Bear Grylls, star of the hit television show Man vs. Wild, has become a sort of cultural icon. Capitalizing on this success, Gerber has teamed up with Bear Grylls to introduce a new line of survival knives. They’ve been a hit, and I decided to take a look at the Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife. With a name like that it’s got to be good knife, right…? Wrong. The Ultimate Survival Knife is a complete piece of garbage. It’s over priced and the quality would be disappointing in a bargain bin knife. They tacked a lot of things on to the knife but the overall construction quality is awful and it seems like Gerber rushed this out to capitalize on the Bear Grylls fad.
What can this knife handle?
On paper the Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife has a lot of capability. It’s a fixed blade knife with a full tang. There is a hammer pommel with an attached whistle on the lanyard, a fire starter, and a sheath with an attached sharpening stone. You’re getting a lot of extras with this knife but how does the knife perform? Well, as the name suggests this is supposed to be a tough survival knife that can handle the kinds of jobs you need to perform to survive in wild. In reality the construction (particularly the handle) is so poor that it is almost useless for batoning or hammering unless you want it to fall apart. The Ultimate Survival Knife was manufactured in China and the quality is that of a cheap mass produced discount knife (which is what this is). It can function as throwaway backup knife but under no circumstance would I want to have to rely on this Bear Grylls blade in a survival situation.
Construction and Blade
Gerber doesn’t like to let out what kind of steel they use in their blade construction and I’ve always suspected this is so they can push junk steel on you and say that it’s “high quality”. The high carbon stainless steel in the Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife is poor quality. Out of the box the blade was dull and even after sharpening the knife, it loses its edge quickly. The knife is partially serrated (I prefer a plain edge) but there is nothing really wrong with the blade design. The blade is 4.8 inches long so you have plenty of knife to work with and the knife weighs 11.2 ounces (there will be plenty of force behind your cuts). The Ultimate Survival Knife has a drop point design with a swedge on the top. It’s designed to handle a host of different tasks in the field and if it was just a question of the blade it would be adequate (despite the sub-par steel).
Handle, Grip, and Feel
But it’s not just a question of the blade, there is also the question of the handle and the handle for the Ultimate Survival Knife is garbage. The handle is rubberized for grip and it does provide a non-slip, comfortable handle that stands up to the elements. The problem is what is under the rubber. The plastic is used in the handle construction is both hideous looking and cheap quality. Planning on batoning, chopping, hammering with the pommel? Not with the Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife your not. At least not for long as the whole handle will fall apart. This is especially true in regards to the hammer pommel. The fact that Gerber even stuck this on the knife is a sick joke. If you try to hammer anything with this pommel it will break, and I’m not exaggerating. You may ask how the pommel can break so easily since the knife has a full tang. This is good question. The answer is that while Gerber calls the Ultimate Survival Knife a full tang, the pommel is not actually connected to the tang (which means I wouldn’t actually call it a full tang knife). All that’s connecting the hammer pommel to the knife is the aforementioned cheap plastic. If you were placed in a survival situation would you really want a hammer pommel that would break trying to crack open a pecan (yes, that’s how I broke mine)?
I need to touch on all the other features of the Bear Grylls Survival Knife briefly. First there is the whistle attached to the lanyard, it stinks and you can barely hear it from 50 yards away. I would replace it if the knife wasn’t already broken. The fire starter works pretty well but I wish the rod was longer. The sheath is ugly as sin, but it works well enough. My main problem with the sheath is that it feels bulky and isn’t comfortable to wear. The built in knife sharpener was a nice idea but in reality I think it makes the sheath to cumbersome, so I could have done without it.
I have serious doubts that Bear Grylls or anyone else would survive 20 minutes in the wild if they had to rely on this knife. It’s cheaply made and breaks and that’s the bottom line. I think they tried to do too much with the knife while trying to keep it affordable and the result is a knife that isn’t great at any one thing but is bad at all of them. Why include a hammer pommel if it’s going to break when you try to use it? I’m guessing the knife sharpener was included because Gerber knew you would have to sharpen the knife constantly because of the soft steel they employed. The Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife is a piece of junk that Gerber cranked out quickly and has been able to sell because of the celebrity’s name they slapped on it. If you are seriously interested in a survival knife don’t be fooled, there are much better knives available at the same price.