I used to test and write about a lot of Gerber knives in the past. However, for whatever reason, Gerber rarely sends any writers knives for articles. I guess business must be good and they don’t need the free ink. Last time I toured the Gerber factory was back in the early 1990s, and it was busy. I understand that these days many Gerber knives are made in China, so let’s get that out of the way. The knife under review today is their Big Rock Camp Knife, and the model number is 22-01588. I can live with some products that are made in China, if the quality is there. Otherwise, I pass if I can find similar products made in the USA at a comparable price and quality. As I have stated in the past, you get as good as you want from China. If you want a 50-cent knife, you can get one. If you want a thousand dollar knife, you can get one of those, too. And, Gerber doesn’t use slave labor in the factory that makes their knives.
I’m always on the lookout for great bargains when I’m out shopping. I rarely shop at Walmart, because of the low quality of many of the products they sell; many are made in China. However, our local northwest small box store, Bi-Mart, is my favorite store to shop at. It is a membership only store. I just pay $5 for a lifetime membership and can’t beat that with any other membership store. I’ve been a member for more than 35 years. The department manager in the sporting goods department knows that I’m a writer and that I love guns and knives, so he showed me the Gerber Big Rock Camp Knife. He knows how to sell products. He puts it in a customer’s hand and goes from there.
The Big Rock Camp Knife has a 4.5-inch 440A stainless steel blade, with a soft satin finish on it with a full tang. Now, I like 440A stainless steel. It is a bit easier to re-sharpen than 440C, which is so popular these days, and it holds an edge a good long time, too. The overall length of the knife is 9.4 inches, and it is a fixed blade. What sold me on the knife is the SoftGrip rubber handle covering. It is an over mold on the full tang. The knife only weighs 6.3 ounces, too. There are partial serrations on the rear of the blade, but they are very shallow and not all that useful for many tasks you’d use serrations for. Still, they are there.
Some of my cutting tasks consist of cutting wet hemp rope, as well as cotton rope, and poly rope, and the serrations helped with the poly rope a little bit. They just aren’t aggressive enough to really dig into poly rope, and it is some tough stuff to cut on the best of days.
The SoftGrip rubber over mold handle covering is really nice. It secures the knife in your hand under any weather conditions and has two different types of patterns molded into the rubber. This is very nice. The handle scales are secured with two Torx screws. There is also a lanyard hole on the butt of the knife but no lanyard was included. You can put some 550 para cord on it when you get a chance. The blade design is something of a drop point, which is one of the most used and useful knife designs ever.
There is a scallop on the bottom of the handle for your index finger, which just naturally falls into it for a sure hold. The handle with the SoftGrip isn’t very thick. It is a bit thin, but it works for the overall design of the knife. There are friction grooves machined in to the top of the handle, for a perfect thumb placement, too. So, thought went into the design of the knife. I’m sure it was designed in-house at Gerber. The 440A stainless steel blade came razor sharp out of the box, and during my testing it never needed a touch-up. However, after my testing, I did put a keen edge on the blade, so it is ready to use next time around.
Now, for the bad news– the sheath! It is made out of ballistic nylon of some sort, and it has a poly lining so the blade can’t cut through in the event of a fall or if you aren’t careful putting the knife back into the sheath. That is a nice feature. However, the knife is a loose fit in the sheath; it moves around. There is a snap loop to keep the knife in the sheath, and it works out quite well. Still, I’d like to see a better fitting sheath. The belt loop on the sheath is big enough to fit on the biggest belt, even a military A.L.I.C.E. pistol belt, so that’s a good thing. Still, I think Gerber could do better on the sheath. It wouldn’t take much to make it fit the knife better.
I used the knife for several months around my small rural homestead for all manner of cutting chores, and one of the biggest problems we face are blackberry vines. They are tough, really tough, and it takes a sharp knife to cut through them with one swipe. The Gerber was up to the task, too. Every couple of years, I use some blackberry killer on the blackberry vines, and it is good for a year or two, but they come back. We all love to eat blackberries, and my wife love to make pancake syrup from them, too. However, they have wicked and long thorns, and at times, seem to reach out and grab you. You are well advised to wear a heavy, long sleeved shirt and gloves when picking blackberries.
The knife was also tested as a throwing knife, though I never could get it to stick. Then again, it was not designed for this. However, it is a good test of the tip of the knife. Quite often, when a knife hits the ground, the tip will snap off. I had no such problem with the Gerber, and the SoftGrip handle scales never came loose from the full-tang handle, either.
I could easily slice newsprint without any effort, and opening UPS, FedEx, and USPS boxes was no problem with the sharp blade. I can easily see this knife as a great fixed blade for dressing out game. Even the biggest game wouldn’t be much of a chore, and I don’t think it would need to be re-sharpened until the job was done. As to a survival knife, and we’ve touched on this many times in other articles, what kind of survival are we talking about? I would prefer a little bit bigger and more stout blade for long-term survival uses. However, if this is all you had, it can get the job done, from making a fuzzy stick to help start fires to dressing out game or fish. The 440A will rust as well all stainless steel blades, if you don’t give them a little bit of care. However, it will weather the elements. I left the knife sitting on the patio table for several days, during some rain storms, and it didn’t rust. Still, it is advised to give the knife a little tender loving care.
The biggest selling point of this knife was how great it felt in the hand. The sheath, yeah it is lacking, but you can find a nice leather sheath some place for a few bucks. It was also the selling price, under $30! What? Yeah, you read that right. It is under $30, and I checked around the ‘net and found that seems to be the selling price. This is a lot of knife for very little money. You can buy one for your bug out bag or your e-box in each of your cars, and it won’t break the bank. I’ve been testing and reviewing knives for about 25 years now, and this is a quality knife with good blade steel at a steal-of-a-deal, if you ask me.
– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio