Gerber Downrange Tomahawk: Our Overview

Gerber Downrange Tomahawk
April 30, 2024  
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Categories: Knives and Axes

We’ve got two reviews for you today on the Gerber Downrange Tomahawk, one by The Inestimable (grunts: inestimable) Stickman and another by RJ Radachy. The resurgence of the “tactical tomahawk” has been another one of those issues that generate argument. If you’re interested in reading the RJ review click here to jump down past Stickman’s review.

Opinions vary from hard-core ‘Hawk lovers who dream about going all Benjamin Martin on someone (as in from ‘The Patriot’) to the naysayers who declaim them as mall ninja tacticool silliness (grunts: declaim). For us, it’s a lot like arguing about fake boobs – if you don’t like them, don’t motorboat ’em, squeeze ’em, or spend your hard-earned single-dollar bills on them. Anyway, who doesn’t want to go Benjamin Martin on some asshole?  Let’s go ahead and move into Stick’s, he’s a seasoned shooter with a great background (and he’s an inveterate smart ass; grunts: inveterate). We really like what he does and are glad to call him a friend. Since he was able to give his DR ‘Hawk far more of a beating than we’ve been able to so far, we’re going to relay his impressions here (plus he’s a way better photographer than we are). These images and the commentary come from his official Facebook fanpage.

Stickman’s Evaluation of the Gerber Downrange Tomahawk

This article was originally posted on December 12th, 2013, but has since been updated. 

With the help of my nephew, the Gerber Gear Downrange Tomahawk has started its eval cycle. We have taken a lot of suggestions and are always open to more. This shows him breaking apart oak pallets. Does it work? Yes, as anyone who has used a crowbar or ripped things apart, the key is getting a good hold and leverage. He used a rock to beat the end into position and get it between the pieces of wood, then jumped on the end if he couldn’t get it apart using his hands.

After ripping an oak pallet apart, the next step was cutting and splitting it up. Again, all done by my nephew. Like my father used to say, why would an adult do something when there are young adults/ children around that could be doing it? My nephew has used a hatchet before, as well as a kukri to clear and chop. With a little instruction, he had the pallet apart and then was having fun taking the pallet down to size for a small fire.

Gerber Gear Challenge

Continuing with the Gerber Gear challenge and our Gerber Downrange Tomahawk, we found nails in the oak pallets. I know that isn’t shocking, but one of the common things to cut through when dealing with wood is nails. A total of 15 nails met the Gerber Downrange Tomahawk, and I didn’t find any chips or flaws in the blade. I think part of the reason for this is that he was hitting the nails while they were on wood, which means they weren’t always chopped all the way through. To change it up a bit, I had one of the nails put on a rock, and then he made the hit. Yes, the nail certainly was cut easier, but a good hit from the lad made a nice mark on the rock as well. This picture shows the size of the nails as well as some marks on the Hawk’s head.

Here is a close-up of the blade up to this point. So far, our testing had involved hitting a bunch of nails and concrete a few times and a couple of accidental whacks into a rock. So far, not bad at all.

 
The Gerber Gear challenge continued with the nephew breaking bricks and blocks. We need to pick up some cinder blocks and would love to have him build a mortar and block wall, but it just isn’t realistic for us to build brick-and-mortar testing sites. He will smash up a few more blocks, but this gives a pretty good idea of what the hammer end does when it meets the block.
 

After slaying 8 concrete blocks, and thumping on a number of rocks just to see how many he could crack, the Gerber Gear Downrange Tomahawk testing continued with my nephew really getting into the idea of breaking, cutting, or smashing lots of things. You can see from this picture that his hits with the hammer side weren’t always the most direct, but the handles and steel look fine.

Now that I think about it, I need to remind him what part of the tool should be taking the impact, but overall, he is doing great, and so is the Hawk.

Busting rocks with the Gerber Downrange Tomahawk

One of the requests for the Gerber Gear Downrange Hawk eval was whether or not you could use it with a firestarter. I liked this question for a couple of reasons. This probably isn’t the Hawk you want to take as your primary camping axe, but if this is what you had, it would still work. Let us not pretend it wouldn’t take a lot longer, but you would still be functional. With any survival engagement, fire becomes a legitimate concern in boiling water, warming up, and cooking food. With that in mind, fire starting became an interesting side note to the rest of the testing.

My nephew happens to be a huge Bear Grylls fan, so he naturally had his Gerber fire-starting equipment with him.

 

Here is the Gerber Gear Downrange Hawk getting tested with a fire starter (Bear Grylls). A couple of warm-up strikes and showers of sparks like this were pretty routine. I would say that it is still a bit easier using a knife or dedicated piece, but not by much. I had my nephew try it standing, sitting, and kneeling, and he had no trouble at all. The next step was to use it to start a fire without using the magnesium. I wanted to see if he could concentrate the sparks and make it a little harder for him.

 

One of the suggestions for the Gerber Gear Down Range Hawk was to stoke a fire. Since the nephew was already building a fire, this one seemed like a no-brainer. Both sides of the Hawk were used, and just as you would expect, there weren’t any issues. Would I want to leave a G10 handle in the fire for very long? No, I would like to think none of us are that stupid, nor would I leave a hardened piece of steel like a blade in a fire to ruin the temper just to see if I could get it to glow. Stoking the fire? It passes no problem and no concerns.

Gerber Downrange Tomahawk in the fire

After rooting the Gerber Gear DR Hawk in the fire, it was too hot to touch except for the G10 grips. I’ve got no idea what that actually comes out to as a temperature, but we took it and put it directly into the freezer. One of the requests we had was to see how it would hold up to temperature extremes and to see if the handles would warp or stay aligned. In this case, it stayed in the freezer for 16 hours. When it came out, there were a few ice cubes stuck to it, but aside from that, it looked the same as it did when it went in. No warping or bowing to the handles.

Gerber Downrange Tomahawk in the freezer

After the freezer, the Gerber Gear DR Hawk came out with some ice cubes stuck to it and mighty cold, but the handles were straight, and nothing had cracked. It was immediately taken outside, where it was again used to smash concrete blocks, hit large stones, and then repeatedly struck into trees and twisted back and forth. The G10 handles never popped, cracked, or warped. The blade really didn’t seem to care either, though by this point, it had dulled a bit, which seemed fair based on the wood, concrete, and rocks it had impacted.

Next up with the Gerber Gear DR Hawk challenge was taking down some small trees. Nothing huge, but my nephew thought this was great, at least until he started. While this isn’t built to be a wood-chopping lumberjack axe, it is built to be an all-around survival/ LE/ MIL implement from my point of view. In my experiences both in MIL & LE, there are plenty of times you might need to take down a tree limb or clear saplings. With that in mind, I felt this was a pretty legit test.

So What Do We Think?

As you would expect, a dedicated axe or larger hatchet would have worked better. However, a few 2″ and 3″ saplings later, the nephew was talking about making a hammock-like he had seen a survival show on YouTube do. Did it pass this test, yes, without any problems. It is still worth pointing out that a hatchet/ axe or decent saw would have done it quicker. Pick your specific tools for your specific jobs, and they will always go easier, but that doesn’t mean this jack of all trades won’t still get it done.

Gerber Downrange Tomahawk in the woods
 

Wrappin’ up Downrange

That concludes what Stickman put up in his review. Very nicely done, sir! To see the images in much larger sizes, check out his Facebook page here. You’ll need to go back roughly to the July timeframe. Alternatively, check out his Flickr page and website.

Asked if the weight of this ‘Hawk would be worth the benefit of backpacking, Stick’ replied, “It would depend on the backpacking that you were doing. I know that if I were hiking on a regular trail, probably not. If I were going into old mine shafts that were closed up like I used to, this would certainly come along. After all, this is a Hawk, not a hatchet. The differences are small, but absolute. This is certainly going to rip things apart better than a hatchet will.”

Anyway, this tomahawk is probably a better investment of your money than the local rally point for single dancing moms – though in the spirit of the holidays, we’d encourage you to spend your singles there. Single-dancing moms need to buy Christmas presents, too. Let’s jump into RJ’s review.

RJ’s Gerber Downrange Tomahawk

This article was originally posted on November 29th, 2016, but has since been updated.

After a week on a creek in the middle of the White Mountains of Arizona with Fred Osuna at Greenside Training, I was tasked with finding a couple of vehicle-based mounting solutions for a Gerber Downrange Tomahawk. I’m up for the task, being that I own RJR Customs LLC, an Off-Road vehicle-based automotive design and Fabrication business.

Gerber Downrange Tomahawk on top of a red gas can.

During our weeklong tour of the woods, we used this Tomahawk for a couple of camp tasks. We split firewood, hammered on“horseshoe” stakes, and made a handful of bows and arrows for the youngsters. The tool was ready and willing every time. It could use some sharpening if it was going to be used more for smaller yet typical Tomahawk tasks, but this thing is intended to be abused and is designed with edge retention in mind. It stood up well to Fred throwing it at trees (he’s crazy like that) and the youngsters chopping rocks! The “gills” on the handle are a bit sharp for an ungloved hand, but once again, by design.

This home-wrecker is a pretty useful tool around the shop and on the trail. A couple of days after being handed the tool, we had a stuck hydraulic cylinder pivot pin on the shop’s Bobcat Skid Steer that needed to be removed. The tool already had found a use: it was the only prying device in the shop that had a thin enough working end to slip in between the pin and machine frame to pry this pin out! This pin was stuck from debris and rust, and with the handle built into the axe head we could comfortably put some force on this thing. It was tough, and I’m surprised the tool didn’t bend. It was a quick flip away from using as a hammer (to drive the pin out) as intended as well.

BACK THE BANG

Get your own Gerber Downrange Tomahawk HERE.

Man holding the Downrange Tomahawk

We used the provided snap-on belt strap to fasten this bone crusher to the spare tire hold down on a Polaris RZR. This seemed to work well at first, but when running higher speeds through rough terrain, the prying end would work its way out of the sheath, leaving us worried that the snaps would pop loose and we’d lose our handy tool. We threw it in the Polaris’s dry box, and a trip back to the shop was in order.

Transporting The Gerber Downrange Tomahawk

For ways to hold this Tomahawk on the RZR securely, a bombproof, spacecraft, tricked out, ballistic steel mounting bracket was the apparent solution. This tool is built for speed at a lightweight two pounds, so I decided to stick with an “Ordinary Larry” solution from an online supplier that will work well for a lot of vehicle applications: Quick Fist, a rubber, quick-release roll-cage mounting option available online for $15. The Quick Fists we had in the shop that we use for mounting windshields on the UTVs seemed to be a good fit and would allow for quick and easy mounting if we adapted using the hole in the handle of the Tomahawk and the holes in the Axe Head sheath. The use of some 10×32 machine screws and wing nuts allowed for easy removal as well. This let us mount our home-wrecker Tomahawk in a number of areas on the RJR roll cage of the Polaris RZR or any 1”- 2&1/4” part on any vehicle. Solid, Secure, and versatile!

Gerber Tomahawk next to a seat for easy reach.

While installing the Quick Fists on the Tomahawk, I discovered that the snap in the webbing at the prying end of the belt strap lines up perfectly with the hole on the handle of the Tomahawk. If a guy wanted to, he could cut the belt strap above the snap, break the snap out of the hole in the webbing, and mount the Quick fist through the hole in the webbing prior to mounting it through the Tomahawk handle. This allows the original sheath to cover the prying end while mounted to the Quick Fist clamps. Depending on the roll bar mounting location, this may be an important asset to prevent an injury. However, I did not want to modify it to do so at this time.

Handle of the Gerber tomahawk.

 

I’ve decided that a Gerber Downrange Tomahawk is a useful trail tool worth incorporating and carrying. The spot I liked was under the Passenger seat, right next to the door. While the price tag on this tool is a bit steep, space is at a premium on a trail rig, and multi-use tools save space, making it worth the coin. Upon completion of this trail rig, Gerber will get my money for a Downrange Tomahawk, likely mounted on a set of FIST GRIPS in this location. -RJ

RJ Radachy II owns and operates RJR Customs LLC, a small business in Buckeye, Arizona, specializing in off-road-based automotive design and fabrication work. He’s currently working on ’59 Willys Pickup, which will be one wicked bug-out rig–keep an eye on their Instagram page here for updates.

Wrapping Up Downrange

This largely reflects the way we feel about it when it comes to carrying it in the field. Do you want to add one of these to an assault pack on a hump that takes several days, especially when you’re doing a lot of climbing? Our answer would be no, in most cases. It would certainly be worth keeping in a vehicle for mounted operations or for a specific hit. Setting aside the maxim that says A plan is just a list of things that aren’t going to happen, we figured this might be a tool worth carrying on a patrol or a hit with a specific duration or regionalized target (especially if you’re going in mounted or in a bird).

As for our personal final tally on this thing – the tool performs well and endures a lot of punishment. The question for most of you is, is it worth the cost? Well, that’s up to you. We personally wouldn’t pay MSRP for it as advertised on the Gerber Gear website ($285), mostly because we wouldn’t need to. You can find it on other sites or via other retailers for nearly half that, which is within our budget constraints. Ultimately it comes down to your need. If the most dangerous and arduous thing you’re ever going to do is pack one of these across Philmont by mule, you might be better off with a more traditional and inexpensive hatchet. If you’re on the job somewhere, and you do need a tool with these capabilities, how much money is your life worth?
 
Anyway, this tomahawk is probably a better investment of your money than the local rally point for single dancing moms – though in the spirit of the holidays, we’d encourage you to spend your singles there. Single-dancing moms need to buy Christmas presents too.

Features & Specs

  • Versatile Axe Head: Features an integrated prying handle for varied applications.
  • Durable Construction: Made with 420HC steel with a Cerakote™ coating and Desert Tan G-10 scales for a secure grip.
  • Multi-Tool Functionality: Includes a hammerhead and a pry bar for diverse tasks.
  • Convenient Carry: Comes equipped with a MOLLE-compatible sheath.
  • American-Made Quality: Built in Portland, Oregon, and backed by Gerber’s limited lifetime warranty.
  • Product Number: 30-000715
  • UPC: 0-13658-13453-9
  • Length: 19.27 in
  • Weight: 36 oz

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