Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The EDC Top 100 and Gerber

I would have titled this "Trolling for Hate" but EVERYONE loves hating Gerber, so I won't bother.  

Some of you might have noticed that I took down the Aeon Sign Up page, seeing as sign ups closed a while ago.  In its place I put this page.  I have always wanted to do this, as I am fascinated by lists and rankings.  Amazon creates and keeps track of a mind boggling number of statistics.  My favorites are the Top 100 lists.  In order to better ground discussion regarding production knives and, more importantly, to give you a better idea of what others are buying, I thought I would include them.  They function as a sort of New York Times Best Seller List for Gear, but are updated hourly.  

But there is a caveat.  A lot of the stuff on the Top 100 list in any category is absolute junk.  Yesterday, the first legit piece of gear I found on the flashlight list was a Surefire Fury around the mid-60s.  On the folding knife list there were quite a few SOG pieces, including an Aegis in the Top 10, but there were no Spydercos and the first Benchmade was around the mid 60s as well (it was the Contego, if you must know).  So much of the stuff on the list is PURE and COMPLETE crap.  There are the generic "300 Lumen Strong Bright" lights (though this one will take a long time to get here because it "ships form HK") and the "Twin Batarang" knives (in pink?) and a ton of soulless other items as well. 

A close analysis, or even a passing glance, tells you why Gerber is still in business--there are a lot of "unknowledgeable" (this is my euphemism for "dumb" as I try to not call people dumb) folks out there buying Gerber stuff by the dump truck load.  There is little doubt that Gerber is wildly successful.  Right now, a full ten of the top twenty is Gerber junk.  How is this possible?  How is it that there are LOTS people out there that: a) can read; b) have access to the Internet; c) want to purchase a knife; and d) end up buying a Gerber?  As if the horrible designs, ridiculous marketing, and overpricing aren't enough, three separate knives from Gerber have been recalled (see here and here  and here) in the past five years, two this year.  The first, the Instant, is the feature of their new marketing campaign and was recalled because the lock failed.  It is a "voluntary" recall on Gerber's part because, well, having your product chop people's fingers off while they are using it is bad publicity.  The other two are government recalls, one from 2008 on the EAB II, which is #1 on the Top 100 right now, and the other is on one of the dumbass Zombie Kit machetes.  Yet, this is what people are buying.  Clearly all of us that like and care about quality stuff have a lot of work to do.  Friends don't let friends: 1) drink and drive or; 2) buy Gerber knives. 

When I poke fun at Gerber and suggest they stop making stuff and refocus on quality, they laugh.  They have no reason to.  They are selling truckloads of knives even when they are failing in catastrophic ways.  It is as if their business model is: lots of awesome commercials with gritty fellas and Bear Grylls + hack designs that fail + substandard materials + denigrating a once good name + prices twice what they should be = lots and lots of sales.  Gerber says to me and other people that criticize them:

"Take that internet and gear folks.  Take that snooty gear reviewers.  We make shit, sell lots of it, and make tons of money.  Criticize all you want, but we will merely wipe away our tears with $100 bills."

At least the one good Gerber design, the Shard, is the #1 multitool as of this writing.  And to think they didn't want to make it, let it go out of production, and then brought it back.

Enjoy the Top 100.  They are most often hilarious and sometimes a sober reminder of the fact that most gear companies aren't like Spyderco, 47s, Benchmade, and Surefire.  Some gear companies are not in fact gear companies at all, but junk mass manufacturers that are trying capitalize on an increased interest in being prepared.  It makes you grateful for the companies that do give a shit.  The Top 100 also tells me we have a lot of work to do.      


  1. Thanks for these lists---interesting to see what the public at large is buying.

    Is there a 2012 update planned for the Top Ten Values list? I am thinking about holiday gift-giving in the back of my head, and would be eager to help some more quality stuff climb the Amazon list...

    1. Yes. I am going to redo the entire series, including the Top Ten Values, but this time I am going to organize the overview by the size of the products. Here is the post explaining the new process:

  2. Years ago I went into a liquor story and noticed a huge jar of pickled pigs feet next to the register and asked the guy behind the counter if people actually ate that stuff. He replied "I don't they eat 'em but we sure do sell a lot of 'em. Some stuff's made for eating and some stuff is made for selling. These here is made for selling."

  3. These lists are very interesting and I generally agree with your assessment of Gerber (with some exceptions, such as the Shard you mentioned and the U.S. made MP400 Compact Sport).

    I wouldn't be so quick to bag on the "generic 300 Lumen Strong Bright lights" though. I have one and, for $5.44 shipped, it's well worth it. I can't think of anything better for less.

  4. Fun idea and the lists are interesting to read.

    Man, people sure do buy some shitty folding knives. Personally I got down to about #50 before I saw anything I wanted to own. No Spyderco in the top 100 is a national disgrace.

    The top 10 or 20 multitools were much higher average quality. Lots of Leathermans.

  5. Don't rake me over the coals with this comment... but I've had a Gerber multi-tool for more than 10 years (I actually inherited one from my Grandpa when he passed away about 6 years ago too... so I have two).

    I think it's most like this one:

    It has served me well. It hasn't broken. I have no idea how much it was... but it has lasted me since the year 2000 and it's still going strong. My Grandpa's was even older than that.

    From everything I've read (most notably here) I won't be getting another one... but the ones that I've had have lasted.

    Maybe I'm one of the lucky ones!

  6. I don't know, who wouldn't want a Pink Batman Twin Blade Batarang Pocket Knife? Total badassery!

  7. I feel the real reason companies like Gerber, Buck, Leatherman and the like sell as much as they do is because they put their stuff at arms length. All of these companies sell in major retail outlets like Walmart, Target and sporting goods stores across the country. More to the point, they have been doing it for long enough that, as an uninformed person, when you are rummaging through dad's old hunting gear or talking to a buddy/uncle about these sorts of things, you are more likely to be dealing with someone who isn't as much an enthusiast as we fine folk.

    My father was the same way. He owned a couple of Bucks, a few Case, some knockoffs of both, and a pair of Schrade fixed blades. He wasn't a cheapskate. He wasn't completely uninformed. He simply needed something that would hold an edge long enough to make it a week at work or to dress a deer. When a Schrade Uncle Henry and a Lansky will do just that, why spend countless hours and hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on "research" for the Uberknife?

    ...and on that note, I should probably suggest something deep about the difference between generations. Gramps and pops were the "if it aint broke, don't fix it. If it is broke, fix it" type. These days, I feel like we are all a little more, "if it aint broke, fiddle with it until it is. If it is broke, replace it."