TAKING A HARD LOOK AT GERBER’S NEW SAVVY
I’ll admit, when someone mentions premium folding knives, Gerber isn’t the first brand that usually comes to mind. But, I have a feeling that’s going to be changing for a lot of people. The knifemaker’s new Savvy model ticks all the right boxes and could prove to be stiff competition to other companies operating in the niche.
“You can customize it to suit your personal preferences in a number of ways. Some are considered stock while others carry an additional cost.”
Rather than being just one more budget import, the Savvy is an American-made knife that will be produced in small batches. This fact alone will help the Savvy stand out among its peers. Each one is hand-sharpened at Gerber’s factory in Portland. On top of that, you can have yours made to order, something not often seen at this level of the knife industry.
GERBER SAVVY: NEARLY ENDLESS CHOICES
You can customize it to suit your personal preferences in a number of ways. Some are considered stock while others carry an additional cost. Note, though, that customizing isn’t required. You’re certainly welcome to just buy one off the shelf, so to speak. But, this degree of customization is certainly a luxury at this level of the knife industry.
■ Handle Material: Aluminum in three different colors (red, gray, blue) or carbon fiber.
■ Pocket Clip: Satin gray or black, and right- or left-handed.
■ Barrel Spacers: Black, orange, red, gray, blue, brown.
■ Pivot, Fasteners, Lock and Liner: Black or satin.
■ Thumb Stud: Black, red, gray, blue, brown.
■ Blade Finish: Stonewashed or black oxide.
■ Blade Laser Mark: Text, pattern, images.
Honestly, it can be a little daunting at first, trying to decide on all of these different features. It isn’t a bad thing, just a bit overwhelming to have so many decisions to make. I went fairly simple with my selections: blue aluminum handle, satin right-handed pocket clip, blue thumb stud, satin spacers, pivot, fasteners, lock and liner, stonewashed blade, and no laser marks.
The Savvy has a Wharncliffe blade profile with a flat grind. The blade measures 3.5 inches long with an edge of 3.375 inches. At the spine, it is 0.125-inch thick and 0.875-inch tall. The blade is deployed via thumb stud. This stud is reversible, too.
The lock on this model, Gerber calls it a Pivot Lock, is similar to the Benchmade AXIS. I really like this sort of bar-style lock for a couple of reasons. It is ambidextrous, which is always appreciated. My wife is left-handed, so I have a front row seat to the difficulties that can be found for those folks. Even if that’s not an issue for you, there’s always the possibility that you could injure your dominant hand and need to manipulate the knife with your weak hand.
On top of that, the Pivot Lock is safer than most other types of locking mechanisms in that you don’t need to put any fingers in the way of the blade to close it. Simply pull the bar back and fold the knife closed.
Gerber advertises the Savvy as having a frictionless pivot. I don’t know that I’d go so far as to say it is entirely frictionless, but the blade does open and close quite easily. In fact, if you rotate the blade out about 30 degrees with the thumb stud, you can flick the blade completely open with a quick snap of the wrist. The blade won’t fall closed on its own right out of the box, but given some time to break in, and maybe a drop of oil, that shouldn’t be a problem.
“What really sells it is that the Savvy is made in the United States, rather THAN being just one more import.”
While the Wharncliffe isn’t as common as, say, a drop point, this style of knife has a strong following, and for good reason. It is a powerful design that’s typically seen as utilitarian. Think of how well a box cutter works with cutting and slicing, and then realize that a Wharncliffe-style blade is like a box cutter on steroids.
This is definitely the type of knife you end up fidgeting with a fair bit, opening and closing it over and over. I’ve not found any wiggle side to side with the blade, and the lockup appears to be rock solid. Granted, you should never put all of your faith into any folding knife’s locking mechanism and treat it like a fixed blade, but the Pivot Lock seems to be as safe as they come.
The pocket clip is reversible on the Savvy, but only side to side. Because of the Pivot Lock, you can’t put the clip on the opposite end of the knife. It carries tip up either way. There is also a lanyard hole for those who like to add such adornments to their folding knives.
One of the things I like about the Gerber Savvy is that it is a lightweight. At under 3 ounces, it nearly disappears in the pocket until it’s needed. Yet for being so light, there’s not only a good-sized blade, but also plenty of real estate on the handle for a solid grip with all four fingers.
I hate to say the knife is plain, but it sort of is, and that’s something else that falls in the plus column. If you work in an office or other workplace that might not exactly be knife friendly, something like the Savvy isn’t likely to raise eyebrows. Granted, you can jazz things up with the colors and what not, but even so, it isn’t going to look like something that would have nefarious uses even though it could absolutely serve as a last-ditch self-defense option.
See, there’s another aspect of the Wharncliffe design that isn’t discussed as often. Its stellar cutting ability happens to translate to a very efficient defense weapon. Michael Janich, one of today’s foremost authorities on practical knife tactics, is a strong proponent of the Wharncliffe blade.
“The Wharncliffe’s acute point also makes it a great tool for detailed work and, interestingly, enables it to penetrate with less resistance than most other blade styles,” Janich wrote.
Overall, the Savvy is a good-looking knife that’s very capable. However, while the edge is very sharp out of the box, it doesn’t look quite finished. The grind is symmetrical on each side, no problems there. But the grind also looks a little rough, like it could have used a pass or two on a finer grit belt before calling it a day. This doesn’t affect performance, but given the price point, I feel like it should look a bit more polished.
DOES IT MAKE THE CUT?
Admittedly, I’ve not had the Gerber Savvy for a great length of time prior to review. However, thus far I’ve been impressed with it. I’ve used it in a variety of capacities, from breaking down boxes to peeling fruit in the kitchen.
The aluminum scales have just the tiniest bit of texturing to them. They’re not polished to a shine but have more of a matte finish. As a test, I dunked my hand in water, then used the knife to open packages and what not. I had no problem at all maintaining a positive grip on the knife.
The blade is centered when closed and lockup is solid and perfect. There’s no wiggle to the blade in any direction. Pivoting open and closed is smooth, with no hesitation or rubbing anywhere.
I like that the knife can be customized in a number of ways at the time the order is placed, as this allows the user to choose what they want for the finished look without having to turn to the secondary market. What really sells it is that the Savvy is made in the United States, rather than being just one more import.
The Gerber Savvy is absolutely a great addition to the premium folding-knife world.
SUPERIOR EDGE RETENTION
I’m not overly familiar with CPM 20CV steel, so I did a little digging. CPM 20CV is a product of Crucible and is comparable to Bohler’s M390 in many ways. Research and testing have shown it has a high degree of edge retention.
The Cutlery and Allied Trade Research Association (CATRA) has developed a test that measures relative edge retention. It is an automated apparatus that lowers a stack of special paper to the edge of the knife. The blade is then moved back and forth to cut into the paper. Measurement is taken of how deep into the stack the blade cuts after 120 cycles of the knife moving back and forth.
CPM 20CV achieves a CATRA score of 180, compared to a score of 100 for 440C. According to Crucible, “CPM 20CV contains the highest amount of chromium of any high-vanadium stainless steel currently available.”
(All specs are for the configuration shown. Adding different options may change the price and weight.)
Model: Gerber Savvy
Overall Length: 7.94 inches
Blade Length: 3.5 inches
Steel: CPM 20CV
Blade Configuration: Wharncliffe, plain edge
Handle: Aluminum (as tested)
Weight: 2.9 ounces
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