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The budget busting Gerber Ayako

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As I’ve been reviewing knives for Sandboxx, I’ve come to realize some of the knives I’m reviewing are quite pricey. And as a young Lance Corporal or PFC, I was superbly cautious about buying an Emerson CQC 7 due to its price. A lot of the guys I worked with carried simpler and more affordable knives and for the young bucks reading this, I have found an excellent budget-priced folding knife from our good friends at Gerber. The new Gerber Ayako is an interesting diversion from your traditional folding knife.

The Ayako takes inspiration from Japanese designs with its swept-back blade shape. It’s almost like a wakizashi or katana blade shrunk down to a folding pocket knife. The Ayako also blends in the traditional friction fit folding knife design that classic pocket knives used for decades before fancy locking systems came to be.

The grip is slim and downright slender. The grip is made from aluminum and textured for a better grip. Slim designs are comfortable designs when it comes to carrying a knife day in and day out. It’s easily stored in the pocket of your utilities or your jeans. The slim design makes it easy to fit in small pouches that might adorn body armor or the sleeve pockets combat shirts have for easier access.

Let’s be fair; the Ayako knife simply looks cool. Looking cool isn’t half the battle, but if something can look cool, why not? The look of the Ayako cuts through the crowded world of pocket knives at this price point.

Blade Design

Knives are all about edges and blades, so we have to address the Ayako’s design. Sure the katana inspired blade looks cool, but is it practical? We know on a sword it’s capable, but on a pocket knife? Well, I put the blade through its paces. I focused on basic tasks any servicemember could face with their basic pocket knife.

This includes cutting through ropes, 550 cord, cardboard, and thicker textile materials like uniforms. The Ayako’s blade design is all about cutting and slicing. Using the blade as intended allows you to slice through thick materials with relative ease. The curved blade gives you a longer cutting edge that slides smoothly through everything from cardboard to MRE packaging.

The blade’s smooth travel through most materials makes the knife comfortable to use for these basic tasks. The blade itself is 3.5 inches long, but the swept-back design gives you 3.625 inches of cutting edge. It’s an efficient design, and it shows.

The Ayako blade is made from 7Cr17MoV, which looks like that Spongebob meme, and is equally hard to type. 7Cr17MoV is stainless steel that’s relatively affordable. There are some benefits and downsides. Benefits include excellent corrosion resistance, good wear resistance, it’s easy to sharpen, and has decent edge retention.

Downsides tie back to overall strength. This isn’t a fragile blade by any means, but it’s far from being a crowbar. Don’t use it to pry anything opened or to baton wood to pieces. It’s a pocket knife, and if you stick to tasks made for folding knives, you’ll be fine.

Ayako Blade Deployment and Lockup

Opening the Ayako is very simple. You can have two options, a flipper, and a thumbhole. The flipper makes the knife easy to open with a single hand or both hands. It’s easy to open with gloves, and while it doesn’t fly opened like an automatic knife, it glides with ease. The thumb hole is an alternative option for more controlled openings, and should the flipper break via an act of God, and you can still deploy your blade.

The Ayako has a traditional liner lock, which doubles as part of the grip. This liner lock handle design results in a stronger liner lock and a thinner overall handle. The blade locks into place, and there is absolutely zero wiggle to it. The blade stays put, and the lockup is impressive for a knife that costs this little.

Pocket Clip Blues

I have a minor complaint, and that’s in regards to the pocket clip. As a pocket clip, it’s robust, clings tight to the pocket, and is decently thick and robust. That’s great because robustness is always good. The downside is that the pocket clip cannot be moved. You’re stuck with a blade up carry, and the pocket clip cannot be reversed. I hope you like carrying it one way and one way only.

The Ayako and You

I’ve mentioned this is a budget knife, and as a budget knife, you might be curious about the cost. Well, the good news is the knives can be purchased for right around 30 bucks. In fact, I’ve seen it for as low as 23 bucks at Blade HQ. The Ayako punches well above its price and is handy little EDC knife. If you’re in need of a service knife and you’re on a tight budget, it’s a worthy contender.

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Travis Pike

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.