Looks like it’s time to review another machete-shaped cash grab from the corporate pee-holes at Gerber! Let’s get this over with…
The Gerber Gator’s blade is made of high-carbon steel. This is normally a good thing, since high-carbon steel is both tough and rust-resistant. However, all steels are not created equal, and there numerous complaints from real users indicating that the blade is easily bent or nicked from perfectly normal machete activities.
There were also multiple instances in which the blade simply broke in half. Not only is this a huge bummer, it’s a serious safety hazard for the user and those around them. Even though this breakage wasn’t a common issue, I don’t see the point gambling with your safety (and money) when there are so many other great options at the same price point.
Some users complained that the blade wasn’t very thick. This is true, but in all fairness some of my favorite machetes have fairly thin blades so I wasn’t going to let that sway my opinion. I’m much more concerned with the poor metal quality than the thickness of the blade.
The Gator’s blade is not full tang, meaning that it doesn’t go all the way through the handle. The blade extends roughly 1-1/2″ inches into the handle and is bolted on by two allen wrenches. This design strikes me as needlessly complicated and dangerously flimsy. I can’t see this machete holding up to years of use and abuse.
A common complain is that the allen screws were either loose on arrival or needed tightening after using the machete for a while. If of the bolts came loose on a camping trip and you didn’t have your the correct allen wrench, you’d be screwed. The fact that a machete might need regular tune-ups is stupid and one of many reasons not to buy the Gator.
As I mentioned in my review of the Bear Grylls parang machete, Gerber’s quality has declined since they were purchased by Fiskars in the late 80’s and moved most of their production to China. Many people buy these products based solely on the name without realizing that Gerber is sadly a very different company than it was 30 years ago.
The sawback portion is admittedly not bad. The teeth are very sharp and cut well. It’s still not as effective as a basic $10 hand saw, but it gets the job done.
The Gerber Gator’s handle is a hollow plastic shell with a molded-on rubber coating. The rubber feels pretty good, and the alligator skin pattern is goofy but does help with grip.
The handle is oddly long and the butt extension doesn’t stick out very far, so it can be difficult to feel like you’re getting a solid hold on it.
Since the handle it hollow, the machete feels unbalanced and insubstantial. Using this machete gave me none of the pleasure I derive from playing with my favorite machetes, and I couldn’t wait to put it down and start testing something else.
I’ll admit I was initially pretty impressed with the sheath. It looked good and felt sturdy.
The stiff plasticky inner lining keeps the sheath in an opened position. I initially thought this was strange but it turns out that the design make sheathing the machete much easier, even if it does create some additional bulk on your side.
My enthusiasm for this sheath plopped straight into the toilet the moment I actually started testing it. Like the Bear Grylls parang, the cheap aluminum rivets popped apart with a slight tug. The side stitching did nothing to keep the sheath together.
I had to yank a bit harder on the belt loop before it broke loose, so I guess that’s a good thing?
The Gerber Gator is a crappy machete on many levels, and by now you can probably guess that I wouldn’t recommend this turd at any price.
But, Mr. Maniac, you say, how does such a glaringly awful product have over 900 Amazon reviews with a 4.5 star average? I did some digging and have come to the conclusion that the 4- and 5-star reviewers fall into three categories:
- People who wanted a cool-looking machete and don’t give a rat’s butt about quality or performance
- People who can’t bring themselves to admit that a company they trust would manufacture and sell such a terrible product
- People who have never used a good machete and therefore have no frame of reference
It’s bad enough to spend $23 on something so terribly sucky, but what really makes me sad is the fact that yet another great American company is abusing their loyal customer base by slapping a trusted brand name on shoddy (but profitable) products. Shame on you, Gerber. Shame!
Whatever you do, don’t click this link to buy the Gerber Gator machete on Amazon. Instead, you should click this link to read about the best machetes I’ve reviewed so far.