The Gerber Parang had the potential to be a truly remarkable and well-loved production knife, but its launch was marred by reports of catastrophic failure in terms of shoddy quality control. I happen to think that’s a damn shame because this knife is currently one of my favourite hard use knives. For the record, I’ve never personally experienced any poor quality control with my own parang.
Gerber Bear Grylls Parang Machete – Amazon / Blade HQ
Most machetes are produced as cheap farm tools with no real care taken in regards to fit and finish. Basic elements like sheaths are normally completely disregarded. This is where Gerber’s Bear Grylls Parang Machete comes in as quite different from the norm. The design of this knife was certainly derived for low cost local production, and while it is definitely fit for farmers who might seek something a bit more akin to the stereotypical Western camp knife, it’s also got a very nice finish, and a cheap but acceptable sheath.
The knife has great balance for light chopping and vegetation. The blade is anaemic – so thin – at just 1/8th of an inch wide, with a total length of 13.5 inches of blade. The handle is reasonable in the ergonomics department, with a nice palm swell. I did wrap the handle in tacky nylon tape, however, just for a bit of traction and so that the ridges won’t bite into my skin.
Again, the sheath is surprisingly decent and will stand up to the rigours of hard use in uncertain environments.
Although I can’t say I would ever carry it on my belt, it’s nice to know I have the option. My advise is to make a sling for it in case you’re thinking of carrying it, or just keep it strapped to your backpack. An emergency signals data sheet is stitched into the reverse of the sheath. A nice detail, I think.
The machete has great blade shape for general bushcraft activities: it debarks like a pro.
There’s no good way to choke up for detail tasks, so I would suggest using your free hand to control the pressure on the blade. That produces decent enough precision for a blade this size. The sub 20 oz weight helps in that regard. Also, since the default edge angle is pretty obtuse, the blade can be pretty versatile.
The handle features integrated guards. I’m not convinced that this feature is at all needed, but it would definitely help appeal to those who gravitate toward the tactical in all knives.
The machete acts as an excellent chopper, and can completely decimate 2 inch wide branches in one fell swoop with no difficulty.
The Grylls Parang wouldn’t be my first choice to do serious chopping with, especially if I was chopping hardwood, as the handle doesn’t seem designed to handle vibrations of that nature. Nonetheless, when push comes to shove, it does perform very well as a chopping knife, and takes extremely large bites out of the wood with each act of contact.
One downside of such a thin stock is that the blade will bind up in thicker pieces of wood. To help prevent this as much as possible, use sharp motions with clean angles when striking the wood.
Below, you can see the thickness of the blade when compared to the Ontario Marine Raider Bowie. Needless to say, the contrast is dramatic!
Ontario SP10 Marine Raider Bowie – Amazon
Batoning with the parang is not completely ideal due to the super thin stock. If the wood your batoning is soft, it will go through the wood like butter, but with hardwood expect the blade to bind up. On the flip side, its length makes striking the spine when batoning really easy.
One of my favourite things about the aesthetics of this knife is the gorgeous blade profile. Those Indonesians hit a home run when conceiving such a beautifully utilitarian design.
For all intents and purposes, the Gerber Bear Grylls Parang is what happens when a Western camp knife is crossed with a South East Asian blade profile, and damn does it look good!
The lightness of the blade makes chopping light vegetation very enjoyable, and while some individuals have reported failure in the quality control department, I personally never experienced any issues.
I’ve been wielding it for 15 months and it’s done nothing but impress me.
Does anyone know the angle of the blade for sharpening?
Thomas Xavier says
I freehand on a slack belt & go for a convex edge. Not sure what the recommended angle is though :/
It’s a nice shape and is very useful for cutting light undergrowth, in that it won’t tire you out wielding it. But it’s very light and a very thin blade, it just won’t tackle anything larger, so forget chopping wood.
The blade doesn’t appear to be of very good quality; the cutting edge sharpens easily, but just an hour of light use and it’s full of serious nicks and needs re-shaping. Again, forget anything other than light use – if you hit anything it’s not happy with, then that’s another re-shaping to look forward to.
I still use it for cutting undergrowth, but I wanted a survival knife and regret purchasing such a light-weight model.
Thomas Xavier says
Good feedback mate, my own GB parang keeps an edge very well and obliterated 4″ thick logs in Canada- recently took out some orange trees with it in Portugal and it held up like a champ. Seems quality control is iffy with this particular model. :/
Horrible used it for 3 hour and chunks of metal fell off. Junk.
Thomas Xavier says
Thanks for the feedback- it doesn’t correlate with my own experiences- perhaps you got one with a bad heat treat? I recommend you reach out to Gerber- they will do you right.
Scott Gibson says
I have one of these,and agree with the reviewer.Ilove it.Even though I know it’s soft metal,I put a good edge on it.It has held up well through mostly light duty chopping,and brush clearing.As a long time resident of St. Croix,I have owned,and used many machetes.Our St. Lucian gardener said it was one of the best machetes he’ ever used.I have not used it as a weapon,butI am sure it would make a fearsome one
Thomas Xavier says
It’s wonderful isn’t it? I really can’t say enough good things about it. It’s such a pity that the Bear Grylls marketing has negatively impacted the perception of this otherwise fantastic tool. :(