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An Honest Review: The Gerber Propel Downrange AO, by Tyler Lacor

Let me start by saying that I won't sugar coat this review for the sake of sales. I will be honest in my opinion and feedback about this knife as an outdoor tool.
Let me also say that after handling this knife for a while, I truly love it. Let me explain its strengths and shortcomings.
 
I'll start with the bad stuff about this knife. It has an extra large thumb stud which in theory gives you some extra thumb space to flip the blade out with confidence. This is somewhat the case: while you can get a nice fat purchase with your thumb on the studs, this also includes a weird caveat where they protrude past the G10 handles. Why this is bad is that it makes it difficult to pocket the knife in a smooth motion, as they get in the way every time I want to put it away in my pocket. See Photo Below ↓
 

 

Gerber has never been known for their precision machine work, at least in recent years, and they are a very large company, so they can't be expected to have the same machine quality as a pro-tech/semi-custom, or high-end production knife. I have had to return a brand new Gerber Bear Grylls fixed blade because the blade tip was bent out of the box.
 
With that in mind, this knife does have some minor but noticeable machine discrepancies, that don't affect the utility of this knife, but it would have been nice to have these details rounded out for aesthetic purposes: a) there is some screw stripping on the main axis screw, it seems there was no torque control, or tolerances kept in mind for this hardware. b) There is a minor machine error on the curvature of the G10 handle at the top near the axis point. c) The angle on the tip is not super precise, and the grind for the edge is not grade A, as you can see some minor sway on the edge line. See Photo's Below ↓
 
G10 Machining Error

 

While those details sound bad, it really hasn't ruined the experience of this knife for me at all, because there is so much more to love about this piece. 

 

This knife is really solid: just the feel in your hand alone says "hard-use-tool", you really feel you can use the glass breaker tip to take down a pane with ease. It's a better feel than a glass breaker on say an OTF knife, where the weight just isn't behind the butt end, and there's all that hollow space in the knife body. The G10 handle are also nice and thick, plus the pattern is extremely grippy.

The action lock and plunge lock are very solid. There's a really satisfying clack! when you slide the action lock into place, and the plunge lock holds the blade very steady. There's no feeling that it will give out on you or crumple from hard use.

The Assisted open action is very satisfying. I've been using this knife for about a week now, and i've opened and closed it over 100 times -- the action has not lessened in speed, at least noticeably, and the blade lockup is very adequate.

Ergonomics are A+. While this knife has some shortcomings, ergonomics is not one of them. The G10 scales are cleverly machined to angle the divoted lines about 40° forward, so your fingers catch them in the most efficient way when gripping the knife. The size is also perfect for EDC applications: I have somewhat large hands, and I have no problem handling this knife - I am comparing this in size to some larger knives that I carry myself, like the ZT 0560 Blackwash, which is a wonderful larger pocket knife. It also does not take up a lot of pocket space which is a very nice feature. 

Gerber AO Grip

Gerber AO Grip

Here's how I feel about this knife

Gerber makes many thousands of knives each year, and they can't be expected to tolerance check every single piece to within 0.0005", that is understandable. With this being said, a knife at this price point should probably not have these indescrepencies, such as the stripped axis screw. This being said again: it's a unique position to own this knife, let me explain.

The way this knife feels is fantastic, it's really solid and you can accomplish most any task to be expected of it, no fault there. Because there are a few indescrepencies, I really don't feel bad or worried that i'm going to hurt the knife, and the price point doesn't worry me too much either. It's not the same as using a $300 Microtech knife and checking it after every time you use it...it just feels like it wants to be used, which says a lot about this spirit of this knife. It was made to be a utilitarian tool, and it really expresses that in almost every aspect. On top of that, Gerber provides a lifetime warranty, so there's even some extra insurance should something happen to it. 

In short, I'm keeping this knife around as my go to knife for daily use as it's a no worry, all around task knife -- it's not too specialized to one area. The ergonomics are great, and the quality is there to the point where I feel I could rely on it for practically anything I would use it for daily 

This really is a great knife even with it's shortcomings. I would definitely recommend this knife to someone who isn't ready to make the plunge on a $200+ knife and would be worried about having to baby it. 

-Recap-

Pros: Solid feel, great action, superb ergonomics and grip, utility friendly overall design.

Cons: Large thumb studs get in the way of pocket use, minor machining errors

If you liked this review, and like this knife, you can buy it on our store for $140 - The Gerber Propel Downrange AO It comes with free shipping. Keep in mind this only ships to the United States!

Thank you for reading!

Written by:  Tyler Lacor

- Owner of Base Camp Supply Co. 

 

 

 

 


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