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.
3 Models - 1 Design
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 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 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 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 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. 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.
Plus, a serrated edge will cut things like rope, vines, branches... and much more... faster than a straight edge...
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.
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.
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. 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 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!
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.
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 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. 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.
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 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. 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.