When Joseph R. Gerber described his young knife company, Gerber Legendary Blades, as the “birth of an enterprise that grew into big business,” it was true.
However, it was also a vast understatement because what had started out in 1939 as a small batch of handmade cutlery sets given as holiday gifts turned into thousands of retail accounts around the country.
By 1960, Gerber had quickly become one of the most trusted, appreciated and collected names in knives. In the over 70 years since its founding, Gerber continues to grow still grounded on the same principles that first guided Joseph R. Gerber’s enterprise:
Gerber is a company dedicated to making knives and tools that combine high quality materials and innovative designs that will stand up to a lifetime of use.
In fact, the sleek stainless steel sheath knives of the ’50s and ’60s (such as the Magnum Hunter) gave birth to today’s lightweight, open-frame, clip folders (such as the Remix).
Gerber, however, is no longer just a knife company since they have begun exploring making products other than knives with the same standards of quality and design. These new Gerber products include:
- Survival kits and
- Digging implements.
The Gerber Prodigy features an overall length of 9 3/4” with a black, powdercoated, partially serrated 4 3/4” drop point blade made from 420 HC stainless steel (Rockwell hardness unknown) with a saber grind.
In addition, it also features full tang construction with over-molded rubber handles to ensure a soft, comfortable yet secure grip in all conditions. The handle also includes molded quillions and a lanyard hole.
Note that the knife comes with MOLLE compatible ballistic nylon sheath with a friction-release thumb lock.
Upon first viewing this knife, it was obvious to me that the designer (Jeff Freeman) intended this knife to be a tactical knife and not a dedicated survival knife.
This first impression is supported by Gerber’s original description of this knife even though the Gerber Prodigy is currently being marketed as a survival knife and even as a combat knife, despite having a serrated blade.
However, in an outdoor situation any knife is far better than having no knife at all. The Gerber Prodigy would serve far better than some.
For instance, although the drop point blade is too short even for minor chopping jobs, it would still serve well for slicing, splitting and puncturing which covers the majority of tasks a user would normally require in an emergency situation.
Also, the partially serrated edge located in front of the ricasso tends to preclude using the knife for carving to sharpen stakes and staves and carve the notches needed to create snares and spring traps which is the most important tasks you can use for a survival knife.
In addition, the saber grind on the blade makes the bevel too wide and thus, it prevents the user from creating a really fine edge on the knife.
On the other hand, the full tang construction does create a very strong knife with a satisfying amount of weight in the hand. The use of 420 series high carbon stainless steel compliments the intent to create a tough knife that will hold an edge reasonably well (contains 0.4% to 0.5% Carbon).
This gem is also reasonably corrosion resistant. It contains 12% to 14% Chromium and 0.6% Molybdenum which combines with Chromium during forging to create hard double carbide bonds that makes the steel corrosion and abrasion resistant.
The choice of ballistic nylon for the sheath is also a wise choice because nylon is an extremely tough material that is both waterproof and rot proof.
Variants and Similar Models
There’s also a straight blade version, the Gerber Prodigy Fine Edge, which is exclusively sold by Wal-Mart (although we’ve heard that the big-box retail giant might have discontinued it).
The Fine Edge is great if you’d rather buy a Prodigy without the serrated portion on the blade. It makes a sturdy fixed blade knife for camping as there are not major differences between the two variants.
If you’d like a straight blade Prodigy right now and Wal-Mart no longer carries it, the closest thing that you can get to the Fine Edge by Gerber is their Strong Arm Fixed Blade (check price and availability here) but expect some losses in the ergonomics department.
Another tactical/survival knife that’s very similar to the Gerber Prodigy is Gerber’s iconic LMF II Infantry, a knife field tested with American troops (check it out here). In fact, the LMF II is Prodigy’s predecessor since the latter has borrowed heavily design-wise from the former.
The Prodigy, though, is smaller, slimmer and comes with a narrower blade which makes it more portable than the LMF II and a great option for users with smaller hands. Also, the Gerber Prodigy lacks the LMF II’s built-in knife sharpener. You can check out the LMF II Infantry here.
To Wrap It Up
Although there are many other knife designs that I would personally choose over the Gerber Prodigy for use as a dedicated survival knife, the Prodigy is not actually a bad choice- it is just not a particularly good choice.
Also, the 420 HC stainless steel is in my opinion not a particularly good choice of steel for a dedicated survival knife especially when there are much better stainless steels for the purpose such as AUS-8 or AUS-10 or even 440C.
I would be much happier if the blade had a hollow grind or even a semi-hollow grind instead of the saber grind displayed on this knife. But as I said, when you really need a knife the most, any knife is better than no knife at all.
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