Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife Review – Good or Great?

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I can’t remember a survival knife ever causing as much of a stir as the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife.  And really, it’s no wonder…

Gerber has been around for over 70 years and already has a huge presence in the world of knives. Then they teamed up with Bear Grylls, hero of the popular ‘Man vs. Wild’ TV show to put together a hybrid survival knife that is priced low enough to make it hard for a millions of Bear Grylls fans, and the rest of us, to resist.

Proven Design – A Good Place to Start
The Bear Grylls knife is based on the proven design of it’s BIG brother… the Gerber LMF II ASEK… which is not a bad pedigree at all…

Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife Review

Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife

But, honestly, with all the vintage bad press and assorted opinions lingering online… I didn’t expect much from this knife.

However when my Bear Grylls knife arrived, I must say that I was quite surprised with the look, feel and overall quality.

My only initial complaint… was that the knife was a bit tricky to get out of the package without slicing into the knife handle or cutting the pocket survival guide which is on the back side under the knife.

Size
The Gerber Bear Grylls is a medium sized survival knife with an overall length of 10 inches and a blade length of 4.8 inches, which makes it slightly larger than the Gerber Prodigy and a little smaller than the Gerber LMF II ASEK.

Me Holding the Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife

Me Holding the Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife

This Bear Grylls knife weights 14.7 ounces with sheath and 11.2 ounces without the sheath this is significantly heavier than the Gerber Prodigy which weights 7 and a quarter ounces without the sheath and 12 and a half ounces with. So this is a meaty knife, comparable in weight to the Gerber LMF II ASEK.

Blade
The Bear Grylls knife sports a drop-point, fixed blade that is made of high carbon, stainless steel, that is similar to 440B stainless.

Bear Grylls Ulitmate Survival Knife Blade

Bear Grylls Ulitmate Survival Knife Blade

The drop point blade design is known for providing strength across the entire length of the knife and for good edge preservation. The blade is made of stainless steel so corrosion should not be an issue. The knife is three quarter tang construction (similar to the LMF II ASEK) which means that this knife should endure just about any abuse your can throw at it.

The knife is made in China, unlike the Gerber Prodigy and LMF II ASEK, which are made in Gerber’s Portland Oregon facility. However the knife still carries Gerber’s Lifetime Limited Warranty and I guess being made in China is the tradeoff for getting a knife of this caliber at such a low price point.

I did not sharpen mine right out of the box and was very happy with the blade… but then again, I did not gut or skin any game with it.

Just to make sure I recommend a few strokes through a Smith’s Pocket Pal knife sharpener.

Half Serrated Blade
Like most survival knives today… the Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival knife goes from a fine to a serrated edge toward the handle.

Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife Serrated Edge

Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife Serrated Edge

Serrated blades like this are somewhat saw-like and can cut through a much wider range of materials like, rope, wood, wire and even sheet metal in a pinch. Best of all, a serrated blade will often keep cutting long after your fine edge is quite dull.

The knife held a nice edge in my torture testing… but after an afternoon of heavy use which included throwing the knife for about a half hour with a reasonable number of drops, the fine and serrated edges needed touched up.

Sharpening the Blade

Sharpening the Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife with the Smith's Pocket Pal

Sharpening the Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife with the Smith’s Pocket Pal

Sharpening the knife edges was easy enough to remedy with my pocket pal sharpener. I recommend that you grab one of these on Amazon and include it in your survival kit. It makes quick work of touching up your blade and has an elongated, cone-shaped sharpener that makes it easy to sharpen the serrated edge of this blade.

Sharpening Serrations

Sharpening Serrations with the Smith’s Pocket Pal

Some folks don’t like the serrated edge of the Bear Grylls knife, so Gerber responded by coming out with the Bear Grylls Ultimate in a fine edge (with no serrations).

However, if you want added cutting power and don’t want to fuss with sharpening your blade as much, I recommend the serrated version.

Handle
The handle of this knife is made of a special injection molded plastic that is covered with a durable, textured rubber.

Owners report that the handle is comfortable for extended use without blisters and has a good grip even in changing conditions. I have confirmed this in my own testing.

I found the handle to be very comfortable. It felt very good in my hand and is well balanced so that there is very little hand and wrist fatigue during use.

The handle made it easy to use the Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival knife to cut, slice, pound and chop. One thing that I really like about the handle design and balance of this knife IS it’s ability to chop…

With the butt-end of the handle a bit wider it was natural for me to wrap my fingers around the butt-end of the handle to chop. Chopping is made even easier because of the placement of the serrated edge… and the mass of the blade.

Three Lashing Holes
Much like the Gerber LMF II ASEK… the Bear Grylls Ultimate knife also has three strategically placed holes in the handle for lashing this knife to a pole to extent it’s use as a spear.

Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife and Spear

3 Holes in the Handle Make It Easy to Lash the Knife to a Pole…

One of my tests of this knife was fashioning a spear out of a small tree. I used this knife in conjunction with the Bear Grylls Scout… folding survival knife for my little bushcraft experiment.

I chopped a less than perfect tree, cleaned bark off of essential areas of my pole… Used the two knives to notch and trim my pole… and then I lashed the knife to the pole with some parachute cord.

Then I had some fun throwing my spear at trees… the holes in the handle are well placed for lashing. Even after over fifteen minutes of use and abuse the knife was still tightly attached to the pole. This three hole design is a big plus in my book for this knife.

Butt-End Hammer / Pommel
There is a stainless steel pommel at the butt end of the handle that is design to hammer, pound, break and smashing things.

The original version of this knife had some serious problems with the pommel. This problem was not good for the initial reputation of the knife since some owners reported the pommels falling off even after initial use.

Bear Grylls Knife Review - Hammer End

The Butt-End Pommel Easily Hammers Nails Into a Tree

However, this issue was immediately identified and resolved by Gerber in Early 2011. All knives on the shelves today are fine.

Owners from around March 2011 on verify on the pommel’s ability to stand up to abuse. Owners also report “beating the tar” out of the pommel and the Bear Gyrlls Ultimate Survival knife in general taking the abuse quite well.

In my testing I threw the knife (with plenty of misses and drops)… I hammered stone… and used the pommel as a mallet while making my spear. I also used it to hammer several nails into a tree, with no problems at all.

Sheath

Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife Sheath

A Simple Friction-Lock Design Holds the Knife in the Sheath

The knife comes with a very sufficient sheath that is made out military grade, mildew resistant nylon. The knife is held firmly in place with an innovative and simple friction thumb lock mechanism. The knife can be placed in the sheath for left or right hand carry. The knife handle is kept tight against the top of the sheath through the use of a nylon strap with a Velcro closure.

Diamond Sharpening Stone – Built In
A real nice bonus of this sheath and knife is diamond sharpening stone that is built into the inside of the sheath.

Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife Sharpener

Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife Sharpener

This sharpener will do a good job at touching up the fine edge of the knife but won’t help you out when it comes to sharpening the serrated edge.

Fire Starter
One cool innovation that is included with the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival knife is a fire starter rod that locks firmly into the bottom of the sheath. I was surprised at the tight, precision fit of the rod in it’s storage port and the overall quality of this tool.

Fire is important when you camp out and even more important in a survival situation.

So this fire starter is a welcomed addition that is both durable and well designed with a solid handle. On the back of the knife there is a striker notch.

Bear Grylls Knife - Fire Starter

The Built-In Fire Steel Rod Makes Easy Work of Starting a Fire

To Start a Fire… Angle the blade slightly and strike the rod to generate sparks in any weather condition.

Whistle
A small but loud emergency whistle is incorporated into the lanyard at the butt end of the knife.  This is a nice feature if you are in trouble or injured, allowing you to make your position or situation known. Some will want to remove the whistle and lanyard as they will have a tendency to get caught when moving through thick brush or densely wooded areas.

Bear Grylls Knife - WhistleHonestly, one of the first things I did was take my whistle off because it quickly got in the way of my testing.

Regardless, the whistle is a nice bonus item that is well built and could come in handy in a pinch.

Bear Grylls Priorities of Survival -Pocket Guide
A pouch is sewn into the back of the sheath which holds is a basic survival guide that was put together by Bear Grylls. The guide is made out of a soft, durable and weatherproof plastic sheet.

This guide may be the most important bonus offered with this knife because it will aid anyone, even the most inexperienced explorer, in staying alive in a wilderness survival situation.

The only problem that I had with the guide was getting it back into the pouch. It’s a real tight fit so it’s not going to slip out and get lost, but you’ll have to work at it to get it to fit in the pouch.

Price
For a knife comparable in quality, style and design to the LMF II ASEK it’s amazing that it’s street price is around $50 on Amazon. That’s pretty darn good for a knife of this caliber especially with all the extras.

Owner Reviews
Reviews for this knife usually average over 4 out of 5 stars… this is really pretty astounding considering all the bad reviews that are factored into the equation for it’s early pommel issue.

Our Rating

4 Star Rating

We rate this knife at 4.0 out of 5 stars for value, quality of design, innovation and getting such a great survival knife package to the masses at such an affordable price point!

So Who Is This Knife For?
Well… the Gerber Bear Grylls ultimate survival knife is a great choice for camping, hiking, backpacking, hunting, emergency preparedness, home security and general peace of mind.

However, if  you are looking for a military or tactical knife, look elsewhere. The Bear Grylls Ultimate survival knife is not purposed for these scenarios.

That being said… the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife is impressive value rivaling the Gerber LMF II ASEK in design, durability and craftsmanship… and with it’s: fire starter, emergency whistle, diamond sharpener and survival guide… it is more like a wilderness survival system than just a knife… all for a crazy low street price of around $50.

~ David

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16 Responses to “Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife Review – Good or Great?”

  • Freddy

    I’ve been loving your reviews, David. Came across the site a few weeks ago. I really appreciate the thoroughness of the reviews. Many reviews are only a few minutes. I can tell you know your stuff. Looking forward to future reviews, etc!

    • Thanks bro! We are a bit different! For better or for worse… we try to do things with excellence. In the end, we want to provide the best tips and reviews available. Have a great day! ~ David

  • Guy Kahn

    Very nice review, thank you.
    I remember the first reviews about the knife and was happy to read that Gerber had fixed the problem.
    The one item I am still missing in this survival knife though is a small compass. Do you think Gerber will find a way to add one?
    Thank you

    • Hey Guy! How’s it going? Well don’t hold your breath for the compass… but you are right, this would be a nice touch. And seems to make a lot of sense. I DO know that there is a NEW BG Ultimate Knife coming out soon… It’s all the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife Pro. It will have a street price of over $70 US… details are sketchy… but let me see if my contacts at Gerber will leak anything on it. I’ll ask about the compass… but I don’t think it is going to have one. Thanks for the comment bro. Blessings to you and yours! ~David

  • I have to say this knife is one of my favorites. My wife and I love to camp and she was looking for a knife to have on her while we’re adventuring in the Mountains of Colorado so I did some research and decided on this one. Ok to be honest she’s my wife, not a girly girl but at the sound of being a sexist she’s still a woman and for the price this seemed like a good girl tool.
    Boy was I wrong. This knife really is awesome. It’s taken some abuse and now when we’re in the hills I sometimes end up wearing her knife to which she replies I need to get my own!! LOL

    Great review David, I am a fan too of the Ultimate Fixed Blade Knife

  • andre

    hey i m thinking about buying a knife and i was wondering how this knife compares with the les stroud ultimate survival knife with the same price?

  • Stormy Lntz

    Just found your site from a review you did on one of the new CRKT knives on YouTube.I appreciate your knowledge and informed reviews.Thank you.

  • I bought this knife in a shop in Belgium. Just for the fun of “owning it” but I don’t believe the pommel is up to very much. The only solution is a full tang construction. If I was éver to really use a knife, I’d rather go for my 2 KA-BARS (one “classic” style + a BK-2), my SAGUARO from John Campbell, my GERBER Larsen-Harsey-Reeve (just unscrew the silly “lock” !!!), my GERBER lmf 2, my large “Extreme Ratio”, my KERSHAW Zero Tolerance fixed bladed combat knife, my SCHRADE EXTREME survival knife SCHF9 or a few of my ECKHORN Knifes like the Wolverine, the GEK2000, the KM 2000 BW, my SOG SEAL, or my COLD STEEL SRK (no pommel, though !), etc. And I forget a few other knives that I own that all look much MUCH more reliable then Bear Grylls “Ultimate” Survival Knife. The last one looks more like a TOY compared to the workhorses I named ! Sorry…..

    • Carin

      I think you might like the BG Ultimate Pro which has a full tang construction….review is coming up soon! Carin for David

  • Mike

    I love my Bear Grylls knife. The only problem I had was the tip broke off when I was throwing it. I ground it down and resharpened it and haven’t had any problems since. I keep it on my side whenever I go outdoors. It’s great for skinning deer as well.

  • Dave

    That was a great review! You are thorough and I enjoyed the excellent pics. Thank you for taking the time to do such a nice review. Oh yeah, I’m buying one.

  • Druid

    I`ve got one of these and I think it`s a really great knife for the money – and that`s coming from someone who paid over $90 for it over here in Australia

    The four mods I`ve done to mine include wrapping a 10` length of para-cord round the sheath – Sheathing the knife handle in `Ranger Band` (push bike inner tube) – Tucking a small karabina compass between knife and sheath and finally (You all HAVE to this one) lightly lubricate the bottom half of the folded BG survival guide with a little silicon grease – It slips in and out of the pocket easy then B-)

  • We purchased the fine edge version because we preferred it over the half serrated version. Found the knife to be quite a lot better than we expected. This knife is definitely not a gimmick, and I really like the sheath it came with.

  • Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife tang

    This knife is not 3/4 tang. I emailed Gerber, and they said that the knife is a 7/8 hidden tang and the pommel is attached to the tang with 2 metal rods about the thickness of a drinking straw so this knife is almost like a full tang. They said that the knife blade is made of 7Cr17MoV steel which is somewhere between 440A and 440B steel. The 7Cr17MoV means it has Chromium for resistance to oxidation and corrosion, Molybdenum for strength at high temperature and hardness and Vanadium for wear resisting properties and a fine grain.

  • Supercoolepicman

    I really need to get one

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