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Full tang versus narrow tang.

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Quy4n8, Sep 27, 2005.

  1. Quy4n8


    Nov 27, 2002
    What are the advantages of a narrow tang knife? I see a couple of advantages to a full tang; i.e., stronger, and fewer stress risers, but is there any reason to consider a narrow tang, which goes all the way through the handle over a full tang. Thanks.
  2. yoda4561


    May 28, 1999
    Balance. A narrow full length tang has the potential to be functionally as strong as a full tang, while moving the balance point towards the tip. By doing so you get improved chopping performance out of a lighter knife. This has a few other benefits as well. You can use fully enclosed handles, done right you get electrical insulation, thermal insulation (no freezing cold exposed steel) and the ability to seal water out of the handles depending on construction. Done "right" I think full length enclosed tangs are potentially the best possible construction, they're just alot harder to execute properly.
  3. Quy4n8


    Nov 27, 2002
    Okay, that makes sense. So who makes narrow tang knives correctly. Most production knives leave some room for moisture to get in at the tang/guard juntion and without taking the knife apart, who narrows the tang properly by using radii in all the right places?
  4. Walking Man

    Walking Man Banned BANNED

    May 28, 2003
    Randall, for one.
  5. puukkoman


    Sep 30, 2004
    Yes, Randall makes some good ones, as does/did Marbles (Marbles Safety Axe Co.).

    Check out some of the Scandinavian knives (Finnish in particular) available at www.kellamknives.com. Exceptional quality, traditional style.

  6. Quy4n8


    Nov 27, 2002
    Yoda, when you say "funtionally as strong as full tang", how so? If I am removing metal, wouldn't the join be weaker?
  7. the possum

    the possum

    Jul 31, 2002
    I would say balance could go either way, depending on construction. Lots of guys taper their full tangs, or drill them full of holes to reduce weight & improve balance.

    In most cases, the handle material itself will add the necessary strength and stiffness so you can get by with less metal. The exception would be things like leather washer handles. I have a Blackjack 1-7 with a leather washer handle, and the narrow tang bends easily. Although, I don't believe the tang was even heat treated, which could be the real culprit.
  8. yoda4561


    May 28, 1999
    Swamprat and the Busse basics, I'm pretty sure Mission and Maddog and also a good number of bladesmiths. When I say "functionally" that means that for all intents it'll be the last thing on the knife to break. Unless you've got the blade clamped right at the ricasso in a really strong vise and use some kind of mechanical leverage it'll break somewhere other than the tang first. The tip, the main body of the blade, etc will fail long before a properly constructed tang will.
  9. jackknife


    Oct 2, 2004
    Here's a thought on the strength of the narrow tang.

    When Richard the lion Heart led all those guys off on the crusade, and they all had their broadswords, hand and a half swords, daggers ect, they were narrow tangs, as were all the swords of the day.

    The Randall No.1 and No.2 fighters as well as most of his hunting knives are all narrow tang.

    Do ya thing those old knights in the middle ages set off to battle with a weapon that was weak? Or a soldier going to war who orders a Randall knife for the just in case senerio?

    I've used narrow tangs for years both in civilian and military (Camilus MK2 ) and I've never broken one yet.
  10. MG_Saldivar


    Feb 5, 2005
    I actually raised this point with one of the Buck Knives reps - Joe Hauser - on the Buck forum after I purchased a Buck 119 (large bowie) that seemed to have a gap at the base of the blade where it meets the crossguard.

    Joe informed me that Buck uses a clear expoxy to seal that gap. Subsequently, I did some research on other manufacturers and found out that using a plastic sealant on that part of a fixed blade seems to be common, at least among medium-quality mass produced knives.

    However, I agree that a thin tang, if well designed and well built, can help ameliorate the problem of moisture inside the grip.
  11. Cliff Stamp

    Cliff Stamp Banned BANNED

    Oct 5, 1998
    Most of the full tang vs partial tang, go towards a precaution from rat-tail or other stub tangs. If the tang is hidden you don't know that it isn't just 1-2" into the handle, thus getting a full tang was a way to make sure you had a solid grip. With the flow of information caused by internet discussion this issue is mainly a moot point in regards to strength as you noted.


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