Gerber LMF II – Review – Best Survival Knife Under $100?

Whether you’re stranded in the wilderness, down behind enemy lines, caught in a natural disaster, or just out for an overnight camping trip with your family a good survival knife can tip the scales in your favor and turn a potential disaster into a memorable adventure.

Today we’re going to take a look at one survival knife that we believe is the plumb line by which all other survival knives could, and quite possibly, should be judged…

This blade is one of the most popular, military spec survival knives in recent history that’s available to the general public. It’s the Gerber LMF II.

Gerber LMF II Survival Knife

The Company
Gerber Legendary Blades has been designing innovative knives since the 1930s and is based in Portland, Oregon where they also manufacture many of their knives… including the LMF II.

3 Models – 1 Design
The Gerber LMF II survival knife is marketed as three different models… the LMF II Infantry… the LMF II Survival and the LMF II ASEK.

But truth be told… all versions of the LMF II knife are exactly the same knife. The only differences in the various models and SKUs are the knife handle and sheath colors… and the accessories that ship with each model.

The Gerber LMF II Comes in 3 Models, 3 Colors and One Size

The LMF II Infantry is available with a black, brown or green handle and matching sheath.

The LMF II Survival is only available with a brown handle and sheath… and comes with a safety knife / strap cutter and sheath.

The LMF II ASEK is available with a green handle and sheath… with a matching safety knife / strap cutter and sheath.

The Size
The Gerber LMF II survival knife has a very wide blade that is 3/16s of an inch think, 4.84 inches long.

The overall length of the LMF II from tip to butt is 10.59 inches… and it weights 11.67 ounces without it’s sheath… and it weights a hefty 24.28 ounces with the sheath.

Although this knife my be a little much for casual, everyday carry in a non-survival situation… you’ll be really glad you have this beefy knife if disaster or emergency ever strikes.

The Blade
The Gerber LMF II has a drop-point blade. Drop point blades have a convex curve from the blade spine to the blade point.

Drop point blades tend to be very strong across the entire length of the knife, including the point. Which makes this knife an excellent tool for just about any cutting, slicing or bushcraft task…

Great for Bushcraft
The LMF II survival knife also has a large flat surface area on it’s spine for mallet-assisted bushcraft.

The Steel
The blade is made out of 420HC stainless steel which is a good all around steel that is very resistance to rust, and is extremely tough… making it a good tool for chopping, slicing, hammering, prying and digging.

The Gerber LMF II Survival Knife is Made of Tough, Durable Steel

This steel is wear resistant and very good, but not great, at retaining an edge with heavy use.

Fortunately, Gerber integrated a sharpener into the sheath to help you stay on top of keeping the knife sharp.

The blade is coated in black oxide for a low visual signature and additional corrosion resistance.

Fine to Serrated Edge
The blade goes from a fine edge to a serrated edge toward the handle.

Hate Serrations? Read This…
I get a lot of comments in my reviews from people who just don’t like serrated blades… mostly because they find them hard to sharpen when dulled.

Regardless, most survival and many combat and tactical knives today are designed with the inclusion of a serrated edge because… in a pinch… a serrated edge is likely to be sharp long after the fine edge of the knife is quite dull.

Serrations Make Cutting EasyPlus, a serrated edge will cut things like rope, vines, branches… and much more… faster than a straight edge…

Sharpening Serrations is Easy
So let me calm all fears and say that sharpening the serrated edge of your LMF II is actually pretty easy with the right tool…

You need a diamond sharpening rod like the one found on the Smith’s Pocket Pal or the Bear Grylls knife sharpener. Usually a few strokes is all it takes to restore a banged up serration to full cutting power.

Sharpening Serrations is Easy When You Have the Right Tool

Let’s Talk About the Handle
The LMF II handle is fashioned using glass-filled nylon with a TPV overmold grip.

I was instantly impressed by how good the LMF II felt in my hand.

The handle is wider than most… and a bit on the flat side… This low profile design increases the amount of grip surface that is in contact with your palm and makes it easy to securely lash the knife to a stick.

The LMF II Handle is Comfortable in the Hand

Rubberized, Comfortable Grip
The handle of the Gerber LMF II survival knife is very grippy and has a rubberized feel… unlike the SOG knives that have a harder composite handle.

The handle channels water well and remains very grippy even when wet.

Toward the butt-end of the handle… the grip curves out nearly a half inch to cushion pounding and prevent slippage.

Designed for Chopping
This butt end flair also makes chopping with the LMF II knife easy because you can comfortably wrap your thumb and forefinger around the bottom of the handle to make a natural chopping motion to chop small trees and shape wood.

Lashing the knife to a pole is made easy due to the 3 holes in the handle.

The stainless steel butt cap is designed to break, crush and hammer. Check out the video review below to see me use this knife to bust through a car window…

Quite honestly, I was surprised at how easily the Gerber LMF II knife pierced through the car window.

Innovative Construction – Designed for Extensive Survival Behind Enemy Lines
The Gerber LMF II knife is a unique, three quarter tang construction… because the knife was originally designed as an aircrew survival knife.

Electrically Insulated Knife Handle
One requirement of the knife design was to insulate the handle to prevent aircrew from being shocked if they intentionally or accidentally cut through live wires while freeing themselves from their aircraft.

Gerber developed a tough, nylon substrate injection molding process that locks both blade and butt cap together, while electrically isolating the butt cup from the blade.

Troup Tested Tough
This LMF II survival knife has proven to be a durable performer for several years now and has been extensively used tested by troops in the field, which should settle the argument as to whether the LMF II’s three quarter tang construction is tough enough to survive in a real-world military environment or not.The LMF II Deisgn has Been Extensively Tested and Use in the Field

For added comfort for any skeptics that are left out there… Gerber stands behind the craftsmanship of the LMF II knife with a Lifetime Warranted.

The Sheath
The color coordinated sheath is made of ballistic nylon with a fire retardant coating.

The Gerber LMF II survival knife is firmly held in it’s sheath using an friction lock system. The sheath is designed for left OR right hand carry.

The low profile handle is held tight against the sheath with two straps that secure with snaps.

Integrated Sharpener – Nice Touch!
The sheath has an integrated V type sharpener that is accessible by releasing a few sheath straps… and is handy for keeping your blade sharp in the field.

The LMF II has a V-Type Knife Sharpener Integrated into its Sheath

Leg Straps for Thigh or Calf Carry
The LMF II ships with two comfortable leg straps to enable thigh or calf carry. The leg straps are about an inch and a half thick and include a section of elastic to keep the sheath tight against the leg. The straps are also rubberized on the inside to prevent slippage.Two Included Straps Make Thigh or Calf Carry Comfortable and Easy

MOLLE Compatible
The sheath is also designed for belt carry and is MOLLE compatible.

Safety Strap / Strap Cutter
The LMF II Survival and ASEK models ship with a high quality safety knife and strap cutter that comes in a nice MOLLE compatible sheath.

The strap cutter makes safe and quick work of cutting straps and belts.

Owner Comments
Owner reviews for this knife are well over 4 out of 5 stars. Owners of this knife seem to run the gamet from first time knife owners to active military.

Comments often center around the quality, craftsmanship and durability of this knife. Many say this is the best knife they have ever owned and love the versatile, thick strong blade. The majority of owners also comment on how nice the knife feels in their hand.

Owners Rate the LMF II at Over 4 Out of 5 Stars

Negative comments usually center around the dislike that some have for serrated blades. Some feel it is a bit heavy for carrying all day but understand that the weight of the Gerber LMF II survival knife is a tradeoff for a blade of this caliber.

Our Rating
We rate this knife at 4.5 out of 5 stars for innovation, thoughtful design, comfort, craftsmanship, versatility, the integrated sharpener, the formidable pummel / hammer and the list goes on.

We Rate the Gerber LMF II at 4.5 Out of 5 Stars

We took off a half star for the 420 HC blade steel. 420 HC is a good steel for blade retention and a GREAT steel for general purpose strength and durability… but it’s not the best steel.

And in our opinion, this knife design deserves the best steel possible (although we realize that this would immediately hike the price point up considerably).

The LMF II was originally designed using 154CM stainless, which is used in the Gerber Silver Trident and several of Gerber’s other top military and tactical knives. To make the LMF II more affordable for you and I, Gerber eventually settled on 420 HC stainless.

What’s the Cost of the Gerber LMF II Survival Knife?
The best pricing that I have found for the LMF II knife online is around $70 for the Gerber LMF II Infantry and Survival. The ASEK may cost you a little more, if you can find one and is usually only available to credentialed military or tactical personnel.

The LMF II is Pretty Affordable

For your convenience I have provide links to the Gerber LMF II survival knife and the other knives and gear that I’ve mentioned, throughout this review.

So Who is the Gerber LMF II Survival Knife For?
The LMF II is a great knife for camping, hunting, hiking, backpacking, back county adventures, military operations, disaster preparedness and for anyone who wants a troop tested, proven knife that is designed for the widest variety of emergency and survival scenarios.

More Expensive – Survival and Tactical Knife Choices
If you want a tactical and military knife with some versatility as a survival knife made of slightly better edge-holding steel… and you don’t mind investing over $100 for a knife… check out the:

A Few More and Less Expensive Alternatives to the Gerber LMF II

Less Expensive – Survival Knife Options
If you want a very capable, versatile and less expensive survival knife for camping, hiking and general preparedness… check out the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife, which now comes in a non-serrated version.

The Gerber Prodigy is also a great knife to consider.

Both the Gerber Prodigy and the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife have design features that were borrowed from the Gerber LMF II ASEK.

This being said, the Gerber LMF II survival knife is a rugged, reliable and versatile survival knife that is designed for the widest range of potential survival situations.

I hope this review has been helpful to you and has brought you a step closer to discovering the gear you need, to be prepared for any future: emergency, crisis or survival situation that may come your way.


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Awesome! Thanks guys!

~ David

25 Responses to “Gerber LMF II – Review – Best Survival Knife Under $100?”

  • Erling


    Can the Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife be placed into the Gerber LMF II Knife Sheath, and does the LMF II have a striker pad for fire starting like the BG ultimate knife?



    • Hey Erling,

      I was surprised to find out that it does kinda fit. Since it is a smaller blade is does wiggle around in the sheath a bit and the handle straps are a bit looser… but it does fit. Stirker pad… if you mean the little notch cutout on the back of the blade… no… but this should not matter… I get spark using a BG firestarter rod and the back of the LMF II blade. Hope this helps! ~ David

  • Erling

    Questions Regarding the Gerber LMF II Knife:

    What is the weight of just the sheath minus the leg straps,
    and to lighten the sheath can the built-in sharpener be removed and then replaced? Also if I was to buy a BG fire striker which one fits more securely in the LMF II Sheath, the longer or shorter one?



    • Hey, Thanks for the comment… questions. Yeah, I’m not sure what the weights are of all that you asked. The longer BG firestarter rod fits a bit tighter on the LMF II sheath. I believe the LMF II sharpener “blades” can be replaced when worn. To take this out would not save you much weight at all. It’s a pretty small deal. Hope this helps in your quest! ~ David

  • hi david i would like to know what lmf 2 knife is best for a camping and survival situation.

    • Hi Joshua… is it the best for everything? No… It’s not super for bushcraft due to the serrated blade… but it is a VERY good, utility knife for about anything. I usually grab my LMF II whenever I am going up on the mountain. But I usually have 2 or three others in tow also… Hope this helps! ~David

  • Eliot

    Which fire steel did you use for putting on the LMFII sheath? The fire steel that I have from one of the BG survival kits is to large. In the picture it looks like you used one from the BG survival knife. As usual your review was helpful.

  • Hey Dave, found another brand of knife with a survival series. Its called Camillus Les Stroud series, could you give it a review if you have some spare time? Cheers, Daniel

  • And for any aussie battlers, If found an LMF II for $99.95 AUD, heres the link:

  • joshua maw

    hi will you please do a survival bunker episode or another episode on bug out bags.

    it would really help and if you do make an episode of the above would you please mention my name it would really help me win a high stakes bet!!!

    thanks bye.

    • Carin

      Hey, what’s my cut in the bet? 😉 But seriously, more BOB episodes coming in the future, Joshua.

  • joshua maw

    your awesome bye the way wo should teach others survival courses to bad im in australia!!!!

  • Kelly Miner


    I’ve had this knife (LMFII) for over a year and I can attest to its’ durability. I’ve used it as a can opener (russian ammo “spam can”), tent stake, hammer and occasionally as a knife. It takes an edge really well and feels great in the hand. I’d like to thank you for your knife sharpening videos, they’ve helped me keep my LMF up and cutting no matter how rough I treat it.


  • Erik

    As for your comment on Gerber’s choice of steel for this knife – you should rethink your position on this. While I do like my knives which sport a 154cm (or equivalent) steel, I don’t think it’s a suitable choice for every application. Yes, sharpens easily with good edge retention, but I can tell you from experience that it may not survive some of the uses the LMF-II was envisioned for. Both Gerber and Buck do 420hc well. Personally, I would prefer the more flexible “lower quality” steel to a more brittle steel like 154cm, in a survival situation.

    Thoughtful use will do a lot more for edge retention than a few more points on the Rockwell scale will, any day.

    • Carin

      David: Hey there! Thanks for writing. I think you might have misread the article as it states that the LMF II is indeed 420 HC. Good comments.

  • For those interested in details: The blade steel Gerber uses has changed. The original design used 12C27; the current design uses 420HC. 12C27 was comparable in toughness (durability in rough use) and hardness (edge retention) to 440A and was a very good steel choice by Gerber. 420HC, when treated right, can be a very good steel too (e.g. “Buck knives”); however, it generally will be not be as good at keeping an edge as 12C27 or other, harder stainless steels, as well as most any carbon steel. It will be a very tough blade (less-likely/very uniikely to chip or crack in half), meaning it should handle hard-use and abuse quite well. All in all, it’s still a good choice in steel – might have to sharpen a little more often, but it’s got an integrated sharpener after all.

  • Hi David,

    Thanks for this extensive review. Very details. I Liked the video!

    Question: Would you consider this more being a survival knife or could this also be qualified as a Tactical knife?

    I always find it difficult to tell the difference.


    • Carin

      David: It is more a survival knife. Tactical knives usually are more aggressive with a pointy end, designed more for piercing. LMF II has a more blunt blade designed for more basic 72-hour survival tasks.

  • Gerber LMF II is good but not great…

  • Jim

    I was all set to buy one of these until I saw the part in the video where I found out the blade and butt are not connected and is not a full tang knife. It’s similar to a rat tang( which I hate) but with a bit wider tail,still don’t like it. I’d also prefer a better grade steel like the VG-1 San Mai on my Cold Steel SRK or S30V like my Gerber Mark 1. I will pay a little more for better steel. I could shave with either of those two if need be, that’s how sharp they are. Toughness and edge retention is great on both.

  • Sharky

    Is this knife corrosion resistant, will it rust if it gets wet?

    • Carin

      David:The LMF II is 420HC, which is a stainless steel. Simple answer to your question is that the blade is going to resist corrosion because it is considered stainless steel, plus it is coated, so with care, you should have limited risk of corrosion.

  • Chuck

    As a Navy Hospital Corpsman I can say it was always handy and held an edge well in the field. Even the Marines loved their Gerber LMF IIs. That was how I got one. Gunny didn’t want a corpsman with a blade of less quality than his guys carried. Semper Fi!

  • Trajan117

    I’ve owned an ASEK for close to a decade. I was a skydiver (professionally as a camera flyer for 4 years). During much of that time I would work at a dropzone in the Northeast during spring/summer, and then go south or travel during the winter months. Much of the time in the Northeast I would be living in tents or campers, so having an all around knife was important (I did a single 5 year enlistment in the French Foreign Legion in the late 90’s early 2000’s; yes, there really are some of us out there, but seeing there were only around 8000 in the whole Legion when I was in, there aren’t many).
    To be honest, one of the main reasons I went with the Gerber besides name recognition, was the included safety knife (we call them hook knives in the skydiving world). Most skydivers carry one on either their junp suits and a few on the harness of their containers (the backpack looking thing the canopy stows in when not deployed). I carry two due to an extremely rare “double malfunction” (when both your main AND your reserve malfunction, to those thinking of jumping for the first time and the sound of this may scare you off; this is EXTREMELY rare. While I’ve had my share of malfunctions, most are very easy to fix; line twists, line-over etc, and I have friends that have gone 1500+jumps without a single malfunction). I tried to cut my main away when I realized I could recover from the malfunction, my rig was set so when I cut away the main, it had a tether to my reserve and it pulled my reserve out as it flew away, or at least it was supposed to. They lines from my main got tangled with my reserve, I pulled my hook knife out to cut away the lines but dropped it. THANKFULLY, I had a Benchmade spring assist folder in the pocket of my shorts I was wearing under the jump suit, normally I wouldn’t have.
    So I needed a new hook knife. My friends and I were planning a big hiking trip out in Moab Utah and I needed a new fixed blade. Read some reviews on these, decided to take a look at them. At the store I couldn’t decide between the Gerber and a SOG. Looking through the included material (sheath straps, etc) I saw that it attached to molle which I have on my rucksack and the safety knife, which was going to be my second purchase. That made the decision, killed two birds with one stone.

    It’s been a VERY durable knife, however if I could go back I would have chosen the SOG. Like this article says; the blade steel is mediocre at best. I find that I have to resharpen in WAY TOO often. It is good chopper, the thick spine aids in this, but even after just a few swings into pine the edge is dull and sometimes even folds over. Not something I want to happen if I’m lost alone out in the desert of Moab or out in a forest.
    It is exceptionally well balanced, honestly it’s the most well balanced I’ve used in a long time, even more so than many fighting/tactical knives. The pommel is good for hammering in tent stakes, but again; the steel is too soft. I had to use it once to break a relatively thin plate glad window. It worked very well, second tap and it broke it, but the point of the pommel had mushroomed. I had to use a grinder to get remove the mashed steel.
    Some would say; “well what do you expect from using it on plate glass?” I expect that knife called an Airman survival/egress knife will stand up better. It says there pommel is designed to knock out the windows of a plane or helicopter, and they blade can cut through the sheet metal of a fuselage; I don’t think it can. Another issue I have was one I didn’t find until I went to hone it for the first time on a stone. The geometry of the edge was really asymmetrical. The side that the serrations are on had a much steeper edge than the other side. When I tried to sharpen a stick to use as a makeshift tent stake to replace a lost one, if I used my right hand it worked fine, however if I used my left, much of the time the blade would graze off the stick and not take any wood off. I reground the edge to get the edge to be even on both sides, but I shouldn’t have had to.
    All of these could be forgiven, I think I paid $120 for it (it was more $than the regular LMF II’s which were something like $70-80), and I knew I wasn’t buying $300-400 knife (I have a couple of those, and carry a Benchmade Barrage with a super steel blade, that knife I used when laying down rosin pause when I was redoing my roof and lost my utility knife. Rosin paper is essentially like cutting 10 pieces of construction paper or even a thin cardboard, and at the end of the day I could still shave with it, it wouldn’t be comfortable but t would shave). The steel edge retention is so poor that for a while I thought “was this but properly heat treated? Did I get an oddball that’s an anomaly and if I replaced it with another it’d be fine?” After reading comments about the steel I see that; no, it’s just the material they use.
    The one upside is that it is really easy to sharpen it in the field, but you’ll be doing it often if the knife gets any use. The other drawback is the handle material. Personally I really like the shape of the handle, and liked the rubber they use. It is on the soft side, but this makes it more comfortable if your hammering or chopping. It absorbs much of the shock. However the first time I took this with me in the summer time when it got hot, I discovered the rubber seems change and get REALLY sticky feeling. It feels the way things do when someone spills honey or maple syrup and doesn’t clean it all up properly. Every time you touch it, it’s tacky and sticky. I ended up pulling the core out of paracord and wrapping the handle. The handle is a bit thicker than I’d like now, but at least it isn’t sticky and mushy in the hot weather (in cooler temps the handle feels normal and the stickiness goes away).

    This is a pretty good “survival knife.” I don’t see the blade breaking or anything like that. I have it in the emergency kit I keep the trunk of my car. If an emergency happens and I need to use it as a survival knife, I know it will serve its purpose. However now I use a different fixed blade with 154CM in situations where I’d have carried the ASEK before (hiking, camping, etc), and a folder with either M390 super steel or another with a blade made from a tool steel (that yes, I have to be vigilant about keeping the blade clean so it doesn’t rust, but the thing could take an arm off with one one for swing and still slice tomatoes after).

    I definitely recommend it over the Bear Grylls knife. That thing is terrible. I saw an A/B comparison between it and the LMF and as soon as the guy tried to compare the pommels for hammering the Bear Grylls knife handle broke on the second swing. It made me think of those dumb Rambo knives that were popular for a while in the 80’s with the hollow handles.

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