Vietnam Legend Returns | Gerber MK-II Fighting Knife Review

In the spring of 1969 I was detailed to pick…


In the spring of 1969 I was detailed to pick up my platoon’s mail at the company headquarters of C/75th Rangers in An Khe, Vietnam. Like many old-time post offices, the company mailroom featured a wall of “pigeon hole” slots that individual letters and packages could be slid into. Standing there waiting for the clerk to bag up our mail, I glanced over at this wall. It seemed like at least half of those pigeon holes had a long, narrow box in them shipped from a knife company in Portland, Oregon, called “Gerber Legendary Blades.” Of course, each contained what was a unique concept for the time: a purpose built, commercial fighting knife, the Gerber MK-II Combat.

gerbermkii.gifFirst Designed in 1966
The Gerber MK-II is said to have been designed around a drawing sent to the company by Army Captain C.A. Holzman in 1966. I have been told he based the “wasp waist” pattern of the double-edge 7-inch blade on a Roman short-sword (I assume that would be the early “Mainz” pattern gladius). Others have called the MK-II an improved version of the WW-II Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife. In either case, the knife was obviously created to be a deadly weapon first and a tool second.

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  • Galuyasdi

    It isn’t the same knife. Rather than L-6 steel it is a cheaper 420HC I believe, it has reduced edge holding ability, fewer and much too course teeth, and the feel is terrible. It feels way different, not light and like a natural extension in the hand. Mine was the one with fine teeth and was also an excellent survival knife, equally at home in a jungle/tropical environment as well as the desert. It was also the most excellant knife for fish. Years after Vietnam I lived in Washington state and constantly had to forcefully tell people NO when they wanted to use it for salmon. I still feel kind of naked without it. Stolen by some kid who of all things left me $8 dollars to pay for it. The new ones are nothing more than a poor attempt to capitalize on a past success Gerber had, but it ain’t the knife that was. Better to pay the hundreds of $$$ the old ones are going for than to buy a new production one. I could shave with mine and it held that edge.

  • Dave Gowan

    Mine is ser. no. 019524. It came with a dark brown scabbard with a suprascabbard holding an aluminim sharpening bar/wedge. The wasp-waisted blade was blued with 25 fine, hand-ground teeth each edge of the waist. Reverse blade face has sword-in -stone logo over GERBER PORTLAND, ORE, USA.

  • Marco

    yes very nice…but you saw last resort, however, the Suppressor Extrema Ratio?

  • Illegal? In colorado you can openly carry up to a 32″ blade knife. As for double edged, 18-12-102 states that form does not equal function and that as long as you carry it for a sportsman’s purpose it’s legal. If used in defense one must simply argue intent. Defense of one’s life certainly allows for using a sporting knife as a weapon. Besides–engaging a buck knife to defend yourself would be awfully slow…The teeth also suck on this model. Should have plain edge.

  • napoleon duarte

    Nice knife.

    Too bad it is not street legal due to length, and also, since it is double edged it qualifies as a dagger, which is not only illegal to carry, it is also a criminal offense to be caught carrying one.

    A nice simple buck knife folder with a legal length blade has all that you might need to defend yourself with should the occasion require it.

  • Pete Eldridge

    I owned two Gerbers in RVN. 69-70 and 71-72. Lost the firstwhen a friend went out on a mission and was killed. The graves reg people sent the first one to the family before I could recover it. Used the other from 71 till i retired from the reserves in 2002. still in good shape, good edge and the original sheathand honing steel. Great knife.

  • I bought my 1st MKII at the Special Forces Book Store in the fall of 1978 when going through the Q-course for $26.00 and some cents (this is when cope was .29 a can). It was lost in Nov. of 79 durring an Air Field Raid with the Koreans,when I was helping my ROK SF counterpart out of a run off drain at the edge of the Airfield he grabed the knife on my LBE in lieu of the webbing and down it fell. Could never afford to buy a new one. Glad to see a come back, I belive I even had to dye the sheath black with leather dye.