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What are the Best Knife Handles?

Discussion in 'Blade Discussion Forum Archive' started by K man, Feb 19, 2002.

  1. K man

    K man

    Nov 26, 2000
    I think that comfort is one of the most important things in a knife. Disregarding blade, lock, maker, and price, what are the most comfterable knife handles?
    I really like the handle on the SOG X-Ray Vision even though I dont like the blade.
    What do you think?
  2. pjenkins00


    Apr 3, 2001
    no one likes kraton, but it seems pretty comfortable. maybe ed fowlers sheephorn handles? i dunno, i've never handled one

    - Pete
  3. Cosmic Superchunk

    Cosmic Superchunk

    Jan 28, 2001
    It depends on the design and texture of the handle. You could have handles made from the same materials, but if the handle shape is awkward or the texture is too rough, naturally it will be uncomfortable.

    For example: The Buck Strider and the Emerson Commander both have G-10 scales and titanium liners. The handle on the Buck Strider is rather straight and the texture on the G-10 is extremely rough like coarse sandpaper which many find uncomfortable. The Emerson Commander has a curved ergonomic handle and the texture on the G-10 scales are enough to provide a good grip, but they are not rough like on the Strider.

    The same can be said of Metal handles: Aluminium, Titanium, Stainless Steel and even polymer handles. A plain handle with no texture will be too slippery like the all steel Spyderco Police model. Now, the G-10 Police model has some texture offering a better grip in my opinion.

    As far as handle materials, it really depends on your personal tastes. I like synthetics for the most part like G-10, Zytel and Micarta, but I do like the warm look of hardwood scales or inserts.
  4. DB1


    Jan 4, 2002
    Handle shape or composition?

    I'm partial to the G10 that's on a lot of Benchmade knives (e.g 705/710/AFCK).

    As far as shape goes, I really like my Emerson Mini-Commander handles (G10 scales as well).
  5. Mitchell Knives

    Mitchell Knives Knifemaker Moderator

    May 21, 2000
    My favorite it is G-10, it just seems easier to grip. I also like metal handles, aluminum or titanium.
  6. allenC


    Jun 18, 2000
    I like metal handles if the temperature is'nt too cold or hot, and wood is usually nice in the hand too.
    But my favorite is micarta.

    I discovered long ago that G-10 and just does'nt do anything for me.

    As for the handle shape: The Spyderco Rescue has one of the best handle shapes I've ever owned. I would love to have it in a deep-red micarta.

    Good luck,
  7. Crayola


    Sep 23, 1999
    Micarta kicks butt.

    g-10 is nice, but it doesn't have the character that micarta has. I also love micarta because it is old stuff, but still a top material to use.

    Green micarta is the best!!
  8. bensano


    May 30, 2001
    I think it was Cliff Stamp that pointed out how hard it is to describe the quality of a handle in an way that someone else can tell if it would work for them, with that said, just about any of Newt Livesay's handles seem to work for me.

    He is a virtuoso of micarta.

  9. Tightwad


    Jul 22, 2001
    In general the best knife handles are those that are ergonamiclly
    correct to the owners hand. That leaves a very wide choice of both
    shape and material to choose from which is the main reason I've
    learned to hold any knife I want to buy first.

    Over time I've learned to spot those handle shapes that my hand will
    like. If though about for just a bit then understanding how important
    the feel in you hand of any knife handle is will make the difference
    between another "dresser drawer" knife and a "user". Blade shape,
    grind , steel ,etc. means little on a knife you don't like to hold.

    As to the handle material that also is a matter of personal perferance.
    I've never understood nor liked the feel / look of stag, but some fellas
    can't get enough stag . As nutty as it may sound I prefer the feel of
    saw cut yellow delrin on my daily users that or Mircatra. So it's all
    in what you like if you really pay attention to personal likes and dis-likes.
  10. Steve Harvey

    Steve Harvey

    Oct 16, 1998
    Mad Dog Knives and Benchmade 910 Stryker.
  11. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    I think Tightwad nailed it: whatever fits your hand is best. I've found kraton to be best in fixed blades for field dressing, as in Cold Steel's Master Hunter; Thermorun, a material very similar to kraton but a bit harder, as used on Fallkniven's F1, also gives a very good grip. Roselli's hand-filling Arctic birch handles also work well under bloody/slippery conditions. I like stacked leather grips for their looks as well as utility, particularly on my Marbles blades. Smooth micarta looks pretty but doesn't give as good a grip as micarta that is left rough. Stag or moose horn also work well if they're shaped for your hand.
  12. JohnG

    JohnG Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 6, 1998
    I'll second Steve on the Mad Dog Knives handles...
  13. miguel_SF


    Jan 3, 2002
    I love Micarta, too. I like almost any color or roughness of Micarta. Also, I think that because I like the looks so much, Micarta-handled knives feel better in my hand than they would with some other material. G-10 is grippier, but it's pretty ugly. One of my favorite knives is an Edges2 trainer (non-sharpened aluminum blade) just because the Micarta handle looks so nice.

    As far as shapes go, a lot of forumites have commented that the Benchmade Griptilian feels very nice. I agree - this is my "best-feeling" knife, and relatively inexpensive. I have the full-size drop-point and it fills my hand perfectly (my hands are on the small side, but not very small). Also, the handle manipulates very quickly and smoothly, if you're concerned about tactical use. The classic Kasper shape that Pat Crawford and others use (look at the Columbia River Knife and Tool line) is very secure in the hand, although I don't think it works as well in alternate (non-saber) grip positions, and it doesn't seem to manipulate as smoothly as a simpler grip design.

  14. K man

    K man

    Nov 26, 2000
    Thanks for all of the great replys!!!
    Now I want to know what knife models have a handle that "feels right"
    Even though everyone has different hands, some models work really well for lots of people. What knives have the best handle shapes in your opinion?
  15. rdangerer


    May 26, 2000
    Yep, good ergonomics and no sharp edges in the handle area is what makes my hand sing.

    Also, handles that are built for purpose, while retaining ergonomics. What I mean:
    1. camp knife: secure in a word. Single guard, flared butt for retention in chopping, and helps on pull stroke.
    2. hunting knife: single guard, drop in the butt for draw stroke, small flare at butt ok, radiused spine, and if jimping is there on spine, it shouldn't be harsh. In fact, I'm not sure I really like or need jimping.
    3. Kitchen knife: first, handle must be well above the bottom of the blade so you can chop veggies without hitting your knuckles. A flared rounded guard on the tang beats the feel of thin stock against your index finger. Drop at the butt.
    4. Self defense knife: substantial index finger "guard", mild flare ok, drop at butt for sure, secure in a word. Add "stout, secure lock" if a folder, as to handles the topic, with lock recessed enough to not accidentally release it under stress.
    5. working folder: strong lock. same as self defense but less of an issue on all traits. jimping on spine or between tang and stop pin on handle is fine if not harsh.

    These guys come to mind as being good examples typically: RJ Martin, JW Smith, Terzuola's ATCF works for me, lots of the ABS guys get it right for working knives, Broadwell, Brend, anybody who makes a Loveless type drop point with any concessions to modernization, I like Maddogs grip except it needs a flared butt on the bigger knives, same for Allen Blade. Darrel Ralphs EDC does well for shape. Emerson Mach-I for a defense folder gets close, Commander is very good. BM 710 is a good all arounder for working piece, AFCK is good for what it is also, so is Spydie Wegner. A number of Dozier's knives have a simple elegance that is comfortable and work well.

    Broadwell's LDC-107 still sticks out in my mind, so do RJ Martin's Oddessy, Trek, and an RJ in M2 that looks like a 7" Brend Model 2. JW Smith's recent tac folders are very nice.
  16. John Puckett

    John Puckett

    Dec 10, 2000
    I like G-10, Titanium, and Carbob Fiber. The most comfortable handled knives that I own are a MT LCC and a BM 710.
  17. bquinlan


    Jan 5, 2001
    The best handle I've felt is the one on my Bob Dozier Texas #6.

    When it comes to production knives my favorite grip is the standard REKAT Sifu. I know that others don't care for the finger indentations, but I love 'em! The Sifu fits my hand in every position and I never worry about losing my grip.

    I also have to give honorable mentions to the Spyderco Native (mine are both G-10) and the Emerson La Griffe. Both are relatively small knives that manage to fit the hand as if they filled it.

    --Bob Q
  18. rdangerer


    May 26, 2000
    Materials are very subjective:

    Ultimate grip: probably something rubbery, like Kraton, although without gloves and under heavy use, it'll blister you if the durometer is too soft.

    Beauty: eye of beholder. I like mammoth, walrus, and ironwood. Spalted cocobolo is rare and nice, many burls are also (maple, thuya). I dig stag for hunting knives also. Curly maple is kinda classic. Snakewood is unique. But ironwood rules in my book. Multi-segment handles (D'Holder) with amber are nifty.

    Durability: probably G10, but micarta is plenty durable other than chipping/denting a bit if dropped, and looks better if radiused to show "wood-like" grains. Linen is my fav, I can understand why Loveles says canvas micarta offers a better grip, but... Rag micarta looks kinda cool also.

    Ugly ugly: abalone. I just don't see how people buy this stuff. Pimp city, brah!

    I just don't like it for some reason: Zytel and that ilk of plastic-ey stuff.
  19. blademan 13

    blademan 13 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 25, 2000
    After many, many knives and really trying to like something else, I have come to the conclusion that nothing beats a properly contoured Micarta handle. They are tough, do not cause "hot spots" like the rubber gang, look great, don't shrink or swell and can be brought back to new condition with a little sandpaper and a buffing wheel. Three of my favorite fixed blades are a David Broadwell sub-hilt (black linen), Matt Lamey Camp Bowie (green canvas) and a Terry Primos drop point hunter (maroon linen). Micarta simply kicks ass on a fixed blade.

    As far as design goes, contouring is very important. A slight thinning behind the guard followed by a palm swell and then a flared, dropped butt works for me in a large fixed blade. A properly designed handle should give security regardless of handle material. If a company/maker is touting the grip advantages of their handle material, they probably screwed up somewhere along the way in the handle design. Swing a Krayton handled Cold Steel Trailmaker all day and tell me I am wrong :rolleyes:
  20. PhilL


    Oct 1, 1999
    Hands down the Best Knife Handle is on my Prong horn by Ed Fowler, you can look at pictures of Ed's knives and know they will fit your hand. I'm not an outdoorsman so I have no idea on what it's like to skin an animal, but I have cut on hard maple to test cutting ability and comfort of my knives. You can use a Prong horn for hours and not find a hot spot, the 52100 will keep cutting long after most other steels would quit. A very close second would be my Carson M4 in Stellite & Stag.

    In production knives the first one that comews to mind is CRK&T/ Crawford KFF it fits the hand perfectly. Darrel Ralph and Ken Onion also design handles that are a pleasure to hold.

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