Defense Media Network

Gerber Unveils New ‘Downrange Tomahawk’ Design

SHOT Show 2013

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In addition to the array of military weapon sights and related small arms technologies highlighted at last week’s Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas, Nev., the venue offered several glimpses at new tool and blade designs developed to help today’s warfighters.

One representative example of a new item is the new “Downrange Tomahawk” developed by Gerber. Although early prototypes of the design have appeared at some recent shows like the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) annual meeting and exhibition in October 2012, the item will not begin shipping for another 30 days.

“It’s really about premium quality materials that serve the end user for what they are going to use the tool for,” offered Andrew Gritzbaugh, Gerber marketing manager for military/tactical products. “A lot of tomahawks out there on the market are either glorified axes or don’t provide much action other than chopping. So we wanted to approach the tomahawk project the way that we approach all of our products, which is to analyze what the end user will use the product for.”

Downrange Tomahawk small

Gerber’s Downrange Tomahawk is optimized for breaching tasks. Photo courtesy of Gerber

“In this case it’s breaching,” he explained. “So we approached our tomahawk design with an eye toward giving it multi-purpose: more than chopping. When you breach you need to chop things like wire, rope, twine, chain and padlocks. You also need to break a lot of windows and possibly even some door heads. So this tool has a hammerhead on the back.”

With an overall length of 19.27 inches, the bottom of the tool features a slightly angled (10 degree) crowbar that extends beyond the recessed tomahawk handle.

“That’s so you can actually get it down into a window ledge or a doorframe,” Gritzbaugh said. “And another thing that’s unique about it is that there is a hand hole in the head of the axe that allows you to ‘put some serious real estate on it.’ So when you are doing your pry you can actually put hard energy on it. You’re not grabbing the blade or hitting the spike. This gives you all of your primary breaching functions all in a single solid piece of material.”

The tool is made of 420HC (high carbon) steel that is heat-treated for extra hardness and coated in KG Gun Kote. G-10 scales provide extra grip on the handle material.

“So it’s just like a weapon; you can throw this thing in dirt and mud for years and it will still hold up,” Gritzbaugh said.

The tool weighs 1.90 pounds without a sheath. The sheath design will allow using either hammer or prybar without removal.

“It also comes with separate MOLLE attachment with quick release snaps, so you can put it on a pack rightside up or upside down; put it on the back or front of body armor, so it can be mounted exactly where users want it in a ‘stack,’” he observed.

Acknowledging that the Downrange Tomahawk has been in the design process for just under two years, he concluded, “It’s a long-cycle product, but sometimes it needs that extra depth of research to make sure that we really come out with something great.”

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Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...