Inside Fastball: The Gerber Precision Blade That ‘Wears Like a Nailhead’

Slim, light, fast: Gerber tells us why it built the new-for-2019 Fastball as the knife you’ll use every single day.

Gerber released the Fastball everyday carry (EDC) blade earlier this year. And you can check out the first look from an independent GearJunkie reviewer. But to learn why Gerber is so excited for the Fastball, we caught up with the brand’s industrial designer, Seth Jaramus. He explained how a knife that looks simple takes a lot of thought to get right. Here’s how the Fastball knife came to life — and how it makes sense for modern lifestyles.

Gerber Fastball knife

Gerber Fastball: EDC Knife Made in the USA

GJ: What features put the Fastball into the everyday carry category?

Seth: Our team focused on these primary EDC attributes: slim pocket-carry, light weight, and fast, reliable one-handed deployment. The blade shape also had to be well-suited to both everyday tasks and more severe-duty tasks that required more strength at the tip and a robust edge. Premium materials and modern design were also paramount to the Fastball.

How does the Fastball compare to other everyday carry knives at the same price point?

In a $100 USA-designed and -made folding knife, we were able to bake in features like S30V blade steel, machined aluminum handles, and a strong, reliable detent for fast manual finger-flip deployment. That combination is a tough nut to crack for a $100 MSRP, and we are very pleased with the result.

Gerber Fastball knife pocket dump

What does the Fastball’s Wharncliffe design mean for users?

During all of my years of working as a diesel and motorcycle mechanic, as well as being an avid outdoorsman, a Wharncliffe blade has been my go-to shape. The Gerber Fastball has what a few of us refer to as an “improved Wharncliffe.” That means the tip remains pointy and sharp enough to dig splinters out of fingers and pierce packaging easily.

But our primary bevel and tip-swedge geometry lends a great deal of strength. Unlike some more delicate designs, with the Fastball you could dig dirt and caked-on oil out of a socket head fastener under a car without fear of breaking the tip. It’s a precision tool that will wear like a nailhead.

Gerber Fastball knife stuck in wood

How does the B.O.S.S. Tech stainless steel ball bearing system work?

The blade’s caged ball bearings reduce and keep operating friction to a minimum for smooth, fast deployment. But that’s only one of the Fastball’s components. The real juice comes from the detent ball that is pressed into the liner lock arm to an extremely precise depth.

The detent ball rests in a small bore in the blade tang. It serves to both hold the blade in its closed position as well as keep the blade from deploying until enough force is generated by the user’s finger acting on the flipper tab to overcome the detent. This and other mechanical factors make this manual-open knife unfold like it’s got an assist mechanism behind it.

What can a knife made of CPM S30V steel do?

CPM stands for Crucible Powder Metal. It’s a proprietary process in which the steel is alloyed and then rapidly cooled into a fine, granular (powder) form. Each particle of this metal has very precise alloy chemistry. The powder is then formed into sheets of varying thicknesses specified by the knifemaker.

Gerber Fastball knife cutting cord

It all results in much more consistent chemistry and grain structure across the sheet than steel generally has when it is rolled or otherwise wrought. S30V, in particular, has fantastic heat treatability (59-61 HRC for Gerber), amazing edge retention, toughness, and high corrosion resistance. Overall, it means the blade will hold a sharper edge for longer, under harsher conditions, and, in general, just take a beating far better than lesser materials.

What would I want to (and not) cut with the Fastball?

I use the Fastball for everything from cutting packaging to meal prep when I’m camping with my family. You should probably avoid cutting abrasives like sandpaper or grip tape to keep the edge in good shape. That said, knives can be re-sharpened and are generally meant to allow for improvising and being abused. So I don’t shy away from cutting anything within reason.

Gerber Fastball knife all colors on stump

Why is American-made important in a knife?

Great knives are made all over the world. But the United States, especially the Portland area, has a rich tradition of knifemaking. An American-made knife contributes to the livelihoods of our fellow countrymen and women. It means the knife was designed with a certain experience and level of context behind it, which gives the owner an enhanced experience. Knives are very personal tools, and I take a great deal of pride in the knives I design and choose to carry. Carrying the one that my friends and neighbors built makes it that much more special.

The Gerber Fastball comes in three colors: Urban Grey ($100), Flat Sage ($100), and Black ($105).

This article is sponsored by Gerber. Learn more about the Fastball here, or shop Gerber’s vast line of knives here.