Gerber has been an outdoors gear manufacturer in the US for over 70 years. Their tools and knives are especially popular among military servicemembers. One of Gerber’s newer folding knives is the Gerber US-Assist, adding to Gerber’s popular and diverse lineup. As alluded to by its name, the US-Assist features an assist-opening mechanism designed for smooth and rapid deployment of the blade. It’s a simple EDC knife that does its job well. Here are the specifications from Gerber:

Specifications

  • 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 thumb studs
  • 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)
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Made in USA
The Gerber US-Assist closed, front and back

My Thoughts and Review

The US-Assist isn’t as sharp out-of-the-box as other knives from other manufacturers. It was noticeable enough that I decided to sharpen it before putting it through extensive use. This isn’t a big deal because all knives need to be sharpened eventually, but I was a little put-off with my first impression. Aside from that, I think the US-Assist is a well-rounded pocket knife; there were several features that I really liked and only a couple minor drawbacks that I experienced with the knife.

Steel choice

Gerber currently offers the US-Assist in 420HC or CPM S30V steel. Between the two, S30V is the more premium steel, hence the higher cost. S30V is popular for several good reasons; it is a well-rounded performer offering good edge retention, corrosion resistance, and easy sharpening. My only grievance with S30V is that for a high-quality steel, the edge is prone to chipping when met with some hard use. That isn’t to say that all S30V blades are inferior, a lot of the qualities of steel are manipulated by heat treatment as well as the overall shape and design of the blade. With that being said, after using the US-Assist S30V for a couple weeks in the wilderness and for everyday use, I have yet to run into any issues.

The US-Assist features a removable and reversible pocket clip
Assisted-opening

Assisted-opening knives are designed for easier and more rapid deployment, and the US-Assist is well-designed for this purpose. The Gerber US-Assist features ramped thumb studs on both sides of the blade for ambidextrous use. A subtle feature that I really liked about the thumb studs was the jimping along the ramps. The added texture of the thumb studs ensures that your thumb won’t slip while opening the blade, especially when you have gloves on.

Plunge lock

I am also a big fan of the plunge lock mechanism that Gerber chose for the US-Assist. The plunge lock is a push-button that springs into a notch on the rear of the blade, locking it into place. To close the blade, you push down on the plunge lock to remove it from the rear notch of the blade. It is a simple locking mechanism that is also easy to use one-handed.

The plunge lock on the US-Assist
Cross-bolt safety

The US-Assist features a cross-bolt safety lock. The safety can be used while the blade is closed or open. I don’t use the safety, in fact, I prefer my folders to not have safeties on them. I have never had a knife accidentally deploy on its own, and I don’t like fumbling to open a folder when I forget that it is locked. With that being said, if you don’t like safeties on knives then just don’t use them. The cross-bolt safety on the US-Assist does a good job staying in place, and I haven’t had an instance where it unintentionally locked itself.

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The Gerber US-Assist utilizes a safety lock to keep your blade open or closed
Handle

My only major complaint about the US-Assist is its handle. Nylon handles are smooth so they tend to be slippery and it gets worse when they get wet. To mitigate this, manufacturers add some texturing to improve their handles. However, the texturing on the handle of the US-Assist is more for aesthetics than practical use. The bottom half of the handle helps improve your grip, but as the texturing fades into the upper-half of the handle, it becomes slippery. I would have liked for the US-Assist to use a better material like G10, or to at least texture the entire handle to help achieve a better grip.

The verdict

The good
-Well-designed thumb studs
-Assisted-opening works well
-Easy one-handed operation

The bad
-Nylon handle can be slippery

The Gerber US-Assist is a good-looking EDC knife and its assist-opening mechanism makes it easy to use, even a little fun. Aside from having nylon handle, the US-Assist doesn’t leave much to be desired. The assist-opening mechanism does a good job deploying the knife and the process is aided by having textured ramped thumb studs. S30V isn’t the best steel and infamous for chipping at times, but it’s still a great steel that is easy to maintain. At the time of writing this review, the Gerber US-Assist S30V has an MSRP of $119 and the US-Assist 420HC has an MSRP of $99.

As always, if you have any experience with the US-Assist or other gear from Gerber, let us know what you think!