Gerber Propel Series Ttactical Folders




Propel Series is a new addition to the Gerber line of tactical folders. The Propel Series is available in either Auto Opening or Assisted Opening models. The tactical folders use either 420HC (Propel) or S30V (Propel Downrange) stainless steel blades. We received the Gerber Propel Downrange Auto for evaluation.

Designed for use by the military and law enforcement, the Propel Autos build upon the performance of the field-proven Gerber 06 Auto that is currently standard issue to many military units. They are designed to provide the same level of full-size utility in a slimmer, more pocket-friendly profile.

The Propel Series features a full-size 3.5-inch, partially serrated CPM S30V Tanto point blade, hardened to Rc 58-61. The tip of the blade has a slight curvature to maximize utility. The blade is black oxide finished for additional corrosion resistance and to minimize reflectivity. The blade on the Propel Downrange Auto was exceptionally sharp out of the box.


Blade Steel

S30V is a wear-resistant and corrosion-resistant, high-chromium stainless steel also containing molybdenum and vanadium. S30V performs like a high-end tool steel with a corrosion resistance better than 440C. S30V has a very refined grain microstructure that allows it to take a fine consistent edge. It has superior edge retention, better than D2 tool steel.


The standard Propel tactical folders have 420HC blades to keep pricing down. The 420HC alloy is different than 420. The HC stands for “high carbon,” which means it can be brought to a higher hardness than 420. While 420HC is not a high-end stainless steel, it does produce a good knife steel with good corrosion resistance and edge holding ability.



Lock Mechanism

The Propel Series features a reliable plunge lock mechanism/firing button. The plunge lock system on the Propel Series is exceptionally strong. The plunge lock is augmented by a slide safety lock switch on the Auto models that, when actuated, prevents inadvertent actuation of the plunge lock mechanism and locks the blade securely in either the open or closed position.

The addition of Gerber’s robust safety lock allows for confident use and carry of the knife. The tactile switch can be engaged up or down, exposing a red dot when live, that must be manipulated before the plunge lock will deploy the blade. Once deployed, manipulate the lock and the knife effectively becomes a fixed blade.

The plunge lock/firing button and safety switch are oversized and grooved/serrated for easy operation when gloves are worn. A coil spring does the rest on the Auto knives.


Deployment is smooth, fast and reliable. Lock-up is secure. There was absolutely no wobble (side-to-side play) in the Propel Downrange Auto we tested.

With the Propel Series Assisted Opening (AO) knives, the blade will deploy when engaged at about 45 degrees to the side. This differs from typical AO knives deploying the blade of a typical AO knife, in which users simply apply pressure to the ambidextrous thumb stud upward and parallel to the knife case. This feature along with the Propel AO knife’s narrow aperture of blade access, ensures the blade doesn’t deploy accidentally while being pulled with speed from the pocket.


Textured G10

The handles on the Propel Series are textured, G10 with recessed stainless steel liners for a slim profile. The Propel Downrange tactical folders have desert tan handles. The handles on the standard Propel tactical folders is black. The handles are affixed with stainless steel Torx




G10 is an exceptionally rugged and chemical-resistant fiberglass and epoxy composite. It also helps to keep the weight down. The textured surface on the handles of the Propel Series provides a secure grip under all conditions. The Propel Downrange Auto we tested is very well balanced in the hand and has a comfortable and ergonomic grip.

The Propel Series features a black-oxide finished stainless-steel glass-breaker pommel.


The pommel is equipped with a lanyard hole. Both are very useful features to have on any tactical folder.


Ambidextrous Clip

The Propel Series is also equipped with a black, oxide-finished, adjustable three-position stainless-steel pocket clip. The pocket clip can be positioned for tip up or tip down carry and right or left side bias. The relatively compact size and slim profile of the Propel Series knives makes for comfortable pocket carry.

The workmanship on the Propel Downrange Auto is flawless. The Propel Series is made entirely in the USA at Gerber‘s Portland, Ore. facility. The Propel Downrange Auto has an MSRP of $220; Propel Downrange AO is $164; the Propel Auto is $199; and the Propel AO is $120. The Gerber has a real winner in the Propel Series.


Eugene Nielsen provides investigative and tactical consulting services and is a former officer. He may be reached at


Published in Tactical Response, Jul/Aug 2014

Rating : Not Yet Rated

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