I've been a blade junkie ever since my first pocket knife about 20 years ago. I didn't get into knives before that because I was a city boy and my dad never carried one. Since my first one I've been hooked, didn't know how I got along before I had one. Using your rudimentary claws and teeth are far less effective than a sharp blade. I'm always on the hunt to the perfect edc blade. I want something light, easy to deploy and holds an edge well.
I've had many favorites over the years but a new knife has taken up space in my pockets, the Gerber U.S. Assist. The Assist came to my attention thanks to the incredible marketing team at Gerber. They do an outstanding job showcasing thier products and make you want to go out and buy it. The Assist spoke to me and I'm glad I jumped on it. Gerber has produced in recent history allot off thier blades overseas. I understand it's a business discussion but I appreciate items made by my brothers and sisters here in the USA. The new Assist is proudly made in Portland, same place all those "legendary blades" were made years ago.
The Assist comes with a zytel handle that's checkered in a unique way so it enhances your grip without being overly aggressive. I have a love hate relationship with handles made of plastic, FRN, zytel etc because they often make the knife feel light and cheaply made. It's a subconscious thing, most people weight gives the impression of quality. The zytel has the opposite effect on this blade and makes for a light and comfortable handle.
When it comes to pocket clips I like those produced by Benchmade and Spyderco usually. They just seem to be low profile and don't give me any handle going in and out of my pocket. The Assist has a wire clip that is said to be great choice because it doesn't scratch against car doors and stuff as bad. I agree, it makes pocket retrieval easy and I haven't had it catch or scratch anything. I have several knives with wire clippers and the Assist need a little tweaking. The clip needs to hug the handle more and flair gradually at the end. This would make for a lower profile and hold onto the pocket easier. The current shaping makes cutting sessions somewhat uncomfortable. I have contemplated taking it off and seeing if I can tweak the shape but have decided to leave it as it is for now.
With the Assist Gerber has introduced a new bearing system called B.O.S.S. (balls of stainless steel). Gerber went whole hog and not only made this knife assisted but added bearings too. With one you usually don't need the other but I have to say it makes for a very smooth knife and very fast deployment. The spring system is Gerber' s FAST 2.0 assisted system. Gerber uses a spring bar on the inside of the handle spine versus a coil spring or torsion bar like the competition. The system is very fast, so much faster than the other systems and it gives the impression that it's an automatic.
The blade comes in at 3 inches and comes in two flavors, 420HC and S30v. I opted for the more premium steel because of its edge retention and stainless properties. The finish is stone wash which is nice is a sea of satin blades and hides scratches extremely well. One odd thing about the blade is the blade isn't sharpened all the way to the end, like its unfinished. Most knives are sharpened all the way and makes sharpening consistent from tip to base. Having this hunk of steel at the end of the edge is strange and I'm unsure as to thier reasoning behind it.
The knife is set up for tip up carry and will work for righties or lefties. I prefer tip up because there is rarely any accidental deployment of the blade and it feels more natural. The thumb studs are a ramp style similar to that Kershaw uses and makes it easy to deploy with the addition of the assisted system. Most blades I have to use a thumb flick towards the front of the handle to make a fast deployment. Due to the ramped studs and the spring system I almost have to push out away from the knife handle. Not an inconvenience, just different.
Gerber uses an assortment of lock styles on thier blades but they seem to favor the plunge lock. For those unfamiliar with the system, it's a spring loaded piston that has a notch in it and keeps the blade from folding. This style is very popular in automatic knives and makes unlocking the blade very easy and natural.
The Instant model I have didn't have any kind of safety on the spring system and along with tip down carry, I was afraid of it opening accidentally. The new Assist has a bolt safety that can easily lock and unlock the FAST system. It's a neat feature that the same safety allows the blade to be locked in the open position to prevent accidental closure.
The Gerber U.S. Assist has become my go to blade for a few months now and I don't see it changing anytime soon. I'm happy to see that they are willing to bring production back to these shores and I hope they continue.