Gerber Air Ranger Folding Pocket Knife Review

“A Skilled Operator in the Outdoors”

 


DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn compensation if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you.  – Koda Moon


 

ARMY Rangers are a lethal, proud and agile force capable of efficiently executing high-risk missions. They are among the most well trained soldiers in the world, so the title “Ranger” is not to be taken lightly.

 

Aside from being highly trained war machines, Rangers are the disciplined, reliable and skillful operators of the wilderness.

 

Coincidentally, Gerber has taken it upon themselves to adopt the title “Ranger” and apply it to one of their own knives: the Gerber Air Ranger.

 

 

 

 

   SUMMARY 

 

Gerber is famous for designing knives made specifically for the avid outdoorsman, and the Ranger is no exception.

 

Gerber’s classic Air Ranger was designed by the well-known knife maker Bill Harsey, and the value this knife maker brings to the table with the Ranger is undeniable. 

 

Overall, it is a well-designed budget blade that falls into my top 5 folding knives in the sub $30 price bracket.

 

It’s honestly a fantastic little folding knife that has proven its worth by demonstrating practicality, durability and value. For a knife of such a modest price point, it’s an affordable winner in my book for sure. 

 

   WHO IT’S FOR? 

 

In my humble opinion, this knife is for someone who is knife shopping on a thin budget yet doesn’t want a complete piece of trash. Look, I’m honest in all my reviews, and I’ll never hold my punches…

 

This knife is far from perfect, but what knife isn’t? So I have one request of you: view this knife for what it is: a budget knife that works impressively well. I mean really, what more can you ask for? 

 

Let’s be frank for a second: if you’re a snooty steel snob, this knife isn’t going to be for you. However, if you’re looking to spend under $30 and get some real bang for your buck, the Air Ranger is a solid, value-packed option for you that won’t fail to meet your basic needs. 

 

  VERDICT 

 

The Air Ranger, while not a stylish, innovative head-turner by any stretch of the imagination, is still a reliable, practical, lightweight, well-constructed and inexpensive EDC folder that delivers.

 

The G-10 handle scales give this knife extra pop, the matte gray blade is bold in style and the thumbstuds allow for a vigorous and snappy deployment. There’s no flipping mechanism or spring assisted opening, but the Ranger manages perfectly fine without it.

 

This is definitely a niche knife, meaning, it excels in one particular area: tackling minor survival tasks in the rougher natural elements.

 

Its dual purpose nature (in that it also functions well as a practical EDC) gives it a considerable edge and one up on other knives at this attractive price point.

 

 

 

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  1st IMPRESSION 

 

The Air Ranger is a pretty plain looking knife. Nothing extraordinary stands out about it in the looks department, but while it might not ‘pop’, it still maintains a rugged persona with the matte gray blade and black G10 scales.

 

As you can see, the blade is coated in a handsome titanium grey oxide. It’s a simple look, but it’s a simple knife, so it fits.

 

Some of the other Air Rangers I’ve seen have a black oxide coating, and obviously that’s gonna completely change the overall look of the knife. (for better or worse is up to you… I personally prefer the gray blade- hence why I’m reviewing it)

 

 

When you first reach for this knife and pick it up, you’ll realize it is perfectly sized for the roll of ECD carry. It fits snugly in the hand and isn’t too light or too heavy… It lies right in that perfect goldilocks zone.

 

The G10 scales also make for a fine first impression. Not only do they give the handle a nice, satisfying grip, but they also make the overall design of the knife seem clean-cut and simple.

 

Of course, it’s only my opinion, but I think that a pair of nice G-10 scales can make even the ugliest of knives look attractive. Somehow, G-10 can make a knife simultaneously look classy and rugged.

 

🗡  BLADE

 

Ok, let’s not kid ourselves here… it’s time to be clear about what this blade is and what it isn’t… 7Cr3Mov is the steel this blade is made of, which is basically the equivalent of 440A. 

 

This is a steel that is by no stretch of the imagination the best steel, but it IS a pretty good budget steel. For a knife in the sub $30 price bracket, it’s certainly a steel I can work with.

 

 

One of the nice characteristics of 7Cr13Mov steel is that it’s able to take an edge extremely quickly and easily… It is not, however, the best at holding that edge.

 

I was never too concerned with that however, as when you’re outside in natures harsh elements, having an outdoors knife that can take an edge easily is a godsend.

 

For a beginner in particular, nothing is more troublesome than a knife that has a high degree of difficulty when sharpening. Nothing will discourage someone faster than not being able to sharpen their own blade.

 

When out surviving in nature, it is extremely helpful to be able to easily sharpen your knife in any situation. Luckily, the high hollow grind on this knife makes sharpening a far less stressful task.

 

 

As far as the blade goes, it’s shaped as somewhat of a mix between a drop point and a clip point. You get the best of both worlds here.

 

Drop points are practical designs for all-around usefulness, and clip-points are good at providing the blade with sufficient piercing power. Put two and two together and you’ve got a great blade shape.

 

In addition to the slight clip point, the blade has a swedge that runs up about half the length of the blade.

 

While this reduces the overall strength of the spine and makes the tip slightly more fragile, it also increases piercing ability, reduces overall weight of the knife, and simply looks nice.

 

 

There are moderately aggressive serrations on the blade. As I always say, serrations vs. no serrations is entirely a personal preference.

 

One knife user will love serrations and another will hate serrations. You can take em or leave em. They definitely have their place in nature survival though. They stay sharp longer and they cut through rougher, more fibrous material much better than a plain edge.

 

 

The blade is covered in a nice light matte grey titanium nitride coating. Truthfully it is a pretty boring color, to me at least, but it does its job.

 

What’s pretty cool is that I haven’t experienced a lot of scratching with this coating, so that’s a plus. I beat my knives up pretty badly, especially my outdoor knives, so that’s a real compliment actually.

 

 

An admirable yet easily overlooked feature is the jimping on the thumb ramp. It really is one aspect of this knife that Gerber managed to absolutely master.

 

It’s only moderately aggressive jimping, but I’ve found that it is more than enough to make a considerable difference in overall grip control.

 

A lot of times, jimping on knives like this is superfluous- it’s just for show and serves no practical purpose. Even worse, it can actually get in the way and form some nasty hotspots.

 

Luckily, that isn’t the case at all here. The jimping on the Ranger is mild and non intrusive yet still highly effective at locking in your hand. Way to go, Gerber. My hat goes off to you for that one.

 

HANDLE

 

The handle features black G-10 scales, a thick steel liner lock, an open-back design and a hefty pocket clip.

 

 

To say it not so elegantly, the G-10 scales on this knife provide an above-average amount of grip.

 

This G-10 is nothing special, and it doesn’t produce nearly as much grip as some of my other G-10 knives (like the Spyderco Tenacious), but it’s still grippy enough to instill confidence that it won’t slip out of my hand while cutting.

 

When it comes straight down to anti-slippage, I would still take a sub-par G-10 handle over a good stainless handle any day. It’s all relevant, I guess.

 

 

One nice feature of the handle is that it has an open-back design that allows for easy cleaning. There are 3 pillars in between the scales as well as a 550-friendly lanyard hole in the bottom of the handle.

 

 

   POCKET CLIP

 

There’s a lot of good to say about this clip… unfortunately, the pocket clip is single-position only… what a bummer, right? It’s strictly right-hand tip-down carry only. Sorry lefties…

 

It’s funny, because normally that factor alone could be enough to turn me off to a pocket clip, but the simple truth here is that they actually did a great job with this clip- enough to redeem the infinitely stupid decision to make it only one position..  

 

Looking at this clip, you’ll realize just how thick and beefy it is. I can honestly say I’ve never had any doubts about its durability or reliability. This thing is actually sturdy as hell. I’m surprised how good the clip is considering how inexpensive the knife is.

 

SO, it may only have one position, but it’s a great clip overall, and I wouldn’t question its functionality when taking this knife along for my crazy hiking adventures. I know it could endure whatever I had to throw at it.

 

 

   DEPLOYMENT

 

Believe it or not, the impressive speed of deployment is what initially sold me on the Air Ranger when I first got it…

 

The funny thing is, it doesn’t even deploy using some fancy flipper mechanism or anything like that. It deploys manually using rounded thumbstuds. Yup, no assisted-opening mechanism whatsoever, but believe you me, it’s a fast opener when you flick it open.

 

That being said, this knife was not the fastest opener when I first got it. It did take a couple days of consistent blade deployments to really break it in. Once broken in however, it was a lot faster than I initially assumed it would be.

 

I will say this however: this blade may deploy quickly, but it’s definitely not the smoothest opener. For the price point though, I would expect just as much. You can’t get it all. So the deployment is a little jerky, who cares?

 

It’s not a huge deal, because when you flick the blade open that quickly you can barely even tell. You only really notice the lack of that glossy deployment when you open the knife slowly and draw it out.

 

   LOCK

 

The locking liner is relatively thick and chunky on the Ranger- just how I like it. It manages to hold the blade in place quite sturdily. There was absolutely no blade play in any direction. That’s extremely impressive for a knife at this price point…

 

However, I decided to push this knife to its absolute limits and really, REALLY bang up the locked blade (intentionally, of course…)

 

After harshly banging the opened blade on a hard surface a couple dozen times, I was able to expose some horizontal blade play. Still, that fact that it even held up as well as it did is surprising to say the least.

 

Even though I would consider this an outdoors knife, I still wouldn’t pry with it, and I definitely wouldn’t baton with it. Keep in mind that this isn’t a full tang blade. You can’t do the same things with this knife as you would with a TRUE fixed-blade outdoors knife like, say, my Buck 119. 

 

 

In case you didn’t already know, you should NEVER baton with a folding knife unless you absolutely needed to, and even then I wouldn’t recommend it.

 

That’s how you push a lock to failure- and that’s dangerous as hell, so not only does that leave you with a broken knife, but it could leave you with a real nasty injury. In a true survival setting, that could spell the end of you.

 

 

All in all, I’m actually very impressed with the lock simply because the liner is so thick and meaty. I just don’t trust liner locks that look they could be bent like a paper clip.

 

 

I’ve beat up this knife pretty hard and not once has the liner lock showed signs of coming close to failing on me. All things considered, I definitely got a beefier lock than I though I would for this amount of money. I really can’t complain.

 

   ERGONOMICS

 

Here’s another winning category- the ergonomics! The ergos of this knife are surprisingly awesome.

 

As soon as you wrap your hands around the handle you feel a sense of recognition- almost like you’re reuniting with a long lost friend. It’s hard to believe the level of comfort this handle provides is from a $30 knife.

 

 

There are some minor hotspots that form around the index finger, but I only noticed them when I was doing heavy cutting. They were minor though, so all in all this knife was relatively comfortable for hours on end use.

 

 

   PERFORMANCE

 

I’ve taken the Air Ranger out with me on many long, arduous hikes into the woods, and it has performed favorably for a knife of its caliber.

 

I’ve used it to cut some decently sized rope, and the serrations ripped right through with little effort. I’ve even used this knife to cut and prepare thick some steaks before, and the slicing ability was satisfactory. The hollow ground blade slid right through the meat adequately enough.

 

As for sheer penetration, the piercing ability of this knife is definitely to my liking. The drop/clip point blade shape really lets you puncture tougher materials without exerting too much effort.

 

I will say that I’ve found myself re-sharpening this blade after each hiking trip I take it on. The ability of this knife to hold an edge simply can’t compete with knives in the next price brackets up. Of course, that’s to be expected.

 

 

Whether you want to use this knife as a main EDC or a backup outdoors knife, the quality and performance are quite impressive given the low price point.

 

  FAVORITE FEATURES

 

 Thick, Strong Liner Lock
 Good Action
 Satisfying Piercing Ability
 GREAT Ergonomics

 

 LEAST FAVORITE FEATURES

 

 Tip-Down Carry Only
 7Cr13Mov Steel not the best

 

🏁  CONCLUSION

 

The Ranger is a clear and obvious choice for the economical price point. As I said before, this one’s definitely in my top 5 value knives in the sub $30 price bracket.

 

Time and time again I find this to be a knife I like to throw into my tackle box when I go out fishing. It’s not too big, it’s lightweight, it sharpens quickly and it’s easy to clean. (That last one’s a big deal when it comes to fishing…)

 

It’s a great little backup knife to have in your pocket when you’re out and about in the wilderness. It’s even a good choice for a simple EDC knife that you carry around for day-to-day tasks.

 

There are other good value knives around this price point too, but this one’s definitely a solid choice. For the modest price, you’re really getting a lot of value out of the Air Ranger. At the end of the day, this one’s another hit by Gerber, and it’s definitely a bargain, to say the least.

 

 

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NOTE: Please familiarize yourself with the appropriate state and local regulations by contacting your local police dept., legal counsel and/or attorney general’s office. You, as the buyer, not pocketknifeninja.com, are responsible to understand your local, state, and federal laws before placing an order.

 

15 thoughts on “Gerber Air Ranger Folding Pocket Knife Review

  1. The gerber air ranger pocket knife seems pretty cool. It definitely seems like something you can carry around when you are going camping. You see, I have bunch of fire steel rods at home without anything to strike it with. This knife would be perfect to be used in the wild while being an emergency fire starter.

    I think its alright to have serrations. I mean if the knife gets blunt from over use, at least the serrations will still be able to “shave” the object I am trying to cut.

    Most importantly, it seems to open fast in a pinch. If my life is ever threatened, this would be a nice counter threat. What do you think?

    • The Air Ranger is great for use with a fire steel rod. As I’ve said, I would definitely categorize this knife as an outdoors knife, so serrations can definitely serve their purpose. As for serious life-threatening emergencies, you might be better off with a tactical knife. This one deploys pretty quickly, but it’s no substitution for a true tactical knife.

  2. Hi,

    I have never bought an (outdoors) knife before, however you say that this is good for beginners so I may consider purchasing it especially considering it is a good price. What would you consider the most important thing when buying an outdoors knife? Thanks for sharing this review it is very useful to someone like me who doesn’t know what they’re talking about 🙂

    • Hi Celeste,

      When purchasing an outdoors knife, there are quite a few things to consider. For instance, you want good corrosion resistance and a handle that doesn’t slip easily (particularly when it’s wet… as the outdoors tends to be wet!)

      And no problem! I try to educate as well as I can. If you have anymore questions don’t hesitate to contact me.
      Thanks for your comment!
      ~Koda

  3. Hi, really nice review on the Gerber Air Ranger. I have a question for you…  I love outdoor activities, and I’m planning my next camping adventure for my family and me I have 2 boys 13 and 9, and they both love fishing any suggestions on what pocket knife is right for them? By the way your Ninja logo I love it 🙂 Thank You so much!

    • Beatriz,

      The Gerber Air ranger is great for outdoors activities like camping and fishing. It’s corrosion resistant, on the smaller side, and it’s got serrations. You wouldn’t go wrong with this one. On the other hand, I would also recommend the CRKT Drifter. It’s small and it’s easy and convenient to carry around in a tackle box or a camping pouch.

      Also, thank you (: If you have any more questions though, feel free to ask me.
      Happy holidays!

      Koda

  4. It seems that this pocket knife is good for somebody who doesn’t want to spend much money. It looks, to me, very standard and nothing exiting. With the grip they have used and the colour too. My question is, whether they improvements a more expensive knife makes, is worth paying more money for. Is it actually worth the money to buy a more expensive knife, or will this one do the job just as well?

    • Joe,

      This is definitely a no-nonsense knife. If you’re looking for something shiny and with all the bells and whistles, this probably isn’t for you. If you’re looking for simple and dependable at a good price, this is your knife.

      And to answer your questions, it really depends on what you’re looking for and what you want to do with the knife. If you’re new to knives and are looking to dip your toes in the water, this is a great knife to start. On the other hand, if you’re a proficient and seasoned knife user who’s looking for fancy assisted opening mechanisms with premium steel and handle materials, you might want to upgrade to something higher up. Like I said, it really boils down to what you’re looking to do.

      Thanks for your comment, though. It’s much appreciated. If you have any more questions feel free to ask me!
      Happy holidays to you, Joe!

      Koda

  5. Hey I like this knife! I especially like this comment “This knife is for someone who is knife shopping on a budget yet doesn’t want a complete piece of trash.” I needed one thats small, compact (fits in my purse) and not a piece of trashLOL I bought one… Super deal!💥🤣 

    • Congrats, Cillacil.

      If you find yourself having any questions about the knife, feel free to ask me. I’d be happy to help you out! Enjoy your new knife! Happy holidays to you as well.

      Koda

  6. Hello there Koda. Your website looks awesome and I am still exploring it. Your reviews are really good and I do not thing I saw a simlair website like yours exploring cold weapons. This Gerber Air Ranger Pocket Knife looks cool on the first take. The blade and the handle are in perfect balance, at least what I think about this knife.

    His price is more then great, considering his size and the materials he is made off. I see that it can be bought on Amazon also. This is something really good. I am going to purchase this knife I think.

    Thank you for this review.

    Strahinja

  7. Wow….this is a very thorough knife review.   In fact, I didn’t know how much that I didn’t know about knives until reading your review.   I will probably never look at a knife the same way again.  (I mean that as a compliment.)  

    I am familiar with Gerber’s multi-purpose tools.   I was first introduced to them back when I was in the Army.   So, I trust the brand.    As such, I thought it would be worth considering a Gerber knife for potential Christmas gifts.    Overall, since the recipients that I have in mind are not  “steel snobs,” it sounds like it would make a decent gift for that fits nicely within my budget.    It will most likely sit in their fishing boxes or with their camping gear.  From what you say, I don’t think they would be disappointed with the knife.   Thanks! 

    • Sandra,

      That’s awesome that you were in the army. Thanks for your service. And yes, most people are familiar with Gerber multitools but forget that they make quality knives as well. Granted, some are hits and some are misses, but that’s why I made this website, to review these knives’ strengths and weaknesses in depth.

      Anyway, thanks for your comment. If you ever have any questions about this knife or any other feel free to ask me.
      Happy holidays to you, Sandra!

      Koda

  8. Hi Koda, I never thought there would be a niche for knives. But you have proved me wrong. This indeed is an outdoor knife and I like the serrations on it. Along with quality content, you have put quality photos as well. You have covered every aspect of this knife along with Ergonomics and performance. I am going to get myself one for camping and outdoor activities!

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