Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Review: Gerber Freeman Guide [Fixed Blade Knife]

About Gerber


Gerber is an American manufacturer of knives and multi-tools located near Portland, Oregon, USA, though it is owned by the Finnish company, Fiskars. The company was founded in 1939. Lately they don't seem to have much of a following among knife enthusiasts.

Gerber Freeman Guide

Price: About $20

Gerber Freeman Guide Fixed Blade Knife
The Freeman Guide is a fixed blade hunting knife also suitable for camping and general utility. I am not positive where mine was made as it doesn't seem to have any marking which would indicate its country of origin, though the sheath clearly states that it was made in China. If I had to guess, I would say the knife is made in China as well.

My review sample was purchased from Amazon.com.



Official Specs


  • 5Cr15MoV SS blade, glass bead finish
  • Hollow ground blade
  • Large finger grooves, tachide on lay, full tang and lanyard slot
  • Formed nylon sheath included
  • Blade length 4-Inch, overall length 8.38-Inch
  • 6.5 ounces with sheath


Blade


The Freeman has a hollow ground, drop point blade, which has a full tang. There is also a groove for a lanyard. It has a fair bit of belly to it as well, which is something I look for in a camp knife. The Gerber logo is laser etched onto the blade, but curiously there is no clear indication of where it was made, which is something I don't look for in a knife. Look, just tell me where it's made and let me be the judge of whether I want to buy it or not.

Handle


The handle is just awesome. It has the best feel of almost any knife I have. The Tachide scales on the handle have a superb feel to them. I've never heard of Tachide, but whatever it is, I like it. Extra points for the jimping around almost the entire surface of the handle.

The lanyard groove looks a little clumsy but I guess it could double as a hammer or glass breaker so I can live with it, though I think the knife would be much sleeker without it.

Sheath


Honestly, if you buy this knife expecting it to have a great sheath, then you deserve the mostly bad sheath you get. Every review I read mentioned how bad the sheath was, so I'm not really holding it against them. Forewarned is forearmed, right? But I will say that my Bear Hunter only cost $4 more and came with a real leather sheath. I bought this Freeman with the intention to either buy a custom Kydex sheath for it or hunker down and learn to make those sheaths myself.

But having said that, the included sheath isn't as bad as I expected. The plastic insert is decently thick, though I'm still not sure I trust it completely. It's interesting to note that the Freeman fits the sheath from my Mora Clipper pretty well, though the setup is a little longer than with the Gerber sheath.

Fit and Finish


Overall, acceptable. The blade came with a decent edge but there's a few minor flaws as well as a minor issue with the machining on the point of the blade. The jimping is perfect, and the scales are acceptable. They have some minor flaws but one of the scales doesn't meet up with the blade perfectly and there's a small gap. It may just need to be tightened with a Torx driver, but it's still disappointing to see a noticeable gap, even on a budget knife like this. A few manufacturers are making knives in this price range that rival even the expensive ones. Gerber needs to do better.


Usability


This is a decently usable knife with a solid feel to it. So far it seems to be a good combination of what I look for in a camp/utility knife. I haven't used it for food prep yet but I'm expecting it to do well with the type of grind it has. So far the main obstacle to its usability is the sheath. It's very hard to snap the strap which holds the knife in. I couldn't imagine doing that with it on my belt.

Conclusions


I think that once I find/make a kydex sheath for it and tune the scales up a bit, this might be a decent EDC knife. Gerber makes a USA-made version of this knife which looks similar and has a decent sheath. I like the form factor of this knife, so maybe it's the USA-made version that I'm really after. But that one only seems to come with the stag scales, so I think I'm also going to ask around to see if I can put these rubberized scales (which feel superb) on the better quality blade.

Overall though, the look and feel of this knife is exactly what I am looking for. If I could get this exact knife but with a higher quality and a great sheath, I would pay at least double. Or at least they should sell a better sheath or make it optional or something.

UPDATE: I disabled comments for this post because for some reason I was getting about a dozen spam comments per day.


Gallery

Gerber Freeman Guide Fixed Blade Knife
It comes in typical packaging you'd find in a store

Gerber Freeman Guide Fixed Blade Knife
Notice that it says Fiskars, also made in China, which is not indicated on the knife itself

Gerber Freeman Guide Fixed Blade Knife
Next to a Mora Clipper

Gerber Freeman Guide Fixed Blade Knife
Yep, the Freeman has some belly

Gerber Freeman Guide Fixed Blade Knife
Notice the tip isn't very pronounced - defect on my sample?

Gerber Freeman Guide Fixed Blade Knife
Grip, grip and more grip

Gerber Freeman Guide Fixed Blade Knife
From top, Mora Clipper, Gerber Freeman Guide, Kershaw Bear Hunter II

Gerber Freeman Guide Fixed Blade Knife
It has a great feel

Gerber Freeman Guide Fixed Blade Knife
...though the grip is a little awkward in a reverse grip, which is fine because this isn't a self defense knife

Gerber Freeman Guide Fixed Blade Knife
It fits the Mora's sheath pretty good! It's just a little long...

Gerber Freeman Guide Fixed Blade Knife
Lanyards aren't really my thing, but it looks cool I guess

Gerber Freeman Guide Fixed Blade Knife
The only marking on the blade

Gerber Freeman Guide Fixed Blade Knife
Did I mention this knife has a great grip?

Gerber Freeman Guide Fixed Blade Knife
I'm hoping the edge will clean up a little on my whetstone

Gerber Freeman Guide Fixed Blade Knife
The sheath leaves most of the handle exposed

Gerber Freeman Guide Fixed Blade Knife
Thank you Google for randomly changing the orientation of my photos!