Last weekend, i had a chance to fondle and photograph a GEK 2000 knife. This interesting survival tool does not seem to be very well known outside of Germany. The design is from Anton Lennartz, a bushcraft and wilderness trainer. A similar knife, the “original” so to say, of completely integral construction was made and sold by Schlieper and Puma for more than 20 years. The GEK 2000 is considered an upgrade and improvement. At first glance, it does look very teutonic. It could have been right at home on the leather “koppel” of a Volkssturm soldier during the end of WWII. Can looks be deceiving ?
The GEK is big (almost 8 inches of blade length), but surprisingly lightweight and well balanced in the hand. AGILE is the best word to describe it. I detest overly heavy and clumsy knives. It can happen to you in every price and size range. The GEK grip scales are srewed on and made of aluminum, coated black. Yes, they feel strange, but the general handle design is superior. The D2-steel knife is full tang with an open frame design. The blade is coated with a protective finish.
Mr. Lennartz distrusts conventional knife grips from experience (especially those made of wood) and turning a knife into an improvised spear for boar hunting or defense against animals seems high on his list of potential uses. As such, the geometry of the blade is optimized for penetration, effective use of the tip and batonning as well.As it is, the GEK is fascinating, with a lot of thought having gone in its diverse features. Somewhat like the hollow handle handle knifes of the 80s or the late H.E.S.T. by Mr. Pelton, every detail strives to make sense, without becoming to specific.I am not quite sold on this relatively expensive piece (it is made in Solingen, not in Taiwan!) of outdoor and survival cutlery, but i am looking forward to using one “in the field” in the near future. Up until that day and just as it lies before me, my five cents of thought are :
1st CENT : Light as it might be, the GEK does not lend itself to delicate cutting tasks. Be sure to back it up with a folding knife for those smaller jobs. The spine thumb grooves are nicely rounded off, ideal for gloves AND naked hands, but they should be placed a little further down on the spine towards the tip for ergonomical correctness (am i getting a little anal here?).
2nd CENT : The tip design of the GEK is meant for easy penetration without being fragile. I would prefer to have a little more “meat” toward the tip, though, by simply changing the grind angle there a little.
3rd CENT : The grip scales are not as comfortable to the touch as a kraton or micarta grip, for sure, but not bad either. You won´t need gloves to use the GEK. I suppose that, by making the scales a tad fatter and rounding off the edges just a little bit more, the grip could be improved a good degree without reducing the frame openings too much in size.
4th CENT : The well-made leather sheath is meant for right handed people and cross draw wear only. While there is nothing wrong with it as it is and there is as much brain muscle in it as in the knife itself, i just expect a knife that retails for around 260 Euros to have an ambidextrous multi-angle high quality plastic or kydex sheath included. Period. Offer the leather sheath as an extra, for right or left handed buyers. At the very least, the leather sheath should have ambidextrous belt slots. The snap is pull-through anyway. Ideally, a sheath like the Peltonen M95 knife has would be a dream for the GEK.
5th CENT : The exposed hammering tang could be elongated for 2mm and maybe rounded of a tad more at the edges. This could protect the aluminum scales better from impacts and make holding the knife in the reverse-stabbing-grip more comfortable.
Having said the above, with an old Cold Steel SRK CarbonV, my trusty Peltonen M95 and other knives in this size range still in my knife vault, I don´t feel challenged to buy a GEK tomorrow morning. But i am very sure that this knife could grow on you very fast. I would love to see a more compact version, too. Anyway, if all you have in a survival situation is just one (!) knife and no other tools, you better wish it were a good one.
Editing PS February 2011 :
I have bought a GEK a few weeks after writing these impressions, but sold it after a few outings. I just could not get used to the aluminum handle scales, especially when carving or doing a lot of chopping.
These days, a compact GEK “E.D.C.” is available. The blade is slightly under 12cm in length (dumb german legal restrictions are the background here concerning legitimate & socially accepted reasons for carrying a longer blade), the grips are G10 and can be had with an open-frame or “closed shut”. The sheath is identical in design to the 2000, but they all feature extra belt loop rivets for safety today. In a way, the EDC-GEK has a lot of the Bailey Bear Grylls. I´ve always liked that one.