Type "Freeman" into the search block of Gerber’s website and you’ll come up with 14 choices, either Freeman hunting knives or variations of the LMF and Prodigy designs that Freeman spearheaded and inspired. Now, type Gerber Freeman into Google and see how many come up. LOTS. There are many different variations to this knife and I’ll assume most are just models they made before but don’t offer any longer. There are wood scales, heavy duty plastic scales, and stag scales; ones that fold and ones that don’t. Some have a gut hook, some do not. Want the trifecta? I found one Freeman that has three different blades to swap out. This is a knife they really took and ran with.
Today I have for review the "Gerber Freeman Guide, drop point, fine edge, with nylon sheath". That’s a mouthful. This Gerber, designed by Jeff Freeman, is a lot of bang for the buck folks. There is full tang construction on this knife with a blade length of 4 inches, an OAL of 8.4 inches, and it weighs 4.4 ounces. The only info I can find on the blade steel is "high carbon stainless" so we’ll go with that. On the other end, the TacHide onlay scales are quite grippy, wet or dry. These scales give the utmost in traction and a sure grip, I had them under water for some testing and they work great. Part of the reason the grip on this knife is so amazing is the fact that the scales sit below the level of the steel and have some deep file work pretty much all of the way around. At the exposed tang end, you’ll find a big slot for a lanyard, not just a hole in the scales. It looks great and with the big finger grooves, file work, and the TacHide, and feels solid in the hand without being over the top gimmicky.
As with all my test knives, I try to do the same tasks so I can compare them all similarly. First up was making fire. Feather sticks were easy with the Gerber since it came with a nice edge right out of the box. I worked it pretty good with some thick and thin pieces and I was pleased with everything it did. Batoning down some larger pieces to get to a dry center was no problem either. The forward most file work lines up almost even with the plunge line so when batoning and holding the knife sideways, you still have good purchase on the handle with your index finger forward of the front of the scales. Whittling off the end of the tent pegs and making them sharp felt secure with the scales on this knife. The four inch sharpened edge is just the right size. The finger groove acts as it should while working down the tent pegs and keeps your fingers out of harm’s way. With all the file work to help secure the Freeman in your hand, I doubt it would ever slip. If you really need added security, the lanyard slot can accommodate just about anything for use as a lanyard whether it be manmade or store bought. I personally prefer a lanyard long enough to hang the knife off my thumb, cord over the back of my hand, where I can just rotate my hand into the thumb down position and grab the knife. It’s VERY secure.
The fine tip sits just North of the center line on this knife but it still drills very well. It’ll do bushcraft type skills well enough and looks to be a decent skinner (although I didn’t do any of that). This is just a good looking knife with enough of everything to get the job done. It’s not too fragile or pretty that you wouldn’t lend it to your buddy, yet it cuts all day long and enjoys the sloppy chores.
The sheath does its job, and that’s all it’s expected to do. Once on the hip, you’ll find it sliding around a bit. It does come with a hard plastic insert for the ballistic nylon. This works well and definitely protects the nylon as you put away your knife. To snap the keeper shut is a bit of a chore but it’s something you’ll master with time. It is designed with the snapped keeper going from back to front which makes it easier to get at when you need the knife. Overall I’d say the sheath is fair. As far as hitting a value for dollar, it’s better than most having the hard plastic liner, that’s a real bonus. The leather sheath that comes with the S30V/stag version of the Freeman on the other hand is of very good quality. Nice thick leather, wide enough for any belt, and a just-as-thick leather snapped keeper for the handle. This knife costs 5 or 6 times as much as the basic Freeman though, so it had better be nicer. Read about this knife below. The only thing I’d change On the Freeman Guide is the sheath. It’s ok for the price point but I think I’d opt for something a little better. Is a $20 street value blade worthy of a $30 or $40 sheath? I think this one is. Just FYI, this Freeman does fit the nicer leather sheath of the S30V knife if you’d ever see one at a swap or on eBay though.
I found another Freeman at Smokey Mountain Knife Works, an annual stop on the way home from the BLADE show. It was on sale and is definitely the hot rod cousin to the knife on test. This one has real stag scales and S30V steel. The other Gerber Freeman Guide is nice but, this one is very sweet! Super sharp, great looking scales, and all the smooth lines of the Freeman make it a winner in my book so, I bought two of them. You can never have enough quality knives lying around. I believe retail on the S30V knife is around $175. If that’s a little steep for you, or you can’t find one still around on the market, then the stock Gerber Freeman Guide is still a lot of value for the MSRP price of only $32 bucks.
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