Looking for a true military-grade survival knife? Take a look at this Gerber LMF II review. Designed for air crew survival, the knife is well suited to a wide range of missions: from backyard camping to operating in a foreign theater of war.
The real bonus is that this made in the USA knife retails for a lot less than you might think.
The most essential element of any knife is the blade. Like other knives in the same family, the Gerber uses a blade made of 420HC stainless steel. This type of steel is tough and highly resistant to corrosion, yet does a good job of maintaining a sharp edge. Other steels are better at maintaining a fine edge, yet lose a lot of strength and deteriorate quickly in the elements. 420HC is a good choice for an outdoor knife.
The drop point blade design and thick spine also contribute a great deal of strength to the blade.
The LMF II uses a combination blade that is partially serrated. While a fine edge is good for a great many things, a serrated blade is much better for cutting through rope, branches, and vines. Having a partially serrated blade allows for a greater degree of flexibility in a camping or survival situation.
The LMF II handle is made of Zytel, a glass-filled nylon. Zytel is a very strong and durable polymer. Wrapping the handle is a thermoplastic vulcanizate, or TPV. TPV is essentially a vulcanized rubber material that has excellent durability and resistance to temperature extremes. What this means in the real world is the handle is very grippy in both hot and cold climates.
There are three different models of LMF II knives: Infantry, Survival and ASEK (Aircrew Survival Egress Knife). Each knife is the same, save the handle colors. The Infantry can be had with black, green or coyote brown handles. The Survival is only available with the coyote brown. The ASEK is only available with a green handle.
This knife has a 3/4 tang, which means the knife’s metal extends from the blade back through about 75% of the handle’s length. Generally, the longer the tang, the higher the strength of the blade. Another Gerber LMF II review faulted this knife for not having a full tang. What the writer did not realize is that since the knife was designed for air crew survival, it must be insulated to protect the user from electricity. A full tang knife will not allow this.
The endcap of the knife is pointed, which allows for crushing blows if trying to break open something. It also allows for the user to break his or her way out of plexiglas or safety glass. While important for an aircrew, this same feature can save the life of a camper or hunter who’s vehicle winds up in the water.
The LMF II comes with a nylon sheath and leg straps for attaching to the thigh or calf. Additionally, the sheath can be worn on the belt, and it is MOLLE compatible for attaching to a load bearing vest. The sheath secured the knife with a friction lock.
One nice feature about the sheath is that it includes a V-type knife sharpener. This blade sharpener is easily accessed from the front of the sheath and can help keep that fine edge on the knife sharp.
Variations of the LMF II:
As referenced earlier, there are three different versions of the LMF II knife: Infantry, Survival and ASEK. While the knives are functionally identical, each variation ships with different accessories. The Infantry comes only with the sheath and is more of a tactical model.
The Survival comes with a strap cutter, which includes its own nylon sheath. The strap cutter can slice through tie downs and seat belts using a safety blade. The blade is shrouded in the cutting handle, which prevents any accidental damage to surrounding material.
The ASEK is a special purpose knife and kit that is restricted to law enforcement and military customers. The main thing that separates it from the other knives is that it has an infrared reduction treatment applied to it. This helps reduce the IR signature of a soldier evading enemy surveillance.
Wrap Up & Final Thoughts:
The Gerber LMF II is a great tool for nearly any mission you can conceive. It works equally well for the professional soldier and for the occasional hiker. The real beauty of this knife is that it is high quality, yet has a very reasonable price tag. The LMF II comes with a Gerber Lifetime Warranty against defects in material and craftsmanship.