THE NEW GERBER DOUBLEDOWN IS A SMALL, POWERFUL MACHETE THAT FOLDS LIKE A BALISONG
What exactly is the Gerber Doubledown? Is it a small machete, a large knife, or a burly balisong? The answer is, “Yes.”
The one thing it’s not is a gimmick. At first, I was tempted to think it might be just a novelty item, but then I put it to work. Is it unusual? Yes. And it will definitely be a conversation starter with your bushcraft buddies around the campfire. But the Gerber Doubledown is a blade that’s quite capable of some serious work after all the snide comments have faded away.
Gerber lists the Doubledown as a folding machete, so we’ll go with that. It features a 7-inch recurve blade of 420HC steel with a subdued, stonewashed finish. That finish became shiny in a few spots after a bit of use.
There is jimping on the blade spine, but farther out on the blade. That’s because it’s designed not for a thumb hold, but as a slip-free strike point for a wooden baton when splitting wood, taking down a sapling, or other tasks where you might pound on the back of the blade.
“The Doubledown is part machete, part hatchet, part knife in one compact tool.”
The two steel-lined polymer handles fold around the blade. Unlike your usual balisong, however, these handles are connected to each other by gears so that when opening or closing the Doubledown, the handles rotate together, not independently.
Gerber came up with a very innovative and safe patent-pending QuadLock for the Doubledown. This was important to prevent someone from trying to show off his Hollywood ninja skills by flipping this behemoth around like a conventional butterfly knife and cutting his fingers off in the process.
The Doubledown locks closed, fully open, and halfway open. There are four metal locking bars, all of which must be depressed at the same time to release the lock. As you close the handles, the lock catches again at the halfway point, requiring you to move your fingers out of the way, and to depress the locking bars again to fully close the knife.
“There are four metal locking bars, all of which must be depressed at the same time to release the lock.”
At first this might seem like a minor annoyance. But it’s more than a mechanical safety device. It also requires you to maintain your focus on what you’re doing—closing the knife—and that can go a long way in ensuring your fingers stay attached to your hands.
As with other butterfly-type knives, there’s a latch too that secures the handle halves together open or closed.
EXTENDING YOUR REACH
Usually, you don’t think of a machete as having a blade only 7 inches long. That’s more survival knife territory. But what the Doubledown gains over a typical survival knife is that 9-inch handle. When open, the Doubledown is 15 inches long overall.
Taking a grip on the contoured handle toward the rear gives you more reach than you might have with a conventional fixed blade. That’s reach you can use to your advantage when swinging the Doubledown to clear trails or shooting lanes or to slice off pine boughs for an emergency shelter.
That extra length gives you more leverage when chopping too. Yet you can easily choke up on the handle and the Doubledown performs as any fixed blade for precise cutting chores. The blade arrived sharp and stayed that way.
The recurve shape with some belly to it provided good overall slicing performance. The Doubledown is part machete, part hatchet, part knife in one compact tool.
BATONING MADE EASY
To be honest, I don’t do much batoning with many of my knives either because they’re not well suited for it or I’m concerned about damaging the edge. But I found the shape and length of the Doubledown lent itself well to the use of a baton.
I didn’t baby this tool at all. I smacked it good and it liked it. The jimping on the spine I found to be well placed. Striking the baton directly on the jimping was the sweet spot and the Doubledown easily split firewood into kindling.
INTO THE CAMPING KIT
The Doubledown is available with either green or black handles. I like the green as it matches my Gerber Fastball folder, which would be a good companion for the Doubledown. A black nylon sheath is included.
As the Doubledown is just 9 inches closed, it could be worn on a belt or attached to a pack with the MOLLE attachments on the back of the sheath.
So why is a review of the Gerber Doubledown included in this issue’s special section on family camping? It’s here because a family camping trip often requires a mastermind to pack a vehicle when you include the tent, screened dining fly, air mattresses, sleeping bags, coolers, food bins, camp stove, and on and on.
Don’t forget the bikes, the canoe, and the fishing gear. You’re lucky to have room for the kids.
The Gerber Doubledown is a versatile tool that can chop branches, slash through brush, and split firewood in addition to doing all the finer knife things. That utility can come in handy on any backwoods outing, especially when space and perhaps weight are critical.
Come to think of it, we could have put this review in a special section on survival knives or hunting knives or chopping tools or … You get the idea. The Gerber Doubledown is a versatile tool worth bringing along.
Type: Folding machete
Blade Length: 7 inches
Blade Style: Recurve with stonewashed finish
Length Closed: 9 inches
Overall Length: 15.1 inches
Weight: 18 ounces
Lock Mechanism: QuadLock with safety stop
Other: Nylon belt sheath with MOLLE attachments; overstrike guard; stability bar; baton jimping; lanyard ring
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the July – August 2021 print issue of Knives Illustrated.