It’s often forgotten, but a machete can come in handy in many wilderness situations. Under review today is the Gerber Gator Machete.
I own several machetes of different sizes and from different companies. Some came without a package, so I have no idea who made them, other than to guess that they were made in China, as is this Gerber Gator Machete. All of my machetes are rusted. They are all manufactured out of carbon steel, and all were fairly inexpensive. However, they all work.
I’ve been a fan of Gerber products for a lot of years, and it wasn’t all that many years ago that all of their products were made in the good ol’ USA! Such is not the case these days. In order to compete with other knife companies, some of Gerber’s products are made in China. This machete is no exception, and it was difficult to find the tiny print on the package that stated it was made in China.
Specs on the Gator Machete
Some of the specs on the Gator Machete are that it is made out of forged carbon steel and has an 18-inch blade. The blade itself is 18 inches long and is 2.4 inches at its widest point. Also, it weighs in at slightly more than a pound. The saw back portion of the blade is about 15 inches. I love the Gator Grip rubberized handle; it’s outstanding. There is also a lanyard hole with a lanyard attached. A heavy duty nylon sheath that is riveted is included as well. There is also a limited lifetime warranty on this product.
Brush Clearing by Hand With a Machete
The statistics on the Gator Machete are pretty impressive, to say the least. However, the proof is in the testing. Much of my small homestead is very hard to get through with so much under- and over-growth and lots of trees, big and small. I really need to hire someone to clear a lot of the brush with a front-end loader, a big one. A friend tried some brush clearing with his front-end loader, but the landscape got the better of his machine, and it was bogged down. I do some brush clearing by hand with a machete!
My local small box store had advertised this Gerber Gator Machete for $9.97 with the nylon sheath. (The regular price is ten bucks more.) Checking on the ‘net, I’ve seen this same identical machete selling for as much as $30, and Gerber has it on their website for $23. So, the price is all over the place.
Many people don’t understand the characteristics of a machete’s blade. They believe they are supposed to come with a razor-sharp blade. The reality is far from it. It has a “working edge”, and that means the cutting edge is thicker than the edge you’ll find on a knife. If the edge is too thin, it will chip and fold over when you encounter heavy brush or small trees as you are chopping or clearing land. Also, a machete’s blade is soft, so it will flex rather than break.
Gator Grip Rubberized Handle
First up is the outstanding gator grip rubberized handle. It is fantastic! Under any weather conditions, you don’t have to worry about this machete slipping out of your hands. This is very important when swinging such a long blade. The rubberized material grips you back. It’s just that simple. I like the lanyard on the handle as well; it comes in handy.
Saw on Back of Blade
The saw on the back of the blade, like many saws on cutlery, is about useless. If you try to saw through anything except the smallest branch on a tree, it just doesn’t work. Be advised right up front. I would rather not have this feature on a machete, period!
I did quite a bit of testing with this Gerber Gator Machete. We never lacking anything that needs to be chopped down, especially blackberry vines. To be sure, we have some really thick blackberry vines, and you don’t want to get too close to them. They seem to reach out and grab your skin or clothing, and I’m not kidding. When swinging the machete against blackberry vines, or even using a knife, the idea is to cut them on an angle, not straight across the vine. Every super-thick blackberry vine I cut down with the machete was cut cleaning through. There is never a lack of blackberry vines on our small homestead.
Those blackberry vines are appreciated in late summer and early fall. It calls for lots of blackberry picking, but it is well worth it. There’s nothing like picking fresh blackberries, and then a couple hours later my wife is pulling a freshly-made blackberry cobbler out of the oven. It doesn’t get any better than that. Plus, the wife loves blackberry syrup on her pancakes, too, which is easy to make as well. Free food is always welcomed, and we can pick all the blackberries we want. It’s lots of work but worth it.
I used the Gator Machete on some small tree branches that were starting to cover my driveway alarms, causing lot of false alarms, and I had no problem at all using the machete. I challenged the blade against some larger tree branches, and it just wasn’t worth the effort. The saw back feature, as already mentioned, is useless. Some undergrowth was cleared with the machete. It does take a lot of work clearing a path. Ever watch any jungle movies where they easily just swing their machetes and clear a path? Well, it doesn’t work quite that well, ever!
Properly Use a Machete
Prior to starting this article, I checked the Gerber website to get the official stats on this blade. While there, I decided to look at the many reviews. Sadly, many of the reviewers gave mostly negative reviews. It’s sad but many people don’t seem to know how to properly use a machete. It can be a great survival or camp tool, when used properly. A machete is not an axe, so don’t use it as one. Many reviewers complained than the edge chipped, and some even said the edge easily bent or rolled over. I didn’t experience this in my testing.
Not Bad for the Money
I believe the Gerber Gator Machete is on the lower end of a quality machete. I’m not saying it’s a bad product. For the money, it’s a great product. However, I’d buy something a little more heavy duty, if I were buying it for survival purposes. For my own use around my homestead, it will do a lot of the chores I expect it to do. However, if packing one in a BOB, I’d elect to have a little bit better quality machete. As they say, you get what you pay for. I paid $9.97 for this machete. It is a decent, though not great, cutting/chopping tool. I’ll probably toss it in the bed of my pickup, just to have it there, along with some other outdoor tools, like emergency shovels.
A Conditional “Buy” Recommendation
I’m a little disappointed in the fact that Gerber didn’t demand a little better quality in this machete that has the Gerber name on it. As stated, it’s not a bad machete, but I was expecting a little better quality from Gerber. It’s a conditional “buy” if you ask me. Don’t pay $30.00 for one. If you find one for under ten bucks, like I did, then buy it. However, it’s not worth the retail price of $23, in my humble opinion.
I rarely review products of “lesser” quality for our readers. However, in this case, as I stated, it is a conditional buy. Just don’t expect it to do the same things high-quality machetes will do.