Gerber Gator Axe And Knife Combo Review

Gerber knives started in Portland, Oregon when Joseph Gerber hand made 24 kitchen knife sets that were then sent to clients of the family‘s advertising firm in 1939. Catalog retailer Abercrombie & Fitch requested to add these knives to their catalog, and Gerber Legendary Blades was established the same year. The company has had several changes since its formation and is now located in Tigard, Oregon but still produces the same great quality outdoor gear we’ve been relying on for decades.

Gerber Gator Knife & Axe Combo

While out in the woods, a good axe is second in importance only to a good knife. Both take skill and knowledge to use safely and to full potential, and can make the difference when in a survival situation or even just making life more comfortable in camp. When choosing tools that can make that much difference, they need to be of good design and sturdy construction. I have had many years of positive experiences with Gerber knives and feel that they are one of the top knife companies out there.

I was able to take their Gator axe and knife combo on a four day backpacking trip into the Uinta Mountains recently. Usually, a small hatchet is more than worth packing the extra weight when backpacking because it can do ‘˜heavy lifting‘ that a knife can‘t do. A mini-hatchet certainly can‘t do the job that would be expected of a full size camp axe, but that‘s not what it‘s for. It‘s for things like splitting kindling, making tent stakes and making shelters. I used this axe to make tent stakes, gather firewood, and chop branches from fallen and downed trees. When making camp and a fire, I do only use wood that has fallen to the ground and the biggest that I tried to cut through was a 4-5 inch fallen tree top.

Upon opening this hatchet I thought the bit was surprisingly dull for a Gerber product but the knife was what I would expect from them – a nice clean, sharp edge. I was pleased to find that when I touched up the bit on the axe it was only that the axe head was covered by a protective coating. On further checking, it appears that the axe and the knife are of carbon steel, which I personally feel is superior to stainless steel for most uses. My experience is that it‘s easier to sharpen and holds a fine edge longer. Yes, carbon steel does require more care to prevent rust, thus the need for a heavy protective coating on the hatchet head.  I have not touched the bit since, and I am one that keeps the cutting edges of my knives, hatchets, and axes. If I can‘t shave with it, it‘s not sharp enough, so this hatchet does keep an edge and I don‘t expect that I will need to sharpen it for quite a while. The knife part of this combo came with a sharp, well ground edge and is holding up as I would expect for a Gerber knife.  It does have a spear point, which is not what I would call the most useful, but that‘s just me. I do like the notches in the spine of the knife for placing your thumb for more control, as it helped a lot for making feather sticks. Regretfully, during my trip it rained heavily and daily making it difficult to have a campfire. But I was able to easily make feather sticks from the wood I split to get to the dry center using the hatchet, thus I love the combo of a hatchet and knife.

Gerber Gator Axe

I found that the hatchet has a shape that may be a bit more suited for harder wood than we generally have in Utah. It cut fine but I had to work harder to get through the thick stuff. Here I was trying to do more than it was made for, and it worked fine but had to put in more effort than if I had an ax with say a 19 inch handle. When it came to just cutting smaller stuff in the 2-4 inch range it was much nicer, working as I would expect for something in this size range. It’s shorter that the average hatchet, making it much more packable. The last thing about this set is the gator grip coating and the fiberglass handles. At first I thought they might be a bit flimsy and wouldn‘t hold up, especially on the hatchet, the handle being hollow and all. I was happily so wrong. It didn‘t seem to flex or give any other indication that it was weak or couldn‘t hold up to what I threw at it, and being able to shave off a few ounces compared to my other wood handled mini-hatchet, with the knife in the handle, is a huge bonus when you’re backpacking and every gram counts toward a sore and tired back. And the gator grip coating, I love it! My hand didn‘t slip at all during the whole weekend. It even helps to hold the knife in the hatchet handle with friction (it also uses a magnet and a rubber grip cap to secure the knife in the handle). Of course, you do want to remove the knife while using the hatchet to prevent it from flying out and injuring yourself, others, or simply losing it. That is a lot of force that is being applied when swinging it.

Overall, I like it for the price (MSRP $45), and I would have confidence in it lasting many, many years even if not taken care of perfectly. I would like to see two things modified to make this a more effective tool combo for those that would be using this. First, the knife blade changed to a clip point or something similar, I don‘t want a false edge on a knife that I will be using around camp. Second, a little more thought into the head design. It is a simple wedge that isn‘t exactly the most efficient for cutting. Every little bit helps when using something this small. Making the shoulder a little concave and making the bit with a little more curve and making the grind on it a little more shallow, and think it would take this axe combo to a whole new level.

– Rob

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