The Flatiron is Gerber’s entry into one of the latest trends in everyday carry – cleavers. These blades combine classic good looks with practical cutting efficiency. And, now that the Gerber Flatiron is backed by an outstanding sales record we can confidently say – these blades are here to stay.
Expect to see these more frequently in the next few years. They’re versatile, safe, and incredibly utilitarian. And they look great! You can’t deny that it draws inspiration from the classic straight razor. We love it. The blade’s profile and hollow grind look wonderful from any angle. We’re sold on the “trend” and are ready to share what we’ve learned since the Flatiron hit the market and one landed in our daily carry rotation.
Gerber’s cleaver continues to impress, but as you probably expect there is room for improvement. But, before we get into our review… let’s take a quick look at the specifications and features.
Specs and Details
|Locking Mechanism||Frame Lock|
|Handle Material||G10 or Anodized Aluminum|
|Pocket Clip||Standard Depth Carry|
The Gerber Cleaver Blade
The Flatiron’s blade features a heavy .15 inch thick spine that runs the entire length of the blade – like a cleaver. The benefit is a very strong blade. The sharpened edge remains flat from the finger choil all the way to the tip. Sort of like a sheepsfoot profile. This makes for a great slicer that’s virtually stab free. Between the edge and spine the blade is hollow ground to decrease thickness and make slicing easier.
Overall, this blade is extremely utilitarian with way more pros than cons. It’s well suited for a lion’s share of the cutting tasks the average person encounters each day.
The other good part about the Flatiron blade is the blade steel and finish. A stonewash finish does a great job to reduce the appearance of wear marks, scratches, and staining. The steel under the finish is far from exotic. In fact, Chinese knife makers churn out 7Cr17MoV blades en masse. It’s affordable, adequate, and familiar when it comes to processing.
The final thing we want to point out about the blade – there’s a comb version. As in a version that you can use to comb your hair. It’s a pretty cool idea… even though we’re partial to the classic switchblade comb of the 80’s.
A fairly large thumbhole in the blade means you don’t need two hands to cut something. A deliberate sweep of your thumb makes the stonewashed 7Cr17MoV ready for action. There is, however, a good deal of resistance in the pivot. So, if you’re accustomed to high end knives you’ll be a little disappointed. The good news is that we think some lubricant or a few years could remedy the stiffness.
Now, some people might need to use two hands to open this folder. Especially if you’re wearing gloves. We didn’t have any significant problems, but could see how someone with diminished dexterity or finger strength could get frustrated. The silver lining here is that this “flaw” make the Flatiron slightly better for younger knife users.
A frame lock keeps the Flatiron’s blade in place when you’re putting this knife to work. It’s nothing revolutionary – but it is really stout. In fact we bought our tester right as the knives hit the market and few reviews / photos were available. When we removed the knife from its packaging we were slightly disappointed in the “back side” handle. The locking mechanism and associated screws are a sharp contrast to the sleek G10 in the early product photos.
Later on we got used to the sone washed steel side and were less disappointed… but we are looking forward to comparing this knife to its siblings and competitors.
The lock is stout, secure, and confidence inspiring… we just aren’t fans of the appearance. There’s no noticeable play in any direction which makes this knife stand out among its budget priced alternatives.
Let’s get this out of the way. We’re not in love with the Flatiron’s pocket clip. It looks nice, it’s robust, and it’s low profile. But that low profile and wide sturdy design made it sort of hard to slip over the doubled-up denim of our typical attire – blue jeans. It’s not terrible by any means, just more annoying that larger, springier clips you’ll find elsewhere.
When we wear lighter weigh material pants or shorts the stiff clip is much more bearable.
The good news is that we can’t really see this clip taking a turn for the worse any time soon. It’s a bomber piece of steel, solidly affixed to another beefy hunk of metal.
Blade Quality / Fit and Finish
Is it sharp out of the box? Sort of. It’s comparable to pretty much every other knife at this price point made from this particular blade steel. Will it sharpen well? Oh yeah, but don’t expect it to stay that way for a long time. This steel is affordable and that means compromises. While we’d love to see a super steel knife priced under fifty bucks… we know that’s not a reasonable expectation.
One of the categories where affordable blades tend to shine… is corrosion resistance. Expect this knife to hold up well in 90% of the environments you’ll use it in on a daily basis. It’s not a dive knife though, so keep it our of highly reactive environments like the ocean.
Upon initial inspection the quality looks pretty impressive. If you’re buddies aren’t cutlery nerds we doubt they’d ever point out the uneven hollow ground blade that is a common critique in knife review circles.
Gerber Flatiron Materials
Gerber does a great job when it comes to making an affordable knife look high end through expert use of finishes and materials. The Flatiron is an excellent example of this talent.
The single side scale design offers a choice nicely anodized aluminum or tan G-10. The aluminum does tend to show wear, which is why we opted for the tan version. The slightly better spec’d D2 steel version does offer a nice denim Micarta handle material. But, we’d probably opt for the G10 against that if it were available.
The steel used throughout the knife is nothing to brag about. It’s heavy and finished nicely, but isn’t something that left us saying “WOW” how did Gerber manage such a great knife a such a low price. The metal bits are not terrible, but it’s not something you’ll enjoy if you buy this expecting more than the price warrants. This is a good knife made of good materials for a good price. Nothing more… nothing less.
So what is a Flatiron good for? The Flatiron is marketed as sort of an EDC knife with a culinary twist. We could see that but, it’s not perfectly suited to either every day carry or kitchen duty. For EDC, it’s a little cumbersome and bulky (it weighs more than a third of a pound). In the kitchen it works pretty well for a folder, but there are better options – like a Spyderco Endura.
None the less, despite the Flatiron’s lack of wide spread appeal for everyday use it does have a lot to offer. It’s great to carry around the yard, while wearing bulkier clothes, or when you need to do some serious work. From breaking down boxes to cutting a sprig of thyme for your Sunday dinner… the knife shines when you overcome its bulk and need something you can abuse.
Overall, this is an awesome alternative to something like an Opinel (which is a must have in our humble opinion). It’s modern, affordable, and robust.
What we like
We like the looks, ergonomics, and price. The Flatiron looks tough without looking “threatening” – which is great in a EDC knife that you might use in mixed company. Nothing about it screams tactical, mall ninja, or gas station battle blade.
Ergonomics are a hit. From the awesome and functional finger choil to the lower than normal point this knife feels like it was designed to use frequently and for long duration cutting tasks.
We also like the price. The Flatiron is one of those knives that looks like it should cost more than it did. It’s a knife that looks like a knife fan designed it… then said let’s make this affordable. Not let’s make an affordable knife… who cares what it looks like (e.g. Gerber’s paraframe).
What we don’t like
The big thing that stands out is the lack of symmetry in the handle. The new Asada from Gerber has the same layout. Beautiful scale on one side… clunky metal contraption on the other.
We also have lukewarm feelings about the pocket clip. It feels like a wire clip would have worked a little better in the pants we carried this knife around in over the past year.
Who Should Buy a Gerber Flatiron
Anyone looking for a tool or a stand in for higher end blades should consider this knife. It’s a workhorse that you can use and abuse without too much worry. We wouldn’t hesitate to use one to open boxes, crates, or whatever else needs a moderately sharp tool.
It’s actually a really good option for a first knife. It’s robust, sharpens without too much effort, and the blunt blade really reduces the worry about an accidental poke. Too often kids get a knife that doesn’t lock, doesn’t cut, and offers tolerances that scream catastrophic failure. Youngsters can confidently sharpen roasting sticks, easily chop fruit and veg, and easily avoid surprise closing.
Another argument to snag one of these is that you want to test the cleaver style knife before you drop hundreds on a super steel version.
Skip this folding Gerber Cleaver if…
You’re looking for a high quality EDC blade that you’ll pass on to your grandchildren. If you’re looking for something special… the Gerber Flatiron knife isn’t for you.
It’s also worth a hard pass if you have a few extra bucks and aren’t necessarily “into knives.” If you’re just looking for something to carry around and use from time to time there are way better options.
If you’re looking for a similar design with easier deployment and higher end materials, Gerber introduced a new version of their Fastball at Shot Show 2020. Not only is it a great looking product from a materials and appearance standpoint… it shows that the cleaver-style blade is here to stay.
There’s also the new Asada which is worth a look if you’re in the market for a higher dollar cleaver. Oh, and there’s a D2 steel version of the Flatiron on the horizon.
Sources / Items Referenced in this Article
Group D2 Steel Flatiron