By December 30, 2008

Gerber EAB Exchange-A-Blade razor blade pocket knife review

For better or for worse, I live in a conservative city in Virginia. I have become accustomed to some of the cultural affordances, like being able to acquire a concealed handgun license or carrying a pocket knife in public without people thinking I’m a terrorist. As such, it’s weird when I go to places in the city that don’t follow the same train of thought. My employer is pretty squeamish when it comes to pocket knives. I may be in technical violation of their “no weapons” policy by carrying a utility knife. I can’t really help it: I was taught by my father at an early age that a real man always has a cutting tool on hand. Even if I could help it, I wouldn’t. It’s a stupid ordinance, and until someone says something, I will do as I please.

That being said, I don’t want to wave my disregard for the rules in everyone’s face. I typically carry an X-Blades folding razor blade knife, but it is fairly conspicuous. No reason to raise any hackles if I can avoid it. I do, however, like the idea of using disposable razor blades instead of a standard permanent fixed blade. I own a few traditional pocket knives, but I am too lazy to sharpen them at the end of every day like my father.

I had been carrying my old Spyderco Cricket knife until I found the Gerber EAB Exchange-A-Blade razor folder on sale at Target. Would it be discreet enough to take to work, and effective enough to handle day-to-day cutting tasks?
Here are a few things I like about the EAB besides the whole disposable blade aspect:

  1. It’s small. It is slightly thicker than a pack of Wrigley’s gum, and about as long. I’ve put an SD card next to it as reference.
  2. It’s discreet. I think the stainless steel gives it a bit of class. I know this sounds stupid, but I believe people are less likely to be alarmed by the appearance of this knife versus a more “tactical” looking folder. I see the same thing in firearms … for some reason a black stock makes a rifle a lot more ominous than a wood one.
  3. It has a clip. I don’t like digging around in my pocket for my knife. I keep a fair amount of other shit in there, like two sets of keys in one and my mobile phone in the other. If I spend any more time rummaging through my pockets my manager might think I’m playing with myself again.
  4. Did I mention you can throw the old blades away?
Here are a few things I dislike about the Gerber Exchange-A-Blade:

  1. The clip is too tight and the tension cannot be adjusted. It is hard to put the knife back, no matter if I am wearing thin khakis or carpenter-thick jeans. I don’t forsee this loosening up any time in the future.
  2. There is no real easy way to open the knife with one hand. There is a tiny screw on the side of the EAB can’t safely be used to open the knife with the thumb. I guess Spyderco has spoiled me.
  3. You have to use a screwdriver to replace the razor blade. This is REALLY inconvenient. I have switched out blades on my X-Blade knife a few times “on the fly” when I was in the middle of a job and needed a sharper edge. I guess I could carry around a pocket knife and a screwdriver, but then I am dangerously close to multi-tool territory.
  4. The top of the knife is “flat” when in my pocket. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but the sharp edges cut my sensitive baby-skin when I reach into my pocket. Gerber rounded the pivot-end of the knife, they should have rounded the ass-end corners, too.
Despite being small when folded, the EAB has enough length for steady use. It’s a nice design, except for the blade replacement screw.

I bought the Gerber Exchange-A-Blade for $8 on sale at Target. At that price, I can overlook the design flaws. However, in researching this review I noticed some online retailers have it for $10 – $15 plus shipping. I think that is way too much to pay for this blade. Check out your local Target (they’re sold out online as of this posting). If you can find it on clearance, it might be worth your while.

Recommended at $8, not recommended at more than $10.

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8 Comments on "Gerber EAB Exchange-A-Blade razor blade pocket knife review"

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  1. furious C says:

    I bought one of these at Target as well! I just noticed on mine that you can change the blade with a coin (i just used a dime, a penny would be cheaper) so if you have spare change you won’t have to look around for a screwdriver. Thought you might find that useful.

    Great review BTW. As usual.

  2. drfaulken says:

    That is an AWESOME tip!! I just confirmed it works with a dime or a penny. A nickle and quarter are too big.

    Good thinking, and thanks for the nice complement.

  3. JD says:

    Nice design idea. Too bad there are some design flaws. For $10, I’d still give it a try.

  4. bc says:

    I actually just picked one of these up from Target because I remembered reading this review. 🙂 I like it a lot. I keep it clipped in my back pocket, so I don’t abrade my hands (wallet is in front pocket).

    I’ve found that I can open it fairly easily with one hand using the little screw for friction. But my hands are a bit smaller than yours.

  5. Skidoo says:

    Yeah, I don’t know how big your hands are, but mine are a solid average size (I’m 5’10, 190lbs). It opens easily and safely with one hand. I just begin the motion by pushing the little screw, and then either continue the motion to extend it to the locked position, or give it a little flip. Closing is fairly safe as well, with that little finger guard on the back of the blade.

  6. Denny says:

    I picked this up a few days ago, ilike it a lot but I paid twice as mush as u did. but I still like it

  7. Gerber Knives says:

    Gerber has a new version of these this year too. The “Lite” version which has cutouts in the handles to drop a few ounces. It also has a little better finger guard on it.

    Great utility knives.

  8. Ben says:

    Bought mine about a week ago and have had no problems with it, and have even found a solution to the blade exchange problem (at least this works for me). I always carry the little clip thing from Stanley that holds about 5 extras in my pocket, when I need to change one out I simply use one end on the screw, and slap that end in the finger groove/blade stop thing. All around a great utility knife and well worth the investment.