The Gnome has a good following, and it’s a model that’s intrigued me for some time. There’s a few different variations on Boker Gnome, so it took me a while to decide on the wood handled version / leather sheath combination, which I ultimately purchased.
The Boker Gnome is a small, EDC type fixed blade knife with a wharncliffe style blade. It’s made from 440C steel which is a departure from the previous version, which was made with a better quality Sandvik steel. My review sample has an Olive wood handle (including red fiber liners) with a real leather sheath. Other versions have Micarta scales with a Kydex sheath. Mine also came with a leather lanyard.
Offical Specs (From Amazon)
- 440C Stainless steel blade
- Olive wood scales
- Comes with leather sheath
- Compact knife
- Red fiber underlays
- Blade length: 2″. Overall length: 4″. Weight: 2 oz.
Unboxing my Boker Gnome, it looks beautiful. The wood handle and leather sheath / lanyard look very well done. But I noticed right away that the knife didn’t fit very well in the sheath. It’s very loose, which makes the knife unsafe to carry, which basically makes it unusable. I almost returned it right then and there. But then I decided that I could probably fashion some type of plastic insert once I had the time.
Forgetting about the sheath for a bit, I went about testing the knife itself. The size of the handle is what I would call “one finger”, meaning someone with large-ish hands like myself would have a very hard time getting a good grip on the knife. I know from Internet forums that the lanyard is considered part of the handle, and mine has a beautiful leather lanyard on it.
Whatever my gripes with the Boker Gnome are, it’s at least a well built product. It’s well put together from good materials. While the quality of the steel is typical for a knife in this price range, everything else is top notch. I especially like the red liners, usually found on higher-end knives. The sheath is also well built.
Fit and Finish
Overall good. However, my sample has one deal breaking flaw: The knife is too loose in the sheath and will not stay on its own. Other than that, the knife itself is an excellent specimen, and I even like the attention to detail on the leather sheath. So have really mixed feelings about Boker Gnome. I love style and finish of this knife, but I’m disappointed that I have to find a way to fix it before it can even be safely carried.
Boker Gnome Blade
The blade geometry of the modified wharncliffe blade is pretty much ideal for every day use. It’s very small and non-threatening–not stabby looking at all. In fact, one of the Amazon reviewers remarked that this version of the Boker Gnome looks like it came straight from The Hobbit.
The 440C steel is decent, though not as good as the steel used on previous versions of the Gnome. But it’s plenty good to get the job done. The blade on my Gnome is well built, and is in my opinion the best thing about the knife.
My Gnome has Olive wood handles. This is another aspect of the knife that made me want to purchase it. The handle looked great in the product photos, and looks every bit as good in person. It’s very well done.
However the shape of the handle is not very ideal for the shape of my hands. If you are a Hobbit, or perhaps a knife-wielding baby, then this handle might fit your hand. For everyone else, it’s assumed you will be using the lanyard to complete the grip on the knife.
Boker Gnome Sheath
I’ve already mentioned that the knife is too loose in the leather sheath. It has another major flaw, at least for right handed folks. The belt loop is on the wrong side! Or maybe it’s not even supposed to be a belt loop. In which case it’s probably on the correct side to hang from a chain or cord as a neck knife.
Other than those issues, I really like the look of the sheath. The craftsmanship is good: stitching, finish–it looks high class.
My sample came with a leather lanyard. It’s an important part of how the knife is designed to be used, and they didn’t skimp on it. The lanyard looks high class, just like the sheath.
Boker Gnome Usability
I wasn’t able to do much testing with the loose sheath. The best I could do was carry it around the house for a little bit testing it with a few EDC type tasks like opening packages. On top of that, I just couldn’t get a good grip on the knife, even using the lanyard as part of the handle. You could make the argument that the compact size makes it worth not getting a good grip on the handle, but I have a few other small fixed blades which do not have this problem.
Boker Gnome just doesn’t do it for me. Even if I got a good fitting sheath, I don’t like the one-finger feel of the grip. I understand that lots of people love the compact size and the feel of the lanyard as a surrogate handle, but it’s not for me. The blade itself is a perfect shape for EDC, but I just can’t get past the feel of the handle, not to mention the fact that mine is unsafe to carry with the extremely loose sheath.
They say you only get one chance to make a first impression, and this Gnome really fell flat for me. But hey, that’s why there’s thousands of different knives out there. It sure looks nice, though, and I could see myself someday carrying it in a more upscale environment like for an office. Once I figure out how to fix the sheath, though.
What I like best about the Gnome, and the reason I bought it, is that it’s very compact and non-threatening. It looks classy and I can see why people like it, though it’s not for me personally.