Let's face it: all of us are "knife experts" when it comes to what we want and expect from a knife. Blade length, type of edge, shape, tip, handles, grip slabs, pommel, sheath... we know what we like and we usually seek that out. That said, there are some folks who, when they talk about knives or knife design, intelligent people stop and listen. In the knife industry, Chris Reeve and William Harsey Jr. are two names that are recognized and respected. If they talk, we listen. We may not always agree, but it's stupid to dismiss what they say without due consideration. Another name I'd venture we're going to hear more about is Matt Larsen. You see, Matt is an experienced combatant and it's folks like him who know what's needed in a knife for combat situations. He knows it from real live experience; not speculation or hearsay. So, what happens when Chris Reeve and William Harsey Jr. listen to Matt Larsen about what's needed in a knife? The Gerber LHR (Larsen Harvey Reeve) is born.
Anyone who has seen Harseys's or Reeve's work before will recognize some of their handiwork. The ergonomically shaped handle and the steady curve of the back of the grip that merges into the spine of the blade with a smoothness only interrupted by the hint of an angled hilt looks familiar. The ridges that are milled into the back of the handle along that hilt offer good traction for your thumb if you need to press into a cut. The choil deep enough and curved just right to put your index finger into if your technique demands it is something we've seen on Harsey and Reeve designs before. The lanyard hole integrated into a "skull crusher" pommel are also familiar.
Sporting a blade that's just shy of 7" and incorporating about 1" of serrations near the choil / hilt, this knife was obviously designed for combat use. It would serve equally well as a general purpose field knife, although a 7" blade isn't something you normally require for general field use. The grips are made out of something Gerber refers to as "TacHide" and it feels like stiff rubber. The grip slabs are molded to swell in your palm and have ridges molded in for added "traction" as well. The Gerber page about the LHR mentions that it was specifically designed to be easy to hold onto even under wet conditions - and testing held this out. Thanks to the shape of the handle and the molding of the grip slabs, it was easy to hold onto this knife... even when I coated it with motor oil. But that's what I had to do to make it even start to feel slippery. Water didn't affect grip at all... neither did sweat (I didn't try blood).
The sheath is molded polymer and incorporates a unique locking / release feature. If you sheath the knife - and push it into the sheath fully - it locks in. Whether you have time to snap the safety strap (which is elastic) or not, the knife isn't coming out until you release it from the sheath's lock. Two observations about this:
- The knife only fits in the sheath one way due to the locking mechanism, and
- you (at least I) have to push the lock out of the way to sheath the knife.
The mounting options for the sheath are extensive as it's set up to be mounted on MOLLE gear, worn on a belt, strapped to a leg, etc. If you're not well familiar with multiple-mount option sheaths, take a class to figure this one out. Although I fully understand the benefits of polymer / synthetic sheaths, I miss the days of a simple leather sheath with a tie-down and a pocket for a sharpening stone. Just showing off my age I guess, huh?
Before I tried any cutting tests with this knife I wanted to see how well it would handle "the elements", so I tortured it accordingly as best I could. I went down to the Chesapeake Bay - brackish water at best - and filled a 5-gallon construction bucket. In that I dropped the knife and left it to sit and soak for a month. Yes, 30 days. When I pulled it out and rinsed it with fresh water there were no signs of corrosion at all... anywhere. With it still wet I gave it some use cutting the myriad collection of stuff I can pull out of my shed: string, fishing line, twine, 2" nylon webbing, 1/2" rope, that ugly yellow plastic rope stuff and more. It cut well and, as mentioned, the grip was solid in spite of being wet.