Guns may be the main draw the SHOT Show, but there is a healthy amount of knives at the Show. One I saw at 2019’s SHOT Show that caught my eye was the Gerber Key Note. I loved the unique look, small size, and how lightweight it was. I saw it at SHOT, and after that never saw another hair of it until it popped up in my recommended items on Amazon. It was only 20 bucks and some change, so I promptly ordered it.
Even if it were a total piece of crap, I’d only be out 20 bucks. Luckily it’s not a complete piece of crap. The Key Note is a teeny tiny knife that lives up to its name. It’s almost the same size as my car’s key fob. As far as EDC knives go, this is about as small as it gets. The Key Note currently comes in both black and FDE, and as you can see, I have the FDE variant.
The Key Note is designed to be versatile and easily carried. The Key Note comes equipped with a key chain ring that’s hefty and well made. There is also a pocket clip that’s long enough to fit over a belt as well. The Key Note is a neat little knife, and it’s one that’s small enough that there is never an excuse to leave it at home.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The Key Note sports a sloping blade that is 1 inch long at it’s very longest and a little over half an inch at the shortest portion. The blade is a stout 1.125 inches wide and .15 inches thick. The knife weighs only 2.33 ounces and is 3 inches longer overall.
It’s a small, but stout little blade. The blade is made from 5Cr15MoV. On a 20 dollar knife with an edge this short I wasn’t expecting 154 CM or S30V.
5Cr15MoV is cheap stainless steel. It is effortless to sharpen and resistant to rust. It won’t hold an edge very long. It’s not like you’ll be batoning wood or cleaning game with this little guy anyway. With a blade as short and as thick as this, you are unlikely to break it with regular use.
I’m not sure what to call this type of blade or point. It’s an exaggerated tanto that looks almost like a chisel with a weird lower level edge. Gerber classifies the blade into two different edges. The longer edge is a scraping edge, and the short bottom edge is the cutting edge. Both edges are sharpened, and both cut through everyday materials.
The Key Note’s blade size is a big limiting factor in its ability to do serious work. However, for the most common EDC tasks, the Key Note is entirely sufficient. It can cut through plastic, tape, cardboard, 550 cord, and similar cordage. The ledge like design gives the Key Note a little bite, and it can punch above its weight. The Key Note is sufficient for most mundane cutting tasks, and that is just about it.
Handle, Ergonomics, and Pocket Clip
The handle is made from two aluminum panels connected by several different Hex head screws. The Gerber Key Note is a little knife, with a petite handle. The handle is textured with small serrated indentions on each side. The handle has an integrated finger groove that allows for easy access to the blade and to accommodate your pointer finger while gripping the knife.
The rest of the grip is pretty simple and is relatively unadorned. It’s short, won’t fill the hand, and is only 2 inches long. It’s 1.25 inches wide and .45 inches thick. The Key Note’s handle is comfortable enough. It doesn’t poke or jab, but don’t expect Emerson level ergonomics and comfort.
The pocket clip and keychain loop give you multiple ways to carry the knife. The keychain loop is removable to reduce the overall length and even weight of the knife. I’m tempted to remove the keychain loop. I don’t like the way it feels in my hand when using the knife, but I like being to connect it to my key fob. The big keyring is just awkward and more than a little annoying when using the knife to cut.
The pocket clip cannot be reversed, but it’s not a big deal. The knife isn’t designed to be quickly drawn and deployed, so it doesn’t matter which direction it faces in the pocket. The clip is 1.5 inches long and will fit over most standard belts.
This opens up the ability to wear the knife on your belt, but will only efficiently work for right-handed owners. It’s a stiff and strong pocket clip and its made from stainless steel. At the bottom, the steel rolls upwards allow it to hook onto the belt and prevent it from sliding off.
This is a big and beefy pocket clip. It’s thicker than most pocket knives, and it feels quite sturdy.
Deployment and Lock-Up
Opening the Key Note requires the use of a small nail nick built into the blade, but there is a built-in starter tab to push the blade out just a little. This little tab is a lifesaver when the knife is brand new or if you’re the type who has naturally short nails. It’s easy to deploy, but it’s not quick. I doubt you’d ever need to deploy this knife quickly enough to worry about it. You’ll need a few seconds and both hands to deploy the Key Note’s blade.
The blade is locked in place by a simple liner lock. It locks it nice and tight, and there is no noticeable play as you move the blade. It’s tight, but you can push it in with little effort overall and close the knife. The liner lock isn’t jimped for texture, but it seems to close just fine without it.
Gerber Key Note Review – Final Thoughts
The Key Note is a cool knife. It’s not a very versatile or handy knife, but for 20 dollars, you’re buying a unique design. An unconventional design that makes carrying a knife easy. It’s one you can toss on your keychain and never leave behind. Ultimately it’s somewhat of a novelty in its design. I’m sure a Gerber Airlift would serve you just as well for the price, but the Key Note has a sense of style and design that pushes it past boring.
Speaking of design, I spotted something about the look of the Key Note. If you take a quick look at Gerber’s symbol you’ll see a Sword and Shield make up the G in Gerber. If you close the blade, the Key Note most certainly looks like the Shield portion of that logo, and I thought this was a nice touch. If I feel Ho-Hum about a knife, I give it away and have gained an office reputation for it. The Key Note’s neat design keeps me from feeling Ho-Hum about this cheap little folder.
The Key Note is 20 bucks worth of cool, and I’m planning on holding onto mine and passing a few out for Christmas. It’s not a great knife, the design isn’t innovative, but it’s not a bad knife in any way. If you look at it and like the design from a nerd’s perspective, then buy it. You’ll be satisfied. If the looks and design don’t grab you, I’d pass on it.
- Throw it in your pocket or on your keys and forget it; with it's compact design, the key note was intended for this very purpose: to be on hand when you need it for daily tasks.
- The dual-purpose blade caters to two separate needs, with cutting and scraping edges.
- When in the open state, the blade is secured with an easy-to-operate liner lock.
- Aluminum scales stand up to daily abuse
- A removable keychain is included for added versatility depending on the carrying preference.