The Metolius Pocket Folder was provided by the manufacturer free of charge for this review.
[Text in italics are quotes from the manufacturers documentation].
“The Metolius Pocket Folder is a thin, strong every day carry knife designed with hunters in mind. Stainless steel and a TacHide inlay ensure it will perform, whatever the conditions.”
Manufacturers web site: http://www.gerbergear.com
TacHide Inlay – For secure grip in all conditions
All Stainless Steel – Good balance and strength
Thin – Easy to carry
Full Fine Edge Blade
Low-rise Pocket Clip – For discrete carry
Blade Length: 3.0 in.
Open Length: 7.0 in.
Closed Length: 4.0 in.
Weight: 4.7 oz.
MSRP US$ 36.99
I won’t go into detail but suffice to say that I am a big fan of Gerber’s product guarantee ever since they repaired (at no cost) a multi tool that broke while using it to save my butt (if not my life) while I was stranded alone on top of a snow covered mountain. I have owned and used an array of knives from cheep (semi disposable) knifes costing as little as a few dollars, to expensive ones I can only describe as well crafted cutting instruments. Most have their place as long as the quality fits the price and the user’s expectation (e.g. I don’t expect to be able to chop down a tree or perform surgery with a $5 knife, but if I pay $150+ I expect it to do some amazing things).
The Gerber Metolius Pocket Folder is the latest addition to Gerber’s Metolius line of hunting knives. [I Googled Metolius and apparently it is a city in Jefferson County Oregon] When I saw the description and price of the Metolius Pocket Folder, I was expecting a knife that might be suitable to carry around in my pocket as a basic utility knife. When I received it, I immediately noticed its weight and heft (how it feels in my hand). This is clearly not made to be lightweight; in fact, it is probably the heaviest folding knife of its size I have ever used. If you are shaving plastic off your toothbrush in order to save weight, you might want to think twice about this knife. On the other hand, if like me, you are looking for a knife that will perform like a fixed bladed knife but has the convenience of folding and stashing in your pocket, than this is one of the places where a few oz’s may be worth their weight in gold. [I know the analogy does not hold up…what could be more useless than a knife made of gold?!?! But, I am sure you get my meaning.] My first impression is of a sturdy tool built to take some abuse like its larger cousins in the Metolius line, and I fully intend to see if it is up to taking the place of the fixed blade I have been carrying lately.
As mentioned above the knife has a nice heft to it and feels good in my hand, however the handle seems just a bit short, it fits my hand ok, but if my hand were just a bit bigger my pinky finger would surely slide off the end. The knife handle has a low profile belt clip on one side and some contoured plastic material (they call “TacHide”) on the other for grip. Being right handed this puts the clip in the palm side of the knife and the grip on the outer side. The pocket clip is very low profile and seems to clip easily on to my pocket while holding the knife securely. I attempted to clip the knife to my belt and found the clip a bit too tight for that, but that is OK since this is intended to be carried clipped inside a pocket. I will mostly carry this in a pocket or clipped on the webbing strap of my backpack. On the subject of left vs. right handed, the knife has thumb studs on both sides, to allow for one-handed opening from either the left or right hand.
The knife arrived open, and when I first closed it I noticed that the lock took some pressure to disengage (not a bad thing) and the action of the blade was a bit stiff. After working it open and closed a number of times it has gotten smother, but is still too stiff to “flick” open. Getting it to open with one hand requires I get my thumb in just the right spot or I can’t get enough leverage. Given the choice, I would rather it a bit stiff than too loose as I once had a knife partially open while in my pocket, and while reaching into my pocket I shoved the tip of the knife deep into the tip of my finger. So while I would like it a touch looser, I would not complain if it stayed as it is. When opening the knife I hear a very satisfying and solid ‘click’ as the back lock engages. While I like this style of lock on a folding knife, I have had some slip on me, so hearing how solidly this one engages is a very good sign as to the quality of this knife. When opened the knife blade is solid, with only a slight side to side wiggle. When closed the blade is just slightly off center. As mentioned above the knife feels very solidly built, so much so, that I would consider the pummel end of the handle adequate for hammering (something I would not do with many other folding knifes). The handle has deeply recessed finger grips making for a secure hold and it seems very unlikely that my hand will be able to slip towards the blade even when stabbing the blade into wood (I tried sticking the tip into a 2X4 a few times with no problem).
The blade of this knife is somewhat wide for its length. This is probably due to it being designed primarily as a hunting knife. The spine of the knife has a long serrated section (“jimping”) to provide grip for my thumb. The jimping extends a full third of the way up the length of the blade. I have never seen jimping extend so far up a blade before, it seems like it should provide good control while shaving or whittling wood for tinder. The knife arrived with a very sharp edge (I could shave the hair off of my arm with it) and no nicks or defects that I could find. I am surprised at the shallow angle of the sharpened edge. Again, this could be due to its primary design being for hunting and skinning as this creates a very sharp edge. For general purpose use I prefer a more aggressive angle (25 deg) giving a more durable, but not as sharp cutting edge. On the other hand if this is very hard steel (not sure what it is made of as I can find no reference about what kind of stainless steel is used for the blade or handle) this angle could be quite suitable. In one of the descriptions I read about the knife, it mentions being easily field sharpened suggesting to me that the steel may be more on the softer side. [Note: I will hold off on judgment of this until I have used the knife enough to get a feel for how well it holds an edge].
So far I am impressed with the quality of the knife, especially given the relatively low price it is advertized for. I am looking forward to using this knife over the next few months to see if it lives up to my initial impressions.
[Update May 31 2011]
Since my initial review I have been carrying the Gerber with me most of the time. I have used it at work for basic cutting tasks such as opening and cutting boxes. At home I have used indoors and out for tasks such as cutting rope and cord, cutting various types of foam, opening packages (plastic, paper, & cardboard), sharpening pencils, and just about anything else that needs cutting. I have carried it on a few day hikes and a 3 day backing trip. During my backpacking trip I use the knife to practice primitive fire building skills. In doing so I carved a notch out of some driftwood and whittled down a branch about as thick as my thumb as well as cut tinder and kindling. In a test of the durability of this knife, while clearly not what it is intended for, I used the knife to split kindling off of some split pine logs. To accomplish this I placed the knife on the edge of the log and split off sections using another piece of log as a baton to hammer the blade through the wood.
NOTE: I am kicking myself for not getting some pictures while splitting the wood. Almost the entire blade of the knife was embedded in the pine with only a small amount of the tip (just enough to hammer on) sticking out the other side. [Yes. This is clearly abuse of the knife and I do not recommend using it this way.]
So how has it performed? Well, have not been disappointed. The action of the hinge has remained constant, firm and a bit stiff as when it arived, despite the above mentioned abuse. This suggests to me that the hinge is quite durable. And the lock feels as firm as it did when I received it. The pocket clip is also showing no sign of loosening and has held firmly onto my pocket during every activity I have performed (including Zip Lining), so I never worry about it accidently slipping out of my pocket. The body of the knife is showing very little wear and unless examined closely still looks new. The blade has held an edge far better than I originally expected. Since my initial sharpening of the blade to an angle more suitable to the sort of use I use it for, I have not found the need to sharpen it again.
So at this point I really have nothing to complain about. The knife has performed better than I would have expected for a knife in this price range. Over the next month I will continue to carry this knife and use it in my daily activities. I invite you to return to see if it continues to exceed my expectations.
[Update July 30 2011]
Since receiving this knife I have been carrying it in my pocket or clipped to my backpack almost daily. I have used it for the assorted tasks one would expect, and as mentioned in my previous post maybe one or two tasks that are a bit beyond what it was probably intended for. My last trip with the knife was a solo climb up Mt Adams (Washington Cascades). On this trip I carried the Metolius as well as a [high end] fixed blade knife. As expected, the convenience of the folding pocked knife resulted in my not using the fixed blade knife on the trip. I did sharpen the Metolius once just before the trip and took an edge quite quickly.
The body of the knife has proven to be very durable and is showing little to no signs of the use (and abuse) it has endured, and despite being clipped to pockets and backpack straps, the pocket clip is showing no signs of loosening. This also goes for the hinge and lock, they are also showing no signs of wear or damage.
I have to say that I am very pleased with the quality of this knife. While I would prefer to save a little weight, I am not sure I would trust a lighter weight knife to withstand the demands of splitting fire wood and chopping through branches as this one has. I find the combination of reasonable cost, reliability of a fixed bladed knife, and convenience of a folding knife to be just about ideal for my outdoors needs.
I would like to thank the folks at 4AllOutdoors.org and Gerber for allowing me to review such a well built knife.
Dave (the turtle) Wilkes