For 25 years, the good folks at Gerber – based in Portland, Oregon – have been putting out some of the most reliable bush-craft and hunting knives on the market. The thinking behind its popular Gator series had always been not to mess with a good thing. And who could blame them.
Its Gator Premium series, made in the USA, has become the standard bearer for every hunting knife before and after. Improvements this year mark the biggest upgrades to the popular knives since they came on the market 25 years ago. And it’s safe to say they’ve gotten even better.
Upgrades to the handle and blade strength mark the biggest improvements to the knife since its inception. Chief among them is a highly rubberized grip, which allows firm handling even in wet conditions. It even resembles an alligator with its scaly section on top for added thumb grip.
Upgrading to S30V steel, among the finest on the knife market today, increases blade strength. Ridges to the top called jimping adds grip when using the knife during fine carving with your thumb on the spine of the blade. The new model adds steel to the end of the handle and the finger guard, which improves durability of the knife over time and overall handling.
In our field review of the Gator Premium Fixed Drop Point (MSRP $146), we tested it’s abilities under a number of real-life scenarios. First we whittled a point on a stick. In this scenario, the grip definitely played a role as it takes some strength pushing down on the cutting surface. We used the branch of a tree to test it durability and handling ability. Here the ridges on top definitely came in handy as we used a push cut to remove material from the end of a branch.
Next we carved a whole chicken into quarters. Because we couldn’t get our hands on a deer carcass just yet anyway, we picked up a small chicken from our local grocery store. Quartering the bird, we were able to evaluate how well the knife handled through flesh as well as its strength through bone. Here we found its capabilities to be outstanding, even superior to our own kitchen knives.
In our chicken test, the Gator Premium allows for all the finesse you need thanks to the drop point nature of the handle to the knife blade. It easily makes fine cuts through flesh, perfect for skinning an animal, while also displaying the strength to cut right through bones and tendons. On a few occasions it sliced right through the bone without hardly noticing. This is one of the sharpest knives out of the box that you will find. I guess that’s why the Gator Premium is such a great hunting knife.
In our last test, we used the Gator Premium to stab a bag of sand. For this we gripped the knife backward and made an overhand strike at the bag. Here we are looking for the blade’s sharpness, which is excellent, and how well it handles. In the overhand grip I could see how this might make a great knife to rip through something tough, like cutting open a rib cage.
Along with the Gator Premium, Gerber has revamped the entire line of Gator knives which includes models with a flip blade, a fixed blade gut hook and a flip blade gut hook, all with the same designed handles and blade steel. And they each come with a classy black leather sheath, pictured above.
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Photo credit: David Rosenfeld