Woods Monkey takes a look at a classic design with a modern twist in the Gerber Machete Pro. Billed as Gerber’s premium machete, the Machete Pro is reminiscent of the classic Woodsman’s Pal, which has been serving outdoorsman for decades. Gerber has upgraded by adding their “Gator grip” textured handle, and a 10.5 inch coated blade with an overall length of 16.5 inches.
It comes with a plastic lined military grade mold and mildew resistant nylon sheath, and a sharpening stone in a pouch on the front.Gerber describes the blade as a high carbon superior steel.
“First Designed in 1941, the Woodman’s Pal has been included in military and civilian survival kits ever since. Originally called the LC-14-B by the U.S. Military, the Woodman’s Pal is now referred to as "Survival Tool Type IV". The U.S. Army even commissioned a booklet called "Fighting with the Woodman’s Pal" to instruct soldiers on the method of its use in hand to hand combat.”
My first impressions upon receiving the Machete Pro were favorable. The balance was great, and the blade whipped through the air with a nice whistle. It was machete sharp, with a nice V bevel, and a micro bevel. The sickle hook was nice and sharp with a flat chisel style bevel on one side of the blade. The handle was nice and tacky, the lanyard was stout, and the sheath felt adequate. The only thing I wasn’t impressed with is the safety toe incorporated into the ax/machete side of the blade.
I received the Machete Pro at the Practice What You Preach gathering in North Carolina, which incidentally provided its first test. That night we had a deluge of rain, and the Machete Pro was soaked in an instant. The next morning, after drying everything out, there wasn’t a speck of rust on the sharpened edge of the blade. That was pretty impressive to me. The sheath dried out nice and quick too. The next weekend, I enlisted the help of my 15 year old cousin Jacob to take the Machete Pro out and see what it would do. That Saturday morning, another round of storms rolled through the area so I thought teaching Jacob how to set up a quick shelter would be fun. We unleashed the Machete Pro and went to work.
I used the Machete Pro to cut through some inch diameter poplar saplings with one swing, and used the sickle hook to trim the branches. We found some wild ivy vines that worked well as cordage, and a poncho from my pack provided the shade. The sickle hook provided plenty of branches trimmed to fill in the sides. After the shelter was up it was time to gather some fire wood. Jacob located a dead standing dogwood tree, and I gave him the opportunity to chop it down using the Machete Pro. Giving Jacob some pointers on chopping, he was soon hewing through the dried tree like a natural. After taking down the tree, and chopping it into usable lengths, I used a handy chunk of wood as a baton to drive the Machete Pro through the dogwood hunks. I split several hunks up into enough to boil water for what have you. That dogwood is tough! The length of the blade was a big aid to batoning, and to top it off the sickle side was a perfect anvil for striking with the baton.
Even though it had rained recently, the condition of the ground didn’t make me comfortable to build a fire, so Jacob timed me chopping down a 6-7in diameter poplar tree I had chosen to coppice from the area. At the word of go, I started into the tree with a vengeance. It took me just over 90 seconds to cut it down, and that was including the opportunity for a photo shot. I was impressed. Since we had this large tree down, I decided to try the Machete Pro’s use as a drawknife. The safety toe provides a great place for a grip in using a drawing motion. It skinned the bark right off the poplar as easy as slicing cheese. We used the shavings to make a couple of quicky baskets to gather some blueberries to go with dinner.
Overall, I’m extremely impressed with the Gerber Machete Pro. In hard chopping the handle didn’t slip and was comfortable in the hand. In rough use, the edge didn’t dull enough to matter. It batoned with ease, and gave me a sense of security in the hand. I even came to appreciate the safety toe after burying the tip in the ground, and using it as a drawknife. The sheath is adequate if a bit awkward to use while on the belt, and the sharpening stone will do the job. I can’t think of a single reason that this won’t become part of my carry gear, and replace a large knife and ax or hatchet on some trips. Pair the Machete Pro with a SAK, and I believe you will have all bases covered!
Gerber Machete Pro Discussion Thread on the Woodsmonkey Forum: