Gerber Strongarm - THR

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Old June 20, 2015, 09:50 AM   #1
Join Date: May 24, 2008
Location: SW MO
Posts: 3,232
Gerber Strongarm

Anyone have and use one yet?

I've had Gerbers from the pre-Fiskars days and since, I understand past performance varies.

Looking at this as a camping/hunter/utility, from the view of comparing to ESEE/Ontario. The only disadvantage I see is the swedge grind, vs flat. But I'm not going to prep food with it, just (rarely) clean game.

US 420 stainless vs 1095 carbon steel, about the same.
Integral molded handle vs bolt on composite, easier to clean.
Blade shape, both utility and equally versatile.
Offered in plain edge. What is the thing calling it "fine," I don't know.
Guard ok, grip shape reversible, striking pommel, meh.
Sheath system highly versatile, with strong field retention, not loose.

I read half a dozen online reviews, nobody mentions blade thickness or flexibility, some have split wood and feathered with good results. The edge holds up acceptably well for them.

Seeing this runs in the $50+ shipped vs $80 to $100 up for the others, I'm considering it as a good buy for a working field knife. Do you have one and what do you think of it?
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Old June 20, 2015, 08:46 PM   #2
Join Date: March 19, 2006
Posts: 11,291
I have no experience with the Strongarm because of the quality decline I've watched from '00 to now on Gerber's other products.

If you can prioritize for us price, country of origin, corrosion resistance, edge retention, blade toughness, and handle type / construction then we can give you more relevant advice.
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Old June 23, 2015, 01:40 AM   #3
Join Date: April 15, 2005
Location: Greeley, CO
Posts: 7,888
I took a very cursory glance at it, and for the type of use you describe, my instinct is to say you can buy a better knife for around the same price or maybe even a little less.

I will admit, however, that Ugaarguy and I hold the same opinion as far as the decline in quality and so I do have a strong bid against them. Gerber could be producing knives on par with Spyderco or Kershaw or a handful of other companies whose products are solid, but they don't. Instead, they are largely building crap. Even their multi-tools have taken a significant dive, and I can remember a time when I actually would have preferred a Gerber over any either multi-tool.

Anyway, that's just my opinion and as I said, I took a very cursory glance at the knife in question and am mostly opining from a strongly held prejudice.
First Battalion, Seventh Marines, 1990-1994

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Old June 23, 2015, 09:52 AM   #4
Join Date: May 24, 2008
Location: SW MO
Posts: 3,232
In my thinking it boils down to 1095 vs 420 stainless. Gerber chose a steel more suited for retail sales. They also went saber grind instead of flat grind. Despite the conversation with a TTAK blogger reported there, I see their intent was to keep mass sales up rather than make the better knife a user would prefer.

If ESEE offered the LS in nitride finish I'd buy one. We don't enjoy that kind of market at present.

Last edited by bikerdoc; June 23, 2015 at 07:18 PM.
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Old June 23, 2015, 12:12 PM   #5
Join Date: March 19, 2006
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It's a few bucks more than an ESEE, but have you looked at the Ontario Blackbird SK5 with 154CM blade?
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Old June 23, 2015, 05:18 PM   #6
Bartholomew Roberts
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Location: Texas
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If you are wanting an ESEE but have a $55 budget, take a look at some of the smaller Becker knives - IIRC, my BK16 was around $65 shipped. Or even the Becker Escobar in D2 mentioned in this forum - only an inch shorter and $50+ shipping.

As far as finishes on carbon steel go, the edge is still exposed to corrosion no matter what finish is used and that's the important part. On my Moras, corrosion usually kills the edge before use does. Rust or discoloration on the body of the blade will make it look rough but it won't really effect its use as a tool unless you just let it run wild. A lot of people strip the finishes to get less friction while cutting.

One thing I like about a really high polish edge is it seems to help prevent corrosion on the edge of the blade.
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Old June 23, 2015, 05:30 PM   #7
Join Date: May 26, 2007
Posts: 8,274
The OKC Air Force survival knife might be the best sub $50 survival knife you can buy. Kinda old school and not as cool, but solid.

Most people don't really want the truth.

They just want constant reassurance that what they believe is the truth
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Old June 24, 2015, 07:57 AM   #8
Join Date: April 24, 2007
Posts: 9,202

I agree with your assessment of the Ontario USAF survival knife. My brother used one for Ranger training and while it came back looking the worse for wear it held together and performed well under some very tough conditions. I offered to get him a new one but he just had me clean the knife up and resharpen it.
"An elegant weapon for a more civilized age."-Obi Wan Kenobi
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Old June 24, 2015, 09:53 AM   #9
Yo Mama
Join Date: June 4, 2008
Posts: 2,577
Good on Gerber for making it in the USA though! They have to get at least one point for this alone.

Now the design of the knife looks like a nightmare. I don't see one place you would want to hold with any type of heavy cutting without gloves on. The "striking pommel" looks like it will jab you in the gut when you sit down also. Last, the 420hc steel, Buck just does this the best. I prefer the steel on a Buck knife period and I'm not sure I trust Gerber with it.

Becker BK16 all the way vs. the design of the Gerber Strongarm. With the Becker, one thing rarely mentioned is that the sheath that comes with it is one of the best for a production knife. Also, with any concerns for rust I just wipe down edge and coting with CLP, and never had a problem. You also get 2 sets of handles tan and black. They come off easy, and makes it a snap to clean under them.

While the Becker is a lighter blade, Ontario does make a tank of a fixed blade called the RD series and also worth checking out.

shows you how much nature loves a BK16:
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Old June 25, 2015, 09:22 AM   #10
Join Date: May 24, 2008
Location: SW MO
Posts: 3,232
I've discovered any knife butt will jab you in the midsection, whether mounted hi ride or dangler. The Gerber Mk II taught me that, and others reinforced the lesson over the years.

The issue is the bottom of the sheath coming into contact with a seat, the ground, etc and forcing the butt into your side. But - yes, a striking pommel wouldn't make it any better, which is why some field carry mounted to a shoulder strap inverted. That has it's unique challenges, but the Strongarm addresses them where a leather sheath won't.

Reviewers online haven't been too negative about the grip. I have a early M2 Nimravus that is guaranteed to hot spot any way you hold it because the scales are rebated away from the tang and allow it to protrude significantly. BM changed it later. The Strongarm appears to have much less potential for the issue.

The price of the knife doesn't guarantee good performance one way or the other. I've owned a few over 62 years and each is a compromise to enhance certain features. And like anyone else, I've learned looks are not always an indicator of performance. You have to hold and use the knife to understand if it's any good.

Any owners out there who can report on their experience with it?
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Old June 29, 2015, 03:07 PM   #11
Join Date: July 8, 2006
Posts: 1,850
The Strongarm is very similar to the Prodigy, but the Strongarm is available with a plain edge. The Strongarm is probably Gerbers best fixed blade. I prefer it to the LMF. Although knife aficionados will not like the stick tang or 420HC stainless blade.
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Old July 4, 2015, 08:11 AM   #12
Lone Star
Join Date: January 3, 2003
Location: SW USA
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I think you'd be better off with a Buck Model 119, and Wal-Mart and similar stores don't charge a huge price for one.
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