Gerber has been a well known name in the knife making business for decades as a producer of high quality and functional tools. Most people have at least heard of the Gerber name or know someone who has carried a Gerber knife or multi-tool. I have owned Gerber folding knives and multi-tools that have seen a great deal of abuse over the years. Over the last five weeks I have had the chance to use both the Fine Edge and Half Serrated versions of Gerber’s AO F.A.S.T 3.0.
I have to admit that I prefer the Gerber AO with the half serrated edge and have used this not only as an every day carry knife, but also as a part of my camping gear. Gerber’s AO F.A.S.T. 3.0 weighs in at 4.9 ounces, has a closed length of 5.3 inches, and a 2.9 inch blade. Fully opened the knife is a sizable 8.2 inches. The blade style is a modified drop point made of stainless steel. I spent some time trying to research the specific composition of the stainless steel but was not able to find any details from Gerber’s web page nor any online retailers. The blade has an aggressive look in both fine edge and partially serrated finish. It appears that both the liners, back spacer and pocket clip are manufactured from aluminum. The handle is made of anodized aluminum and a minimal amount of nylon. Overall, the knife feels a bit heavy compared to some of the knives I have handled lately, however, it is definitely well made and sturdy. I asked a few friends to handle the knife and they felt that it was solid and liked its overall construction.
Out of the package both of the knives were extremely sharp which I found surprising. Most of the Gerber knives I have bought from retail stores over the years haven’t been very sharp. I was able to shave hair off of my arm with ease before I put these knives through my battery of tests. I put both knives through a number of kitchen tests including chopping various raw vegetables and meats. While grilling some tasty venison steaks I used the partially serrated blade to determine whether or not they were done. The knife sliced through cooked meat with amazing ease. Next, I used the knives on nylon rope, plastic bottles and cardboard. I felt that the partially serrated edge did a better job with the nylon rope and cardboard. I took the partially serrated version of the knife on a day hike and tested it out on some sticks. Both parts of the blade work quite well and I was still able to shave hair off my arm even after all of the tests I performed. Overall, I think the blade design is excellent and conducive to many different types of cutting.
The Gerber AO F.A.S.T 3.0 is an assisted opening folder that utilizes Gerber’s own Forward Action Spring Technology. It is designed with right handed users in mind but can be used in the left hand. When holding the knife in the right hand opening the knife is achieved by first unlocking the blade with the black grooved safety button. A red dot will appear indicating that the blade is unlocked. By lightly pushing the blade thumb hole the knife snaps open quickly and audibly. You can hear the spring mechanism very clearly as the knife opens and locks into place. Unlocking the blade to close the knife is achieved by pressing and holding the black button forward with the right hand while using your left hand to secure the blade back inside the handle. I recommend using two hands to close to knife.
Securing the Gerber AO F.A.S.T. 3.0 is achieved with a sizable and heavy duty pocket clip that fits snugly in pants pockets and on gear straps. It’s a pretty long knife but its design and profile make it feel like it takes up less room in front pants pockets. I carried it exclusively in my left front pants pocket for several weeks as my every day carry knife. It didn’t get in the way when retrieving my wallet or cell phone. I have carried larger and heavier knives in that pocket and I really didn’t notice any significant difference in the way this knife stayed in the pocket. The Gerber AO F.A.S.T. 3.0 has several features that are practical and quite useful. First is the bottle opener carabiner clip, which serves the dual purpose of latching the knife to gear securely as well as opening your favorite frosty beverage. I especially liked the engraved outline of a bottle near the bottle opener on the back spacer. Another feature of the back spacer is an elongated opening that I would use to attach a lanyard although I am sure it was intended to save on the overall weight of the knife. These two features made the knife very appealing to me and stand out as unique to the design.
There are two minor design elements that I don’t like with the knife. The first is the materials used in the scales of knife. While the anodized aluminum and nylon scales looks stylish and modern, it is cold in lower temperatures and not particularly comfortable to use. The edges of the scales are beveled and rounded which look nice but the placement of the index finger when holding the knife is uncomfortable for extended use. In addition, the placement of the nylon patches on the scales don’t really help you to gain a better grip on the knife. The other thing I didn’t like in terms of comfort were the three thumb grooves. They actually dug into my thumb when applying heavy pressure to use the knife for cutting. Despite these minor issues I think this is a really interesting and practical design from Gerber.
If you are looking for a serviceable assisted opener from Gerber give the AO F.A.S.T. 3.0 serious consideration. Either version has nice features that would make the knife a great addition to your camping or hiking gear and a good option for every day carry. Gerber’s MSRP is $75.00. A search of Internet retailers will give you prices between 25% and 40% off of Gerber’s asking price. Of the two versions of the knife in this review, I personally favor the partially serrated blade, but think that either version would make a suitable addition to any collection. If you are a long time fan of Gerber’s products you won’t be disappointed.