I have a pretty healthy obsession with knives. Well, it might border on unhealthy. Either way, I have a broad collection that spans fixed blades, classic folders, spring assisted, and automatic that covers the spectrum from tactical to EDC. The new Gerber Empower Auto caught my attention recently. Its overall shape moves away from the rugged look of the 06 Auto and shifts toward more of an all-around EDC.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so let’s see if the materials and design make it an everyday carry kind of blade or if it has a more specialized purpose in life.
The Gerber Empower Auto goes with S30V for the steel. It’s a solid choice that reaches into the “super steel” category. It gets high praise for its all-around ability to take a sharp edge, hold its edge, and resist corrosion. Its downside is that it’s not as easy to sharpen as some other blends, but that’s the side of the trade-off I usually take.
The drop point style blade shape is a good choice for everyday carry since it blends piercing and slicing characteristics well and is a fine choice for defensive carry as well. Like the S30V steel, it’s a good middle ground that will perform well in almost every environment. My version has a stonewash finish, though other options are available in black.
At 3.25″ long, the blade exceeds the length that some states allow, though the automatic deployment is likely more of a disqualifier than the blade length in most restricted areas.
My two favorite handle materials are aluminum and titanium. I like the feel of some weight in my hands when I hold a knife and straight up G10 or carbon fiber make it feel like I’m holding a toy. The Gerber Empower Auto features anodized aluminum with an Armored Grip handle scale. This electroformed scale is an important addition to the handle since it provides grip against the smooth aluminum. More than just texture, it adds some gritty character to the knife’s look.
Shallow jimping on the top of the handle give your thumb some feedback on its position but isn’t terribly helpful in securing your grip.
With a handle length just under 5″, the overall open length is 8.4″ – big enough to carry defensively and about the longest I prefer to carry for general EDC use.
Automatic deployment is one of the big selling points for the Gerber Empower Auto. Its action is snappy with a slight bounceback if you leave the button pressed. Overall, it’s as smooth and confident as you can expect from an auto.
With a safety slide just below the plunge lock, you can pull down with your thumb while pressing the lock to get easy one-hand opening. That simple action allows you to keep the safety on when it’s not in your hand while keeping confidence in the speed of deployment.
The mechanism allows for a small amount of blade wobble. It’s right on par with I get from my other autos and spring-assist models in this price range and doesn’t affect the function at all.
In both forward and reverse grips, the Gerber Empower Auto fits comfortably in my hand. The handle length fills my hand well and gives me confidence in the security of my grip. If anything, I prefer to have a bit higher curve in the handle, but I’m not disappointed with the shape of the Empower.
The clip can install in a tip up or tip down orientation, but only for right side carry. Obviously, you can put it in your left pocket, but you’ll lose some efficiency in deployment. This can be an irritation for Southpaws, but keep in mind that it keeps the plunge lock button to your inside, making it less likely that you’ll bump against something and deploy the blade if you have the safety off.
Price and Value
Street prices for the Gerber Empower Auto are running right at $125 right now. Given the automatic opening and material choices, it’s on par with other knives in its class. It’s also a Made in the USA product out of Portland, Oregon.
The Bottom Line
If you like the idea of carrying an automatic knife for everyday use (and it’s legal for you to do so), the Gerber Empower Auto gives you a more reasonable design than something like the 06 Auto that’s purely tactical. Quality materials and a solid build make it an excellent choice.
Gerber Empower Automatic Folding Knife Key Features
- The spirit of a warrior evolved for everyday life, this automatic empowers those who carry it
- The anodized aluminum handle is ideal for pocket carry, the smooth finish won’t ruin pants or bag
- Stay safe: lock it closed in pocket or open in use with a sturdy plunge lock and safety slide
- The electroformed Armored Grip handle scales deliver two-fold: unique designs & no-slip grip
- You decide how to carry: A reversible pocket clip can be carried tip up or tip down
- Designed and built in Gerber’s Portland, Oregon, USA manufacturing facility
Gerber Empower Automatic Folding Knife Specifications
- Model: Gerber 30-001323
- Blade Material: S30V
- Blade Length: 3.25″
- Handle Material: Anodized aluminum with electroformed handle scales
- Closed Length: 4.9″
- Open Length: 8.4″
- Lock Style: Plunge (push button)
- Safety: Yes
- Clip Positions: Tip up or down, right side carry
- Weight: 4.6 oz
- Warranty: Limited Lifetime
- Price: $124.99