Gerber Legendary Blades now has two tactical automatic knives that have Federal National Stock Numbers (NSN). This allows federal agencies, including the military, to procure these knives without going through an adoption or bidding process. These knives are called the “06 Drop Point” and the “06 Tanto.” The new Gerbers are much-refined versions of the now immortal Florida Black Knife in both design and function. They are also identical to each other except for their respective point styles, revealed in their names. The blades are propelled open by a torsion spring that keeps constant tension on the blade, thereby preventing blade bounce. A simple button mechanism locks the blade in both the open and closed positions.
Unlike the Florida Black Knife, these blades have a sliding safety that locks the locking/firing button with the blade open or closed. When used properly, this safety ensures that the blade of the knife will not open accidentally in a pocket or other carrying system. It also ensures that when the blade is locked into the open position, there is virtually no chance of it accidentally folding and injuring the user, even if the firing button is accidentally pushed. The downside is that use of the safety slightly slows down the deployment of the knife. With some practice the user can learn to pull back the safety and push the firing button, all in one smooth motion.
“06” Carry Features
While the Gerber 06 knives are set up primarily for right-handed use, I found that I could operate the safety and firing button quite handily using the forefinger of my left hand instead of my thumb as a right-handed person would. The pocket clip on this knife is attached at the butt end on the right side. Personally, I prefer the pocket clip to be attached on the pivot end, but realize that many prefer it the other way. After a day or two of carry, I can get used to either style of carry. Since the pocket clip cannot be moved to the left side, lefties have to use a half-twist draw, but that, too, is not so tough to learn.
The handle of this knife is 5 inches long, including a combination lanyard hole/strike point. Actually, the latter can be quite handy for breaking out windows to obtain a firing position. I have a medium-size hand, and I find the handle of the 06 knives to be very comfortable and secure to use. The handle is 9/16-inch thick, not including the pocket clip, button, or safety. This allows the knife to be carried comfortably in the pockets of typical military field uniforms and full-cut civilian trousers.
Gotta Have Heart
The heart of any knife is its blade and that is an area where this knife really shines (figuratively but not literally). The blades, like the handles, are finished in a tactical dull black finish and are just over 3-1/2 inches in length. Both models have the rear half of the blade’s edge aggressively serrated, which should serve well for cutting rope and other fibrous materials. I strongly suggest that Gerber also offer these models without serrations. The primary reason is that troops in the field will rarely have access to the special tools needed to properly resharpen a serrated edge when it gets dull, and they will get dull.
The blades on these knives are made from S30V stainless steel, which is one of the best conventional stainless steels available for folder use with regard to edge holding, toughness, and resistance to corrosion. The blades of both knives locked open with absolutely no play in any direction. This held true even after the blades were snapped open hundreds of times. In my experience, most military automatic knives are not nearly so tight in the open position.
The unserrated portions of the blades’ edge were hair-shaving sharp right out of the box, except for a small section of wire edge burr on the drop-point model. This burr was easily removed with a few strokes on a leather strop charged with super-fine abrasive.
One of the potential uses for these knives is to cut through seatbelts and other straps during an emergency evacuation of people from a vehicle. Even the tanto model has its point dropped as an aid in accomplishing this task without cutting the person you are trying to save. Along the same lines, either knife would make an excellent knife for parachute jump masters or parachutists in general.
Since neither knife is petite or particularly light, many users will prefer to carry them in a belt pouch instead of a pocket. Both knives come with black ballistic nylon belt pouches that have a belt loop that is easily snapped on to a belt or load-bearing equipment.
The suggested retail price of these knives is $259. If you are in the military or other government service, the federal NSN for the dropped point model 06 is 1095-01-466-4348 and the tanto point version is 1095-01-456-4457.
All in all, I am very favorably impressed with these knives, particularly for use by field soldiers and marines. These knives are far superior to the automatics that were available to the troops in Vietnam. Our service members deserve to have superior equipment and the Gerber 06 knives are just that.