Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Everyone Needs a Good Pocket Knife

    I have my suspicions that my trusty pocket knife of two years was stolen from me. That's right, stolen from my pants pocket while I was swimming. What kind of low-life would steal something as precious as another man's pocket knife? That tool was invaluable to me for two years. The knife, a Gerber Armor, serviced me through Red River Gorge in KY, the Blue Mountains in NC, a summer as a Nature Camp councilor, and countless close to home and Norther Michigan trips. It was my primary blade I carried into the woods for my three day survival test. It cut and prepared for me countless wild edible plants, and cleaned it's fair share of dead squirrels. I must admit... the loss has been hard for me. I own more knives than I can count, and have blades coming out my ears in my workshop. I'm even an amateur blacksmith and have dabbled with knife making. I think it's safe to say I've been around a block or two when it comes to being familiar with blades.
    This knife, however, ingrained in me brand loyalty to Gerber knives. Brand loyalty is something I advise to avoid and try my best to avoid myself. The Gerber Armor just cut the cake for me though (pun!). It's a beefy beauty, the handle is made out of resin saturated fabric, pressure fused together. It had a nice, thick blade, solid locking mechanism, and rough texture to keep a solid grip. So when it came up missing my first instinct was to buy another one, even though it's not part of their 2010 lineup of production knives plenty of stores still carry the Armor stock. However my travels took me to the local Dick's Sporting Goods Store, where I reluctantly perused the glass panes for new models of Gerber knives. I tried the Paraframe I, just not my style, too small of a handle, didn't feel right. A few more went through my hands until I spotted the Evo.
    Several years back, when I bought my Armor my friend picked up the Evo Jr. I really liked the knife but it's a tiny little tool and poorly suited to the stresses of a woodsman's daily abuses. The Evo, however, is the "full-size" version of the Evo Jr. (get it?). It had the features I was looking for, the big handle that won't slip. The conventional locking mechanism that snaps into place behind the blade when you fold it out (thumb operated inside the handle). As well as a feature I had grown to love on my Armor; a knob that assists in the opening of the blade. Fast opening of a woods knife is not necessary (this would be useful for a "fighting knife"), but I still grew fond of the feature and perhaps the simple familiarity of the feature drew me in to this knife. My old trusty Armor also managed to hold a true edge for several months without needing a sharpening (granted I was using the knife well and not on anything that would dull it). The Evo lacks the style of the tanto tip that originally attracted me to the Gerber Armor, however the Evo does have a slightly longer useful cutting edge. After careful consideration I decided the tanto tip had never served me any real benefits so I picked up the Evo.
     I should clarify that I never even consider a knife with a serrated edge for purchase. All of my knives I own or consider owning are fine edged knives (lacking serrations). The reason this is so is that the serrations simply hinder my use of the blade. Serrations make it nearly impossible to get a nice, smooth shave on a piece of wood. Serrations also effectively cut your working surface on the blade in half. I have seen people use serrations for cutting through animal bones and the like. So sure it that's your thing then more power to you. However I implore you to try putting that animal bone on a hard surface, lay the blade of your knife across it, and drive the knife through the bone with the palm of your hand. It works better, cleaner, and easier for me every time. Sure this won't work for large game bones, but what are you doing trying to cut through big game bones with a knife? Don't they make saws and hatchets for things like that? Each tool has one job to do, a knife is a knife and a saw is a saw. Serrations belong on a saw.
    Take a look through Gerber's website. They have some pretty innovative tools on there. They are also much more reasonably priced than, say, Leatherman or ColdSteel. Gerber is my favorite brand at this time, however things change. I'm not saying no other company makes quality things. I am saying, however, that in general Gerber produces consistently better quality for a more reasonable price than the competition.

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