Gerber Paraframe I: Knife Review

Saturday, February 08, 2014 , 4 Comments

Growing up in the Boy Scouts, if you carried a Gerber Knife you were viewed with a sense of awe. It was the top of the top anyone could carry for a pocketknife in my teens, or so it seemed. Fast forward a number of years and it is of no surprise that for my first knife and the one that introduced me to the idea of everyday carry (EDC) I picked up a Gerber Paraframe I. That purchase was five years ago. Since that time I have learned a lot more about knives, steel, and what I like in a edc role. And within the knife community no single company seems to receive such a hard time and receive bad press as Gerber. So which is it: is Gerber truly a quality knife company or are they not worth the effort and in the end a pile of junk? 

As I noted, this was the knife that introduced me to edc without even understanding that term. It wasn't a purposeful move. Rather the job I had at the time required me to open dozens of boxes each week, box cutters were always getting lost and so from a purely utilitarian stance I went to a local hardware store and purchased a pocketknife. From my background in the Boy Scouts, the choice in a Gerber seemed obvious. After carrying the knife for work I found the immense utility of carrying a knife daily and it just became part of my daily habit. Now I have many more knives to fulfill that edc role and without one I just feel naked. 

Onto the stats themselves: Gerber doesn't specify the steel but through research I have learned it is 7cr17, somewhat analogous to 440A. The benefit of this steel is it is very corrosion resistant due to its high carbon content and cheap to produce. The blade itself is a 3 inch clip point design, and total length when open is 7" Weight is 2.6 oz. The locking mechanism is a frame lock and the overall design is an open frame. MSRP $25.

The Good: I love the feel of this knife. I can open and close it easily with one hand and though others have berated the open frame design I really do like it and it feels natural in my hands. This may be due in part from it being the only knife I carried for many many years. Secondly the price, if you lose this knife you won't break the bank to replace it. MRSP may be $25 but looking around online and at stores over the past few months you can find it as low as $15. Finally the weight and size of this knife allow you to easily forget it is on your person. It doesn't bulge out and the blade length is perfect for light edc. 

The Bad: the steel--it is a pain to sharpen and will not hold an edge very long. Out of all the knives I own, this is the one I look the least forward to sharpening. If you are new to sharpening, all the best luck to you. Gerber went with a cheap steel that wouldn't corrode easily, I get that, but what you lose is a sharp edge. Secondly, the frame--this knife is really only good for light use. In preparing for writing this review I submitted my knife to some hard work. Nothing crazy but some serious work. Two things happened: 1.) the knife began to have a lot of play when "locked" both side to side and even vertically 2.) the framelock is not very secure and will collapse relatively easily if you place moderate pressure on the opposing end. In fact I broke my knife testing it. Finally, if you are left handed, when opening the knife your fingers may slip into where the blade lies. For us righties the pocket clip will keep your fingers from going in, but I can't say this knife is ambidextrous. 

Verdict: though I broke my knife of 5 years while testing I have replaced it. I have much much better knives to be sure but I just can't get away from how nice this knife feels in my hand. It is well balanced and smooth. Its not a great knife by any stretch and the steel is pretty crappy and this is what most of the criticism online centers around. That being said you are spending only $15… not $100 on a Benchmade. I will probably always carry this knife from time to time though I have others I like better. If someone is looking to try EDC and wants an entry level knife I wouldn't hesitate putting this in the running. If you lose it no biggie. It also wouldn't be a bad knife to throw in your tackle box or other place where you can forget about it when not using it. Great for light EDC, a knife to carry when fishing and need to cut line, or a first knife in general, and not a big deal if you lose it. Wouldn't be my choice for a camping knife or survival knife for sure--I just wouldn't trust the durability. If I were asked to assign it a grade I would give it a 6.5/10 (points for ergonomics  and cost, reduced by steel quality and construction). Hope you enjoyed my first knife review, I had to start with the knife that started it all for me, many more to come. 


Unknown said...

Gerber designs are Great!They make some great looking knives. It just sucks that Gerber in my opinion uses such bad steel for their blades. Seems they go dull even if your not using them. My EDC is a CRKT M16-01KZ 7" open with 3" blade. One hand operation and I like the double lock . It holds an edge much better. Also in the 25.00 dollar range.

Good fair review sorry you broke your knife man!

Atlas said...

Kevin thanks for the comments. I agree about the steel used and yeah sucks it broke but I replaced it if for no other reason than sentimental reasons. But glad I can pass along the informations.

Funny you mention the M16, that will be one of my future reviews for sure.

Blake said...

i've love a good gerber, ever since i had the "remix"

i think for the price range you have to expect the softer steel but that paraframe is sure a looker

Atlas said...

I too really enjoy the ergonomics and look of the Paraframe. Obviously, one expects a lower end steel at this price point, but compared to other brands lower models I think there are better options steel wise.