- Buyer's Guide
Gerber Launch the US-Made Gerber Reserve
Gerber Reserve: A legendary tool maker goes back to their roots
Started in 1910, and prior to their entry into the world of knives, Gerber was initially an advertising firm. The founder, Joseph Gerber, gave knife sets to their clients as holiday gifts. Thanks to the glowing feedback, in 1939 Gerber transitioned and started selling tools from a catalog (run by a little-known company called Abercrombie and Fitch!). Soon after they changed their name to Gerber Legendary Blades. Over the next few decades they found themselves recognized as one of THE names in knives.
Eighty years later, the unique story continues. Gerber has been designing and creating tools of all shapes and sizes out of Portland, Oregon. They are the second biggest multitool seller in the United States. They’re also the largest supplier of knives and multitools to the US armed forces. Successful and innovative collaborations with outdoor experts like survivalist Bear Grylls and master hunter/conservationist Randy Newberg speak further to their rustic identity. In recent years, they’ve expanded their portfolio to include machetes, tomahawks, survival kits, and the like. Their vast range is one of the reasons their products have become a stalwart in the outdoor community.
Over the past twenty years, there has been a renaissance of small boutique knife makers, and they have reentered the consumer consciousness as a critical part of EDC. No longer do knives just serve as something to take camping or hunting. They are a useful tool for chores and daily life. As the global community continues to navigate a challenging situation, and 2020 has caused us to reflect on our priorities, Gerber has followed suit by going back to their roots and releasing a small boutique collection of USA-made knives known as Gerber Reserve. This exclusive collection is “built on the pillars of quality, affordability, and local ingenuity.” We were fortunate to get a sneak peek of these new tools.
The first knife in the collection is the Gerber Reserve Terracraft (available to order October 22nd). The Terracraft really caught my eye as soon as I opened the box, mainly due to its size! It’s big at just over nine inches top to tail, but big in the way that you want from an outdoor knife. It is robust and incredibly useful. It features premium S30V American steel. This is a workhorse and a reliable companion for those outdoor adventurers.
Speaking of which, for those escapades in the wild, I generally prefer full-tang construction. This means the blade extends the whole length of the knife and the handle is attached in two parts on either side, in this case by rivets. This adds strength and functionality, and allows you to trust the knife, which is critical for an outdoor tool. The Terracraft has the full-tang build. It feels like it could take a lot of abuse. Particularly due to the thickness of the S30V steel, which I have no doubt could be sharpened for decades to come. However, with that ample steel comes the need for comfort. Thankfully, Gerber has thought of that. The machined G-10 (Micarta) is light in the hand with the scales providing an ergonomic grip. This makes it easy to use even for the heavier-duty tasks.
The rivet holes could easily be lashed to a branch if you need extra reach for when you’re going full Grizzly Adams and surviving off the land. The leather sheath (there is also bolt-on available) will get better with each use. Although even as a new knife, the in/out action was quick and simple. In fact, I think that’s critical. In the past I’ve experienced poorly made sheaths which affect your ability, and desire, to use the tool. Call me old-fashioned, but I want to be able to use my knife when I need it. I don’t want to have to take the sheath off my belt to access it due to a complicated or stiff mechanism.
I really enjoyed using the Terracraft. It is well made and reliable, as a good knife should be. In the age of 900-in-1 lightweight multitools, there is something enchanting about a simple, powerful blade. In the short time I have used it, I can easily see it becoming my outdoor companion.
The Gerber Reserve Sedulo (available to order November 12th) is the slightly smaller folding brother. At just over 4 inches folded and 8 inches extended, it is a perfect everyday companion. Just as with the Terracraft, this features S30V steel with a plain edge designed to be versatile for daily tasks! This knife is nimble, with a blade that deploys quickly and smoothly with just a thumb and immediately locks into place. This fluid action is efficient and allows you to get to the task at hand: whether that be opening a box, cutting rope, or slicing up a sandwich. This mechanism design also allows ambidextrous access. I managed to open with both my left and right hands without losing a finger.
The locking mechanism is rigid, and requires you to engage it with both thumb and forefinger. I like this, as it forces you to make an intentional decision about allowing the blade to move, and it isn’t a lock you could accidentally disengage during use.
The handle is visually appealing: a healthy mix of tactical and trendy that will call to many weekend warriors. The ergonomics are comfortable, but I do wish the body of the handle was a little thicker to give more purchase in those tasks that require more “oomph.” It comes with a deep pocket clip (and a lanyard hole) so you can keep this close at hand. I think that the Sedulo does a really good job of bridging the gap between pocket knife and hunting knife. Due to its materials and its build quality, this could definitely slip into a weekend bag for that trip from city to mountain and find use at both ends.
There are also a few ‘extras’ for the reserve program which are worth noting! These knives are direct to consumer, made in the Gerber workshop in Portland. You can customize them all the way from laser etched blade design to handle color and rivet choice. When purchasing a premium product, you want it to be “right”. The customization is a nice touch. It allows you to make it your own, and get exactly what you wanted.
Gerber Reserve is a new, yet familiar, direction for one of America’s best-known tool makers. In future years, they intend to release two products annually into the program. Based on these first two products, Gerber is looking back to their roots by focusing on simple blades, crafted from exceptional materials, and constructed by US hands. These small batch competitively priced knives are pushing Gerber forward with an eye on the future but at the same time paying homage to the legacy of those magazine-ordered Gerber Legendary Blades from 1939.
To find out more about the Gerber Reserve program, or to customize your own Terracraft or Sedulo, check them out here.