I recently got the Gerber Gator Combo Axe II as an addition to my BOB. I wanted a good sturdy hatchet that was small enough to fit on the outside of my ruck without being bulky and big and rugged enough to do the jobs I wanted it to do.
I ordered this off Amazon and got it for $29.91, which is almost $35 off the regular list price of $64.80. I went with Gerber because I have used Gerber knives and multi-tools for years and love them. I also figured that with Gerber they stand behind their products and if there was anything wrong with it they would fix it. I have had three multi-tools replaced over the years, one of which got caught in a Bradley track sprocket and Gerber has replaced them all no questions asked.
The hatchet is 15 ½ inches long including the handle and weighs just a little more than 1 ½ lbs (708g). It has a polyurethane handle that wraps around the head and inside the handle held in place by a small rubber retaining strap is a 6 in saw.
I have used it a couple of times so far around the house cutting firewood into kindling and I used it to chop up the Christmas tree so I could burn it and it has worked just fine. I have not has to get too rough with it yet but it has held up better than expected to the use I have put it to. It is a handy size and weight for extensive use. It is easy to control and very well balanced. One of the features I like the most is that the handle is rubberized so that the grip is outstanding when compared to a wooden handled hatchet. The blade holds the edge very well. I have used it for about 10 hours total and have not needed to sharpen the blade yet and it has not chipped at all, even though I hit a couple of nails splitting kindling from old lumber. The saw works pretty well and sheds sawdust efficiently without fouling but it is only really suitable for use on smaller branches of under 3 in diameter.
The sheath that comes with it is perfectly adequate if you want to carry the hatchet on your belt, I do not. I wanted to mount my hatchet to my ruck so I would have it when I needed it but it would not be banging around on my waist while humping through the woods. I tried to find a MOLLE compatible hatchet sheath with no luck. I am sure they are available but I could not find one. Instead I did what any good Joe does and improvised. I had an old Blackhawk! MOLLE Small Utility Pouch that I was not using. I took the pouch and snipped out a portion of the bottom of the pouch large enough for the hatchet handle to fit through and the Gerber hatchet fits in there perfectly. This allowed me to mount the hatchet to my ruck where I get easy access and it is out of the way.
The only negative I see is that because the handle is shaped such that the head is embedded if the head wrapping cracks or the handle breaks it is probably impossible to fashion a replacement handle without a professional shop. That being said, I have a Fiskars maul I use for splitting wood that is built the same way and I have never had a problem with the head on that as opposed to traditionally handled axes that you eventually have to shim the head because it gets loose so I don’t expect that to be a problem.
All in all I have to say I am pleasantly surprised with this hatchet. I expected it to be a good piece of equipment because it is made by Gerber, I just did not expect it to be this good. I expect to get years of use out of this hatchet. If all you want in a survival hatchet is a rugged tool useful for shelter construction and firewood gathering this should fit the bill perfectly. If you are one of those warriors that thinks your hatchet should be a tomahawk too then this is probably not for you. Then again, if you think you are going to be tossing tomahawks at enemies post SHTF you are probably what I would call a victim because while you may take a few people out you will probably die and die quickly because you are not focused on survival but in reenacting COD or Resident Evil.
My ratings on the Gerber Gator Combo Axe II are:
- Price – 4 Stars
- Ease of Use – 5 Stars (It’s a Hatchet)
- Versatility – 3 Stars (It is designed to do one job)
- Durability – 5 Stars
- Overall Rating – 4½ Stars