The Ultimate Knife – Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro Survival Knife
The Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro Survival knife landed in the UK just a couple of months ago and we’ve finally gotten our hands on it. It comes with an improved design and more features than the first generation, but what do we think of it?
The newest iteration of the best selling Gerber knife is made out of 9CR19MoV high carbon stainless steel which comes as a nice upgrade from the previous generation that used a lower quality of steel (7CR18MoV). In simple terms, this means it should maintain a sharp edge longer than before and generally be a bit more rugged.
The main upgrade for the knife, which maintains its 4.8 inch blade length is the new full-tang construction. Full-tang means that the steels runs all the way from the tip of the knife, to the bottom instead of it stopping inside the handle. The knife therefore becomes vastly stronger, since there’s no real weak point. The drop-point blade gives you a strong tip, which means you’re going to have a much harder time damaging it. Our knife came sharp right out of the box and we still haven’t had to reset the edge even after testing.
Rubberised and grooved, over-moulded grips give you a firm hold on the knife – which now weights in at 272 grams, up slightly from the old model because of the new construction. At the front of the handle are two holes which mean it’s perfect for lashing to a piece of wood for use as a spear. The grips are held in place with four torx screws, with the steel cut precisely to fit. In-front of the guard is a choil; an un-sharpened, curved portion of the blade that allows you to sharpen the entirety of the edge. The added advantage of this is that it gives you a closer, tighter grip and more control which is great for fine shaving or cutting.
The spine of the blade has a notched area, marked on one side by a fire-icon which allows you to strike the included fire-steel without needing a dedicated striker. This combination works very well, since a lot of fire strikers are so small which makes them difficult to hold. In this case, there’s ample room for even the biggest of hands which makes striking the small fire-steel much easier. Throwing a big group of sparks was no problem, and our tinder went up with just one strike. Unfortunately, we did find the coating on the blade to be somewhat marked by this – not a huge deal and barely visible unless you’re close.
Integrated into the vastly improved pommel is a lanyard and whistle, which is very loud and ranks as one of the best whistles I’ve ever used. The downside to this is that it occasionally gets in the way. I would suggest removing the lanyard and attaching it to your bag or even a necklace (improvised with paracord, of course!) to prevent this from happening. The original Ultimate Survival Knife had problems with the pommel breaking and was duly fixed by Gerber in a second iteration of the model. With the Pro version, it was been beefed up again and of course is backed by the end of the steel. This results in something truly useful, rather than something you’re worried will break.
Another big improvement over the world-beating Ultimate Knife is the sheath, which has had 20 grams removed from its total weight – bringing the complete package in at 399 grams. It is still heavier than the original knife by just eight grams, but with the full-tang construction being upgraded from the 3/4 tang previously used, this was to be expected. The sheath still has an included ferrocerium fire-steel but is this time inserted from the top, rather than below. It feels much more secure than before because of a new plastic tab that requires you to lift up, before pulling it out. You’re no longer afraid of losing it!
In the end of the sheath is a slot and tab system that houses the ‘Bear Grylls Priorities Of Survival’ pocket guide; a tiny, waterproof, fold-out guide with survival how-to’s. This is included with every product in the Bear Grylls range, but most have no place to store it – making this a small but well thought out addition. The knife slots into the sheath with a friction lock and holds very securely, but does require a bit of a tug to remove. Instead of a pop closure system, they’ve gone for a velcro closure which does it’s job perfectly well – though, if you’re attempting to be as quiet as possible, this will most certainly work against you.
On the back of the sheath is a pull through carbide sharpener which allows you to maintain a sharp edge without the need to carry a separate sharpening tool. This is another decent upgrade over the previous model, which came with a much harder to use diamond knife sharpening slab attached to the back of the sheath. The Pro sheath is designed for both right or left handed carry and the pull-through sharpener can be moved to either side to suit right or left handers too. The bottom of the sheath has a small drainage hole, which means any water from heavy rain or river crossings will drain away quickly. I was quite surprised by the lack of securing options on the sheath, giving you just one option – a belt loop. This is the only downgrade over the original model.
Throughout our tests, we found the blade edge to hold up incredibly well and that a fine-shaving edge could be retained with just a few pulls through the integrated sharpener – a huge improvement over the original, which faded far more quickly and had a difficult-to-maintain edge.
The knife retails at £99 (though it can be found cheaper), which is a higher price than the old knife by a considerable amount. However, the upgrades and advances made in this version mean your money is well spent. I felt that the additional expenditure was worth it just for the full-tang construction, regardless of all the other improvements so combined together, you shouldn’t think twice about buying the Pro version over it’s older counterpart.