When Joseph R. Gerber described his young knife company, Gerber Legendry Blades, as the, “birth of an enterprise that grew into big business,” it was true, but it was an understatement for sure. What had started out in 1939 as a small batch of handmade cutlery sets given as holiday gifts had 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.
Over 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 tools 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.
Gerber says, “Like the men and women who carry our gear, Gerber is Unstoppable. Decades of innovation and dedication have put us here. 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 mind. Today that includes much more than a blade.”
They go on to say, “Founded in 1939 and based in Portland, Oregon, Gerber is an American brand whose products have global reach and relevance. Carried extensively by hunters, soldiers, and tradesmen. Gerber’s heritage runs deep. And we are now looking toward the future, where tomorrow’s problems will be solved by the next generation of innovations.”
All Gerber 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 backed 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 used to save time, save the day, or save a life, Gerber always delivers.”
Today we will be discussing the Gerber US-ASSIST Spring Assisted knife family.
There are actually three versions of this Gerber knife. One of them uses CPM-S30V steel, while the other two use 420HC stainless steel.
The CPM-S30V steel is a premium steel that is designed and made by Crucible. This steel was made specifically for knives, so you can expect it to give you all of the best and most needed qualities. For starters, it has fantastic edge retention and resists rust effortlessly. Crucible added vanadium carbides o bring out the extreme harness into the steel alloy matrix. If you look at this steel dollar for dollar, it is regarded as one of the finest knife blade steels with the optimal balance of edge retention, hardness and toughness. However, this steel does prove to be hard to sharpen.
The second and third versions use 420HC stainless steel. These two versions are a little bit less quality, and thus, cheaper, because of the blade steel that is used. 420HC is similar to 420 steel but with increased levels of carbon (HC stands for High Carbon) which makes the steel harder. This is still going to be considered a lower-mid range steel, but the manufacturer can bring out the best in this affordable steel using quality heat treatments. A good heat treatment will result in better edge retention and resistance to corrosion. Surprisingly enough, although it is one of the cheaper steels, it is also one of the most corrosion resistant steels that you are going to find.
The S30V version has been finished with a stonewash finish. A stonewashed finish refers to tumbling the blade in an abrasive material. This finish easily hides scratches, while also providing a less reflective nature than a brushed or satin finish blade. One of the most positive features of a stonewashed finish is that it easily hides scratches and smudges that occur with use over time, as well as being very low maintenance and preserving their original look over time.
The 420HC versions feature a bead blasted finish, which is created by using abrasive glass beads that are blasted at the steel at high pressure, which results in an even gray finish. A blasted finish reduces the reflection and glare due to its even matte surface. The blasting does create an increased surface area and micro abrasions make the steel more prone to rust and corrosion. A blasted blade, even form stainless steel such as this one, can rust overnight if left in a very humid environment.
The blade has been carved into a drop point blade shape, which is the most popular blade shape that is in use in the market today. This blade style is a great all-purpose knife that can stand up to almost anything. It features a lowered tip that gives you more control, it features a broad tip, which is what makes this blade shape so tough, and it features a very large belly, which is what makes this blade shape so easily used in almost all situations.
There are two edges that you can choose from. If you want the CPM-S30V steel, you can only get a plain edge. However, if you are choosing the 420HC steel, you can choose between a plain or a combo edge. The plain edge is going to give you cleaner cuts. Plus, you are going to be able to get a finer edge and it will be easier to sharpen. The plain edge is best used for push cuts, which include peeling, skinning, and even shaving.
The combination edge is a blade that has the upper two thirds plain and the lower third serrated. This edge style is designed to give you the best of both worlds. It is said that you can still take on the fine detail work and get clean cuts with the portion that is plain. But, you are also prepared to saw through thicker materials with the serrated section. While this sounds nice and many people do feel that way, one of the biggest complaints is that both portions are too small to reap the benefits. Many people feel like the plain portion isn’t large enough to tackle most of your tasks and the serrated portion is too small to actually saw through any of the thick materials.
The handle on all of these knives has been made out of Glass Filled Nylon, or GFN. This is the same material as Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon, or FRN. This is a nylon-based plastic that is reinforced with glass fiber and injection molded for use in knife handles. This is one of the cheapest and toughest handle materials to produce in large scale production knives. Gerber is one of the major producers of GFN handles. This material is not seen in custom knives because it is optimized for large scale production with dies for injection molding, and not unique custom made products. 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. It is quite a bit more flexible than G-10 and other Resin Laminates, so it does not have the rigidity associated with it. However, it makes up for this in its impact toughness. Additionally, nearly an y texture can be created on the surface of a GFN handle because it is injection molded, making it very versatile material to work with, with infinite possibilities.
The handle has a basket pattern woven across the middle of the handle. This pattern is slightly inlayed and will give you plenty of texture. The ergonomics of this handle fit fantastically in your palm—there is an elongated shallow finger groove that gives your hand a very comfortable grip.
The butt of the handle does have a lanyard hole, which will add a little extra grip when needed, add a touch of personal style, and allow you to withdraw this knife a little bit more quickly.
The Pocket Clip:
The pocket clip is a scratch resistant clip that is designed for either tip up or tip down carry. This is a skeletonized black clip that is kept in place by a single black screw that matches the rest of the hardware on this knife.
The US-ASSIST is a spring assisted knife that features Gerber’s patented B.O.S.S. Tech (Balls of Stainless Steel) as well as a dual ramped thumb stud.
An assisted opening knife, which is commonly known as a spring-assisted knife, is a knife that spring open only after the blade is slightly pushed open with force. Unlike the switchblade, nothing holds down the assisted opening knife when it is in the closed position. As the user begins operating up the blade with a thumb stud, which has some resistance, the spring or torsion bar catches the knife and propels it open where it locks into place. Some of the benefits about an assisted opening knife is that it opens smoothly and efficiently—just like an automatic knife. However, because it is not a fully automatic knife, you don’t have to worry about the strict laws that surround an automatic knife. However, that being said, laws are constantly changing, so keep up with your local knife laws.
The Balls of Stainless Steel technology leverages a ball-bearing system, providing Gerber’s smoothest, most consistent deployment to date. Stainless steel balls reduce friction for seamless opening every time. The cage is designed to keep the balls contained or stable performance over the long haul.
The thumb stud makes for an easy and common operation used to open a spring assisted knife. The thumb stud sits on the side of the blade near where the blade pivots on the handle. It makes for a comfortable way to use one hand to open the knife. However, you should keep in mind how closely this puts your hand to the blade itself—there are many reports of people cutting themselves while opening the blade. One of the complaints against the thumb stud is that because it sits off the blade, it does have the tendency to get in the way at times. One of the biggest advantages of this specific thumb stud is that it is dual ramped, meaning that it extends off each side to make it completely ambidextrous to open. The thumb stud is also textured, which will give you a better grip.
The blade on this knife measures in at 3 inches long, with a handle that measures in at 4.2 inches long. The overall length of this knife when it is opened is 7.2 inches long. This Gerber knife weighs in at 4.9 ounces. The US-ASSIST was made in the United States of America.
The US-ASSIST knife was designed and built in Portland, Oregon and showcases their patented B.O.S.S. Tech (Balls Of Stainless Steel) which is a ball-bearing system that offers smooth and consistent deployment. This spring assist knife can easily be operated with one hand thanks to the dual ramped thumb stud design and can be closed with the release of the push button. The GFN (Glass Filled Nylon) handle scales keep the knife light in your hand while still offering plenty of grip security thanks to the textured center. The Gerber US-ASSIST comes in several variations, you can choose either premium CPM-S30V stainless steel or 420HC for the drop point blade, and you have the option of choosing between a plain and combo edge. The scratch-resistant pocket clip is designed for either tip up or tip down carry. Pick up your favorite of these three knives today at BladeOps.