I like knives. I really do. It doesn’t seem like it’s much of an obsession – until I start counting the various models I have around the house and shop. It’s getting a little disturbing actually. Still, there’s always room for one more. I could always give a a couple away… or not. Anyway, when I was offered the opportunity to review the Gerber 06 Auto, there was no way I was going to turn it down.
This knife is another in Gerber’s line of Made in the USA tools. We can debate until the sun goes down the quality of what is produced in China, Taiwan, Germany, and other countries. The bottom line is that Made in the USA is still a source of pride to the guys and gals that work to put these tools in our hands. What we’ve found in the knife and multi-tool class is that it means you’re getting your hands on a very high quality tool.
We don’t usually focus on tactical knives here at Pro Tool Reviews. After getting this model in my hands, that may very well change though. We’ll get to the reasons shortly. Before we go there, a word of warning – check your local laws before purchasing the Gerber 06 Auto, or any other automatic deployment knife. Where I live, I’m allowed to own it with no problem, but I am required to have a concealed weapons permit to actually carry it.
Now that we have the all-important disclaimer out of the way, let’s have some fun.
Gerber 06 Auto Materials
Before a blade is ever forged or screw hole threaded, the material selection will make or break your knife design. Gerber starts with an S30V steel blend for the blade. This super steel has been around for a while now and is one of the few you’ll see at the higher end of the price scale. Compared to the steel used on mid-grade knives, you’ll find better edge retention, toughness, and corrosion resistance. It all rolls into a blade that lasts longer and has to be sharpened less often.
Gerber turned to hard-anodized 6061-T6 aluminum to create a lighter weight handle. Many of my knives incorporate G10 to improve the grip characteristics. Because my hands sweat more than I’d like, I’m wary of an all metal handle design that might cause slipping. The physical design of the Gerber 06 Auto helps to overcome this potential pitfall though. On the other hand, there’s also a G10 handle option for those that really need the extra security, but only with the Tanto blade.
Gerber 06 Auto Design
My Gerber 06 Auto came with a drop point blade. As I hinted at above, a Tanto style is also available. Between the two, the drop point is more useful to me. I do much more slicing than piercing, so the large belly of a drop point blade gets a pretty solid workout from me. Regardless of which blade style you choose, you’re going to get a partially serrated blade. Given the military/law enforcement focus of the design, this is a no brainer for cutting through cord quickly.
Like I said before, I don’t normally turn to a tactical knife for my EDC needs. However, the handle design is making me rethink that mindset. There’s a weight consideration here, but it’s mainly about the handle design. The handle is thick enough that it provides a lot of contact to ensure a more secure grip. Smaller knives offer a great fit in your hand, but often require a more finesse grip. With the 06 Auto, you can really bear down with your grip on those tough applications.
Rather than just providing jimping at the end of the handle, you’ll find that the aluminum flares out into a hand guard on both the upper and lower. This is the single feature that makes me comfortable having no G10 or other material to supplement the 6061-T6 handle. I can grip and work this knife as hard as I want and the guard prevents my hand from slipping no matter how wet or sweaty it has become.
At the base of the handle, you’ll find that the aluminum has been shaped to become an egress tool. Should you find yourself in need of a way to escape by breaking glass, Gerber has you covered. There’s even a lanyard hole if you’d like to further secure it to yourself or your gear.
Of course by its name, the Gerber 06 Auto has an automatically deploying blade. While we haven’t reached the point where we can say “OK Google, deploy blade,” it does happen with just a quick thumb press on the button. Deployment is about as fast as any spring assisted blade I’ve used. This should be no surprise since the only major difference is a button vs. a thumb stud.
With an automatically deploying blade, you want and need a safety. You’ll find this just below the deployment button and it is easily engaged or released with you thumb. It’s a perfect placement to use it without having to look at what you’re doing. Engage it to keep the blade from opening in a pocket or other less-than-ideal situations. It can also be engaged with the blade deployed as a supplement to the locking system.
Most people don’t get excited about belt clips and sheaths. I am thrilled about both on this model though. First of all, the belt clip is large and strong. You’ll have a much harder time bending this one out than you do most clips. It’s held in place by three screws that are larger than you find on most knives. You can flip the clip to the opposite side, but you may find that it is too close to the safety for it to feel as natural.
I wouldn’t want to forgo the included nylon sheath. It has a snap close belt loop and a Velcro closure. Given the weight of the knife, I’ve shifted carrying clipped to my pocket to supported on my belt. Like Steve’s experience with the Multi-Plier 600, the weight of the 06 Auto seems to disappear there.
The Gerber 06 Auto is tactical, functional, and well-designed. I don’t know that I could have asked for a better knife given the multitude of things I do for work and play. The materials and build quality are excellent. The design is outstanding. The combination results in the incredible popularity and loyalty that users have shown this blade. The Gerber 06 Auto is well worth your consideration if you’re wanting something that’s going to be more than an EDC.
Gerber offers a Pro Program that gives discounts to several different service careers. If you’re active military, National Guard, Reserve, law enforcement, fire, EMS, or a first responder, be sure to check it out to take advantage of better pricing.
Gerber 06 Auto Specifications
- Model: Gerber 06 Auto with Drop Point Serrated Blade
- Blade Material: S30V Steel
- Blade Coating: Black Oxide
- Blade Length: 3.7″
- Handle Material: 6061-T6 hard anodized aluminum
- Closed Length: 4.8″
- Deployed Length: 8.6″
- Weight: 6.3 ounces
- Warranty: Lifetime
- MSRP: $223
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