The Gerber US Assist: Our Overview

May 1, 2017  
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Categories: Knives and Axes

No, not the baby food, though that always seems to come up during a search on the interwebz. Nay, this is Gerber Gear. It’s just a little sharper and stabbier than anything you should typically use on an infant. We’ve got two Gerber US Assist articles for you today, first an overview by Sara Liberte and then a review by Michelle C. Meyers. If you’re interested in jumping straight to the review from Michelle, click here; if not, let’s get into Sara’s perspective now. – Mad Duo

The Gerber US-Assist by Sara Liberte

This article originally ran on August 4th, 2017, but has since been updated. 

The Gerber US-Assist S30V has been on the market for quite a while now and seems to be fairly well-traveled. We’ve seen more than a few while on shoots or out camping, which is a pretty solid statement given the company we typically keep in the field. The US-Assist features a three-inch S30V steel blade, a swappable clip allowing for carry tip up or down, assisted opening, a plunge lock, and a proprietary ball-bearing pivot system. Like pretty much everything from Gerber, it was designed and built in the USA; (in Portland, Oregon to be exact).

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The blade feel’s pretty solid at first grasp and has some heft to it. The handle material is glass-filled nylon, making it a little on the heavier side for a pocket knife (well, unless you’re a Gurkha). It’s a tool that thus far has lent itself well to everyday EDC use, i.e.. opening boxes, cutting any annoying piece of tape or rope that gets in your way, or using it to slice up your sandwich or pizza on a lunch break. As an implement of field use it serves equally well camping or hiking, though there may be better options for those who are going long distances and are really weight conscious.

We have not yet found the Six-Fingered Man, so cannot attest to its functionality in combat.

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The US Assist features Gerber’s B.O.S.S. technology (Balls Of Stainless Steel), which certainly does provide smooth and consistent blade deployment. The stainless steel balls are there to reduce friction, and the cage system was designed to keep them contained for stable performance over the long haul.

You know, like Ranger panties.

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The removable pocket clip allows tip up or tip down carry, but seems less robust than we’d like to be. It hasn’t given way yet, but we suspect could snap it with less effort than we’d prefer. That said, it’s holding up so far, of maybe we’re wrong.

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The US-Assist features dual ramped thumb studs allowing for ambidextrous assisted one hand opening. That means even the wrong-handed can get it out and open fast when out racticing street ninja knife fighting skills. Happily, those same blade-slingers won’t have to worry about the blade accidentally opening up, as it features a plunge lock with cross bolt safety. We tried to open it with the lock on, and it’s not happening without undue prying or other unrealistic pressure. Of course we’ll keep trying, so you might want to check back and see if we got anywhere with it.

This knife is made in the USA and has a lifetime warranty, which is obviously a plus. The retail price of $119.00  seems pretty reasonable for an EDC blade and not so much that you’ll want to throw yourself off a cliff if you lose it or break it.

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Here are some details from the Gerber website:

  • B.O.S.S. Tech™ – stainless steel ball bearings technology
  • Scratch-resistant, removable pocket clip – able to carry tip up or tip down
  • Ambidextrous assisted one-hand opening blade w/ dual ramped thumbstuds
  • Blade Material: CPM S30V w/ stone washed finish
  • Blade Length: 3.0″
  • Overall Length: 7.2″
  • Weight: 3.9 oz
  • Handle Material: Glass-filled nylon
  • Lock Type: Plunge-lock w/ cross-bolt safety (locks blade open or closed)

Find out more about this and other Gerber Gear products here online

About the Author: Sara Liberte, who wone the MF lottery when it comes to last names, grew up the younger sister to an Army Ranger…she blames that for everything (awesome) in her life. A photographer & videographer of supreme talent and utter disregard for inclement weather, arduous conditions, or little things like the law of averages, Sara is an eleutheromaniac who loves firearms, motorsports, motorcycles and… well, all vehicles, really, as long as they’re the kind that gets dirty and generates adrenaline. She travels the US in a van called Van Solo, dogs at her side (he also rides in her motorcycle sidecar). If you need to find her, you’ll have to look outside. Try moto-events, mountain ranges, or firearms classes. Liberte, whose favorite movie is “First Blood”, runs the website Garage Girls and is the author of How to Repair and Maintain American V-Twin Motorcycles and 1000 Biker Tattoos. Her work has appeared in Easy Riders, In The Wind, Hot Bike, Street Chopper, IronWorks, Cycle Source, and RECOIL Magazine.

What more is there to say? Follow her on Instagram, @saralibertephotography. She’s on Facebook too. Grunts: eleutheromania.

A Review of the Gerber US-Assist by Michelle C. Meyers

This article originally ran on February 24th, 2017, but has since been updated.

The Gerber brand can be found on Walmart and Home Depot shelves across the country, and for that reason alone, it has become a household name. If Billy Bob down the street doesn’t have a Buck knife in his pocket, he probably has a Gerber he picked up at his local hardware store. I get it: all you knife snobs have already clicked on another article about a knife that has a maker, not a brand. But if you’re still reading, we’re going to take a look at Gerber’s implementation of their new “ball-bearing deployment system”, appropriately (and inappropriately?) dubbed “B.O.S.S. Tech (Balls of Stainless Steel)”.

No, I’m not joking.

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While ball-bearing pivot systems are not new technology to knife manufacturers, the US-ASSIST is the first offering in Gerber’s assisted opening line of folders. The US-ASSIST is a simple pocket knife that doesn’t get too deep in the weeds with special features, which seems preferable when introducing new technology that could drive the design of all their future folders. The blade itself, sitting at 3” in length, is offered in 420HC fine or serrated edge, as well in a higher end, and higher price point, S30V fine edge. The blade also possesses thumb studs on each side of the blade. The handle, 4.2” in length, is glass-filled nylon with a lanyard hole, if you’re into that sort of thing, making the knife 7.2” long when open. It also possesses a plunge lock and a pocket clip, notably designed out of a sturdy wire construction instead of the standard solid metal, and can be relocated to the opposite end of the handle.

gerber_US-Assist08

Gerber made the purpose of this knife pretty clear: it’s an everyday carry pocket knife. It’s not meant, or marketed, to ground pounders going on deployment or law enforcement working the streets. It’s certainly not meant to be utilized as a weapon. At the end of the day, the US-ASSIST is designed for basic everyday use as a tool. So that’s what I used it for. I carried it around everyday in jean pockets, uniform pockets, in my daily carry bag around town, and to the other side of the country, using it for whatever I needed to get into or through (which was mostly Amazon shipping boxes of cat litter, my plastic coffee lid with poor venting capabilities, and various cords sprouting from my work computer).

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What I liked about the US-ASSIST:

It fits nicely in girl pockets.

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At 4.2” in length when closed, I was surprised that the knife fit so well in my pockets. if you’ve ever worn skinny jeans (please, guys, don’t admit to that), you know the pockets are so small they can barely even fit your own hands for warmth, never mind a moderately-sized pocket knife. I’ve had folders that wouldn’t sit all the way in the front pocket, forcing me to relocate it to a back pocket, where I would invariably lose it when it slid out of the pocket and into the deep recesses of a couch somewhere (now that I think of it, that’s probably where my missing Benchmade is). So, for an EDC knife for the masses, Gerber gets the length just about perfect for me and my stupid girl pockets.

The wire-constructed clip is low profile.

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The heavy-duty wire clip is advertised as scratch-resistant, though I wasn’t going to test that one out on my personal vehicle. I had initial concerns that it would catch on random items and get twisted and bent out of shape, but I had no such issues. What I do really like about it though, is that the wire clip is more low profile in the pocket. It does not immediately catch the eye and scream, “I have a knife, so I might have a gun, too.” “Where there’s one, there’s two, and where there’s two, there’s three” isn’t just a rule for the good guys; it’s a rule of prey selection, too (if I knew the EOD tech who coined that phrase, I would quote him by name so he would owe everyone beers, but alas). It certainly won’t stop a more attentive inspection, but a cursory scan likely won’t pick up on it like it would a solid silver metal clip.

The angled thumb stud design provides efficient opening initiation.

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The dual-angled, or as they call them, “ramped” thumb studs are actually an advertised feature for the US-ASSIST. It also seems to be a new feature for Gerber’s product line, which generally utilizes a round stud and the occasional Degtyaryov DP-28 pan magazine thumb plate. The thumb studs, which are placed on both sides of the blade, are angled at approximately 20 degrees and are serrated. Combined with the ball bearing system and internal spring, the angle and serrations allow the user to simply push down and up on the thumb stud to actuate a very efficient and smooth opening of the blade, courtesy of the Balls Of Stainless Steel.

My Concerns:

Safety design and its location.

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The plunge lock cross-bolt safety appealed to me right out of the box, but I’m not going to lie; it’s because it reminded me of my childhood Daisy Red Ryder BB-gun, which can still be found in my closet and is frequently utilized as a spider death-dealer (I’m thinking about putting an RMR on it and naming it after myself). Despite the nostalgia, I feel that a slide safety placed half an inch lower on the handle would have been a more efficient design for opening and closing of the knife. When using the safety, I have to depress it at the top of the handle with my thumb, then move the thumb approximately an inch to the blade and then open the blade by engaging the thumb stud. Depressing the safety and engaging the thumb stud are two distinct movements that are also fairly far apart from each other. Conversely, I have to shift the knife in my hand to re-engage the safety with my index finger from the other side of the handle. Utilizing a slide safety would allow the depression to be the exact same movement as engaging the thumb stud (up) and drastically reduce the distance the thumb had to move between safety and thumb stud, ultimately making for more efficient handling, faster opening, and safer closing.

Poor ability to serve as an impromptu weapon.

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I know that statement sounds absolutely ridiculous, considering the US-ASSIST is a KNIFE. But stand by, let me explain. I carry a pocket knife as a tool for daily use. I carry a fixed blade as a weapon dedicated to the purpose of any required “pokey-stabby” therapy. That being said, I also believe in maximizing the application of tools, i.e., multipurpose. The pocket knife I carry should be able to be utilized as backup to my fixed blade. That means one of my requirements for an EDC folder is to be able to utilize it in an oh-shit situation when oh-shit-I-lost-my-fixed-blade. Unfortunately, this reasoning was not a consideration with the design of the US-ASSIST. The front quillon (the area of the handle that your pointer finger indexes around) is not much more than a gentle slope that provides no resistance to your hand sliding down the blade and being sliced open if I should be required to stick it into a resistant object.

Inability to disassemble

(Unless you roll with a full set of torx wrenches.)

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I was planning on doing a few informal durability tests by exposing the knife to a variety of elements. The sand was, unfortunately, the first, and you can imagine how well that went with a ball-bearing system and cross-bolt safety. Exposing your Balls Of Stainless Steel to the beach will result in grinding… and a possible arrest record if you misinterpret this statement. I rinsed as much sand out of the knife as possible, fully prepared to disassemble it, but alas, the screws, which look like hex screws upon a cursory inspection, turned out to be torx (star) screws. I don’t know if disassembly was disincentivized because of the increased complexity of the design could make reassembly difficult, but I do know that while almost everyone has a hex set in their range bag or in the garage, few have torx sets. This is not only a problem for me when it comes to cleaning a knife that was dropped into unsavory elements, but with ball bearings requiring maintenance and long-term care, it would be impossible without further purchases of tools.

At the end of the day, the US-ASSIST is being marketed as an everyday carry knife, and for the average urbanite who wants to carry a blade, if seems to fit that mold pretty well. I think the features I enjoyed about the knife will make it attractive to Gerber’s target market, and the issues that I have with the US-ASSIST are generally well outside their average customer’s concerns. That being said, at $119-$99 MSRP, I can’t see the US-ASSIST selling well in Walmart next to their $29 Tanto. My mother still buys one-ply toilet paper, and I’m pretty sure my father still carries his truck-stop flashlight instead of the Surefire I gave him for Christmas two years ago. Trust me, I know cheap Walmart shoppers. That being said, I have no marketing experience whatsoever, and the US-ASSIST has won several editor’s choice and outdoor retail show awards, so their customer base is there for them to do well, especially if they expand the B.O.S.S. Tech into other products and increase the ease of disassembly.

US Assists for Sale

tactical

Lookin’ for a blade for sale? Here ya go!

Sara Liberte

Sara Liberte

About the Author

Sara Liberte is a 100% indisputable adventuress. She's a graduate of the Montserrat College of Art and the Unofficial University of Offroad Literal Cross-Country Journeying (itself associated with the famous "School of Hard Knocks"). A photographer/videographer of supreme talent and utter disregard for inclement weather, arduous conditions, or little things like the law of averages, Sara is an eleutheromaniac who loves firearms, motorsports, motorcycles and…well, all vehicles, really, as long as they’re the kind that gets dirty and generates adrenaline. She travels the US in a van called the Dodge Mahal, dog at her side (he also rides in her motorcycle sidecar). If you need to find her, you’ll have to look outside. Try moto-events, mountain ranges, or firearms classes. She runs the website Garage Girls and is the author of "How to Repair and Maintain American V-Twin Motorcycles", "1000 Biker Tattoos", and other works. Her work has appeared in Easy Riders Magzine, In The Wind, Hot Bike, Street Chopper, IronWorks, Cycle Source, RECOIL Magazine, OFFGRID Magazine, and many other places. What more is there to say?

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