels of steel, but products made from 420HC steel are definitely different form other types of steel in terms of performance and reliability. Tools made from this steel are easy to sharpen and are durable even when in constant use. This makes this steel type a great option for machetes and tools. Blades made from this material are less prone to rusting or corroding as long as you remember to rinse, dry, and oil your knife after use. There are plenty of advantages to using 420HC steel, but one of the biggest is that they are so easy to sharpen. Knives made of this material stand up really well while fishing or hunting, making this knife a reliable work tool while on the trail or in the outdoors. This will be a strong and reliable blade.
This blade has been finished with the most traditional finishes on knife blades: a satin finish. This finish is created by sanding the blade in one direction with increasing levels of a fine abrasive, which is usually a sandpaper. A satin finish works to show the bevels of the blade, showcasing the lines of the knife, while also reducing its reflective glare. The finer the abrasive and the more even the lines; the cleaner the satin finish blade looks. This is a slightly less shiny finish than a polished finish, and it is less expensive than both the mirror and polished finishes. This is a semi-shiny finish with a luster falling between bead blasted—which is a matte finish, and mirror polish—which is a high gloss finish. This finish requires great hand skill to accomplish and does cut down on corrosion slightly.
This knife has been carved into a Wharncliffe blade shape, which is extremely similar to the sheepsfoot blade, but not to be confused with the sheepsfoot blade. The Wharncliffe is pretty much as standard blade shape that has been turned upside down. This means that the blade has a totally flat cutting edge, and the spine of the blade drops gradually until the tip forms a point. The history of this blade shape gets pretty muggy because there are a few main stories about how the Wharncliffe came to be. But, the actual name “Wharncliffe” did not exist until 1822, which means that this knife style was named after that point in history. Regardless of the history, the Wharncliffe is a very useful blade shape, although it might not at first appear to be. It is fantastic for opening boxes and envelopes, and for box cutting. However, it is not very good for preparing food and skinning as the lack of a belly makes it difficult for cutting soft tissue and using it on a cutting board.
There are a variety of things that are confusing between the Wharncliffe and the Sheepsfoot blade. It is generally accepted that a Sheepsfoot blade has an abruptly curving spine at the tip of the knife, creating very little point, while a Wharncliffe has a more gradually tapering spine creating a pointer tip. Unfortunately, this also means that the Wharncliffe shaped blades will also have a more fragile tip.
The blade does feature a plain edge, although there is some shallow jimping at the bottom of the blade near the handle. This is so that you have impeccable grip no matter what you are using this knife for. This jimping, along with a design on the handle is where the Grey Shark Belly got its name.
The handle is made out of Glass Filled Nylon, or GFN for short. This material is the same thing as Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon, or FRN for short. They are both a nylon based plastic that tis reinforced with glass fiber and injection molded for use in knife handles. This handle material is one of the cheapest and toughest handle materials to produce in large scale production knives. This material is not going to be seen on custom knives because it is optimized for large scale production with dies for injection molding, and not unique custom made products. And even though GFN is perceived as a cheaper material, which it is, it makes for a very tough knife handle material and can take some serial abuse. TI is quite a bit more flexible than G 10 and other Resin Laminates, so it does not have the rigidity associated with them. However, it makes up for this in its impact toughness. Additionally, nearly any texture can be created on the surface of this material because it is injection molded, making it a very versatile material to work with, with infinite possibilities. As a general guide, the higher the glass content, the more rigid the nylon is going to be.
The characteristic that makes this material almost indestructible is that the nylon fibers are arranged haphazardly throughout which results in it being strong in all directions as opposed to G 10, Carbon Fiber, and Micarta, which have the fiberglass strands aligned in a single direction. This means that the other materials are going to be extremely strong in a single direction, but as soon as they are stressed in a separate direction, they are prone to cracking and falling apart. These other materials are very brittle because of this characteristic and will crack if subjected to a hard or sharp object. GFN though, has the haphazardly arranged nylon fibers, which means that it is not going to be brittle. On the other hand, it is not going to be as “grippy” as G 10, and some people feel like it has a cheap, plastic feel to it. The last major benefit to having a knife handle made out of this material is that it requires zero maintenance.
This handle does sport a lanyard hole that has been carved into the butt of the handle. On the belly of the handle, there is a row of markings that do resemble shark markings, which is one of the reasons that this knife was named the Grey Shark Belly.
The Pocket Clip:
The pocket clip is statically designed for tip down carry only on the traditional side of the handle. This is a skeletonized, wire pocket clip. It is silver, to go with the blade. The clip does have a slight bend to it, which will help it stay snugly in your pocket.
This is a manual folding knife that features a lock back mechanism and a thumb window to assist you in the opening process. The thumb window is very similar to the thumb hole, except that it is more rectangular and much larger. Since the 1980s, the thumb hole has most often been associated with folding knives from Spyderco. Over the years though, many other knife makers have adopted the feature because of how well the thumb hole does work. Opening a folder equipped with a thumb window is just like using a thumb stud. By its very design, it is ambidextrous. And, many knife enthusiasts prefer the thumb window to the thumb stud because it doesn’t protrude from the blade and get in the way.
This Gerber knife features the lock back locking mechanism which is also known as the back lock. This is one of the oldest and most reliable locking mechanism on the market. Due to its simplicity and affordability, the lock back mechanism is one of the most well-known knife locks. The lock back functions with a locking arm, which sits along the handle spine and is molded with a hook that fits into a notch on the back of the blade, behind the pivot. This hook is dragged by tension from the back spring into the notch, therefore locking the knife with a snap. Because it is reliable and economical to construct, the lock back is one of the most common used in folding knives.
The blade on this knife is 3.25 inches long with a handle that measures in at 4.5 inches long. The overall length of the knife is 7.75 inches long and the knife weighs in at 2.3 ounces. This knife was made in the United States of America.
The Shark Belly is one of many new models released by Gerber in 2017. This manual folder features a lock back mechanism that utilizes a rocker arm to provide top-notch stability and ease of operation. Each high carbon stainless steel blade is deployed with the use of the thumb window which also provides an ambidextrous opening option. The name of this knife is indicative of the unidirectional pattern of the lower portion of the handle scales–providing an ideal amount of control regardless of the task at hand. This mode features grey GFN (Glass Filled Nylon) handles, a sheepsfoot style blade, that is partly serrated, in a satin finish and the pocket clip is statically designed for tip down carry only on the traditional side of the handle. Pick up your Shark Belly knife today at BladeOps.