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Thread: Full tang, stick tang, poon-tang

  1. #1
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    Full tang, stick tang, poon-tang


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    I'm seeing both lots of new names in W&SS which is great , but lots of 'old' attitudes lately on the tang bashing.

    There must be 4 active threads going on where people question a survival knife, or bushcraft blade worthiness because it isn't full tang. I know that astronauts prefer tang, but what kind of tang?

    Where we going with this survival knife business? Look, everybody in the industry has thankfully gotten over the 1/4" thick stout blade (except Rick ) must have thickness for robustness. I checked out Busse combat last week, I see 3 awesome looking bushy's in 0.150" beatific thickness, two models even lacking a choil

    The world is changing on the heavy/thick survival blade. People seem to be realizing that you can throw a lot at a knife, just don't get stupid. Why are we still so hung up on whether a tang is full width or not? Sixty percent of you guys are too afraid to baton on your knives, full tang or poon tang.

    Lets look at the kabar duty knife as our example. Sure they do break, but they also go through hell. Lets look at the traditional bowies - pretty much all stick tangs. I've got a stick tang giant leuku from Christof and it doesn't bother me one bit to make it eat wood at my will. I'm still scratching my head because I've yet to break a knife, including the cheap moras and the old hicks I pound into wood. How do people keep breaking their blades to make them so worried about it?

    I don't get it with all the tang comments I keep seeing. The wrong design with the wrong application will probably fail whether its full tang or not. I do understand the aesthetics related to full tang knives and that some people really prefer the visuals of slabs. I do myself for some things. However, I think people are projecting their aesthetic value system by attempting to devalue the robustness of hidden tang knives in a manner that exceeds the truth of such statements.

    I see broken knives all the time on BF. I see full tang broken knives and I see stick tang broken knives. I'm willing to stake that the correlation is based on production number (how many knives of a given make are out there) more so than on the production method.

    How many folks avoid a knife like the plague because the tang isn't fully in view? Is your fear of knife breakage based on experience or just fear of it happening?

  2. #2
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    I don't give a lot of the "it's not +1 Internets enough" () comments too seriously. I like tough knives but a lot of it is just using tools the way they are intended, and not thinking everything is magic. Everything can break.


    It's a good point to go over again!

  3. #3
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    Good post kgd

    People seem to forget that most of the knives the old school hunters, trappers & other bushmen carried were stick tang. They probobly relied on them a hell of a lot more than the majority of us ever will.
    Last edited by JMAN86; 12-30-2010 at 05:47 PM.

  4. #4
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    I go for full tang, slabs because of looks. That's one reason I LOVE Busse, full tang, slabs, and thick as hell (in general, I'm still thinking of a SCABS)

    But there are Busses that are not full tang: the Basics and the Battle Pappy

    But I also like knives from "smaller" makers: Jeff White, Rodger Needham, Michael Morris, etc. And generally they are full tang as well.

    I'm really not afraid to break a knife just because most of the knives I buy have lifetime warranties, I'm just don't want to break a knife when I need it the most. So I go thick, and I go full tang

  5. #5
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    KGD I am still getting over the poon tang thing..

    I think it has to do with the logic that people that are attracted to "survival" blades use when finding the "one". Lets face it, a blade is a blade and they will all cut things softer then the material they are made from. In order to find which is the best one, countless hours must be devoted into extracting the differences between them all. Logically, if a survival blade must be strong to be classified as a good one, then thicker/stronger/longer tang must mean that it will perform better! And clearly a stick tang is shorter/lesser/weaker than a full tang one and must be inherently inferior.
    I believe that sometimes less is more and personal preference has been what makes me like or dislike a knife.

  6. #6
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    Good call, not a hang up for me, I prefer full tang 1/4" thick knife goodness. I also own Moras, and Kabar 1217. Knife's a knife, I have my preferences, same as you.

    I think alot of it has come down to, people wanting a hard use knife, and the confidence that a full tang brings to the table. I've seen full tangs break too, took some doin', but they broke. All things can break.

    As for poon-tang, where do I sign up? I got a pen and everything.

    Good post, brother.

    Moose
    Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash.

  7. #7
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    I don't own any stick tang knives but not because I have anything against them, I just haven't bought one yet.

    I've got nothing against anything I haven't tried. I'm an equal opportunity knife enthusiast

  8. #8
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    People forget that Randall made knives have been around for a loooong time and their strength is well documented. Knife failure boils down to use vs. abuse. I can get a lot done with a knife used as a knife, but using a knife like a hammer is about as reasonable as using a hammer for a knife. I would bet my life on my Randall 15 with no more hesitation than I would my Busse, Swamprat, ESEE, and whatever else I have around the house.

  9. #9
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    Hah, I was just thinking about the Randalls I have too, nothing weak about those knives. Admittedly I haven't ever tried chopping cement blocks with them either. Good post kgd.

  10. #10
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    I've got stick and full tang knives. No problems with either.

    But to be honest, I have more confidence in full tang blades. I'm not saying my confidence is warranted, I'm just sayin' that's my perception.

    Nice post Ken.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by moosez45 View Post
    Good call, not a hang up for me, I prefer full tang 1/4" thick knife goodness. I also own Moras, and Kabar 1217. Knife's a knife, I have my preferences, same as you.

    I think alot of it has come down to, people wanting a hard use knife, and the confidence that a full tang brings to the table. I've seen full tangs break too, took some doin', but they broke. All things can break.

    As for poon-tang, where do I sign up? I got a pen and everything.

    Good post, brother.

    Moose
    And I thought I was the only one that said "Hmmm?" then sat down, found a writing tablet, a pen, a beer...then clicked on the post.

    As far as full tang or hidden tang..I dont care really. I can usually tell if a knife is made right, just by inspecting it..if it has questionable issues..I get rid of it..hidden tang or not.
    I own WAY more hidden tang knives than full tang..although I like my big knives full tang..just cause Its easier for me to customise them. Honestly, I dont throw knives or chop concrete..so its all good for me.

    EDIT: Oh, I almost forgot..for all you guys that have never tried a hidden tang..they are WAY more comfortable that full tang..IMO

  12. #12
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    I'm with ya on this one KGD!!

    I also have never broken a knife (not counting the tips of a couple pocket knife blades when I was a kid).

    I have several knives which are stick or hidden tang. One of the most heavily and hard used knives I have ever owned was a USAF Pilots Survival knife by Camillus. I even used it as a wood chisel when mortising a hole in a log cabin door, and the needle sharp point wasn't even damaged. I have batonned and pried with my Ka-Bar and it shows no ill effects.

    I've even batonned with my BRKT made Scagel with it's nice thin edge...with no ill effects.

    I think it honestly comes down to common sense and experience.

  13. #13
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    I don't abuse my knives in general but I do tend to buy ones with reputations of being very hard to break because (as stated above) I like the added confidence that they provide. I really like the Busse CABS that was mentioned because it has no choil and its reasonably thin for a Busse. I don't intend to see if I can break it though! I have screwdrivers and prybars if I need that kind of work done.
    Takes all kinds brothers, thats why they make 31 flavors of ice cream.

  14. #14
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    I broke the tip off my Endura opening a paint can with it. (ah, youth...) Otherwise, have not really had any broken knife issues.

    I think the point about 'old timers' using plain, kitchen style knives for trapping, etc - but I think they also probably only used their knife for knife jobs. I am sure that same trapper had a saw, an axe and a pry bar with him.

    I wonder if their steel also had less hardness and more flex...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by kgd View Post
    However, I think people are projecting their aesthetic value system by attempting to devalue the robustness of hidden tang knives in a manner that exceeds the truth of such statements.
    The more comments I read online, the more I find this statement to be true, regardless of whether you're talking stick tangs, walking sticks or sticks of butter.

    I'm constantly amazed at how people associate the purchase and ownership of inanimate objects with their fragile egos, and the lengths to which they will go to defend them.



    Quote Originally Posted by kgd View Post
    How many folks avoid a knife like the plague because the tang isn't fully in view? Is your fear of knife breakage based on experience or just fear of it happening?
    Not me. I like stick-tang knives because they often, but not always, balance better in the hand than full-tang knives. They're also lighter and often have handles that are more nicely contoured, in my opinion.

    As a layman and not a knife maker, it would seem to me that tapered full tangs are a pretty good compromise between the two, but I hardly see any such knives for sale.

  16. #16
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    Very good post. I like the full tang knives but i have many that are not full tang that i also like. I don't not carry a knife because it doesn't have a full tang, I carry knives because I like the way they feel.

    I use knives all the time and have never come close to breaking one. It sounds like many people purposely abuse knives as a hobby.

  17. #17
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    I prefer hidden tangs on carbon steel knives, for corrosion issues -- which isn't really as big a deal as some would have you think. It's certainly easier to balance a hidden-tang knife properly. I don't like a knife that feels like a brick in my hand, and many full-tang knives are way heavier than they need to be. I love me a nice tapered full tang!

    Other than that, it's pretty much a wash to me. You can make a very strong knife either way

  18. #18
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    I don't have any poon-tang knives...I just checked them all

    I do have a few stick tang knives (Randall, Blackjack, Helle, Koyote, Mora of course along with a half-dozen or so other Scandi knives). I even have a few with trimmed down tangs...those are all hidden.

    I think if I had a small penis, drove a yellow convertible Volkswagen bug and had my masculinity questioned daily...I would only feel comfortable with a visible, full tang (probably 1/4") monster blade

    Well, I do like full tang blades like Busse, Fehrman, Ranger Knives, Becker knives, etc; however, you really need to define your "survival" requirements. A lot of over-compensating knife owners will never push their full-tang blades anywhere near the point of failure. Fearing a well-made stick tang is showing your ignorance of how to use a knife. I won't disagree that a full tang is inherently stronger than a stick tang; shear strength isn't the only aspect for a knife. Somebody did some great marketing as "exposed, full-tang" knives are now accepted as the only way a "survival" or hard use knife can be purchased...hogwash!

    One aspect I like about hidden tangs and stick tangs is that their handles are often more comfortable, rounded and easier to use for extended periods. Fallkniven makes some great hidden tang knives...a great example of extreme cold-weather survival knives. I'd forgotten that my Koyote Leuku was only a "weak" stick-tang...that blades serves as a machete and will baton with the best of them.

    If you fear a stick-tang, or you don’t think a stick-tang can “cut it”, you probably are a poon-tang

    ROCK6

  19. #19
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    I'll take door number 3.

    I'm more concerned about stress risers and well radiused corners than full tang v.s. stick tang. I like full tang, usually, but for reasons not related to strength. If I have a stick tang, I like to have some assurance that the tang hole (did I just say that?) is full of - epoxy. I've had a couple with nasty, nasty stuff and rust in them when I disassembled them. Of course, for a full tang, I like it to be epoxied (or a coated blade) for the same reason.

  20. #20
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    Damn, I thought this was gonna be about something else
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