Gerber Sports Saw

Cliff Stamp

Oct 5, 1998
I was interested primarily in how this would compare to the saw on my SAK and as well how it would fare in terms of time and fatigue wise against a decent large chopping blade. The result :

In short, the lock is not functional, and it cuts similar to the SAK saw in terms of strokes per second and stroke cut depth. Compared to a decent chopping blade it is easily out performed.

However it is very light (60 g), and from a weight perspective it is more efficient. It is also much safer in general to use than a 1 lbs+ chopping blade.

After about a months more use I can comment on the edge holding ability. In short it is very low. The steel is soft and thus the points round quickly and the bite of the saw is really reduced. I took this along during christmas and the cutting ability had degraded so much that it was that difficult I dropped it for a 3 foot swede saw.

I recently sharpened it with the file on my leatherman supertool and a DMT taper rod. Freshly sharpened it cut very well and it was again decently fast. However after only about 2 dozen or so cuts through medium hard pine about 2x3" or so the performance had degraded to where it took 50+ cuts to go through the wood.

I would be curious to know what steel this is as well as what the RC is. I think I'll pick up one of the Japanese influenced pruning saws that Lee Valley sells.


Is the blade replacable on the Gerber saw. The Coleman Sierra saw which is about the same price or cheaper might make an interesting comparison. The blades are repacable and the teeth are more aggressive.

Replacement blades are not offered. I have ordered a few different small hand saws and will be comparing them to the Gerber in a week or two. A folding Buck saw with a Swede saw style blade, a pruning saw with a Japanese tooth pattern and a tapered blade and a few others.

I would like to get one that can handle wood in the 2-4" class with similar effort and speed as a decent large chopping blade. The Gerber definately does not do this. I tried to use it yesterday on a piece of 4.5" pine and gave up after about 25 pulls gave me less than 0.5" of penetration. I switched to a reprofiled machete and went through the wood in less time than I spent with the saw.


I've used mine for a little time now. At one time for three days non stop. The blade does dull too quickly, but then settles down to "useable but not brilliant". I'm in the business to buy a few new blades (easier said than done). I like the tool and there are some jobs where you cannot get a realistic swing with a bigger knife. I'm sure I neetened up a 4 inch branch before. 3 inch, zipped through (but so can my Blackjack Marauder II). Its a toolbox tool and I'm happy to have one.

Now the SAK's saw is the business for cutting those little snare triggers. I have a L Wave, but its saw still doesn't match the SAK's. Then again they are best for those "little jobs".

Looking forward to your Saw report.
Thanks for an excellent review!

I was very impressed with the saw on a friend's Leatherman Wave - but as your review shows a few cuts doesn't prove very much. I'm wondering if anyone makes a handle to use Jigsaw blades or the larger reciprocating saw blades? I had heard that Stanley makes one but haven't been able to find details. These blades are well proven in use, cheap and available in various tooth patterns.
Along the same lines I wonder if you have considered adding the pocket chainsaw to your tests. It's reviewed here:
but I'm sure that we'd all look forward to your opinions - comparing these to straight bladed saws. Your point with two hands being needed to operate a cable type saw is well taken.
I've been using very light knives with a baton to cut wood. I'd be very interested in your opinions of a light knife used with a baton - compared to the light saws.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I wonder if you have considered adding the pocket chainsaw to your tests. </font>

I read that review a few years back and became interested in the performance of such saws. Since no one stocks them locally - I hacked one together using a chainsaw chain, and did some work with it. I felled some small to medium pine and such (2-4" at base), limbed them out, as well as did some work on limbing heavier trees (1-3" branch) and some scrap (roughly 2x4" sized).

The results were not impressive to say the least. It was readily outperformed with a cheap folding pruning saw to a huge extent. The main problem was not the cutting ability but usually the difficulty in positioning. If you have to work around other branches you cannot use a long pull, or if you do, you are in a very awkward position. Compare this to a pruning saw which very easily handles such work.

But even the simple task of felling a tree is very awkward. With a pruning saw you just kneel down, and use the saw very close to the ground and you can leave a very low stump which is prefered for *many* reasons. With the loose chain you have to work higher and in fact are most comfortable with your arms almost straight out, which is much too much wasted wood even kneeling down. The teeth are also very difficult to start on small wood and scrap (due to the corners).

And worse yet, how do you handle the felled wood (and you better have limbed it out before knocking it down)? With a fixed saw you can use one hand to position the wood while the other runs the saw neatly cutting it up into whatever lengths you want. With a loose saw you need to hands to run it so you have to prop the wood up on something and walk on it to keep it stable.

Some of these things could have been fixed with a better tooth pattern as a chainsaw pattern requires a decent amount of force to be pulled through wood. But the difficultly of use, time and effort required as compared to a decent small folding saw left me with no significant interest in them.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I've been using very light knives with a baton to cut wood. I'd be very interested in your opinions of a light knife used with a baton - compared to the light saws.</font>

The biggest problem with this is that in general it is a hacked job using the blade far outside the intended scope of work for the type of small blades that I prefer using. What I want in such a knife is something that cuts very well. This geometry would readily break apart if I tried pounding it through wood, unless the wood was soft and more importantly clear. A hard knot would destroy a high performance (thin grinds) small fixed blade.

Now there are some small blades that can easily handle this type of work, the #3 Basic from Busse Combat for example. I have not actually looked at the time / effort of this method as compared to a decent saw (or larger blade) and it is an interesting suggestion. I'll look into it.

By the way, I have no heard of handles for jigsaw blades etc. .

One more thing concerning Leatherman vs SAK saws, the edge retention on the SAK saws is much better. I just examined mine and the teeth on my Leatherman saw are all rounded/deflected whereas the SAK teeth are all still sharp. And I have used the SAK much more then the Leatherman saw as it cuts much better.

Greenjacket, yes, a lower clearance is one of the main benefits of saws over large chopping blades. In the same line as a needing a lower skill level, safer to use etc. .

I've had the best luck with the Gerber LST saw. It has a Zytel handle and a 5.5" blade. Extremely light and small, with a very aggressive tooth pattern. Much better than the current version being made. I purchased mine 4 years ago at Wal-Mart for $7.
Thanks for a very detailed reply, Cliff!

Hopefully some of the people who have posted in the Wilderness Survival Forum that they use the pocket chainsaw will post their impressions. For my part now that I've had a chance to think things through - I think I'd have some serious safety concerns with cutting down trees with one of these - as well as with the effectiveness.

I looked for the handles for jigsaw and reciprocating saw blades - but so far no luck..

I believe that you will find the use of a baton with a light knife interesting - in terms of thinking out what would be the ideal light blade for the job. I'm still using my original Mora to cut down trees thicker than the actual length of the blade. This can be accomplished of course by putting in side cuts. It's actually a very efficient way of cutting wood since you are driving a very thin blade through the wood with good precision. Since I am mostly interested in survival aspects this is taking things to extremes, since one would rarely need poles above wrist thickness. The reason for cutting such large wood was to try to see why the knife didn't get stuck - since if that happened with your main survival blade, you'd be stuck. Mostly I've been cutting alders and birch as cutting conifers would be somewhat of a waste of timber.
Most of what I know about cutting wood would suggest that a knife used in such a way would end up stuck in the tree, but so far this hasn't happened. Besides using a narrow Mora, I also used CS Red River and Hudson Bay knives with a large gradually tapering surface on the sides of the blade, and a leuko with large parallel blade faces - and while they were closer to getting stuck, it never actually happened. I'm more than a little puzzled by this.
If anything I'm more puzzled as to how a Mora knife would hold together through such treatment given its construction. Besides green wood I've split some very knotty seasoned spruce where the blade bent to some pretty interesting curves following the grain, and where it took quite a bit of pounding to get through the knots. Surprisingly the edge on carbon steel models held up very well. Their stainless did not. In this case it was a matter of cut all the way since the knife solidly wedged.
All of that out of the way - cutting down any tree above wrist thickness with a knife and baton is a stunt and a pretty dangerous one - especially with alder. More people around here have been hurt cutting small leaning alder than even large conifers, since alder often is leaning and will split up the trunk if cut without side cuts. This being the so called barber chair or springboard effect. You'd be in a pretty deadly position if using a baton and knife. The same goes for cutting a bent and trapped sapling.
It would certainly seem that there are no good alternatives to a chopping blade or straight saw - as you said.
I have the newer Gerber saw (has a locking screw and the saw slides into the handle) It has very agressive teeth on it and the thin blade doesn't get hung up in the cut.The handle is also very comfortable in the hand. I have used it around the garden to cut some very tough stuff up to 5"-6" and it just zips right through both green and dry wood. I bought it to replace my old folding Gerber saw that dulled and after using a file I could not raise the teeth back to where they used to be. Weldonk