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Tool Review


Gerber's Air Ranger, is it worthy of the "legendary blades" namesake?
 

Date: 9/08/02
Tackle type: Tools
Manufacturer: Gerber
Reviewer: Zander






Total Score: 7.91

Introduction: One of the most useful tools an outdoorsman can own is a trusty pocketknife. Gerber manufacturers high quality blades designed for the avid outdoorsman. We take a closer look at the Gerber Air Ranger and put it to through the paces in our backcountry field test.
 

Gerber Air Ranger Specifications

Blade Material High Carbon Stainless Steel
Handle Material CNC Machined Aluminum
Blade Style Partly Serrated
Extended Size 7.38"
Blade Size 3.2"
Weight 2.60 oz
Lock Stainless Steel Liner Spring
Holster None
Clip Yes (Removable)
MSRP $72.00


Impressions: As multi function tools continue to gain popularity among anglers there are some that still prefer that their tools be specific in form and function...arguing that nothing beats a pocketknife in reliability. Others go as far to say that placing all your trust in one multi-tool is like putting all your eggs in one basket...you lose the tool and you lose everything. Either way Gerber designs a full range of tools and blades that are famous for their function and design. The Air Ranger blade is designed by custom knife maker William Harsey, and engineered by Gerber. Gerber describes the Air Ranger as "a performance cutlery piece at a high volume price." We examine this blade to see if this description is justified.

 

The field tests: The Gerber Air Ranger was carried out to the backcountry for our recent field test. The Air Ranger was chosen for this set of field tests because it is relatively low in weight at 2.0oz, making it easy to carry for extended backpacking trips.
 

The Air Ranger sports a slim profile checkered aluminum handle


The Blade: The Gerber Air Ranger features a very attractive blade that has a matte look and feel. This is achieved by using high carbon stainless steel with bead blast finishing. The result is a satin finish that is soft grey in color. Anglers will find that a satin finished blade is preferable over standard stainless blades that are extremely reflective in bright sunlight. Working with this blade is easy on the eyes, and even easier on your hand with the extremely sharp edge. The Air Ranger can be bought with either a partly serrated blade or fine edge. I preferred the partly serrated edged blade because the teeth made it easy to lock into fishing line and cut it exactly where I wanted. Sometimes with dull pocketknives anglers find themselves sawing at line and often nicking the line unnecessarily. We tested the Gerber on a number of materials including mono and braided line, plastic packaging, rope, aluminum, and wood. The blade cut through each material with little effort but at the end of the tests did require some sharpening. With the serrated portion of the blade sharpening can be tricky and requires a small rounded sharpener. As an added value Gerber will factory sharpen any double edge Gerber product for $6.00.

 

The Air Ranger features a heat treated satin finished blade which is extremely sharp and non-reflective

 

Opening and Closing: One of the best things about the Air Ranger is the ease of opening for both right and left handed anglers. With a neatly rounded thumb stub at the base of the blade the knife can be effortlessly opened by either hand. Anglers will appreciate the ability to close the blade with the same hand as well. On many knives closing the blade requires putting the knife in one had while reaching to the back of the handle and disengaging a lock. The Air Ranger incorporates a single liner in the handle that functions as a lock. Closing the blade is done by pushing the liner to the left with your thumb while simultaneously pushing the blade towards you. The Air Ranger is designed so that when doing this the edge of the blade will never touch your thumb.

 

The pocket clip on the Air Ranger is strong but a bit too tight for many
straps and belts (can be removed for a slimmer profile)


The Strength: The Air Ranger sports an aluminum handle that is surprisingly strong for such a thin knife. The standard color of the handle is a dark green, though it looks more like a gunmetal grey to me. The Air Ranger has a good construction and is held together with stainless steel bolts. The knife also has a stainless steel clip that can be removed if you desire an even slimmer profile. One thing I did notice was a lot of pressure when using the belt clip. This makes it good for staying where you want it even when moving around quickly, but also makes it difficult to secure on thicker straps or belts. It is possible to bend the clip outwards to loosen the clip and make it easier to holster. Overall the knife is very strong and even when cutting into hard surfaces there is no noticeable flex in the handle.

 

Single handed opening and closing of the knife is easy with thumb studs on the blade and an integrated locking liner

 

The Feel: Comfort in a blade's design is always a key factor and the Air Ranger delivers the goods in this category. With a ergonomically sound shape the Air Ranger fits nicely in your hand and is easy to grip when applying pressure to the blade against any surface. Anglers will like the grip of the Air Ranger because the handle is checkered like a fine gun stock and affords a good grip even when wet.

 

Ratings:

Gerber Air Ranger Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Great materials that include aluminum and treated stainless steel with a strong construction 9
Performance Sharp easy to use blade that works well cutting almost any surface. Does require constant sharpening after use. 8
Price A bit expensive considering the competition out there. We did find it for discounted prices at numerous retail and online stores 7
Features A feature packed blade, easy single handed opening and closing with innovative finishing and materials are a plus 8
Design (Ergonomics) Lightweight and easy use, the handle is slim and comfortable 8.5
Application Good for many applications but carrying a single blade rather then a multi-tool also means carrying other items like pliers. Good for when just a "knife" is necessary. 7

Total Score

7.91


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Great finishing L Price is more then competition
J Attention to detail L Needs constant sharpening
J Single handed operation L Belt clip is too tight
J Outstanding materials  


Conclusion: Gerber's brand name includes "legendary blades," and in this case the Air Ranger is a good, but not legendary blade...but does deliver on most of its promises. With a attractive design and good functionality the Air Ranger will not disappoint outdoorsman that prefer a single blade over multi-function tools. With a slim profile and lightweight attributes the Air ranger is a good choice when traveling light. Advanced features and high quality materials make it a fine knife for most applications. As with all tools the Air Ranger should be held physically to see if it matches your grip, and your personal requirements. Where the knife does fall short is in price category, with a price of 70+ dollars there is a lot of competition out there to consider. On numerous e-tailor and retail stores the Air Ranger can be bought at sub 50 dollar prices which is not only more reasonable, but more appropriately priced for a mass production blade of this quality.


Until next time....Tight Lines!


 

 

 

 

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