Hands-On: Gerber Fastball vs Kershaw Leek

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Comparing two of the most popular pocket knives for everyday carry.

No man’s everyday carry kit is complete with a great pocket knife. That rings true whether you’re using your blade to open boxes or taking it into the trenches. Either way, you want to be able to rest easy knowing that your knife is functional and reliable.

So we’re cutting straight to the point, with this review comparing the Gerber Fastball and Kershaw Leek through hands-on testing. Both knives are excellent examples of what about $100 can get you—and each has their own strengths and weaknesses that will make them a better fit for different everyday carry purposes.

What We Look For

To give you an idea of what we’re testing for in these hands-on reviews, here’s what our ideal pocket knife would offer:

  • An attractive, eye-catching design
  • Great sharpness and edge retention
  • Long-term durability
  • A smooth opening mechanism
  • Secure locking systems
  • A fair price

To test and confirm whether a knife has those qualities, we make them a part of our everyday carry kit—Repeatedly using them to cut, saw, slice, and pry our ways through both an average day (heading to the office, running errands) as well as heavier duty use (camping, backpacking, food prep, etc.).

For today’s review, we’re specifically looking at how the Gerber Fastball and Kershaw Leek measure up to our expectations for an everyday carry pocket knife.

Gerber Fastball vs Kershaw Leek
Brian Adee


The choices a designer makes before crafting a new blade are many, but there are three that we particularly hone in on: The silhouette and size of the knife, the blade style, and the metal used for the blade.

Silhouette and Size

Taking a close look at a knife’s silhouette will clue you in to how it will feel in your hand. Smooth lines give a more gentle tactile feeling, while jagged edges can provide a more stable grip.

Both the Fastball and Leek have an overall rounded profile, with the Fastball being just slightly more boxy and angular. The scales for both knives are smooth rather than knurled, which prioritizes looks over firm grip—appropriate for everyday carry, but not what you’d want if you’re looking for an emergency response knife.

Gerber Fastball

  • Closed length: 4.1 in
  • Blade length: 3 in
  • Weight: 2.7 oz

Kershaw Leek

  • Closed length: 4 in
  • Blade length: 3 in
  • Weight: 3 oz

Blade Style

Blade profiles for both knives are quite similar as well, and identical in length. 

The Fastball uses what’s called a Wharncliffe blade, with a thicker spine than the Leek’s drop point blade. That gives the Fastball the upper hand when it comes to heavier chopping jobs like trimming small branches for kindling. But the Leek’s thinner blade makes it a touch better for delicate slicing jobs, like opening a letter or slicing up an orange.

It’s worth noting here that the Fastball uses an unconventional edge grind, too. Rather than the standard of equal angles on both sides (as seen in the Leek and countless other knives), the Fastball has an offset “chisel” style edge. That’s great for its perceived sharpness straight out of the box, but makes the blade harder to sharpen at home if you’re not accustomed to using different angle grinds.

Blade Material

Choice of blade material is the primary cause of the wide range of knife pricing. More expensive steels can have better sharpness, edge retention, and overall durability, but they come at a premium price.

Kershaw’s Leek uses Sandvik 14C28N steel, the latest in a series of pocket-knife-ready steels from a respected Swedish metallurgy brand. It has excellent sharpness and hardness, leading to great edge retention and corrosion resistance. But because of its unique molecular structure, it’s easier to sharpen than other steels in this hardness range (55-62 HRC).

Gerber’s Fastball uses S30V steel, originally released in 2001 by a long-running knife steel brand called Crucible. It’s an example of a powdered metal alloy blade, with a portion of vanadium that gives it excellent corrosion resistance compared to high carbon steels. It’s the jack of all trades of the knife steel world, offering good performance in every category.

Between the two, I would rather have the Leek’s blade for general everyday use and the Fastball’s blade for more heavy duty outdoor work. 

Gerber Fastball Knife Review
Gerber Fastball / Brian Adee


Both blade steels are comparable in terms of durability, with the Fastball having a slight advantage because of its thicker spine.

The Fastball uses aircraft-grade aluminum for its body, whereas the Leek uses 410 stainless steel. That gives the Fastball the upper hand here, with the same strength and a lighter body.

Kershaw Leek Knife Review
Kershaw Leek / Brian Adee

Where the two knives really differ when it comes to durability is in their opening mechanism. The Fastball is a true manual knife (with Gerber’s B.O.S.S. Tech ball bearing opening system), while the Leek is an assisted opening knife (with SpeedSafe assisted opening tech).

For absolute durability, manual knives really do win out. There are fewer moving parts, which leaves fewer opportunities for something to break.

But let’s be entirely frank here: The SpeedSafe system is one of the most well-designed assisted opening systems out there (at least for knives at this price). It’s not going to wear out anytime soon, so in my mind there’s no real difference in durability here—both knives are set for the long haul.

Gerber Fastball Flipper Mechanism
Brian Adee

Ease of Use

And while there’s not any real effective difference in durability between the two knives’ opening systems, there is a difference in their ease of use.

To my hand, the Kershaw Leek’s assisted opening mechanism is smooth as silk. The flipper tab is small and unobtrusive, and the liner lock is finely tuned for easy closing.

The Gerber Fastball, on the other hand, took me a fair bit of breaking in to get it to a smooth one-handed operation. The flipper tab is larger to accommodate for the additional force you’ll need to use to open it. Overall, the Fastball feels heavier and beefier—great for heavier duty work as mentioned, but not as pleasantly smooth as the Leek.

Kershaw Leek Flipper Mechanism
Brian Adee

The Kershaw Leeks gets my vote here, as it’s so smooth to flip out and fold up that I’m happy to sit there and idly play with it while I’m thinking.


Most pocket knives meant for everyday carry these days have their safety measures well in place; it kind of comes with the territory. Still, some brands go above and beyond to make sure their knives are as safe as possible in all situations.

Liner locks on both knives give them safe and secure open positions—no real difference there. But the Kershaw Leek also has an additional bar that can be slid into position over the tip of the knife while closed, preventing accidental opening while it’s in your pocket.

Is that absolutely necessary? Probably not, but it’s a nice little piece of mind feature. That’s a small win for the Leek over the Fastball.


All of the above qualities are for naught if a knife’s not priced fairly.

At the time of writing, the Gerber Fastball was being sold for $110 and the Kershaw Leek for $89.99 ($50+ on Amazon currently)

Compared to other pocket knives for everyday carry, this price range is completely fair. Take into account the quality of the steels used for these knives’ blades, and that’s even more true.

But if I could only choose one knife as offering the best value for the price, it’s the Kershaw Leek. At $20 less than the Fastball, its super smooth opening mechanism really wins me over.

Final Verdict

With all of that in mind, which of the two knives should you consider adding to your collection?

If you’re looking for a smooth and classy knife that’s fit for everyday cutting tasks like opening boxes, trimming threads, and cutting fruit, the Kershaw Leek is the clear winner. It’s a great knife to add to any urban everyday carry kit.

But for maximum durability and heavier use while out camping or hiking, Gerber’s Fastball is what I’d put in my pack. It’s a touch lighter than the Leek, and the thicker spine on its Wharncliffe blade makes it easier to put a lot of leverage into your cuts.

End of the day though, I’m delighted to have both knives as part of my collection—and I’m sure that you will be, too.


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