Just as the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) annual meeting and symposium provides industry with opportunities to spotlight large scale efforts like new tactical wheeled vehicles or advanced helicopter technologies, it also offers a venue to highlight equally critical but much smaller scale contributions to the warfighting quiver.
A case in point involves the half dozen new warfighter items unveiled by Gerber.
“We’re launching six new products, all new for Gerber, that will be available between February and April of 2012,” explained Andrew Gritzbaugh, senior marketing specialist for Gerber.
“The first one is the MP 600 ST [sight tool],” he said. The original MP 600 is on the Army’s RFI [Rapid Fielding Initiative], so if you are in the Army and have been to Iraq or Afghanistan, you own one of these – maybe a couple of them if you’ve been downrange a few times. This new MP 600 ST is a marriage between the best components of that MP 600 and our ‘eFECT’ tool, which is a maintenance tool for the M4 and the M16. It has the same patented one-hand opening as the MP 600, with rotatable carbide cutter jaws. On the inside you have some of the original components that you had on the MP 600 – like a blade and a serrated edge – but we have combined them to create more real estate in the same tool. We also have some components that are designed specifically for weapons maintenance: a carbon scraper; a front sight post adjuster; an extended Phillips head screwdriver that also acts as a great pin punch for your upper and lower receiver on your weapon. And we also have other features like a screwdriver, lanyard hole, and file. So this is going to be big for us.”
“We’re also introducing a downrange sharpener,” he continued. “This is something that’s pretty new for the military. You’ve got a lot of sharpeners on the market but this one fits in your pocket and has four different sharpening components to it. First, you’ve got the same carbide cutters you have on your MP 600 for your ‘fine edge’ pull through. You have two different diamond coated rods – one for the big serrations and one for the small serrations. Then you have a flat panel diamond coated plate on the back for finishing your edge. And it’s all in 3 ½ inches. So you can tie this on your lanyard to your MOLLE kit. You can put it on your belt. You can throw it in your pack. So when you’re downrange and you don’t want to send your knife in to get sharpened or you don’t have time to set up a full kit to sharpen, you can just take this out and get a real fine edge quick. So it’s a neat little piece – super affordable – that will MSRP for something like 50 bucks.”
Describing the next item as “probably one of our biggest releases this year,” Gritzbaugh offered a prototype of Gerber’s new De Facto.
“This represents years of development with the special forces community,” he explained. “De Facto – meaning ‘matter of fact.’ And the reason we named it that is because the SF operators were telling us that in hand to hand combat situations they don’t want to pull out a huge knife and take a stance. If their primary weapon system goes down they need something immediately available to engage the enemy. They are not going to have time to unstrap their big ‘pig sticker’ and pull it out to engage. So this is a four-inch spear point blade. And the sheath is entirely friction lock. There is no safety mechanism to get in your way. It’s just ‘pull’ and you’ve deployed. It’s Tan 499 [chosen by the Army as the accessory color to the MultiCam pattern] so you are not going to offer any glint. The spear point blade has dual serrations. And we have a very new type of ‘sticky grip’ that works equally well with your bare hand and with fiber gloves. We tried to find a perfect meeting ground of using it whether you are wearing gloves or not wearing gloves – so you can use it all year round. And a lanyard hole on the back of the handle.”
A “secondary retention lock” allows the knife to be secured in sheath during airborne operations. The safety feature is deactivated during tactical operations.
Additional new products unveiled by Gerber at AUSA 2011 included: a second utility/fighting knife, called CFB [Combat Fixed Blade]; Emergency Rescue Hook strap cutter; and Weapons Light.