Gerber LMF II: The Most Versatile Survival Knife

The  Gerber LMF II is consistently a top contender amongst reputable survival knife reviewers.  It has stiff competition with some real gems like the KaBar Becker BK2  and the ESEE 6 that admittedly out-perform it in several tasks.  However, what separates it from the other great knives is its amazing versatility. This isn’t just a bushcraft knife like most others.  It’s at home in urban survival and disaster situations as much as in the bush.

If you want to see men fight like cats,  just slide a knife across the floor in a room full of guys and say the words: “Now thats a knife!”

Wait 3 seconds.  You should hear at least three guys in unison say,“That’s not a knife…this is a knife!”  …And the debate is off to the races.  Ok…maybe not, but it would be fun.

Define Survival

I don’t think “survival” is just for the woods scenario. Give me a break! Most folks spend way more time at home or in civilization than in the back-country roughing it like cavemen. Why are so many “survival” aficionados preparing for a single narrow scenario?  Shouldn’t a survival knife be useful for multiple scenarios?

(Edit:  This morning I woke up to news that the entire West Coast was under a tsunami warning and folks in low lying areas were to head to high ground. (it was later canceled) This is a perfect example… You wake up to Tsunami siren’s at 3AM.  You reach for your grab bag bleary eyed and barely coherent. Will the knife come in handy in the event of such a catastrophe? Absolutely!  But it will be a heck of a lot more than “bushcraft” you’ll be facing. )

What about mundane daily tasks?

What some people make out to be important in survival situations are actually really far-fetched.   Take battoning wood for example.  Its hilarious how much emphasis reviewers put on knife’s ability to be hammered through wood.  The LMF II does a fine job of it, but what the heck are you doing in the woods without an axe?  Really?  In Canada, you’d be a daft fool to set out into the woods without at least a hatchet!

Survival is about surviving unknown circumstances. You don’t know your future.  You don’t know what life is going to throw at you. A car accident.  A flood.  A hurricane. A tsunami.  Who knows?   Get a knife that can do a lot of things really well..not just one or two things perfectly. Thats why I’m highly recommending the Gerber LMF II.  Its got the ability to tackle more scenarios than other top tier survival knives.

The Company:  

Gerber is a Portland, Oregon based company thats been around since 1937.  They’ve been building top quality knives for a long time.  Most of their knives are designed, engineered and built in the USA. Not all their knives are legends, but as with many good companies they do have particular models that are rockstars.  The LMF 2 is one of them.

This bad boy is a modern design developed by a military guy(Jeff Freeman) for military use.  The goal was to develop a rugged versatile survival knife designed specifically for downed military aircrew.  It was to help them escape their wrecked planes and survive in hostile territory.

The Gerber LMF II comes with a lifetime warrantee.  Three variations are now available but they are all the same knife the only differences are colours and and optional accessories like leg straps and seat belt cutters.

  • The ASEK(Aircrew Survival Egress Knife- Strap cutter, Green, Black or Tan)
  • The Infantry(Green,Black or Tan)
  • Survival(Strap cutter,Tan only)


The Survival version is my recommendation because its the best value.  Amazon pricing here

Standout Features

Obviously a good survival knife should have a top quality thick blade, full tang, and comfortable handle. But here’s what the LMF II has that other worthy competitors don’t bring to the party.

The LMF II pommel: skull crusher, hammer, lashing point or glass punch. Your choice.

  1. Electric shock prevention: with the insulated handle its possible cut through live wires.
  2. Glass punch: located on the pommel (also a bone crusher for self-defense)
  3. Hammer: located on the pommel is a flat area for hammering
  4. Sharpener integrated into the sheath.  This is the single most important feature.  A sharp knife is key especially after heavy repetitive use and abuse in the field.  Having it integrated into the actual sheath means its always there on your belt when you need it.
  5. Spear lashing points:  No knife wielding psycho will come close to you with a spear.  Kill a pig, spear a fish, ward off a bear.  The three lashing points will make the knife a rock solid spear.
  6. Sheath versatility: It’s molle compatible, includes leg straps for calf, thigh or hip mounting.  Positive lock up retains knife securely even when mounted upside down.  Additional button retainers for further securing knife. Left or right handed knife insertion.  A custom sheath like this alone would cost over $100.
  7. Serrated portion of blade: 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 scenarios.  Having a saw type blade on-board adds options when the straight blade isn’t cutting it.


My Experience

My journey with the Gerber LMF II  began with a Bear Grylls survival knife. Its a decent entry level survival knife with almost identical layout and features.  I soon found out that Bear Grylls’ knife was a just cheaper boy’s scout version of the LMF II!  I don’t blame Bear for partnering with Gerber to make a  merchandised version of the LMF II.  Its a freakin awesome design. In fact think I’ve seen Bear on a few of his older shows using an LMF II.

I’ve used the knife for camping, slaughtering chickens, carving and general tasks. Nothing extreme.  No, I don’t have a super cool story to tell you, but I do plan on taking it on future trips to Africa.   I’ve learned the value of having a good knife handy after 16 years in Africa.

For now, though, it’s a world class knife that’ll be ready at hand when I’m in the Canadian woods or on the road.

My Quibbles

The 420 HC blade could have been made with a better metal like 1095 Carbon.  420 HC is still a decent metal and holds its edge well.  So far I haven’t had any issues with dulling at all.  Even if I do get into some heavy duty cutting, the integrated sharpener is always there to keep the blade nice and sharp.  However, its something Gerber could consider upgrading in the future.


This knife is already in the top ten of a very tight and competitive market.  There are other knives out there that are better than the Gerber LMF II in particular tasks and one or two features, but this knife brings so much more adaptability to multiple scenarios.

Integrated sharpener keeps you razor sharp on the go.

The knockout punch isn’t even the knife its the sheath.  Its tough, reversible and holds the knife upside down without even using the clips.   That integrated sharpener is what keeps a knife “a knife.”

As far as versatility for multiple scenarios, the Gerber LMF II is the best on the market today.   You can price check it here on Amazon.

Optionally, one best and most durable fixed blade knives out there is the ESEE 6.  You can check out my in-depth review of it here.



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