Survival Gear Review: Gerber Parang Machete

By definition the parang knife or more aptly described machete is by origin of Malay design.  Malaysia of course is dense with thick jungle terrain which by necessity demanded the creation of a handheld cutting implement for indigents to literally slice their way through the maze of tropical growth.

In modern applications the machete tool is useful for a variety of chopping tasks around the home, camp, farm, and ranch.  The most common type being a simple long blade up to or from 18-24 inches more or less with a wood handle held to the blade via 2-3 rivets or internal threaded bolts.  Some today offer molded plastic handles and many variations of design, size, and heft (Read 5 Types of Machetes).

Originally I think the machete was most likely created and designed as a utilitarian type tool and perhaps not intended to be a highly customized or finely finished blade as one might expect of a personal pocket or sheath knife.  Machetes are working tools.

The Gerber Rendition

Gerber makes good knives and tools.  I have only had trouble with one knife rusting heavily, but that was my fault for leaving it in the How to buy a machetefabric sheath that apparently absorbed moisture.  Shame on me.

Gerber recently introduced their form of a machete that they have fashioned after some of the original Malay designed parangs.  The Gerber Parang design is an angled blade fixed for clearing brush and trail chopping.  The blade is a high carbon steel which should sharpen easily and retain a good edge.  The handle is a textured rubber grip over the tool’s full tang.  This is an important aspect to any quality cutting instrument that the blade be extended into the handle tang.

The specs for this machete include an overall length of 19.5 inches.  The blade itself is 13.5 inches long.  The weight without the sheath runs a tad more than 19 ounces.  The nylon sheath adds another six ounces.  This is entirely a manageable weight even if belt carried, but for me it resides strapped down to the rack of my Honda ATV.   The retail price is around $45.  I bought mine on line for $30 on Amazon.

Field Use

This rubberized grip has a good, tight in the hand feel.  A lanyard cord is attached that when looped over the grip can act as a sort of guard to help enhance the grip.  This cord loop also makes a good storage hanger or a way to tie the machete to a pull up rope for elevated hunting stands, observation points, or aerial hideouts.

Personally I like the angled blade design as it seems to aid in an improved ergonomic swing into the bush.  That angle also seems to naturally add to the down slice cutting momentum of the blade.  You’d have to handle one and use it to clear some brush to fully appreciate this.

The blade comes sharper than most cutting implements from the factory, so use regular care.  Sharpening is easy.   In thirty minutes of trimming hanging vines from a tree positioned in front of a hunting stand, it showed no signs of gumming up or dulling.  Afterwards a quick swipe with a gas soaked cloth to clean it, then a light coat of oil to hold off the rust kept the blade ready for the next job.

The sheath is in my opinion just “OK”.  Once the machete is slipped into the nylon sheath it is secured by metal snaps on the open side.  None of these snaps gave me a real secure “snap in” feel or sound.  I cleaned them with gun solvent then oiled the male and female snap components, but this did not alter their lack of a secure snapping together.  I think I will add one or two pieces of hook and loop strap for extra security.   Having these sewn onto the sheath from the factory would be a future improvement recommendation.

Bear Grylls

Also I cannot escape this review without a comment on the Bear Grylls marketing angle to a line of Gerber products with this guy’s How to buy a macheteendorsement.  I don’t watch his show for my own reasons.  I mean a guy who fashions a swimming “floatation” vest out of the skin of a dead seal simply has to have issues.  Perhaps it is all for the camera anyway?

The good part is that despite the Hollywood marketing hype, this product was still offered by a company with a solid reputation for making quality gear.  For that reason alone the Gerber Parang Machete deserves a place among your survival equipment.

Photos By:
Dr. John Woods
Wikipedia



John J. Woods
Written by John J. Woods

John J. Woods, PhD, has been outdoor writing for over 35 years with over 3000 articles, and columns published on firearms, gun history, collecting, appraising, product reviews and hunting. Dr. Woods is currently the Vice President of Economic Development at a College in the Southern United States. Read his full interview here. Read more of John J.'s articles.

33 thoughts on “Survival Gear Review: Gerber Parang Machete”

  1. Thanks for the review, I was thinking of buying one of these ($60 in Canada though….) and was wondering how good they were

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  2. I would prefer to have it in a head to head with the Ka-Bar and Coldsteel machetes. A competition between the three under like conditions; (cost, steel, weight, edge, edge retention, chopping ability, ergonomics, force rquired), would make for a better product review and get three done at once.
    I own a few Gerber products, have for years, love them. However, their quality has slipped over the past years. I just can not get behind this new product line just because it is endorsed by the POACHER OF PRODUCT ENDORSEMENT, Bear Grylls. The money they are paying him to endorse this product should be going into making a better product for the consumer.

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  3. The Bear Grylls branded products are actually really good quality. I myself didn't consider purchasing one just because of the 'B G' brand on it. The truth is, though, its a Gerber product and their products have never disappointed me. Gerber is top notch.

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  4. I've got a few BG branded Gerber things and I actually think are pretty good. Some people knock the guy ands that's cool it's a TV show and who hasn't purchased something pushed by a celeb at least once, George Foreman grill anyone 🙂

    Good review, cheers guys,
    Justin.

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    • I've never purchased a product simply because of a celebrity endorsement. In fact, I usually try to avoid celebrity endorsed products due to their worse quality. My friend got Beats headphones for his birthday (over $20 at the time) and my $3 Mercury off-brand headphones knocked them out of the park. That being said, Gerber does make good products. Or, at least, they used to. I have noticed a quality decrease (but which product didn't suffer from the dollar value drop?).
      You may think that I'm off with the whole avoidance thing, but my friend bought a George Foreman grill, simply for the name, while I purchased department store some off-brand for about half the price. Until I lost it in a move four or so years later, it was working perfectly. His GF grill died after about a year. I used mine 2-4 times weekly, while he used his about once a week.
      My (long- winded) point: buy for the quality, not the name.
      BG brands are more expensive and not better than their less expensive counterparts.
      In most cases, the older the product (I mean your grandfather's knife, for example), the better the overall quality. Renew it. If it lasted his life, it can last yours, with the right maintenance.

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  5. With the addition of BG as part of the Gerber Brand, I think the line of Gerber survival gear has been affected. Dont get me wrong, I think Grylls is a legitimate survivalist, but there's something about someone who is now famous endorsing a survival product that makes the product seem "cheap." That being said, I recently bought this parang from http://www.patriotprovisions.com, and i have to say it is very nice. If nothing else this should tell everyone to not allow the commercialization of a product to sway your opinion one way or another.

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  6. Did anyone read the eight 1-star reviews on Amazon? Many report a very thin tang that breaks at the handle. Poor quality Chinese metal and craftsmanship.

    I suggest looking at K-Bar Kukri instead. Amazon has it rated at 5 star by 250 users, and not a single negative one. Besides I own one myself – its a reliable beast!

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    • How does it feel in your hand when chopping? Do you feel a lot of vibration transferring to your wrist? I have been torn between this one and the Cold Steel Kukri? The K-Bar is a few dollars more but if it works with little effort I would lean towards it.

      Thanks in advance!

      Wolf

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      • Hi Wolf! Actually Ka-Bar Kukri is a very well balanced blade. I felt no vibration while chopping. I think its because the blade is pretty thick as well as its top end heavy, so it transfers less energy to the handle. Plus, the tang is of decent width.
        I can't say that its better than Cold Steel because I didn't try their product for comparison. All I can say is that the blade is of excellent quality despite the fact that its made in Taiwan. The sheath is mediocre but you can always upgrade the sheath and its the blade that matters. Also, the blade is coated with something like epoxy powder coat that is very durable and protects the blade against rust.
        I've read somewhere that Taiwan manufacturing is of far better quality than mainland China. Of course I would prefer the U.S. made blade just like their USMC combat knives but, oh well.
        Regardless of that I highly recommend the Ka-Bar Kukri due to its inherently better design.

        Hope this helps!

        Reply
      • The Cold Steel Kukri is a Kukri shaped machete. It doesn't have the thick spine and heavy blade that a real kukri does. Not saying it's not a good blade, it is a machete offered by cold steel after all, just saying it isn't a real kukri

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    • I used mine to cut through thick Juniper branches (1"-2") and to 'baton' some seasoned hard wood for kindling… it is NOT "Chinese metal and craftsmanship"… it is a Gerber. I wish I could cover-up the "BG" and the sheath were more secure, but for the money it is a great tool. I use the "BG" Survival Guide pocket on the sheath to hold a flint-steel.

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    • I don't bother reading the reviews for a BG product. Its infested with people who put down the gear because his name is on it. (Kind of like how people love the LMF-II but hate the BG knife, even though the knife itself is just as good, and the sheath, pummel and sharpening stone are all BETTER than the LMF-II.. and its half the price)
      Instead I used one in the wilds for 3 days and found it to be a fantastic chopper!

      Reply
  7. Thanks for a great review. I like the looks of this guy and look forward to checking it out.

    I just got back from 8 days in Nicaragua, and machetes are a MUST down there. My day to day activities don't really require one, but let's be honest…some stuff just feels cool to own 🙂

    Thanks again guys.

    Reply
  8. Good review. When I was looking for a parang style knife recently, I almost bought this one. I opted for the Ka-Bar Kukri instead. It's a great know as well. I should write up a review of it.

    Thanks!

    Joe

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  9. Hard to say , I dont own any Gerber products because almost every review of their products , when compared to other manufacturers is about 50/50 , half say they dont hold up and are junk , others love them . The ratio isnt high enough for me to take the chance . I use both machetes and Tomahawks , like them both but prefer the hawk because of the hammer end . I absolutely wont buy ANYTHING with that limey Grylls name on it ……………talk about Barnum & Bailey .

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  10. I actually bought one of these and tested out at my farm, and day one the blade broke off at the handle, as I looked at other reviews this seems to be a more common problem. I prefer the similarly priced Ontario machete, I have beaten it pretty good and have had no issues with that one, in a couple years. I love Gerber products but was thoroughly disappointed with this product.

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  11. First off, Im not backing Bear grylls, but if your going to comment on him get your facts straight. The seal suit was to keep his core warm with the blubber while he swam in cold water not as a "floatation" device. Please learn how to be a professional when it comes to gear reviews. Thanks anyways.

    Reply
  12. I like the COLD STEEL BARONG Machete. It's a Philippine style machete. Great weapon and tool. Excellent stabber and chopper.You could stab through a Rhino with it and chop it's head off. Not that we're likely to be crossing paths with Rhinos. I have a bunch of them in 18" AND 12" size. For cutting anything of substance a Bow Saw is a hell of a lot easier than chopping.

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  13. Bear is a good guy, he just tries to give any possible idea so survivalists be open minded, you know survival is based on what your mind can do.

    Reply
  14. I own the parang as well as a ka-bar kukri, and if i were to choose between the two of them would have to be the kukri, it holds an edge much better and generally feels more secure. One thing that i have noticed about the parang is that the rubber handle gets a little bit slippery when it gets wet, the kukri on the other had doesn't have that problem

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  15. I have considered one of these parang machetes many times, now I believe I will try one on for size. I can tell you all one machete to steer totally clear of, that is the SOG. I had one of the nicer ones I bought a year ago, took one swing at a 2" diameter sapling and the blade snapped in half, clean break. The end piece, which was about 10" long wizzed by my wife and would have killed her had it hit her in the vitals. Most of the steel in these knives/machetes is dangerous if you try to use them in serious applications. Anyway, just my .02c worth..

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  16. Something I'm always disappointed to not see, no one ever seems to grasp the full capabilities of the Parang design! Like the Kukri, the Parang has all sorts of uses beyond being just another blade to bring down vines with, if not receiving as much reputable pomp and circumstance as it's distant Nepalese cousin.

    In short, here's what you need to know; the Parang is another one-size-fits-all blade. It's often the only tool most destitute Malaysians can afford, being that they're usually home/locally made, and so has been adapted for a multitude of uses. Here's how:

    * The top quarter length of the Parang's blade is maintained at various degrees of sharpness for skinning of whichever hides are most common in a given area, some are even for scaling fish
    * The middle span of the blade is for chopping and is to be kept at rugged machete standards
    * The lowest quarter zone of the blade, just above the handle, is more of a narrowed angle meant for carving or sometimes serrated for controlled sawing action

    Bring the right tool for the job and know how to use it!

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  17. First off, Bear grylls is a great guy. A lot of the stuff he does for TV is exactly that – for TV. Unless you have climbed mount everest, been in the SAS, and been a great TV presenter, your opinion is invalid.

    Onto the parang, although I have not used it (and I have no experience of machetes), it is gerber, a brand I trust and reccomend. I would buy it based on brand alone.

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  18. I had horrible luck with Gerber’s Gator line. I ruined the blade in a matter of minutes…..meanwhile my cheap local Costa Rica hardware store machete is invincible.

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