It’s obvious that Gerber axes and Fiskars look very similar, but are they actually the same?
In short, yes the axes themselves are identical – BUT it’s not quite that simple.
Gerber Freestyle axes are identical to the Fiskars X-series axes as Gerber is owned by Fiskars. However the sheath type can vary, and not all models are sold under both brands. Gerber’s Freescape line has 5 axes, and Fiskars X-series has 9. Both brands also have other unrelated axe lines.
This article is about the differences between the models/brands. If you are considering one of these axes, I have a detailed article about the pros/cons and what they are good for.
This chart shows how the axe lines at a glance.
Now let’s get into the details.
Gerber 14 vs Fiskars X7
The Gerber Freescape 14 and Fiskars X7 are identical axes other than color and the sheath. The Gerber 14 comes with a newer compact cover designed to attach to a backpack, while the Fiskars X7 can come with an older wall hanger cover or the pack sheath.
The X7 / Gerber Freescape 14 is an excellent little hatchet. The stout wedge pattern head makes it a surprisingly good splitter for the weight/size. It really pops wood apart, so it’s great for kindling at campsites or the woodpile. I would actually recommend it for backpacking over the smaller X5 / Gerber 9 if you can take a little more axe – it’s only an extra 80g or 2.8oz for a lot more capability.
I bought a new X7 just a few weeks ago and it still came with the older wall hanger sheath. Which has a better notch for a nail and a flat back that makes it easy to hang on a wall. It’s quite light at only 2.15oz (61g) so it’s still very portable/packable. I have seen X7s online with the newer pack sheath, but mine came with a wall hanger sheath.
The Gerber 14 Freescape comes with the new pack sheath. This has a strap/belt loop on the back as well as a 2-in-1 strap/nail notch in the handle, plus a carabiner hole. This sheath is smaller and lighter than the older model at 1.55oz (45g) and is designed to strap to a pack.
However, it doesn’t hang as flat on the wall, which is annoying. The belt loop makes it stick out funny unless the nail is quite long. So your choice is between a better sheath to carry or for storage.
I would just go with whichever is cheapest (usually the Fiskars), but if you really want to make sure you get the lightweight sheath – go with Gerber.
Gerber 17.5 vs Fiskars X10
This model is unique within the Fiskars/Gerber family of axes.
While only a few inches longer than the X7/Gerber 14, the 17″ hatchets have much larger head that has a narrower flared wedge pattern that isn’t found on any other Fiskars/Gerber axe. It’s a much more capable chopper, and the best suited for bushcraft or camping tasks (when more than just splitting kindling is needed).
Both the Fiskars and Gerber versions come with the pack sheath.
Typically only the Gerber version is sold in North America. The X10 seems to own the rest of the international market, but It appears they are letting Gerber own this category in the US/CAN.
I have come across a few all-black 17” Fiskars Chopping Axes which are identical except for the older wall cover and no over-mold grip. These should be cheaper, but if they were close in price I would go for the Gerber (or X10) that has the over-mold grip and pack sheath.
You will find the X11 quite easily but it’s not the same – it has a dedicated head for splitting.
While you will likely need to go with the Gerber in North America, sometimes you can find the X10 on Amazon.
The other Fiskars/Gerber axe models are identical
The remaining 3 axes in the Gerber lineup are identical to Fiskars X series axes in every way other than color (including sheath).
X5 / Freescape 9 – A small backpacking hatchet with the same head size as the X7 / Freescape 14 but a shorter handle. This is my go-to for a backpacking and day-trips and I have a more in-depth review here.
The Gerber 9 is also often easier to find in North America, while the X5 is more common internationally.
X15 / Freescape 23.5 – A compact chopping axe with a heavier 2.5lb head, capable of felling trees and even splitting logs up to 12″. One of these axes lives permanently in the trunk of my car.
Both these models are available in North America, and I would just go with whatever is cheaper.
X27 / Freescape 36 – A large 36″ splitting axe, super popular and considered one of the best performing/cost on the market. I often recommend the X27 as a dedicated splitting axe.
I go into a lot more detail in my article on splitting axes here.
Update – I believe the Gerber 36 was discontinued, so just got with the Fiskars.
Why I typically choose Fiskars:
The Gerber versions of axes generally tend to average $5-10 more than the equivalent Fiskars models, even when they have the same sheath.
You are also far more likely to find a Fiskars axe on sale because they are marketed like household tools, and can be found in common hardware stores. Like Home Depot. I have bought most of mine for at least 20% regular price, making Fiskars an even better deal.
Unique axes under the Gerber/Fiskars Brands
Each brand also offers axes that are unique.
Fiskars X-series offers more splitting axes
The remaining X-series Fiskars axes that are not in the Gerber lineup are all splitting axes. The wide range of super-effective and high-value splitting axes stand out in the market overall. The X25 is my go-to, and I think the best all-around splitter. Note: The X21 is also not available in the US, but there is a standard black alternative.
See our article on how to pick the right Fiskars splitting axe.
Fiskars black axes are similar without the rubber overmold
I think the most confusing curveball when looking at Fiskars axes is the separate all-black line. Most are identical axes to the X-series, except that they don’t have the rubber over-mold handle.
The quality and performance of these axes are identical to the Gerber/Fiskars, other than the grip is a little less comfortable to use. The over-mold helps with grip, temperature, and vibration fatigue.
There are 2 unique black axe sizes:
– the 28-inch chopping axe has no X-series or Freescape alternative.
– The 28-inch splitter matches the X21 (which is not in the US/CAN)
Fiskars Norden axes offer wood handled versions of popular models
These are Fiskars’ newest additions (2019) and have a hybrid composite/wood handle. Neat Idea, but I have no real interest. The handle has an extra potential failing point but MOSTLY because they cost around $90 (US). The heads are identical to the classic axes, so that is too much money for me to switch.
Gerber has new Bushcraft Axes (new 2021)
I haven’t got my hands on one of these yet, but they look interesting. Not sure if they are made by Fiskars (I doubt it), but they look like they might focus on looks over function. Maybe they are great, but I have been less impressed with some of Gerber’s other axe ventures.
Gerber Gator axes are not the same as Fiskars
Only the Gerber Freescape axes are made by Fiskars in Finland. The Gerber Gator and Gator II axes look like Fiskars, but with the addition of a knife or saw hidden in the handle. However, these axes are made in Taiwan and are not of the same quality.
The Gator 1 is about 9” long with a small knife in the handle, while the Gator II is 15.5” with a saw. I have not tried these axes myself for the record, but I don’t plan to either. Nothing about them appeals to me. I would rather buy two good purpose-built tools than one gimmicky combo.
There are also many reports of broken handles and weak steel, I would avoid these axes.
Gerber Pack Hatchet vs Fiskars
The newest Gerber axe on the scene is the pack hatchet (also not made by Fiskars). I’m not going to say it’s bad, but know what you are buying.
The Gerber Pack Hatchet is a single-piece steel full tang design with a thin head. This makes it more of an axe-shaped knife than an axe. It’s capable of light work like carving or possibly limbing. The Fiskars hatchet has all the weight in the head, delivering more impact per blow for chopping/splitting.
I have a full hands-on comparison of the Gerber Pack Axe vs the Fiskars X5 here.
I would rather backpack with a large knife or regular hatchet than the Gerber Pack Hatchet. While light and compact It lacks the biggest advantages of both knives and axes.
While it can do fine tasks like a knife, it becomes hard to baton for splitting wood since its short blade is shaped like an axe. But while being axe-shaped, it’s too light and thin to carry any inertia in the head for chopping/splitting.
It’s better than nothing but is not the tool I would want to have on me in an emergency.
If I missed something or you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment below. I do my best to respond to everyone.
About the author:
I’m an amateur outdoorsman who loves axes – as a tool, the craft of restoring them, and the history. I got tired of only finding crap websites, so I set out to build a reliable one myself.
Jim B. – Owner, Creator