UPDATED: This Gerber LMF 2 Review has been extensively expanded and updated since it was originally published in 2018
I began my knife collection with the humble Bear Grylls survival knife. Then I discovered the knife that clearly inspired it. The Gerber LMF 2 was originally designed as down and dirty escape and evasion fixed-blade for aircrews downed behind enemy lines.
The Gerber LMF 2 consistently ranks among the top five survival knives out there. As a bushcraft knife, I think the KaBar Becker BK2 and the ESEE 6 out-perform it in many respects.
The Gerber LMF 2’s comes into its own for tactical, urban disaster, and SHTF situations. Basically, if you brought the above-mentioned knives to the city, the Gerber LMF 2 would make the BK2 and ESEE 6 look like clumsy country bumpkins.
Gerber LMF 2’s ‘Urban Chops”
California wildfires, hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, Maria, “Tornado Alley: need I say more?
I think many survivalists have it all wrong… backward even! The reality is that survival situations are messy, random and most often…. urban.
Far more people face full-on urban survival/disaster situations compared to backcountry situations. In my opinion, this is why the Gerber LMF is a perennial favorite fixed blade...it’s so dang versatile especially in urban disaster settings.
Gerber LMF 2 Specs
- Glass punch/Skull Crusher pommel
- Flattened pommel area for a hammer
- Electrically insulated 3/4 tang grip for cutting live wires
- Serrated section for seatbelts and ropes
- Sheath-integrated blade sharpener
- Rear lanyard hole
- Dual lashing points for a spear
- Tactical Leg Straps
- Steel: 420 High Carbon & Rockwell Hardness of 58
- Length: 10.59″
- Weight: 24 oz
- Made in the USA
- Limited Lifetime Warranty
- Good value for the money
- High dexterity- quick, precise and easy to handle
- Extremely versatile
- Sheath is excellent
- Very corrosion-resistant steel(420 HC)
- Electrically insulated handle
- Non-replaceable handle
- Many prefer plain edge over serrations
- 420 HC isn’t the hardest steel
- Not the best knife for batoning
To kick off this Gerber LMF 2 review, we’ll look at the the business end first.
420 High-Carbon Steel
“Technically, a steel becomes high carbon when the carbon content is greater than .55%.” –A.G Russell.com
Metallurgy is a real game of tradeoffs. Often, the harder the steel, the higher the cost, less corrosion resistance and flexibility etc.
The 420 High-Carbon Stainless steel on the LMF2 is very hardy. It is a widely used corrosion-resistant steel in the cutlery industry. For instance Leatherman uses 420 HC in their blades.
While the 420 HC makes the LMF 2 more affordable, it won’t hold an edge as as well as 1095 steel on knives like the ESEE 6 or Kabar BK2. However, those knives require regular oil treatments to prevent rust, but LMF 2 doesn’t.
Also, the 420 HC steel is easier to sharpen in the field which is a practical benefit.
The Gerber LMF 2‘s beefy 4.84-inch drop-point stays thick, meaning, it doesn’t taper until the very point(even more than the ESEE 6).
A “drop point” simply means that the spine(blunt side) of the blade lowers as it nears the pointy end. This allows you to invert the knife and slice things open without knicking or damaging the contents(ie..gutting a deer, or opening a box.)
There is a tactical aspect to the drop point too: Although he spine of the drop point is not sharpened, it is beveled making strike penetration easier. Theoretically, the drop point could be customized by sharpening it if a person wanted to increase the LMF 2’s tactical prowess.
I like to see sabre grinds and flat grinds in survival fixed blades.
A sabre grind is one of the strongest possible blade profiles. This is because the steel only begins to narrow about half-way down the blade. This preserves the maximum structural strength in the steel for prying, splitting and chopping.
The drawback to a Sabre grind is that it isn’t very good at fine slicing due to the extra friction developed by its wider wedge shape.
As a workhorse survival knife, I think a sabre grind is ideal for the LMF 2.
The LMF 2’s blade has a 50/50 combination section of serration and the base and a plain edge toward the tip. This is a controversial feature for some, but the point of survival isn’t to master one specific task, its to get you through multiple possible scenarios alive.
Many people would rather see the LMF 2 with a plain edge because its easier to sharpen and would slice better. On the other hand, serrations can saw wood and cut seatbelts, rope a lot easier.
Also, serrations will keep cutting long after a plain edge has dulled.
Other Gerber LMF 2 reviews don’t point this out, but I do have one complaint about the serrations: A right-handed person will have a harder time scraping or carving because the “biting edge” of the serrations is on the opposite side of the blade.
It’s not an issue for cutting, but it does make scraping harder.
Edge Retention & Sharpening
The LMF 2’s combo blade does take extra time to sharpen because of the serrations but I don’t find it difficult. The 420 HC holds a decent edge but not as well as 1095 steel.
The plain edge is simple enough to sharpen with a wet stone or the integrated sharpener in the sheath which is super handy.
Can the serrations on the LMF 2 be sharpened? Yes. It’s not complicated. I use the diamond file on the Smith Pocket Pal knife sharpener. You can get it cheap on Amazon.
The LMF 2’s handle is actually quite a technical achievement. This knife is capable of cutting through live electrical wires. The handle also has two lashing points to use the knife as a spear.
In order to do this, it has been purposefully built on a 3/4 tang instead of a full tang. This isolates the metal strike pommel from carrying current. The handle itself is made of a fiberglass-reinforced nylon with a grippy rubber overlay.
With that capability comes a drawback. The handle is not replaceable if damaged. Also, be careful when batoning, it is possible to damage the hilt accidentally.
The LMF 2 sports one of the most aggressive tactical pommels I’ve ever seen. The formidable point is ideal as a glass punch or for for self-defense. It is one of the most aggressive tactical pommels I’ve ever seen.
On the top side of the pommel is a flat area that can be used as a makeshift hammer.
The pommel also has lanyard hole which can works nicely in tandem with the two forward lashing points if you want to tie the knife to a stick as a spear.
Unlike so many knives, the LMF 2’s sheath no an afterthought. In fact, it’s one of my favorite aspects of this knife setup.
You can mount it on a belt, molle webbing or even on your leg with the included leg straps. It is also reversible, meaning, it doesn’t matter which way you insert the knife into the sheath.
The knife retention is very secure. The sheath has a friction clip and two clasps around the handle. I’ve even mounted the sheath inverted on the shoulder strap of my backpack. Its easy enough to draw but there is no way this knife will come out of the sheath by accident.
Hidden within the sheath is a handy ceramic pull-through sharpener to maintain the blade in the field although I much prefer a conventional sharpening stone. Still,a very cool feature!
Firstly, I find the Gerber LMF 2 size very manageable and nimble. While the 4.84″ blade isn’t stubby it can handle detail tasks quite well. If it were any longer I would have to extend my thumb on the spine and try to straddle the the protruding hilt.
The hilt itself has a thumb ramp which really helps when doing finer work.
Since the LMF 2 has such a big strike-pommel it does make the knife quite tail heavy at the hilt. However, the knife’s center of gravity rests at about the middle finger. So, in reality, it feels quite balanced in hand.
The LMF 2’s handle is decent but not as comfortable in my hand as the ESEE 6. My hand(size: large) fits easily with an extra pinky-width of room at the tail.
Overall, ergonomics are well thought out. The handle is a slight hollow on either side that matches my fingertips on one side and finger base on the other making a very anchored grip.
The rubber has subtle nubbing for grip but not enough to be abrasive. Although it hasn’t happened to me yet, I could see how the rigging on the thumb ramp might cause a hotspot in the “V” of your thumb and fore-finger after extensive heavy use.
The plain edge portion of the LMF 2’s blade does very well. I have not complaints besides noting that do to its length you must make shorter slices than a full length plain edge knife.
The serrated portion of the blade great for sawing through bone and gristle(I use the LMF 2 for “harvesting” chickens). The do to the side the serrations are on, the LMF 2 favors a left-handed person if you want to make wood shavings for a fire.
It’s average: Not stellar, but not horrible either.
A little blade care once in a while will keep this knife razor-sharp, teach you a valuable skill and make you feel like a real man all at the same time.
Battoning, in my opinion, is pretty much a caveman thing.
Here in Canada, you’d be a daft fool to set out into the woods without at least a hatchet! I was loathed to mention it in this Gerber LMF 2 review, but hey, it’s important to some folks.
While I don’t use my LMF 2 for battoning, it handles up to 3″ diameter wood easily. I wouldn’t try wood that is wider than 3 1/2″ because of the length of the blade.
Be warned: you can damage the thumb ramp on the top side of this knife if you’re a clumsy oaf. But I’m sure you’re not that clumsy.
If I lived in a large city, the Gerber LMF 2 would be the first fixed blade I’d pack in my bug-out-bag.
It’s not perfect, but a good survival knife must be able to many things well, not one or two things perfectly.
For me the softer 420 HC isn’t a deal killer especially considering that you can field sharpen the blade with the sheath-integrated sharpener. The LMF2 is a good value for knife that usually comes under $100.
You saw what happened when the tsunamis hit Japan(2011) and Indonesia (2005) didn’t you?
What if you found yourself at ground zero navigating endless city blocks of rubble, live wires, and broken glass for days on end until help arrived? I’d want a decent knife on my side to save my life and rescue many others.
That’s the LMF 2’s forté. It is a durable, versatile fixed blade best suited for urban disaster and formidable tactical foe.
Now I realize that in reading this Gerber LMF 2 review, some of my fellow countryside folk will be wondering…what about me? I would point you toward the ESEE 6 or smaller brother ESEE 4.
You can check out my full ESEE 6 review here or my article on the Top 5 Most Durable Knives .