"A short sword of ancient design. Good for stabbing or slashing. It's light and nimble, which sometimes lets it beat bigger, heavier weapons."
The gladius is a melee weapon in RimWorld that does a moderate amount of damage, has a moderate cooldown, and deals sharp damage.
As is typical with any sharp weapon, gladius attacks cause bleeding, and generally fares poorly against armor when compared to blunt weapons.
The gladius is one of the most well-rounded melee weapons in the game; striking an excellent balance between damage per hit and cooldown, and not being too expensive either. While the gladius is slightly better at nominal DPS, the mace performs significantly better against armor since it deals blunt damage, which puts the gladius in a tough spot. Plasteel gladii, however, offer excellent base DPS which establishes a slightly noticeable lead over a plasteel mace in this aspect; combining knife-like cooldown with spear-like damage.
Still, the gladius offers significantly more performance than the knife while not really being that much more expensive to produce, possibly even outclassing the knife as a 'budget' melee weapon - but again, the mace is still the better choice.
Against armor, a steel gladius delivers considerably worse performance even than a stone club, therefore even wooden clubs significantly outperform a steel gladius in this department - and a steel mace offers nearly double the damage output. When factoring in plasteel though, the gladius claws back slightly but still falls slightly behind even the wooden club, so a plasteel mace is going to be leaps and bounds ahead.
Overall, the gladius is by no means a bad weapon, because it's actually a decent melee weapon, but there are better options out there just for forking out slightly more silver or slightly more ingredients; at the end of the day, the mace is to the gladius what the gladius is to the knife - even when factoring in plasteel.
Gladii can be purchased from any outlander and orbital combat suppliers, or obtained from outlander and pirate raiders. Gladii can also be crafted at any smithy once the smithing research has been completed; from 50 of any metallic or wooden material, and 10,000 (166.67 secs) of work.