Switchblade? Not Quite. Gerber 'Assist-Opening' Knives

Switchblades these are not. At least not in the legal sense of the word. But nudge the blade open just a few millimeters on a knife like the Instant or Venture, two new “assist-opening” models from Gerber, and you get the sense that the “switchblade” distinction was lost partly in the legalese.

In truth, both these models, and dozens of knives on the market like them, require a manual push to initiate the blade. True switchblades, in contrast, need only the press of a button to dash up a sharp edge loaded on a spring.

gerber assist opening knife.jpg

Venture is an “assist-opening” knife

Assist-opening blades have been around for years. They can operate on springs, too, but require at least a bit of human interaction with a finger or a thumb on a blade before the knife’s mechanics can legally kick in to open it the rest of the way.

Ball bearings aid Gerber’s Venture knife in opening smooth and fast. In the hand, the $74 blade is ergonomically ready for action with a matte titanium body and scalloped contours that cradle fingertips and palm.

A scooped cutout near the hinge is made specially for a thumb-tip. It slopes down, directing the digit, and it ends at a tiny knob on the blade, a button-like feature that begins the “assist-opening” process to zing up a 3-inch point in a flash.

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Gerber Instant

The Instant, a cousin model with composite handles, does the same trick at a cheaper price. For $49 you don’t get titanium sides, but the Instant does indeed flick open about as fast as its name.

Both models have locking blades made of a stainless steel type 7Cr17Mov. They weigh about 4 ounces and fit easily in a pocket.

Neither of these knives are meant to be weapons. They are sold not as tactical blades but under Gerber’s “Essentials” line, which are knives made for everyday use.

One-handed operation is the main advantage of assist-opening blades. From pocket to hand to a blade cutting for your task, there is hardly an instant of delay.

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Titanium handles make the Venture a premium product

Utility is the selling point, to be sure. But let’s not forget fun. I admit to playing with these knives and their fast-opening functionality for no reason other than sheer entertainment factor.

There’s a slight rush, I’m not ashamed to admit, each time my thumb moves and the knife jumps to life, the blade a quick blur and a snap as it locks in place, ready for action in a literal blink.

—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.

Posted by Dan - 06/20/2012 12:20 PM

I haven’t been a huge fan of Gerber’s recent edged offerings, but these actually look pretty cool. If they combine these with some decent steel (haven’t handled 7Cr myself, but 8Cr has proven to be a good performer) I think the combo of assisted open, bearings, and price tag could make them a success.

And I agree, there typically is something of a fun factor to owning an assisted opening blade. Nothing wrong with that!

Dan @ BladeReviews

Posted by gnarlydog - 06/20/2012 06:58 PM

are these knives suitabe for marine environment? namely, will they rust in salt water?

Posted by Editor - 06/21/2012 05:12 PM

Are these knives suitabe for a marine environment? Yes, they can be used in a saltwater environment. Will they rust in salt water? Yes, they will rust if not cleaned after being in saltwater. Most knives will corrode in saltwater unless cared for.

Posted by Chris mccoy - 07/19/2012 12:59 PM

I would choose the gerber instant , it’s definitely a sharp looking knife !

Posted by Patrick Taylor - 07/19/2012 02:00 PM

i have choose gerber instant it nice looking knife and like the handle i would able grip it well. it light too it my cup of tea

Posted by Kevin Kerlin - 07/19/2012 02:10 PM

I’d choose the Venture (…but be delighted with either).

@TheGearJunkie

Posted by Chris mccoy - 07/20/2012 08:50 AM

I would choose the instant . It looks like an awesome knife to own and win !!

Posted by Tim - 03/24/2013 04:27 PM

There are many gerber items and the like available from Outdoorshopping.com

Posted by John Bo - 04/22/2013 07:14 PM

I have had Gerber knives for 30 years, beginning with a boot knife that I used for many a year, in Law Enforcement. I now have the original F.A.S.T. Draw that I have had for 3 years. I am well pleased with Gerber products and their service.

Posted by Michael W Johnson - 06/20/2013 08:37 PM

I’ve got a Gerber real similar to the instant, but all you have to do to open it is push a button, just like a switchblade ! I don’t know what the model # is but it’s real cool, but unfortunately it’s illegal ! So Gerber does make a switchblade pocket knife !

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