What’s the difference between the Milwaukee “Fastback Compact” utility knife, and the “regular” Fastback utility knife?
I posted about this holiday season’s bundled deal, and John asked about the size difference. It’s a great question, as the online image of the bundle isn’t to scale.
The size difference, as you can see in the above photo, is actually quite pronounced. By my measurements, the Milwaukee Fastback Compact knife is 5 inches long when closed, and the Fastback is 4 inches closed. Open, the difference is between ~6-1/4″ for the Fastback Compact, and 7-1/4″ for the Fastback.
I also included a Milwaukee Hardline knife (3″ blade) in the comparison.
The Milwaukee Fastback Compact knife has a lanyard loop. The “standard” Fastback has a “gut hook” when closed, and a wire stripper function.
Neither have internal blade storage, but there is another Fastback knife that does.
The Fastback Compact knife (bottom) has a rectangular metal pocket clip, while the Fastback (top) has a bent metal wire pocket clip.
The Fastback Compact is comfortable to hold, but it doesn’t quite have a “full” handle. Grooves at the top help to guide thumb placement.
The Fastback is also comfortable to hold. It’s longer, and has a protrusion that guides pointer and middle finger placement.
Here’s a hand-grip of the Milwaukee 3″ Hardline folding pocket knife.
The Compact is around the same size, which seems to be exactly what Milwaukee was going for. There are larger pocket knives, or course; I chose to show the 3″ Hardline because that’s the size of EDC knife that I tend to gravitate towards.
There are other differences between the Fastback Compact and Fastback. The “standard” version has its one-button blade change mechanism on the left side, the same size as the opening button. The Compact version has a similar button, but on the opposite side.
The Fastback has a metal-bodied handle. The Compact, on the other hand, has a metal frame, separated by a plastic spacer and covered with plastic handle scales. Frankly, I can’t tell you why one style might be better than the other. The weight difference is nearly imperceiveable, and I don’t have any durability concerns.
I can feel a slight difference when opening and closing the knives slowly. During regular flip operation, the differences aren’t any different from what I see with knife-to-knife variations.
Price-wise, the Compact retails for $9, and the “regular” other one for $10.
Which is better? I use the standard Fastback all the time, and I’ve been using the Compact every so often (it’s in the basement, or I’d use it more). The standard Fastback is kept on my workbench, and so the extra size doesn’t bother me, and I use the cutting hook on twine and other such things on occasion.
If a knife is going to ride around in my pocket, I’d want the smaller of the two.
I have a blade-storage Fastback knife or two, at least I am sure of it – none are currently accessible but they must be somewhere. I like the slimmer size of the newest Fastback (discussed here), and that same preference made me inclined to like the Compact before I even bought it.
Both are good, and I’d recommend both. Which one to choose depends on what your needs and preferences are. That’s why the holiday bundle (here’s the Home Depot purchase link) is such a good buy, aside from the great value, because it gives you the opportunity to try both. Or, you can carry/use your preferred knife, and stash the other as a backup.
If you ask me, I’d say “try both!” But if I had to pick one from the two, it’d be the Compact. The other Fastback is tried-and-true, and it does have the added features, but I think the Compact’s size would be the deciding factor for me.
As there’s only a $1 difference between the two, I don’t think that’s going to be much of a deciding factor. Instead it’ll be the little things, beyond the size, such as the style of pocket clip, that might influence users’ favor.
Thank you to Milwaukee Tool for providing me with a review sample. Both Fastback knives shown here were purchased last year, but I have another Compact that was provided by Milwaukee. The Hardline knife is also a review sample.