The Gerber Fastball folder deserves to find a strong following among those who carry a pocket knife on a daily basis. The knife is sized to offer a good balance of performance, utility and convenience of carry. It features an excellent blade configuration made of good steel, is made in America and incorporates Gerber’s improved manual flipper design that separates it from the competition.
Gerber Fastball has Flipper Advantages
I like a knife that features a flipper that allows the blade to be opened easily with one hand and then, when opened, provides a finger guard. Most of my daily cutting chores are pretty ordinary, but there are occasions when I am holding or steadying something with one hand as I reach for my knife with the other. Being able to open my knife with one hand is useful.
And while I am no master knife fighter, I do expect at least one of the knives I carry every day to be able to handle last-ditch defensive work. I must be able to deploy it quickly and surely should there be a life or death struggle for my concealed carry handgun or to encourage an attacker to release a chokehold.
Over the years, through worn pockets, nicked fingers and several shoe boxes full of knives of every configuration, I’ve proven to my own satisfaction that I can open a knife with a flipper more quickly under stress, with either hand, with less chance of fumbling than with any blade with thumb studs.
The ability to open a knife with either hand is important to me. When I’m carrying a handgun, which is most of the time, I’m usually carrying it in an inside-the-waistband holster on my right side. I want my right hand free to access and maintain control of my firearm. So, a knife I carry for a possible tactical application I carry so that it’s easily accessible with my left hand.
Gerber Fastball is a Better Flipper
Not all flippers are created equal. If the flipper is coupled with an assisted opening system, usually opening the knife with the index finger of either hand is easy. A manual flipper, one that has no assisted-opening spring, must have a balance of security and ease of opening. If the blade pivot is too tight, you’ll have to operate the flipper with more force and maybe flick your wrist at the same time or the blade might not fully open and might not lock. If the blade pivot is too loose, any pressure against the flipper could cause the blade to partially open while it’s in your pocket. I’ve had that happen. It’s not a good thing.
The Gerber Fastball is a manual flipper design that is overcomes the drawbacks. The blade pivots using Gerber’s B.O.S.S. Tech. That stands for Balls of Stainless Steel Technology, which I presume refers to the mechanism and not the guy who designed it. The blade pivots smoothly on tiny ball bearings, so it opens consistently fast and fully until the liner lock engages.
However, there’s a small nub on that liner lock that fits into a detent on the blade when the blade is closed. The blade is passively locked closed unless intentional pressure is applied to the flipper.
In practice, more pressure than with other flippers must be applied to the Fastball. But once that nub releases from the detent, even though there is no spring, the Fastball’s blade flies open as reliably, fast and strong as any assisted opener I’ve tried.
Gerber refers to it as “light switch” activation and that’s a good description. Hold it up or hold it down, no flick of the wrist is required and the blade never opens only partially — not when you want it to open and not when you carry it in your pocket. There is jimping on the flipper for no-slip operation.
This Knife Features an Excellent Blade
The Gerber Fastball has other good features as well. The blade is three inches long and is made of Crucible’s S30V stainless steel, a powder steel known for its toughness and resistance to wear and corrosion. It has a stonewash finish that’s low glare without the need of any special add-on coatings.
The blade is a slightly modified Wharncliffe in configuration. Usually, a Wharncliffe will have a full-length straight edge with the spine angling down to meet it at the tip. The Fastball’s blade spine does turn down in two angled steps and tapers toward the tip. But, but the edge of the blade turns up slightly toward the tip.
An EDC knife might be employed for many different cutting tasks, so versatility is desirable. I believe the Fastball’s blade configuration is excellent in that it keeps the slashing and slicing benefits of the Wharncliffe, but with an enhanced ability to penetrate or perform detail work with the tip where reach is required.
The blade was sharp out of the box, but that’s what I’d expect from Gerber, so there was no surprise there.
Feels Good in the Hand
The material of handle is aluminum with a finely bead-blasted, satiny feel. The handle on my test knife was an attractive Flat Sage. The knife is also available in Urban Grey and Black. There is a liner under only one of the handle scales and it is used for the locking mechanism. It engaged fully when the blade was opened.
A curved portion with jimping allowed for easy unlocking. A textured black plastic back spacer is used, but it doesn’t run the full length of the handles, leaving enough open space for easy clean-out.
There’s an elongated lanyard hole at the tail end. I’ve used lanyards on knives when I’m over water, but I also like a lanyard hole. This is for times when I want to attach a knife to a pack strap or other gear. The three-way pocket clip that matches the finish of the blade, can be positioned for tip-up carry left or right side or tip-down carry right side.
Going into the Rotation
My problem – not really a problem – is that I like lots of different knives and I’m continually swapping out one for another, for daily carry as the mood or specific duty dictates.
The Gerber Fastball is a good American-made knife with a sharp blade of tough steel in a slim package that’s easy to carry. It has a fair price tag of slightly over $100. Its unique flipper mechanism puts it ahead of many of my other knives. It’s definitely going into my EDC rotation.
Model: Gerber Fastball
Type: Folding knife with manual flipper
Lock Mechanism: Liner lock
Closed Length: 4 inches
Open Length: 7.1 inches
Blade Length: 3 inches
Blade Steel: S30V stainless steel with stonewash finish
Weight: 2.7 ounces
Handle Material: Aluminum
Other: 3-way pocket clip
MSRP: $115 (Flat Sage or Urban Gray), $120 (Black)
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of Engaged Media’s Concealed Carry Handguns magazine.