TL;DR: The Gerber Paraframe is an interesting 3″ skeletonized EDC folder. Its 314 stainless blade and handle come coated in TiN. Decent sharpness out of the box. Edge retention is excellent, but this alloy is incredibly hard. It’s also a tad brittle. We caused some minor edge damage while testing. The frame lock action is way too stiff and tight.
Table of Contents
- Blade Specs
- Additional Specs
- Gerber Paraframe Review
- Sharpness and Edge Retention
- The Gerber Paraframe: Who’s it For?
- Cutting Edge: 2.80″
- Blade Width: 0.84″
- Blade Length: 3.19″
- Edge Thickness: 0.024″
- Spine Thickness: 0.09″
- Blade Shape: Clip Point
- Blade Steel: 314 Surgical Stainless, Titanium Nitride Coating
- Edge Grind: Hollow Saber Grind
- Scales: 314 Surgical Stainless, Titanium Nitride Coating
- Handle Length: 4.16″
- Overall Length: 7.06″
- Overall Width, Folded: 1.16″
- Handle Width: 1.03″
- Handle Thickness: 0.33″
- Weight: 2.60 Oz.
- Lock: Frame Lock
- Opener: Flipper w/ Ambi Thumb Studs
- Clip: 314 Surgical Stainless, Titanium Nitride Coating
- Country of Origin: Oregon, USA
- Model: 22-48444
Gerber Paraframe Review
First impressions: The Paraframe looks sharp. Aesthetically, that is. Its skeleton frame has plenty of cool machining. It looks great and feels good in the hand. All-metal knives like this tend to seem a bit heavy for everyday carry. But the airy frame and slick clip point blade is light enough to prevent your pocket from sagging.
I was (pleasantly) surprised that, in person, the Paraframe is smaller than photos would have you believe. Given its 314 stainless blade is incredibly hard, the Paraframe’s best suited as a light, small cutter. Its size and shape fit this role well.
The Handle and Clip
I was happy to find all the inner cut-outs on the Paraframe’s handle are beveled and smooth. There are a few tiny rough spots that probably could’ve been fixed up with light sanding. But at $30 or less, I’m not surprised (or disappointed) that quality control at Gerber wasn’t this discriminating.
The titanium nitride coating is prone to blemishes. If you grab a Paraframe, expect to find a few scratches and nicks on the blade and handle. If the knife were packaged in a felt-lined zipper case (like CIVIVI does with their “cheap” knives) instead of a plastic blister case, this could be avoided.
I like the shape and tension of the belt clip. It’s quite strong, and provides excellent retention in your pocket. This shouldn’t be surprising, considering how stiff 314 stainless is. I wish, however, that the clip were reversed and bolted to the rear of the handle. I prefer carrying my EDC folders top-down, because it makes one-handed opening easier.
Speaking of opening: Sadly, this knife’s action leaves something to be desired.
The problem is that the Paraframe’s action is way too stiff. Because the bearings’ main Torx bolt is so tight, you simply cannot flip this blade open using one of the two thumb studs with a one-handed grip. You have to cup and squeeze the handle with your knife hand, pinch both studs with your other hand, and pry the blade open.
And you can’t easily loosen up this Torx bolt. That’s because it’s been Loctited and captured on the opposite side of the handle by a smooth cap-head stud with no bit fitting to speak of.
I was able to get the action to swing a bit more freely by twisting on the Torx bolt for 10 minutes using a T8 Torx driver. But it’s still too tight for one-handed flipping, which is unfortunate.
The detents on the action, however, are quite good. They have a satisfying pop but they’re not stubborn. Oddly, Gerber included a “90%” detent. It holds the blade nearly open, in a sort of “banana curve” (pictured above), but it stops the blade’s tang from engagoing the frame lock.
I’m not sure why Gerber added this. Perhaps it’s for making quick, simple cuts or opening letters without dealing with the lock itself. Who knows, but it’s there.
The Frame Lock
The Gerber’s frame lock makes up for the Rigor Mortis-afflicted action. It is superbly strong and makes a satisfying, snappy click, which is to be expected of any frame lock.
The machining between the lock and tang is excellent, with good purchase and clean fitment. Zero wobble. Alignment is spot-on. The lock doesn’t sit proud nor shallow relative to the tang when engaged, so it’ll will wear evenly over time.
If I had to find one demerit about the lock, it’d be the groove machined into the handle for the release: It’s a bit shallow, so you have to pick at it with the tip of your finger or thumb. But because the machining on the lock itself is clean, it disengages without much pressure or fuss.
The blade shape is fine. Its functional, with an edge measuring 0.024″ thick. That puts it at the exact upper limit of ideal edge thickness for an EDC knife. I imagine Gerber did this to keep some strength in this ultra-hard edge. Smart.
But the cut and shape aren’t exciting. The definition between the hollow grind and flats is a bit weak. I’d like to see more curvature along the swedge, with a sharper tip to accentuate the clip point profile. Speaking of the tip …
The grind on the tip and swedge is not symmetrical. I’m splitting hairs, here — it’s not noticeable unless you’re doing a close inspection. And we are dealing with a knife that only costs $25 to $30. But I’m a stickler for symmetry on all my knives. This could be fixed with some low-grit whetstones, but I’ll probably just ignore it.
Sharpness and Edge Retention
Alright, onto what really matters: I was cautiously optimistic that this super-cheap knife would perform well on edge retention. After all, 314 surgical stainless is a ridiculously hard-wearing alloy. It has between 23% and 26% chromium, and up to 22% nickel. Even with just 0.25% carbon in its composition, ATS-314 has more carbides than any conventional knife “super steel”.
With two runs on the Edge On Up Sharpness Tester, the Paraframe measured 196g and 175g on out-of-the-box sharpness. That averages out to 186 grams.
Then it was time to see just how well 314 Surgical would hold up to the dreaded Ironwood.
As always, 100 back-and-forth passes along the edge under five pounds of weight. After a bit of dulling, it went back on the Sharpness Tester to see how well its edge held up:
The Paraframe wound up scoring 210g and 230g, for an average of 220 grams. That means it retained 85% of its initial sharpness.
|Knife / Model||Factory Sharpness||Sharpness After Test||Edge Retention|
|Spyderco Para 3||120||265||45%|
|Benchmade 940 EDC||175||290||60%|
|SOG TWI8-CP Twitch II||125||200||63%|
|S&W Extreme Ops SWA24S||165||260||63%|
|Buck Knives 110 Folding Hunter||145||220||66%|
|Ontario Knife OKC Rat II SP||185||270||69%|
|Opinel No. 12||280||370||73%|
|Zero Tolerance 0450CF||240||290||83%|
|KA-BAR Dozier Folder||275||325||85%|
|Cold Steel AD-10||185||205||90%|
|Cold Steel Recon 1 Tanto||177||215||82%|
|Kershaw Link CPM 20CV||232||262||89%|
|CJRB Ria Folder (12C27)||196||283||69%|
|Gerber Paraframe 1 (ATS-314)||186||220||85%|
For edge retention, the Gerber Paraframe places 6th out of 19 knives tested (at the time of this review). Impressive, given its budget price. The Paraframe ranks 11th out of 19 on factory sharpness. Not bad, considering it beats some knives that cost nearly three times as much.
But sadly, it’s not all great news for the Gerber Paraframe. The blade suffered two small chips during its torture test.
I’m not surprised this happened. Where 314 stainless excels at being super hard, it suffers at being brittle. There’s a reason it’s used to make medical scalpels and surgical instruments: It’s meant for delicate cutting and slicing, not digging into hard surfaces.
So, while dragging this poor blade across my piece of ultra-hard ironwood with a 5-pound weight bearing down on it, I expected some edge damage.
The Gerber Paraframe: Who’s it For?
So, what’s the point of the Paraframe? Here’s my take: If you want an EDC cutter that has amazing edge retention (and the best corrosion resistance of basically any knife, ever) but you want to keep things as cheap as possible, this is a good tool.
You’d normally have to spend close to $100 or more for a knife that holds an edge this well (like the Kershaw Link). But you’ll probably feel bad if you damage an expensive blade.
You won’t care so much if you chip the edge on a $25-to-$30 Gerber. You can take this knife, with its sturdy frame lock and ultra-hard blade, and attack boxes and cables and wires, slicing and dicing all day. You won’t mind if your Paraframe gets a little chewed up.
I buy all the knives I review. So, normally, I’d be disappointed to see damage on a unit I’m reviewing. But I only smirked when I chipped this knife’s edge. It’s cheap, and I can fix it with my Wicked Edge.