- Blade Length: 3.51"
- Overall Length: 8.52"
- Blade Material: CPM-S30V Stainless Steel
- Blade Finish: Black
- Handle Length: 5.01"
- Handle Material: G-10
- Weight: 4.3 oz.
Gerber has a long-running relationship with the U.S. military, providing proven tactical equipment for soldiers deploying overseas. The Propel Downrange Auto knife is a direct result of Gerbers relationship with military personnel, and theres more to this automatic knifes design than its desert tan color. Building on the field-proven performance and fast, one-handed blade deployment of the long-popular 06 Auto knife, the Propel Downrange packs the same level of full-size utility and durability in a slimmer, more pocket-friendly profile. Gerber, Description of the Propel
There is a lot to cover when discussing the Propel Downrange Auto made by Gerber. Listed below is a quick overview of what this knife has to offer. Quickly glance over it, to get to the finer details of the knife.
- Product Type: Automatic
- Overall Length: 8.52"
- Weight: 4.28 oz.
- Handle Length: 5.00
- Blade Length: 3.51"
- Blade Thickness: 0.125"
- Blade Material: S30V
- Blade Edge: Part Serrated
- Blade Style: Tanto
- Blade Finish: Black
- Handle Material: G-10
- Handle Color: Desert Sand Tan
- Pocket Clip: Three Way Pocket Clip
- Made in the USA
Automatic knives are becoming increasingly more popular to purchase and use, and for good reason too. Automatic knives, such as the Gerber Propel Downrange, offer many advantages that a typical folder, fixed blade, or even a spring assisted knife. One benefit to owning an auto is its deployment speed. With the press of a button or a flick of a switch, the blade will flash open in a blink of an eye. Not only is it quick, but it can be fired off with one hand. These features come in handy during many circumstances. Is one of your hands in a bind or holding an object in need of cutting? An auto can be opened right away with one hand. EMTs and other emergency response teams are constantly faced with tribulation that requires the use of a decent knife. In many high-stress situations, having a knife ready in a blink of an eye using only one hand can help someone else live for one more day. Plus, firing off an auto is fun to do. They are different than a traditional knife and bring a new element to the knife industry.
The handle material featured on the Propel Downrange is G-10 or G10. G110 is similar to Micarta and Carbon Fiber and is often used in handles because of its moisture imperviousness. G-10 is a fiberglass based laminate made by layers of fiberglass cloth that are soaked in an epoxy resin, are compressed, and then baked. The result is a material that is hard, lightweight, and strong. The surface of the G-10 is a checkering texture that is added for additional grip support. A unique property of the material is that the grip improves when wet. This material is difficult to break. It is also an ideal handle material because it does not shrink or swell in extreme hot or cold temperatures. Many knife companies prefer to use G-10 because of these properties, but also prefer to use it because it is easy to shape into different designs and has a possibility for an unlimited number of colors.
Utilizing the G-10 material, the handle scales on the Propel improve the overall quality of this tool. When holding the Propel, it definitely does not want to slip out of your hand. In addition to the G-10s natural textured surface, the handle has milled into it grooves to improve the gripping ability of the Propel. The grooves run at about a 45-degree angle to the rest of the handle and are in a randomly repeating pattern. With its 5 handle, there is plenty to hold onto for a comfortable grip. The desert tan handle is different than other tan handles that float around in the market. This color legitimately looks like real sand, so be careful not to drop it out in the desert or you may not find it. The knife has a plunge button lock to it. The button sticks out considerably far out of the handle. Accidently firing wont be an issue with the safety switch just below the button.
The Propel Downrange has a blade steel the popular and durable S30V stainless steel. Officially named CPM-S30V, S30V is considered to be one of the best steel types available. This steel was created as a joint effort between Dick Barber of Crucible Industries and knifemaker Chris Reeve. CPM-S30V is made up of 1.45% Carbon, 14.00% Chromium, 4.00% Vanadium and 2.00% Molybdenum.
Typically, high alloy steels are more prone to separate with similar material during the metal making process. No matter the precaution and extra steps taken to prevent this segregating, the particles are bound to isolate to some degree. CPM steels undergo a different process than most steels. Tiny particles of the different materials are consolidated, mixed together, and undergo a heat/pressure treatment to form a uniform distribution of these fine carbides. Because there is no alloy segregation in the powder particles themselves, there is no alloy segregation in the finished steel. The uniform distribution of fine carbides also prevents grain growth, so that the resultant microstructure is fine grained.
This American made steel has a great capacity to retain an edge and is able to withstand high pressures due to its high ductility. Combining all of these attributes with its corrosion resistance, CPM S30V steel is known as a Super Steel and typically found in higher-end tactical knives as well in custom knives. Some distinct advantages of S30V include improved wear resistance, improved toughness, consistent tool performance, and being able to be sharpened easily. This quality is all available with the Propel Downrange.
To assist the Propel Downrange in its tactical uses, the blade on the knife is a tanto blade. The tanto blade has a somewhat chisel-like point that is thick towards the point (being close to the spine) and is thus quite strong. The tanto knife was inspired by ancient Japanese swords. The Westernized tanto is often straight but may also be gently curved. This style of blade became popular during the 80s shortly after the blade was created and introduced. The tanto does not have a typical belly (such as that on a drop point), which is sacrificed in exchange for a stronger tip. Its design makes it great for push cuts, rather than slicing, and piercing tougher materials because of its tips strength.
The Propels tanto blade comes in a combo package. It is a part plain edge, and part serrated. Having a part serrated edge is helpful in many ways, and helps the knife become a better all-around tool. The combo edge is more popular because it allows you to use part of the knife for push cuts and the other part for rigorous cutting. It does a better job with cutting tougher materials. The reason for this is that additional strength comes from the higher pressure per area due to the serrations. Serrated blades have an upper hand when it comes to slicing through coarse, textured objects like rope, tree branches or thicker objects that require a back-and-forth sawing motion. The downside to a combo edge is that the serrations tend to be more difficult to sharpen than straight blades. Serrated edges require a special sharpening rod which fits between the serrations. Another thing to consider is the placement of the serrations on the blade because they aren't always useful for certain tasks. Overall, a combo blade takes the best of both a plain edge and a serrated edge. There is a great compromise between the two blade edges.
In some descriptions, the pommel is the same as the butt of the knife. Most of the time, the butt is the generic name for the end of the handle, while a pommel is a specific piece. It is either part of the tang or an end cap that reinforces the butt so it can be used for striking or hammering. In survival knives, a pommel is common, as it adds the hammer functionality, even if it is limited. In tactical knives, a pommel also adds the ability to hammer. With some pommels, including that on the Propel Downrange, it also serves as a glass breaker. Having a pommel on the knife makes it a universal tool to accommodate to any number of projects and jobs.
In the Gerber Propel line, there are a few various products. Each offers something a little different. But in the end, they are all about the same.
Gerber Propel Tactical AO
Spring Assist (Assist Open [AO])
Gerber Propel Downrange AO
Spring Assist (Assist Open [AO])
Gerber Propel Automatic
Gerber Propel Downrange Automatic
The only differences between these knives are the blade steel, the handle color, and how the knife is opened. Other than that, each of these knives makes for a great tool. They all share the same G-10 handles as well as the same blade edge and style.
Before picking up the Propel to use for an everyday carry, there are a few items to look at to confirm it will be a good EDC. Those items include the following: its carry depth, its weight, its thickness and width, and its appearance.
The Propel Downrange is comfortable to carry, both in your hand and in your pocket. When closed, the knife is just five inches long. A typically comfortable carry knife is anywhere between three and a half to 5inches long when closed. The Propel is just on the cusp of that edge. The biggest things to ask are will it fit in my pant pocket, and will it fall out of my pocket? The Propel is deep enough that it shouldnt fall out of your pocket.
One of the more important aspects to consider when choosing an everyday carry is its weight. It is bothersome and annoying to have a heavy object in your pocket, regardless the item. A good knife weight is anywhere as little as 3.0 and maxes out at 5.0 ounces. The Propel falls into this range. It weighs roughly 4.28 ounces. When holding and carrying it, it feels decently well. To give some better perspective, an average small apple weighs around four ounces. Not too shabby Id say.
Thickness and Width
When carrying a knife around all the time in your pocket, there is a limited amount of space available in your pocket. A good everyday carry knife should be comfortable to carry and easy to handle. When closed, the Propel Downrange is just about an inch wide. In terms of thickness, the knife is fairly thin. Were talking about half an inch thick. In theory, the Propel wont take up too much pocket real-estate.
As the knife is more of a tactical, heavier duty knife, I wouldnt worry too much about how it looks. Sure its got to look tough, but what really matters is if it will do the job. The tan handle helps the knife to look good and is accented with its black hardware and black blade.
If carrying the knife everyday isnt enough for you, there is no need to fret. The knife serves as an excellent tactical tool for more extreme tasks. The term Tactical Knife often gets thrown around the industry for a variety of reasons. Whether it is a publicity tactic or an actual description of the knifes purpose, there has been a filtering lens to see what the knife is really made for. In the case of the Propel, it has many tools equipped on it to make it useful for several different jobs. This is what makes a knife a tactical one.
A tactical knife is a knife with one or more features designed for use in extreme situations. A tactical knife is principally designed to be used as a utility tool, not as a weapon. Folding knives are rarely, if ever, designed primarily for fighting or combat. However, several military organizations have issued folding "utility" knives that were not intended to be used as weapons, but which had tactical features that appealed to military personnel as well as civilians. A knife with aggressive looks such as having a blackened blade and grips do not make a knife tactical.
Overall I am pretty impressed with this knife. There are many bells and whistles on the Propel to make it a more useful tool to use. The handle color instantly attracted me to find favor in this knife. The Propel is a solid tool that anyone looking for a tactical knife would be pleased with.