After my return from New Zealand, I was quickly herded back into the Ember Survival fold by having a Gerber Bullrush thrown over to me, with the simple command of “review this”. Welcome home it would seem!
So let’s start with a quick overview. Gerber set out, through collaboration with law enforcement and first responders in the States, to produce a tool that suited the needs of a professional in either of those fields. Through the design of the Bullrush they hoped to produce a tool that was simple, yet provided a reliable solution. In line with this design brief the tool has relatively few features: full sized needle nose plier jaws and wire cutters, modified sheepsfoot combination blade, phillips and flat head screw drivers as well as a strap cutter.
So did Gerber meet their goals? Yes…and no. Been using the tool for a couple of weeks now and I can certainly say that I understand where Gerber were coming from when they designed the Bullrush. The sturdy tools, except the pliers, are all accessible with the Bullrush closed and this makes locating the correct piece easy to do in the field, especially in a rush. The pliers themselves are surprisingly large for the compact form factor of the Bullrush, an element which makes daily carry much more feasible than some of the larger competitors.
Despite this it seems there are some flaws in the execution of the Bullrush design, primarily in the deployment of the tools. The knife and strap cutter are, as you would hope, the easiest to bring to action with a large thumb-stud aiding the deployment and yet from the box they are exceptionally stiff, but this does soften with use. At this price point Gerber should have considered the use of bronze washers to reduce friction and increase the life of the tool hinges. The two driver heads are more difficult still and it seems just a little more care in the design could have made life markedly easier. The sprung action of the pliers does make them easier to use, however I found the action to produce a gritty sound with each use. Each tool is also individually secured open via a liner lock, however these are very stiff and take some time to be worked to a usable state.
Construction is largely of stainless 7Cr17, a Chinese blade steel, that while softer than higher end steels still offers good rust resistance and takes an edge well. Aside from regular sharpening the Bullrush requires little care as the black oxide coating offers further protection from rusting. The strap cutter is sharp from the box and if used only in rare situations would likely never need sharpening. If you find yourself using it frequently it can be touched up with wet and dry paper formed around a pencil.
The G10 scales and nylon spacers give the tool a warmer feel and are ideal for everyday use, the texture provides plenty of traction too. The ergonomics of the handle are also decent when using the tool open or closed.
The nylon sheath provided offers an excellent carry solution and with the small form factor of the Bullrush it is easy to forget you are carrying it all together. The belt loop provides enough space for reasonably wide webbing belts as well.
I would say that for its size the Gerber Bullrush is a capable and sturdy tool. The strap cutter is a multitool feature peculiar to Gerber tools and yet for the first responder design spec it works well, I can see this as something a police officer could easily attach to his vest or secure inside a pocket. As a simple daily carry it is adequate, although like most competitors the locking blade does mean you will need a specific reason to be carrying in public places.