Reviewed by: Alex Johansen. Modeled by: Carolina.
Mauls and large splitting axes are beasts for powering through tough logs. But they’re cumbersome for lateral swinging and aren’t cheap. Odd jobs like pruning tree branches at head height are also out of the question.
That’s where the Gerber 23.5″ Freescape Axe comes into play. It’s a versatile allrounder, ideal for felling trees, lopping down saplings, and splitting wood.
This tool looks impressive on paper, but does it perform in practice? We tested the Gerber 23.5″ Freescape Axe to help you understand its features, strengths, and weaknesses.
Overview of the Gerber 23.5″ Axe
The Gerber Freescape is a modern-looking axe that’s made for felling trees. It’s super-light, meaning most will find it easy to make horizontal swings. Anyone looking for an easy-to-swing axe with a sharp blade that bites deep will love this tool.
Of course, tree felling is just the beginning. The Gerber’s handle is long enough to provide excellent leverage. A well-directed swing delivers impressive power, so splitting mid-sized logs is possible.
Quick tip: If you’d prefer a smaller tool, read our Gerber 17.5″ Hatchet Review to learn more. It’s a lighter, more portable choice if you don’t do a lot of log splitting. You can also check out our Gerber Pack Hatchet review for an even smaller tool!
While a small hatchet is great for jobs requiring small, accurate swings, the Gerber 23.5″ makes a useful backup if you’re in a pinch. You can clean up limbs, clear brush, chop tinder, and take care of general yard work. Odd jobs around the property or work site are made easier.
This tool is light and compact enough to toss in the truck. Keep it on hand to clear blowdowns on backwoods roads or pull it out for your next camping or hunting trip. It’s robust and deals with exposure to hot weather better than wood axes.
The Gerber Freescape has innovative features to enhance comfort and make grueling jobs less energy-sapping. Owners of traditional wood axes will be surprised by how light and durable the Gerber range of axes is.
- Sharp, easy-to-maintain blade edge that is corrosion resistant.
- Flared knob to prevent the handle from slipping out of hand.
- PFTE blade coating is heat resistant to 600°F (315°C).
- Plastic FiberComp handle is light, non-slip, and durable.
- Patented system attaches the handle and head securely.
- Plastic sheath protects and makes carrying easy.
How does the Gerber Freescape 23.5″ perform?
The Gerber Freescape 23.5″ Axe does an outstanding job at what it’s designed for, felling trees. As a warmup, we tested it out on some spruce saplings. The sharp blade made easy work of them, like a knife through butter. A hollow handle reduces the overall weight significantly, making it easy to swing and reducing impact shock.
For chopping, the bit hits logs hard and deep. It pops out large chips aggressively. We bucked a fallen dogwood that had an 18″ diameter, and its solid head and blade profile provided some serious bite.
Remember, this axe doesn’t have the same power as a full-sized felling axe. But for the price and size, it can hold its own.
Need a heavy-hitting felling axe? Consider the Agdor 32 Montreal Felling Axe for those on a bigger budget.
As previously mentioned, the Gerber 23.5″ is compact enough for general yard chores. Delimb branches, chop kindling and even try your hand at carpentry.
We attempted to split a large log of seasoned elm. It was rock hard, and the Gerber didn’t have the power to chop this kind of log. We recommend a heavy-duty maul for these jobs to avoid sore hands and wrists.
Overall, the Gerber Freescape is good value for money. It offers similar performance to high-end brands for a lower price. While it may not appeal to wood-loyal traditional axe lovers, it’s hard to deny the performance this chopping tool delivers.
Parts of the Gerber Freescape
Like all Gerber tools, the Freescape axe is loaded with valuable features. Let’s look at the tool’s components to see what it has to offer.
The head weighs 2.3 pounds, almost two-thirds of the axe’s 3.6lb total weight. In comparison, the extra-large X27 splitting axe has a 4lb head, while the Husqvarna Universal Axe head weighs 3.9lb.
The Gerber came with an impressive factory profile with a thin edge that deeply penetrates the wood. Use this axe for felling, limbing, splitting, and even wood shaping.
Its permanent molded head is virtually indestructible – even the severe impact of overstrike won’t break it off. The head’s poll isn’t made for hammering, so avoid banging in metal stakes or anything hard. We think it will handle the occasional wooden stake, though.
The Gerber head is constructed with hardened forged steel, so it should serve you for many years. The PFTE coating on the blade helps stop it from pinching or binding in the wood. This feature isn’t a perfect solution, but it is an improvement on regular axe heads.
At 23.5″ in length, the Gerber Freescape is long enough to deliver powerful blows. It’s also light, so most people should have no problem using this axe.
Designed with a striking black and bright green color scheme, it’s a nice-looking tool. Bright green won’t appeal to everyone, so we’ll leave that up to you.
For practical purposes, we prefer the vibrant orange Fiskars axes. They’re much easier to spot in the bush or if you leave them in the long grass.
Gerber axe handles are made from advanced FiberComp material and have a hollow inside. This combination produces a super-light and durable haft that absorbs shock very well. That means you can work longer without wrist and hand pain. Slamming the blade into hard knots, crotches, and seasoned wood will cause less jarring.
The composite materials aren’t affected by water or other slippery liquids. Rain or blood from cutting up meat and poultry won’t make the haft slippery.
Experienced axe users accustomed to hickory handles may be disappointed with how the Gerber is made. It looks and feels a lot different in hand. Also, maintenance isn’t possible, like thinning the handle or replacing it.
A flared handle knob is a helpful safety feature that stops the axe from flying out of your hand. We also noticed it provides better control of the swing.
Use the lanyard hole for hanging it up in the tool shed or on the back of a pack.
A plastic sheath covers the entire head for protection. It has a simple lever making it easy to remove and attach. This cover stops the blade from getting chipped and people cutting themselves. The sheath also makes a helpful carry handle that makes transporting the tool safe and easy.
The head cover has big gaps allowing water to escape easily. This feature is useful as wet axes can become moldy and rusty if the water gets trapped.
Strengths of a Gerber 23.5″ Freescape
- A versatile tool for chopping and splitting.
- Constructed using highly durable materials.
- Sharp blade that bites deep into wood.
- Hardened forged steel has great edge retention.
- Tactile grip improves control during each swing.
- Light and easy to use for people of any size.
- Made in Finland by a reputable company.
- Limited lifetime warranty
Weaknesses of a Gerber 23.5″ Freescape
- Not ideal for big splitting jobs.
- Axe tinkerers can’t alter the axe.
- Some won’t like the bright color scheme.
Commonly asked questions
Does the Gerber 23.5″ Freescape Axe make a good splitting axe?
The Gerber 23.5″ Axe is great for light-duty splitting of firewood and kindling. However, a specialized splitting axe or maul will make it much easier to split larger logs and tough wood. If you want to stick with the Gerber brand, consider buying the Gerber 36″ Power Splitting Axe. Fiskars, Estwing, Husqvarna, and Gransfors Bruks all manufacture excellent splitting axes too.
How do I sharpen a Gerber axe?
Gerber axe blades can be sharpened like a regular axe using sandpaper, files, or an electric tool. Any sharpening will remove some of the PFTE coating that reduces binding. The Fiskars axe sharpener will help maintain the tool’s correct blade profile.
Is Gerber a trustworthy manufacturer?
While Gerber is an American manufacturer with a solid reputation, its axes are manufactured by Fiskars in Finland. This Finnish company has been making tools since 1649, building an excellent reputation for quality, long-lasting products. Finland’s oldest private company forges its tools locally under strict quality guidelines.
You can learn more about Gerber here.
Gerber vs. Fiskars – What’s the difference?
The Gerber and Fiskars axe ranges are essentially the same axes with different color schemes. Gerber axes are made in the Fiskars factory, and each axe head is inscribed with “Fiskars.” A Gerber 23.5″ Axe is the equivalent of a Fiskars X15.
What is the best alternative to the Gerber 23.5″ Axe?
If you’re looking for an alternative within the Gerber axe range, consider the Gerber 14″ Hatchet for a smaller, more portable option. The Fiskars Pro Maul or X27 Splitting Axe are much better options if you need a high-quality axe for big splitting jobs.
The Gerber 23.5″ Axe is a versatile tool offering excellent value for the price tag. You don’t need to be an experienced forestry professional to feel comfortable using it. It is a lightweight tool that most will find easy to swing.
The best use for this axe is felling trees, and it does an exceptional job at this task. Those looking to split wood will do better with other axes or mauls built for this job. However, it’s a good allrounder for jobs like splitting, carving, carpentry, limbing, and pruning.
Gerber makes a vague claim that their axe chops up to three times deeper than average. This statement sounds like marketing fluff, not hard data to base a buying decision on. That said, it’s a handy tool for your tool collection, and we found it hard to fault.