One of my first truly good knives was the Gerber Strongarm, which I purchased almost 4 years ago. Up until that point my nicest knife was the mora companion. A good choice to be sure but a few years ago I felt the need to upgrade to something more durable.
When looking for a decent survival knife I wanted something that wouldn’t break the bank while still being a decent all purpose workhorse knife. And that is exactly what the Strongarm is. An all purpose work horse. Unlike the Condor Bushlore that I did a review on a bit ago, the strongarm doesn’t find the same balance for bushcraft but it’s still earned a place on my bag.
|Gerber Strongarm Knife|
Gerber Strongarm Specs
Upfront the Gerber Strongarm meets all the requirements I have for a survival knife. Full tang, 4 - 5 inch blade, and at least an ⅛ inch thick 90 degree spine. At the time of purchase these weren’t requirements for me but after owning the Strongarm for a number of years along with other knives I have purchased these are my base requirements for a good survival knife.
What Is The Grind On The Gerber Strong Arm
The Strongarm is made from 420HC stainless steels and features a 20 degree flat grind. Making it a decent all purpose knife. For more information on knife grinds you can check out Blade HQ’s write up.
The steel this knife is made of is the same steel Buck commonly uses for their knives. Because the Strongarm is made from stainless steel it makes it an ideal knife for people who spend a lot of time around salt water.
To also aid with corrosion resistance the Gerber Strongarm also features a cerakote black matte finish. Although over time the finnish will wear. But that’s to be expected of any finish. But even after 4 years of heavy use the finish on my Strongarm is still in pretty good shape.
Handle and Ergonomics
The Gerber Strongarm features a glass filled nylon rubberized handle with a diamond textured grip allowing the knife to glue to your hand. Perfect for wet, gloved, or cold hands where low dexterity may come into play.
The grip on the handle is soft but also feels firm and doesn’t fatigue the hand. I’ve used the knife all day for various camp chores without it creating hotspots or blistering up my hand.
At the very end of the handle is a pointed pommel that is great for a number of applications including flint knapping, breaking glass in an emergency or just breaking open some walnuts (something I’ve done plenty of times).
Gerber Strongarm Sheath
Ok the last thing we’ll talk about before we get into performance is the sheath. Most knives come with an option for belt carry. However, with the Strongarm Gerber gives you a number of options including options for a drop leg system, horizontal belt carry, and a molle attachment.
For regular use I personally use the molle attachment to keep the Strongarm attached to my hiking bag so that it never leaves the bag. However, I have also used it in the horizontal belt carry configuration.
How Does The Gerber Strong Arm Handle Common Survival Tasks
Batoning and Chopping
The gerber strongarm has a 20 degree flat grind with a ⅜ inch thick spine that makes batoning effortless. For anyone that has tried to baton with something like a Mora Companion (feel free to berate my choices) the experience with the Strongarm will be a welcome one for sure.
Over the last few years I have used the Strongarm to baton through serveral pieces of wood. Any knife can baton through a piece of dry oak. However, over the years I've put the strongarm through some twisted and knotty pieces of drift wood. Granted it does take some effort but even beating on the knife repeatedly I haven't seen any damage or edge rolling.
Chopping on the other hand is sort of hit and miss. The strongarm definitely has the heft to be a chopper but lacks the reach to be effective. It can chop in a pinch but it doesn’t compete with knives of larger size like the Esee 6.
I’ve never had to clean game with the knife but I have gutted a few fish and it works well enough. You can actually see in the video above that scaling a fish with the 90 degree spine is pretty clean. I imagine cleaning larger animals wouldn’t be too difficult. If someone has experience with this please let me know!
Striking a Ferro Rod
It is generally recommended to not scrape your ferro rod with the edge of your survival knife as to preserve the knife’s edge. Well the Gerber Strongarm comes with a sharp 90 degree spine out of the box that has no issue throwing sparks.
As you can see in the picture above throwing sparks with the spine of the strongarm isn't any issue. You can also check out our video review for a better of idea of how the spine performs.
Wrapping Up and Final Thoughts
The gerber strongarm is a great all purpose knife and for being in the 50 dollar range you get a lot at a reasonable price point. Gerber got a bad repuation selling low quality chinese manufactured knives but the Strongarm is proof that they are serious about correcting that. The knife even has Made in Porland Oregon proudly stamped on the blade.
One thing i will say about the Gerber strongarm is it still remains my go to knife. Even though I have purchased several knives since, the strongarm remains attached to my pack and ready for action. Even when testing other knives I usually bring the strongarm along as a backup.
The Gerber strongarm meets all the requirements I could have for a survival knife. It won't do everything as perfect as a dedicated tool. For instace it won't split tough wood like an axe but it does a decent job and I feel that's all you can really ask. It will carve dry and green wood, clean game, throw sparks off a ferro rod using the spine, and baton thorugh gnarly driftwood. Overall I would trust my life with this knife and continue to do so everytime I venture into the woods.
If you found this article usefule be sure to share it and consider picking up the strong arm for yourself. You won't be disappointed.
And remember....adventure is waiting.