By: Dan Carlson
I've worked with so many knives over the years that I've lost count of how many I've field-tested and couldn't begin to tell you how many there are in my personal collection. From cheap slap-together mass-production models you can order in a fantasy knife catalog to superior, custom-made blades of the highest quality, I've put them all through their paces. Perhaps it's because I work with and test so many knives that I get so excited when I find one that far surpasses my expectations. The new Gerber Steadfast is just such a knife.
In November of 2007, I was handed a prototype Steadfast by a member of Cabela's hardgoods purchasing staff, told to take it on a deer hunt and, if I could, punish it severely. I drew the Steadfast from the protective liner of its ballistic nylon sheath and was immediately impressed by two things – it was overbuilt, and the ergonomics of the knife were exceptional.
When I say a knife is overbuilt, that's not
necessarily a bad thing. The Steadfast's beefy full-tang, 440A
stainless steel 6-inch blade is substantial enough to land this knife
squarely into my "wilderness survival" category, and the handle design
makes it function as a natural extension of the human arm. Exceptionally
well-balanced, the Steadfast handle has built-in finger grooves and a
palm swell that nestles the knife securely in one's hand. Its handle
material is Gerber SoftGrip overmolded on a hard substrate, which is a
fancy way of saying the handle exterior has a bit of give like a rubber
grip, but the inside is rock solid. Even in slick conditions, the knife
never failed to supply a sure grip.
The Steadfast is a large knife for hunting applications with an overall length just shy of 11 inches and a weight of 11.1 ounces. Yet its 6-inch drop-point blade was not too much when it came time to dress out and butcher deer last fall. I credit the ergonomic design of the knife for the ease with which it gutted and skinned two large deer, and then boned out the meat. A hunting partner was testing another knife made by a nationally recognized company that had a 4-inch blade and cost more than the Steadfast's recommended $59.99 retail price. He had to sharpen his knife five times, but I had only sharpened the Steadfast twice by the time I started putting it to work on our party's fifth deer. I also used the Steadfast to split small branches and pieces of wood for kindling, cut through bone and hammered a bit with its metal buttcap. Put this all together and my test concluded that the Gerber Steadfast held an edge twice as long and performed a greater number of deer-hunting camp chores than any other knife in camp last year. It proved to be a reliable, versatile wilderness utility knife that I not only recommend without reservation, but will also purchase myself.