Gerber Silver Trident


A shot of the Gerber Silver Trident :

Gerber Silver
	Trident

The review consists of :

Specifications

The promotion from the Gerber website :

The Silver Trident has the most durable and comfortable handle of any combat knife ever produced. Made by co-molding two different versions of Hytrel®, the handle has a nearly indestructible hard inner core with a soft, easy-to-grip cover. The outer handle is textured to enhance both comfort and grip. The handle also features a stainless steel butt cap suitable for hammering or pounding in emergency situations. The handle is fastened to the blade with stainless steel fasteners. Silver Trident has an aggressive drop point blade made from 154CM stainless steel. The domestic equivalent of ATS-34, this U.S. made stainless steel takes and holds an edge better than other stainless steels. Blades are available double-edged with partial serrations, or double-edged with partial chisel-tip serrations on top and standard serrations on bottom. Blades are heat treated to 57-59Rc. This provides the best edge holding ability while maintaining flexibility and strength. The blade is blackened to reduce glare and corrosion.

The Silver Trident is ground from 0.215" thick 154CM stainless steel with a dual flat grind 0.625" high, weighing 320 g and is neutral in balance. The primary and secondary edges are ground at 22 +/- 1 degrees per side with an edge thickness of 0.035-0.050". The primary serrations a fluid wavy pattern ground at 30 degrees included and 0.065" thick at back. The secondary serrations are chisel tip ground with the point inline with the edge and the scallops ground at 27 degrees and are 0.075" thick at back.

NOTE : The knife was used and donated for a review so the plain edge sections were sharpened before any work was done.

Stock testing

With the primary edge raised to a shaving finish, push cutting 3/8" hemp required 35 +/- 2 lbs. The primary serrations were much more efficient and fluid and could make a cut with 14-16 lbs of force, while the secondary serrations required 30-32 lbs having a much lower cutting ability as they are chisel tipped for durability.

The point on the Silver Trident is fairly thick, it tapers 5.5 degrees distally through 0.865", and the blade is 1.1" wide at the back of the point. With a 50 lbs push it sank 169 +/- 5 pages into a phone book and with a hard vertical stab penetrated 592 +/- 5 pages. It sinks well into woods on a stab, however the point bent readily digging even in soft-moderate lumber and could not dig a hole in a 2x4.

The Silver Trident is neutral in balance and only weighs 310 grams so it doesn't make a powerful chopper. Even a regular 2x4 takes quite awhile to hack through. Through a few dozen sections of small sticks, mostly sprice, it had less than 20% of the chopping ability of the Wildlife Hatchet

For reference, the Silver Trident is comparable to the CU/7 from Becker which was near identical on the hemp rope and wood chopping work.

Food

The Trident doesn't make a useful knife on most foods, the dual guard is a detraction, preventing efficient work on a cutting board and in general being problematic for overhand grips. The top guard was cut off soon after work started with the blade due to its interference with ergonomics. Precision work such as peeling is difficult as the plain edge section is so far in front of the handle that it is very awkward to use and the serrated section infront of the grip isn't very fluid. It is actually easier to peel potatoes with the much larger Heafner bowie :

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The sharpened top edge also prevents pushing on the blade to cut thick vegetables. Like most tactical knives it is optomized for very different tasks, obviously it can be used to cut foods, but the blade and handle style make it really inefficient.

Field

The wood carving ability of the Silver Trident was fairly low. Using the plain edged section induces a lot of wrist strain as it is far from the handle. Using the serration section of edge was similar in terms of cutting ability as thought they were more difficult to push through the wood there was less wrist strain. The Trident was well behind blades like the CU/7 and Ratweiler.

While not a powerful chopper, the Silver Trident does have enough chopping ability to clear limbs and boughs for a shelter, make notches, rough out stakes and is comfortable and secure in hand while doing so. It easily outperforms the Buck/Strider Solution for example for such work. However on anything beyond a couple of inches thick the chopping ability leaves a lot to be desired. The chopping ability also tends to compensate for the low wood carving ability as it can chop wood to shape faster than it can carve, however the chopping ability isn't high enough to chop off waste wood faster than even the ZDP-189 Delica can slice it off. It tended to be most chopping cutting small and fairly flexible wood, it was still well behind blades like the CU/7 but was ahead of the Wildlife hatchet for such work :

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In regards to splitting, it was easily durable enough to be used with a baton, however the serrations have to be avoided as they are in general really weak to knots, and the sharpened tops edge really chews up batons. In general as the blade is fairly short even small rounds need to be split in sections. Starting off with a side with the clearest grain and cutting straight across the grain :

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With the round reduced by cutting off side slabs the core of the wood can be split directly :

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This was actually enough work to actually almost cut the baton in half and the baton was sticking to the knife with every impact as a lot of the energy was being wasted cutting up the baton. With these shingles made larger wood can be split directly by carving the splits into wedges. It is more efficient to just chop them roughly to shape. Start a crack in the larger wood with the Trident and then just pound in the wedges :

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The first split takes some time but as the wood is reduced in size the splitting goes much faster. The final few splits on the above round cracked in just 1-2 impacts from the baton :

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As a digging tool, the Silver Trident has some advantages because the secondary edge can be used to cut sod and preserve the leading edge and the chisel tipped serrations on the spine do work well cutting through roots in dense marshy soils :

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For throwing, the blade releases well from the point, half turn distance is about nine feet with a light throw, so 1.5 turn distance would be twenty one feet :

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It is hard to release well from the grip, and the point is fairly thin so extended throwing is likely to cause problems.

Edge retention

The biggest problem with edge retention for the Silver Trident was the low toughness. The blade was loaned out on many occasions and the primary and secondary edges often came back with fractures visible by eye at arms length. To benchmark its performance on abrasive media the edge was reprofiled close to full flat grind and it was compared slicing 30 centimeters sections of 3/16" ridged cardboard through three centimeters of edge. The reference blade was a Mora 2000. The edge was freehand sharpened on waterstones to a primary angle of 10 degrees per side and finished with a microbevel at about fifteen degrees with a 600 grit DMT diamond stone. The median results of three runs with each blade :

Slicing edge retention on 3/16" cardboard of the Silver Trident and Mora 2000. Primary edge is 10 degrees and the micro-bevel was 15 degrees free hand from a 600 DMT pad. Sharpness results are the edge lengths in centimeters times 100 for needed to slice light cord under 110 grams of tension.
Knife Cardboard
  0.0   1.9   5.8   9.6 19.5 29.4 39.3
Silver Trident 35 (2) 68 (4) 73 (5) 90 (6) 133 (8) 175 (13) 193 (10)
Mora 2000 35 (2) 53 (4) 75 (3) 78 (4) 118 (6) 135 (  9) 145 (11)

In graphical form :

silver trident mora 2000 cardboard

Both blades have the same initial sharpness and the performance is similar for the first half a dozen meters of cardboard. However as the cutting progressed the performance of the Mora 2000 degraded slower and showed the same slow fall off as seen with the South Fork. The steel in the Mora 2000, 12C27m has a lower wear resistance than 154CM however examining the edge under light magnification (10X) shows that this isn't the critical cause of blunting. The edges are deforming and seeing fracture from what looks to be fatigue. This may be due to the coarse grain and heavy aggregate carbides of 154CM.

Ease of sharpening

The initial edge profile is fairly obtuse and thus ease of sharpening by jigs or v-rods is likely to be problematic as the angle is high. The edge is fairly narrow however which compensates for the low grindability. It readily takes a crisp edge without forming a heavy burr. The top chisel edged serrations sharpen readily alongside the primary edge grind while the scallops and the primary serrations need a small rod for honing or the corner of a benchstone.

The Trident was later reground and after 20 minutes on a one inch belt sander with a fresh 80 grit belt the profile was reduced from the initial specifications of 0.035-0.050" at 22 (1) degrees to 0.020" at 15/16 degrees. Freshly honed (1200 DMT + five passed per side on 0.5 micron chromium/aluminum oxide) the performance on 3/8 hemp through six different rolls was 20 (1) / 26 (1) lbs on a slice/push compared to the origional 35 (2) on a push. This difference is essentially the angle ratio as you would expect. The wood cutting performance was much higher due to it being sensitive to both angle and thickness and it improved by about 100% slicing clear pine under 75 lbs of force. Here is a shot of the modified Trident and samples of wood cutting showing the slices needed to remove a specific amount of stock with the the modified edge and the two serrated sections :

modified trident

The chopping ability on 1/4" plywood, board, and birch flooring had also increased by about 100%. It was also now *much* more effective cutting springy wood such as Alders :

alters

Before and after had very much a club vs knife like feel. It now readily has enough chopping ability to rough stock to shape more efficiently than a small carving knife. Ease of sharpening also increased dramatically, especially for micro-beveling with v-rods which would be very awkward with the initial bevel. Later the edge was reground close to a full flat grind with no secondary edge bevel. Specifically the apex of the edge was 0.014" and ground at 10.4 (5) degrees per side.

Impacts

The Silve Trident held in a sabre grip was impacted with a light swing from a piece of mild steel 12" long and weighing 700 grams. It was hit on the spine behind the secondard serrations. The impact did not even marr the surface finish however the blade cracked in half readily :

trident broken

The crack ran up through the primary serrations and intersected with the very sharp transition point where the upper hollow grind meets the full thickness steel in the choil region.

Handle

The Silver Trident has a very ergonomic and secure handle, it is one of the better feeling grips seen in quite awhile, capable of being used for an extended period of time without raising discomfort while still allowing a very high degree of security. Even in hard work such as the heavy stabbing described in the above, the handle was comfortable and secute. The large steel buttcap also provides a solid hammer surface for tent pegs, nails or even crushing bone. The only real utility downside was that the dual guard reduces grip versatility while providing extreme security in compromised grip positions. The top guard was cut off soon after work was started with the blade to allow greater grip versatility. As a check on durability in extremes the handle was soaked in lighter fluid by spraying it for five seconds from a 142 ml bottle. Three attempts were made and the lighter fluid would evaporate before a picture could be taken. Finally assistance was provided by a friend who took the following picture which allowed the handle to be ignited basically right after the fluid was applied :

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This just heated up the handle with no effect on the surface texture. One tsp of vasoline was then smeared on the handle and ligher fluid again applied. Once again there was no sustained flame, the handle would not provide any wicking action and the vasoline just melted and dripped off.

Sheath

The sheath is made by Blackhawk Industries and is a cordura / kydex composition with a number of enhancements over lower grade versions. It readily converts from low to high ride using velcro straps, the kydex liner is held in place by a screw so it can be removed for ease of cleaning, or replaced if broken. The sheath has a secondary retention system with an extensionof the hydex liner which fits up around the blade in the guard region and is secure enough to hold the blade in without the strap around the grip. The blade was still held in place with the kydex clip alone through falls of 10 and then 15 feet onto a hardwood floor, however it could be dislodged with a hard wrist snap. The accessory pouch is large enough for a solid multi tool, small knife or sharpener, or mini-survival kit. It would be nice if it came standard with a small torx driver to take the handle apart and a screw driver to remove the kydex liner. Lee Valley sells modified washers which serve well as screwdriver.

Overview

The Silver Trident is made from 154CM which offer a high hardness and wear resistance but low toughness and ductility. It works well for slicing abrasive material but tends to chip readily on impacts with hard materials and will give break under a low angle when prying. The many edges on the Trident offer some advantages in edge retention over a plain edge blade however they also reduce versatility in some cutting and are liabilities in regards to durability. The chisel tipped serrations on the back in particular did not perform well on meats, ropes, webbing or plastics. They could also at best just score food and paint cans. They didn't seem to offer much functional benefit aside from cutting roots.

In general the cutting ability on ropes and chopping ability were comparable to the CU/7 but the Silver Trident was in general far behind on wood cutting ability. Considering the dual edge design it might be worthwhile to consider the primary edge thinner and/or more acute and leaving the secondary edge heavier to handle the harder cutting. The point on the Trident was disappointing as it had relatively low penetration on a stab as illustrated by the phone book thrusts and also bent readily when prying in woods. The handle was a high point as it was both comfortable, secure and very durable.

Comments and references

Comments can be emailed using cliffstamp[REMOVE]@cutleryscience.com or by posting in the following thread :

More information can be obtained at the the Gerber website. PhotoBucket Album.


Last updated : 06 : 06 : 2006
Originally written: 04 : 25 : 2005
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