The Gerber STL 2.0 is a tiny, reliable pocket knife. Gerber's pedigree of tool and knife building shows through many details. In testing, we had a few quibbles, but overall the STL 2.0 Fine Edge is well done.
We scour the market for the best products in every category we tested. We then purchase and compare a cream-of-the-crop subset of the best of the best. What remains is a set of excellent products, no matter how you look at it. This also means that good products end up scoring at the bottom of our scoring rubric. The Gerber STL 2.0 ties near the bottom of our scoring with the Old Timer Mighty Mite. Both are valid tools, but the others we assessed fared better.
If you'll use your knife only in the backcountry, consider something ultra compact like the Gerber STL Fine Edge 2.0.
Blade and Edge Integrity
Gerber blades are well made. The steel holds an edge and sharpens easily. This workhorse blade will serve the user for a long time. Our testing found nothing notable, good or bad, about the "Fine Edge" blade on this Gerber knife. And your usage will be similarly reliable and predictable.
Indeed, the larger blades and more sophisticated blade development of other products we assessed are better than that on the Gerber. Among mass-producing knife manufacturers, Gerber is considered to make adequate but not special blades. Kershaw, CRKT, and Benchmade lead the field in the blade and edge integrity. Our testing confirms this, with the award winners from these other companies besting the blade of the Gerber.
The STL 2.0 Fine Edge is very compact and simple in construction. Aside from the joining and pivoting hardware, the knife is three pieces of steel — the blade and two frame pieces. One of the frame pieces is cut and sprung such that a tab protrudes to lock the blade open in use. Generally speaking, our reviewers appreciate simple design. However, in this case, Gerber may have taken it a bit too far. The frame lock is easy enough to use, provided it clicks into place reliably. But the thin and somewhat-sharp-edged frame pieces cut a bit into the users' hands in heavy use. Again, provided the user expects only light application of this knife, it should serve well. The knife, despite its small size, can be opened with one dextrous hand from either side. Cold or gloved fingers are not usually able to accomplish the task.
Any of the larger knives are easier to use. The Editors Choice Benchmade Mini Barrage 585 is on the small side of what we consider "full size," while the Best Buy CRKT Squid and Kershaw Leek are smaller but still more hand-friendly than the Gerber. The Benchmade Griptillian and Spyderco Tenacious are both full-size knives that are the most ergonomic for heavy tasks and adult hands.
The construction is simple but occasionally feels a bit sloppy. Our testers found that the locking mechanism regularly took some two-handed fiddling to disengage. Otherwise, the knife seems durable and ready for years of light-duty service.
This small knife virtually disappears in a pocket. For the occasional knife user, the compact stature and light weight will be very welcome. There are holes in the frame that can be threaded with a mid- to a large-sized key ring.
One who purchases and carries this knife for occasional or emergency usage will be pleased with years of reliable service. In nothing more than periodic usage, the quirks of the locking mechanism will go virtually unnoticed. The compact size and light weight will virtually disappear in a purse or pocket.
This knife brings Gerber's quality blades to a very inexpensive package. This knife costs less than many fast food meals, yet will last years and years.
As compared to knives in our particular test, the Gerber STL 2.0 Fine Edge leaves something to be desired. However, it is important to remember that we pre-screen the field for the "best of the best." Up against a mesmerizing and mystifying field of knives on the market, Gerber's compact cutter stands out for reliable quality. Given a choice to spend just under $20 on a gas station "toy" knife, or the Fine Edge, the choice is clear.