I’ve always been a proponent of having a blade on you ALL the time. I have the privilege of testing many different knives and have done so over the past few years. One thing that can be time consuming and costly is finding that ‘perfect’ blade to carry with you everyday. Today we are going to take a quick look at the Gerber Propel AO. I’ve heard a-lot of good things about this blade, especially from those that have been downrange. I know of a few Army SF guys that carried the Propel when deployed.
The first thing I noticed out of the box was the weight. It has enough weight and heft to it, to remind you it’s a tough blade that is meant to get dirty and be used on a daily basis. It’s not too heavy though to keep me from putting it my pocket for daily carry. Some will argue that it weighs too many ounces to be an everyday carry knife. I’m sorry, but I’m not counting ounces when I choose a knife to carry.
The Gerber Propel AO is an assisted opening blade with a plunge lock that seems to lock up pretty damn solid. This model also sports a safety mechanism in case you want to lock the blade open or closed. Some will lock the blade in a closed position when carrying in their pocket for fear of the blade opening inside the pocket. I’ve never had this happen and typically always keep the safety on the off (red) position.
The handle scales are an aggressive G10 material that has several milled out sections to improve your grip in adverse conditions or if your hands are wet and/or sweaty. When clipping it to your pocket it does grab on rather tightly, so time will tell how bad it wears through the material of my pants. I may remove the pocket clip to lightly sand down the area under the clip so it doesn’t chew my pants up over time. We’ll see….
Speaking of the clip, I really like the clip design on the Gerber Propel. It’s standard length clip that comes ready for tip up right side carry (my preferred). The clip also has a really nice black oxide type finish to it that gives it somewhat of a distressed look. The retention of the clip is solid too. This knife isn’t going anywhere unless you deliberately pull it from your pocket.
The blade is a partially serrated tanto design with a slight drop to it. The slight drop and swedge combination give this knife a robust tanto tip. The type of steel may be a deal breaker for some. The Propel AO model is manufactured from 420HC steel (not the best). I will tell you this though. Just because it is 420HC does not necessarily mean it’s crap. Take a look at Buck knives. They have been using 420HC for many many years with no issues. The important thing is how they treat that steel during the manufacturing process. If the steel has a good heat treat then there is nothing to worry about. Yes 420HC may rust easier, but if you keep the blade clean and maintained that is a mute point. Take care of your gear and it will take care of you.
My plan is to pocket this blade for a few weeks and use it for both everyday utility tasks and take it out on a few hikes for some outdoor work. Stay tuned for a full field review of how the Gerber Propel AO performed.