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Gerber Stuns, Vies for Best EDC Folding Knife: ‘Assert’ Review

With the Assert folding knife, Gerber puts Benchmade on notice — the Bugout might have met its match.

Gerber Assert Knife(Photo/Nick LeFort)
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This year has proven to be a pivotal year for the knife world. With the emergence and acceptance of new materials (looking at you, MagnaCut) and the expanded use of a certain lock mechanism (Crossbar, holla!), 2023 has seen an ultra-premium category of production knives take form. 

At the same time, we’ve seen a major uptick in quality coming from knives made overseas. These are challenging standards and amplifying the ultra-premium segment. And within all that shakeup sits another anomaly: Gerber.

The U.S. knifemaker has spent 2023 building up steam by introducing products that employ premium materials and boast higher quality than what we’ve come to expect from Gerber over the last decade or so. That’s not to knock the brand; I’m just keeping it real. But the narrative is shifting.

In June of this year, I deemed Gerber’s Bushcraft Hatchet the “Best Modern Hatchet” of 2023. After the nightmare that was the Bear Grylls line of knives and tools, I never thought that I’d say it. But that hatchet is a powerhouse.

If that’s not impressive enough, I think Gerber is now threatening the likes of an everyday carry king, Benchmade. With the Assert folding knife, Gerber takes a big swing at knocking the Bugout off the throne of premium, American-made, EDC folding knives.

In short: If you’re looking for a reliable EDC folding knife that’s made in the USA from premium materials, you’d do right to consider the Gerber Assert. It’s lightweight, carries easily, and due to its construction and materials, it will provide years of dependability and very little necessary maintenance.

Gerber Assert Folding Knife


  • OAL 6.95”
  • Blade length 2.98”
  • Blade steel S30V
  • Blade shape Drop point
  • Grind Flat
  • Hardness 58-60 HRC
  • Lock type Crossbar
  • Carry Right or left hand, tip-up, deep carry
  • Weight 1.87 oz.
  • Price $175


  • It’s got a nice look to it
  • Enhanced ergonomics


  • Adjustable thumb stud = another moving part

Gerber Assert: Review

A Lot in Common With the Bugout

Gerber Gear Folding Knife Texutre
(Photo/Nick LeFort)

Though the Assert has its own distinct look, which leads to some enhanced features over the Bugout and Mini Bugout, it’s hard not to compare them to one another. Here’s why:

Fact 1: All three knives are lightweight folders with textured handle scales, stone-washed S30V blade steel, a crossbar lock, and a deep carry pocket clip.

Fact 2: At 6.95 inches (OAL), the Assert falls between the Mini Bugout (6.50 inches) and Bugout (7.46 inches) and only weighs 0.7 ounces more than the Bugout. In reality, you won’t be able to distinguish that difference in weight. In fact, unless they were lined up with one another on a table in front of you, you might not be able to notice the difference in size, either.

Fact 3: The Assert has the classic “Bugout Flex” in the handles. You can activate the flex by holding the knife horizontally between your fingers and squeezing down like you’re biting into a sandwich. 

Fact 4: All three knives cost within $10 of each other, and are made in the USA in factories that are 30 minutes from one another.

Fact 5: You can customize all three of these knives through their respective brand’s website.

Key Differences

With all that said, it’s important to point out that there are some big differences between these knives, too.

For one, the Assert has a more pronounced choil and a distinct drop-point blade. These factors provide increased ergonomics as well as enhanced piercing abilities. The Assert also has an adjustable thumb stud to make opening and closing more refined for the user.

Another difference comes in factory service. Benchmade offers free resharpening of every knife it makes for life. Gerber does not. It’s probably not going to sway many buyers, but it’s worth noting, especially at this high price and with steel as hard to resharpen as S30V. It’s very nice to be able to toss your blade in the mail once a year and get it back with a factory-sharp edge in a couple of weeks.

This isn’t a comparison review, but it’s hard to ignore these similarities and differences as these knives compete against each other among shoppers for as long as they’re on the market.

That’s not a bad thing. In fact, it helps pumps life into a saturated production knife market.

First Impressions

Gerber Gear Assert Folding Knife in the palm of hand
(Photo/Nick LeFort)

I’m a function-over-form person, but I really like the way the Assert looks. The combination of sage green handle scales, cyan accents, and stonewashed steel feels familiar and also different. Even the hint of brass on the support plate for the pivot matched up well.

The Assert fits into my palm with about half an inch of overhand, which allows it to seat comfortably. Coupled with the texturing on the handle scales, I can tell that once I put the knife to work, there won’t be any pain points or premature fatigue. It’s also not going anywhere, whether my hands are wet or dry. 

I’m not a fan of adjustable thumb studs because I feel like they’re eventually going to fail. But this one is reverse-threaded, so we shall see.

I know I can expect a good balance in performance, edge retention, and corrosion resistance from the S30V steel. The stone washing of the blade is a nice addition, as is the clip-point styling on the top of the blade. It isn’t traditional enough to pull the blade shape away from being a drop point, but it is enough to make the shape distinctive to the Assert.

In the Field

Bowl of Blackberries and Gerber Assert knife
(Photo/Nick LeFort)

I threw a lanyard on the Assert and slid it into my back pocket right after I received it. Ordinarily, putting knives this lightweight in my back pocket freaks me out, because I’ve had them go missing on me — though usually due to the pocket clip.

But the combination of tight tolerances on the deep carry clip and the texturing on the handle scales have kept the knife back there all day, every day.

I ended up adjusting the thumb stud heading into the second day of use. At the factory setting, which is closest to the pivot, I was still able to open the Assert. But, positioning it in the middle allowed for smoother operation.

That said, there’s a bit of resistance when flipping the knife closed, out of the box. This feels like something Gerber built in to keep the blade closed while it rides in your pocket. It may be less noticeable if you loosen the pivot screw, but I just compensate when I flick the knife closed.

I also worry about blade flex when adjusting the pivot screw. Blade flex in a lightweight knife like this transfers down into the handle, where it amplifies and could lead to failure.

That was my big gripe with the Bugout, and it’s my gripe here with the Assert. I have not been able to get either knife to fail, so I might as well just get over it. But, I would never pry with a knife that doesn’t have an internal frame. And though I think the 3/32-inch S30V on the Assert could probably handle prying, even with the distal taper, I would never recommend it. I mention this because, based on the blade shape, I’ve thought about it.

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Gerber Assert: Conclusion

In the end, after 2 weeks of everyday use and abuse, I am very pleased with the Assert. I’ve used this knife to cut flowers, slice soil bags, open about 1,000 ice pops for my kids, and do various other day-to-day mindless tasks — precisely what Gerber designed the Assert to do.

To say that I am impressed with the Assert would be an understatement. I believe it will sit high among the ranks of the top EDC knives of 2023.

I actually have some newfound respect for the Benchmade Bugout, due in part to the Gerber Assert — the knives share a significant amount of similarities. But the Assert looks better, feels better, and performs better.

I am happy to welcome Gerber back into the big leagues!

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