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A Battle-Tested Do-Everything Survival Tool That Even Marines Carry

gerber downrange tomahawkGerber products and I have had a long and fruitful relationship. My first experience with a Gerber came about way back when in my early days in the Marine Corps. I was attending the school of infantry and was accepted in the machine gunner’s course.

Here my instructor, a sergeant with years of experience, told us all to buy Gerber or Leatherman multi-tools. I looked up to this man as the ultimate machine gunner and wanted to be just like him. He carried a Gerber multi-tool so I hunted down the exact model.

Gerbers are so well-known in the Marine Corps that the name “Gerber” is used to describe any version of multi-tool no matter who actually made it. It was never “Hey can I borrow your multi-tool?” It was always “Hey gimme your Gerber for a minute.” Needless to say, I’ve always been fond of Gerber tools.

During my time in the Marine Corps I cross trained often with our Assault men in breaching doors. They carried heavy kits consisting of hooligan tools, sledge hammers, bolt cutters and even grappling hooks. The tools were effective at ripping into barricaded doors and even thick security doors. It basically took a bank safe to stop our assault men from going through a door.

We rarely ever encountered a door that needed such heavy tools to breach. When you are fighting in third world nations like Afghanistan, you don’t encounter many security doors, so carrying 80 pounds of extra breeching gear is a bit wasteful. The Gerber Downrange Tomahawk became a favorite of our breechers.

The Downrange Tomahawk was designed as a lightweight breeching tool for your average door. I say this early on because it’s important to remember: You won’t be breaking into vaults with the Downrange Tomahawk. The Downrange Tomahawk comes in at under four pounds and is small enough to put into a pack. It combines three tools into one.

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A lot of our tools for survival are often focused on woodland survival and based for those of us who have the option of bugging out to a rural area. The Gerber Downrange is perfect when one needs to scavenge and get themselves out of a bad situation.

Of course, it’s called a tomahawk, which is a bit misleading. A tomahawk was designed to be a weapon first and foremost, and this is designed to be a tool. It’s still lightweight and easy to wield one-handed. The ax head served a dual purpose for both breeching and to cut lanes for machine gun fire and woods for our personal fires at distant patrol bases.

The ax head was stout and strong and capable of cutting through doors and barricades with ease. The metal takes some time to really sharpen, but the blade lasts a good amount of time and takes quite a bit of abuse. The Tomahawk is light enough to be wielded one-handed against obstacles. I saw three Marines carry and use these and never saw one chip, break or bend. The blade can, of course, be wielded as a last-minute weapon or against threats that don’t require a bullet like snakes and even stray dogs.

tomahawk 2Flip the blade over and you have a hammer. The hammer is a bit light but it can still be swung with enough force to drive nails. It’s closer to your average claw hammer than a sledge hammer — with the added advantage of being able to be wielded with two hands. The hammer is designed to destroy hinges and break door knobs off. The hammer can be used to build barricades and break them down. Of course, building them will require nails and boards, but it does make it capable of building and destroying. We used our hammer to build a privacy barrier around the areas we called “bathrooms” and enjoyed this new privacy quite a bit.

We destroyed doors on a regular basis, and many were blocked with old-school wooden barriers that required an ax to cut through the door and a hammer to destroy the barricade. Hitting a 2×4 a few times in the middle made it crack and splinter easy enough.

The third tool is located at the end of the handle — a pry bar. The pry bar needed to be the most robust piece of the tool, and it is. The ax and hammer head feature a cut-out that is designed to be a grip when using the pry bar. The pry bar is perfect to pry doors open, to open sever grates and even open wooden boxes that had been nailed shut. When you have two of these tool, combining the pry bar and hammer makes a very useful combo.

The Gerber Downrange Tomahawk is corrosion resistant since its finish is actually cerakoted on to the handle, blade, hammer and pry bar. The handle is a G10 polymer grip. This grip features a very aggressive grip pattern which is absolutely necessary when trying to get through a door before a local fighter fires a salvo of AK rounds through it.

The metal is absolutely resistant to damage. It’s a tool of brute force designed to destroy doors and open up new paths. The Downrange Tomahawk comes with a MOLLE sheath that is capable of attaching to most battle belts and plate carries. The weight is approximately 3.7 pounds, which is seven pounds lighter than a single hooligan tool.

The Tomahawk is small enough that it can be tucked away in a bug-out bag. The Gerber Downrange Tomahawk is a heck of tool for urban dwellers who may find themselves in all sorts of terrible situations. Earthquakes and tornadoes can keep people trapped in their own homes — and without a solid tool they will stay there. The Gerber Downrange Tomahawk is perfect for the urban survivor.

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