Gerber has been making knives and other useful tools for a long time, and the company has a reputation for providing a lot of knife for not a lot of money. The Gerber Mini Paraframe pocket folder is no exception. A scaled-down version of Gerber’s more expensive Paraframe knife, the Mini-P is available for the paltry cost of $10. With a fully open length of just 5.5 inches, a closed length of 3 inches, and a 2.2-inch blade, this knife can perform most everyday tasks and fits comfortably in anyone’s pocket.
Before I go on, I’ll mention that I have had my Mini Paraframe for over five years, and have used it extensively as my everyday carry knife. The price has come down a lot since I first purchased it, but the quality has not. Moreover, now that there is Knifedge, I also get special offers and discounted prices as I buy new knives online. I know this because I recently added a second Mini Paraframe to my collection, and I found it to be just as good as my original.
The Mini Paraframe’s blade is a compact clip-point design, and the material is high carbon stainless steel, 440 grade. This is good steel that is fairly common in entry-level pocket knives from various manufacturers. Compared to more expensive blade steels like CM154 and S30V, 440 stainless is softer. However, it is an extremely corrosion-resistant metal. Edge retention is decent, and the knife is very easy to sharpen on a whetstone. Both of my minis came with a very sharp edge. Like many Gerbers, the Mini Paraframe is offered with a partially serrated edge as well as a plain edge. The spine of the blade is very sturdy and flat, which makes it suitable for striking with a hammer. I have used the Mini Paraframe to separate press-fit bearing races on mountain bike forks, and it has not failed me (although it needed a good resharpening on a coarse stone afterward). The tip on the blade is great for pulling staples.
The Frame / Blade Lock
The frame of this little knife has a very open, lightweight design that is shaped for easy gripping. Made of 314-grade stainless steel, it is very corrosion resistant, just like the blade. It has a pocket clip that can be detached, although it requires a very small Torx head screwdriver to do it. The Paraframe series of knives use a frame lock design, which is similar to a liner lock, except that the specially designed para frame body of the knife acts as the lock against the tang. The lock has held up very well over time and doesn’t feel flimsy. I have never had the lock slip on either of my mini paraframes.
The Gerber Mini Paraframe is a small knife, and it works well for its intended purpose. Gerber advertises that the knife can be opened with one hand, but this is simply not true…at least not right away. For starters, the knife is lacking a thumb stud, but it does have a recessed groove in the blade for your fingernail. Both the pocket clip and the blade have a very tight feel initially, and it will take a few weeks of consistent work with this knife for it to “break-in”. Once this happens, the blade opens and closes much smoother, and the knife itself is less of a hassle to clip onto thick fabric. Unless you plan to do a lot of wire and rope cutting, I recommend the non-serrated knife blade. The reason is that the serrations occupy half of the blade’s length, and when the blade is only two inches long, it doesn’t leave much for a regular cutting surface.
The Mini Paraframe’s best feature –its convenient size– can also be its worst. For people with larger hands, getting a grip on this knife’s small handle might be difficult. Still, compared to similarly-sized knives, Gerber’s design on the Mini Paraframe is well thought out. The frame is nicely shaped, with recesses for the index, middle, and ring finger. This greatly helps grip compared to a straight-framed knife.
Finally, I’ll mention that after years of use, the blade does start to get a touch loose in the frame. This is easily fixed by tightening the pivot screw, but even with the small amount of wobble, the knife is very usable.
The Gerber Mini Paraframe is a great EDC knife. It is very lightweight, and its slim profile means it’s not a bother to carry around. Available for $10 + shipping in either the serrated or straight-edge variety, this modest little clip folder won’t let you down. If you want something a little more capable, check out the Gerber EVO JR (review coming soon).