Gerber Strongarm

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Slaphead

Member
Nov 6, 2020
23
9
72
Bolton
I have been interested in this general purpose knife for some time.

Although the blade steel is only 420HC it have been well treated, since it gets excellent reviews, even from people who spend hundreds on a knife. It seems to be well balanced, capable of various tasks and surprisingly tough. And it comes with a very decent sheath.

It is also popular in the US because of its low price. When it came out in 2015 Americans could could pick it up for not much more than $50. It is probably a little more now.

You expect US produced stuff to be more expensive in the UK. However, I have noticed that many retailers are pricing this knife at £90+. This seems exceptionally expensive to me.

Does anybody know why it is so expensive here? Is it still worth it, or for about a hundred quid are there better alternatives?

I would appreciate your comments.
 

Nice65

Full Member
Apr 16, 2009
4,903
1,501
55
W.Sussex
It’s too expensive for a plastic handled (fibreglass nylon) 420 steel knife, looks horrible, black tactical and uncomfortable to use.

I have no idea why it’s selling for around £90. It’s Gerber for goodness sake, purveyors of poor steel, mediocre construction, and the Bear Grylls collection. I’d rather, and do have the Bear Grylls branded stuff, and it’s been good. But it was cheap. The Strongarm looks cheap but isn’t.
 

C_Claycomb

Mod
Mod
Oct 6, 2003
5,912
986
Bedfordshire
It appears that right now, in the US, the knife is on sale for around $55, marked down from a normal price of around $80. The UK price now of around £86 is pretty normal for US knives here. Take the $ sign and change to £. The Benchmade 200 Puukko is another example, generally marked down to $130 from $150 in the US, but sold in the UK for £159.

The why that US knives are priced as they are in the UK has often been discussed (albeit more often on dedicated knife sites), but it boils down to shipping, duty, 20% tax on goods+shipping+duty and handling fees, along with a less competitive distribution network and customers who cannot easily go elsewhere.

Is it good value? That is a really loaded question. You may care about features that I do not care about, and vice versa. So I may place no value on those features, so they cannot compensate for things I consider deficiencies elsewhere. You might not think those things were deficiencies, and you might value the other features, so for you it might be good.

Personally, I wouldn't want to buy the Strongarm. I do not think it is a good bushcraft knife, and I do not like its design and features. I would rather spend up to £100 on:

I think these are all better bushcraft knives, even the Buck that has the same steel.
 
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Nice65

Full Member
Apr 16, 2009
4,903
1,501
55
W.Sussex
The why that US knives are priced as they are in the UK has often been discussed (albeit more often on dedicated knife sites), but it boils down to shipping, duty, 20% tax on goods+shipping+duty and handling fees, along with a less competitive distribution network and customers who cannot easily go elsewhere.

Well done for putting up some options, any of those are better knives, in my opinion anyway.

Annoyingly it’s highly unlikely that it is a US knife, most are made, admittedly to very high quality in Chinese or Taiwanese factories with excellent machining and quality control. The problem is the UK doesn’t have the market for knives that the US does so our suppliers, such as Edgar Brothers, have to import from bulk export to the US.

It’s obviously not been lost on the importers that UK buyers are prepared to pay the $/£ conversion and can pass it on to UK sellers. Some of the knives we used to pick up direct from Exduct for a fiver had fit and finish resembling some of the low budget Spydercos, Benchmade etc, for the simple reason it was probably the same factory.
 
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gra_farmer

Nomad
Mar 29, 2016
492
272
Kent
Agreed with what has been said already, and nothing to add, but it is a strange thing that turns the head of some and not the others. Out of all of the above, I would go for the helle, and if you can go a little higher the Helle Temagami, that was a good knife.

My recommendation, is the Enzo trapper 95, brilliant bushcraft knife. I have 3, 2 in scandi and one flat grind, really are amazing knives for a similar price.

As for the buck, don't over look buck knives, they are not everyone's cup of tea, but there 'forever warranty' is the real deal, and whitby knives in Kendal, are the dealers for the UK, so easy returns.
 
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chimpy leon

Full Member
Jul 29, 2013
410
68
staffordshire
I‘d say they’re are better / at least as good hard use knives out there for less...
The Jakaripukko 140’s blade length and geometry appear similar to the strong arm but uses a better steel, has a great sheath (seriously one of the best out there) costs less and looks better.
I have one that’s been my go to beater for the past few years - it’s a truly outstanding knife!
 

C_Claycomb

Mod
Mod
Oct 6, 2003
5,912
986
Bedfordshire
Some strange things going on with some of the pictures on the Heinnie site. Hence me missing the Garberg off the list. I only saw the black carbon versions which were over the £100 ceiling. The stainless one though is bang on the £85 mark and a much better bushcraft knife than the Gerber.
 
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Erbswurst

Native
Mar 5, 2018
1,987
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Berlin
This knife is fantastic but the plastic sheath isn't a good recommendation.

I recommend to choose the stainless steel version with leather sheath.
 

Jared

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Sep 8, 2005
2,582
131
47
Wales
Some strange things going on with some of the pictures on the Heinnie site. Hence me missing the Garberg off the list. I only saw the black carbon versions which were over the £100 ceiling. The stainless one though is bang on the £85 mark and a much better bushcraft knife than the Gerber.

Noticed Moonraker knives has the same pricing from £110 to £84.95.
 

Slaphead

Member
Nov 6, 2020
23
9
72
Bolton
Many thanks for all your replies, and the advice you have given me.

The Steel Will knives have caught my eye.

Principally the Roamer in D2 and the Argonaut in Aus 8.

I know Aus 8 is not a premium steel but it isn't bad if it has been properly heat treated. I was thinking about the Cold Steel SRK in SK5 but I have seen too many videos of the point breaking, and not always from abusive use. I don't think this knife had the same sort of problems in Aus8.

And the Roamer in D2 seems good value, though D2 might not be a good idea for a novice like me who is just getting to grips with sharpening. And I don't know how good Chinese D2 is.

Even the Aus 8 in a Chinese made knife may not turn out to be the same quality as the Japanese produced steel.

Although Steel Will seems to be getting pretty good reviews in the west. Even the Americans like them.
 

C_Claycomb

Mod
Mod
Oct 6, 2003
5,912
986
Bedfordshire
It seams that you are leaning towards the larger and more "combat style" knives, rather than the shorter and more generally useful bushcraft type knives. Do you have the 4" general purpose camping/wood working knife job-slot filled already? While length of blade has pros and cons, in a bushcraft knife there aren't any pros to having the edge start a long way from where your hand grips the handle.

I have had a Cold Steel SRK in CarbonV since 1996, and it is a terrible bushcraft knife. The steel is fine, but the length, edge geometry, swedge, sabre grind, long ricasso, handle shape and handle material all combine to make a poor bushcraft knife. There are of course things you can do to fix enough of those to make a good knife; you can strip off the square rubber handle and make your own wood handle, you can re-grind the edge or the whole blade and make something passable, but still not ideal. It will do you no favours if you are a beginner in anything.

I have had several CS Voyager folders in AUS8 and after an early life of Witby knives and one Puma, the AUS8 was great. It took a sharp edge easily and held it long enough that I was happy. I haven't used it as a bushcraft blade, partly because so few good bushcraft knives were made using it, whereas there have been many good knives made with Sandvik 12C27 and similar. I tend to think 12C27 is better, but AUS8A may still be good enough.

Be aware that some American reviewers do not distinguish between Taiwan and Mainland China and simply lump them both as "made in China". There are some extremely high quality knives made in Taiwan, using imported steel from the US or Europe.
 

Erbswurst

Native
Mar 5, 2018
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Berlin
We can of course discuss here machetes, swords and the question, how useful can be fighting knifes in survival situations. It's cold outside and we don't have to do so much in the Corona crises.

But if you want to get here recommendations of high value, you probably should ask a different question, for example:
"How does a survival knife look like and what does it cost?"
"What are the differences between a bushcraft knife and a survival knife?"
"Why do survival experts recommend to civil persons different knifes than armies usually issue?"

I guess that 95 % of the users of this forum use mainly a belt knife that has a blade length between 9 and 12 cm, if they do not just own one and use 90% of the time a pocket knife like the usual Swiss Army Knifes or the fragile looking Opinel folding knifes.

I wouldn't take a large Bowie Knife, even gifted!
 

Slaphead

Member
Nov 6, 2020
23
9
72
Bolton
Fair point.

Bushcraft isn't the same as survival.

But I was advised to look at the Roamer which is a large bladed knife, so I followed up and found the Argonaut as well.

Bushcraft is well and good if you have the right sized pieces of wood at your disposal.

If you don't, then a certain amount of chopping and maybe even batoning may be necessary. Although I agree with those who say an axe is the right tool for that.

If you don't want to have an axe, a longer heavier blade and a shorter one would seem to be the obvious companions.

Or maybe something like the Eka W12 would be a fair compromise.

Although I don't know how easy the Scandi grind is to sharpen for an inexperienced owner.
 
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C_Claycomb

Mod
Mod
Oct 6, 2003
5,912
986
Bedfordshire
Hi Slaphead,
What sort of knife are you after? What is it that you want it to do for you? Where do you anticipate putting it to work? Do you want to be able to carve things like spoons and camp aides, or are you looking for more of a trail clearing and fire wood prepping tool? Food preparation? Cutting veg, cutting bread, cleaning fish or game? Many things which may be presented as hard and fast rules can be found to have wiggle room if the goal posts are moved a bit. What are your goals? :)

The Roamer would be a better knife for camping/bushcraft/wilderness skills than the Argonaut. The Argonaut would be better for poking holes in people. It isn't just size, it is blade shape, style, handle shape and style. I handled a Roamer a couple of years ago while sitting in the Heinnie office, along with Mods Buckshot and Sargey and we all thought it a surprisingly good larger knife. Surprising for the price and that so many knives, lower priced or not, have poorer ergonomics. It felt good in the hand, all nicely rounded, simple, no silly rough areas or extra guards. I didn't buy it because I already have a couple larger knives of my own making, and I had already decided to blow my money.

One of the bigger knives I have has about an 8" blade of 5mm O-1 stock, full flat grind. I have found that its at the lower end of useful for a chopping tool. I have tried 6" knives for chopping and been even less impressed. Swing cutting to de-limb sapling poles is another matter, but a light weight 5" knife will do that and a weighty 4" with the right handle will too.

"Bushcraft is well and good if you have the right size pieces of wood at your disposal." I think many here would disagree with this understanding of what "bushcraft" is. I would say that knowing how to use the knife you have to the maximum potential is a useful skill in the outdoors, whether you want to consider it bushcraft, or survival, or whatever. I might argue that bushcraft is knowing how to use a field made baton, wedges, and choosing and sourcing the right wood for the job. Smaller knives can do a lot more than most people give them credit for.

Use of a baton allows you to expand the capability of a knife, but that expansion is more noticeable for a light 4" knife than it is for a heavy 6-8" blade. My experience has been that a longer blade, and an extra 1mm of thickness, does not allow you to split appreciably thicker rounds of firewood, although it can give you a bigger target for the baton once you sink the full blade depth. That is when a swedge is really not helpful. They really chew up a baton quickly.



Full disclosure, I prefer a flat/convex grind to a Scandi. I think it can be easier to sharpen for a beginner in the field since repeatedly hitting a particular angle isn't so important. However, Scandi grinds are not hard to sharpen at home and LOTS of instructors teach even more students to use them and swear by their ease of sharpening in the field, where the large contact area can help to guide the user to the right angle.

I am not a fan of the Eka W12. You notice I didn't list any of their knives. Their design has not changed appreciably in about 20 years, while competition have improved their ergonomics. Their factory edges are too obtuse to cut wood and the primary bevels are too short to be good slicers, so to get them working they need significant grinding on 120 or 220 paper to lower the secondary bevel.


All the best

Chris
 

Erbswurst

Native
Mar 5, 2018
1,987
728
Berlin
With a Bowie knife you can't hack.

You can do it with a high quality machete.

If one doesn't use a hatchet or saw, one can place a nearly indestructible real solid full tang knife on a small dead standing tree, as thick as an arm, and hit on the knife. You hack out wedges like this until it's through.

I taught within 5 minutes my 10 years old nephew and his friend how to sharpen a scandi grind knife.
It's easy.
 
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Erbswurst

Native
Mar 5, 2018
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Berlin
You find here videos how to sharpen a knife, beginning with post 48

 

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