Gerber Paul Model 2P Knife
By Chuck Hawks
Paul W. Poehlmann, holder of some 20 patents for locking folding knives, patented his "Axial Locking Mechanism" in 1976. This is the mechanism that made him famous among knife makers/designers. This one hand opening mechanism is often considered the smoothest and most precise ever designed. An Axial Locking Mechanism Paul knife locks in both the open and closed positions, yet is so smooth it will open and close simply by the pull of gravity. There is no need to flick a Paul knife open with a snap of the wrist; it literally falls open. It is a very elegant, durable and safe design, but must be built to exceptionally tight tolerances.
Functionally, the large button at the blade's pivot point is connected to the blade when depressed. When pushed in, it allows the handle to rotate around the pivot point. Unlike other folding knife designs, when a Paul knife is opened or closed, it is the handle, not the blade, which moves.
Paul Poehlmann hand made something like 150 large folders of this design before striking a deal with Pete Gerber to produce Paul (a Poehlmann registered trademark) knives in Portland, Oregon. This was the famous Gerber Paul Model 2P, a smaller Axial Locking Mechanism Paul knife Poehlmann designed for Gerber Legendary Blades. A single tiny Allan head screw (not shown in the patent diagram) was provided on Gerber Paul 2P knives to adjust the mechanism's tension. Gerber Paul 2P knives were available in plain stainless steel (the version reviewed here), with micarta scales (2PM) and with wood scales (2PW).
The exceptionally tight tolerances required made mass production difficult. Paul Poehlmann collaborated with Pete Gerber and his team to the extent that he personally supervised the production of Gerber Paul 2P knives. Gerber introduced the Paul knife in 1977 and sold about 77,000 before they were discontinued in 1986, the year before the Company was acquired by Fiskars.
Prices for used Paul knives soared and Gerber decided to capitalize on this by reintroducing the Paul knife in 1996. These Series II, Model 2 Paul knives were marketed and distributed by Gerber, but the actual production was outsourced to a California manufacturer. Only a year later, the Series II knives were discontinued due to escalating production costs. About 23,000 Series II Paul knives had been built.
Gerber was founded by Joseph R. Gerber in 1939 in Portland, Oregon USA, where all Gerber products are still designed and engineered. Gerber Legendary Blades started as two dozen handmade cutlery sets given as holiday gifts to friends and associates. Over the last 75 years, Gerber has grown into a large and world famous company.
Gerber is no longer the family owned cutlery company that built the Paul Model 2P knives. Gerber was acquired by the international Fiskars Corporation based in Helsinki, Finland in 1987 and now markets high quality flashlights, headlamps, digging implements, survival tools, hand saws, multi-tools, axes, machetes and, of course, many kinds of folding and fixed blade knives. Some Gerber knives are still made in Oregon (about 60 models), while others are sourced overseas.
Gerber Paul Model 2P Measured Specifications
Like other Gerber knives I have owned, the Paul knife holds an edge well and its straight taper (not hollow ground) blade is relatively easy to touch-up on a hard Arkansas stone, providing you don't let it get really dull. Always use a little honing oil on the stone when sharpening any knife. Never use an electric knife sharpener on a good knife. If you haven't yet learned to sharpen your own knives by hand, Gerber provides a sharpening service and if you return your Gerber knife they will restore the factory edge. The charge is $3 for sharpening and $3 for return shipping ($6 total).
The blade shape is very good for an all purpose pocket knife or a small folding hunting knife. It has a medium edge curve to a drop point, a useful shape for general pocket knife cutting chores. The actual sharpened cutting edge is about 2-1/16". The knife's all stainless steel construction resists corrosion and provides enough heft that this very thin knife doesn't feel like a toy in the hand.
The smooth, thin handle is only about 5.5mm (less than ¼") thick and doesn't provide the most secure grip in inclement conditions, although the handle's slight curve helps. Since there is no hilt, you must take reasonable care to keep fingers from sliding forward onto the cutting edge when forceful cutting is necessary.
The Gerber Paul 2P knife is very similar in overall length, folded length, blade shape, blade length and application to the later Gerber Magnum LST Jr., a small folding hunting knife I have carried in my pocket for years and found extremely useful. These knives are about the largest I like to carry in my pocket on a daily basis. The Magnum LST Jr. was discontinued around 2012/2013, last selling for under $25. Its synthetic handle makes it somewhat thicker and lighter than the Paul 2P. Of course, the Magnum LST Jr. uses a normal back lock mechanism, not the Paul Axial Locking Mechanism. (See the Outdoor Accessories page for a review of the Gerber Magnum LST Jr.)
Knife collector demand has driven the price of Gerber Paul 2P knives beyond what most users are willing to spend for a pocket knife or small folding hunter. This is unfortunate, as it is an excellent daily carry knife.
Copyright 2014 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.