Handles- Synthetic or Steel?

Oct 22, 2002
I have over 50 folders in a variety of configurations. I've come to a conclusion that I like a folder with a synthetic handle (Carbon Fiber, G10, FRN) better than a steel/aluminum handle. The steel handles just don't seem to have the "grip" of the synthetic. A "Brushed" steel/aluminum does seem a bit better.
What is your opinion?
Steel handles are definitely in the bottom three on my handle material scale. Actually, any metal handle, not just steel, ranks down there at the bottom. The only material I like even less is Kraton, since every knife I have had with it has had problems.
Concur with both your opinions.
I like the zytel handle on my Camillus Heat.

Buy I had a Spydie dragonfly with FRN handle and did not like it at all.

I know, I'm weird. FRN and zytel probably are the same.
I like the zytel handle on my Camillus Heat.

Buy I had a Spydie dragonfly with FRN handle and did not like it at all.

I know, I'm weird. FRN and zytel probably are the same.

Zytel is a brand of fiberglass Nylon.
FRN is Fiber Reinforced Nylon.

All Zytel is FRN, but not all FRN is Zytel.

But you can get different feels to the same grade of material depending on:
How it was finished
How it was processed
How thick it is and whether it makes up the handle entirely or if it is used as a scale material over a metal base.

So yes, FRN and Zytel are the same.
But, no, you are not weird. They can feel quite different.

(Well actually, you could be weird. But this does not prove it one way or the other. :D :D :D )
I have a knife that has a zytel frame with kraton chemically bonded to it that has been used for years doing farm work and I love it. Especially when the temperature hits sub-zero.
I've been a fan of synthetic handles since I held my first kraton handled knife sometimes in the early 90's. Every EDC that I have now is synthetic in some form. My metal and wood handled knives are "showhorses" only.

FRN is actually my favorite for warehouse work because of it's impact resistance vs concrete. G-10 would be my fav for carry outside of work hours. My Chase Axinn FB is green canvas micarta and I am constantly amazed at how grippy that thing is when it gets wet.

Yeah... synthetic for me if we're talkin' about users.
I personally am a big fan of Micarta and G-10 both. Just about everything in my User Arsenal either has a Micarta or G-10 handle.

But when it comes to a metal handle I definitely prefer a T-6061 Aircraft aluminum handle. I'm also a big fan of Titanium. For some reason I can grip titanium really well even under adverse condition.

But I tend to lean toward synthetic handles as time goes by. But at this time Micarta and G-10 are my preferred handle materials. Great Thread :thumbup:
Maybe that's the thing, I had the zytel handle for a time, I got used to it, then I got a Titanium handled knife before I got the FRN.

Maybe it would have been different if I havn't felt titanium before frn.

And yes I'm weird :D And proud of it.
Steel handles suck. If they're not textured, and most steel handles aren't, they get slippery as heck with sweat, blood, oil, grease, etc.

Aluminum handles tend to be a bit more textured, for whatever reason, so they're easier to hang on to. However, both steel and aluminum transmit heat and cold as well. Not good if you don't like a blazing hot, or freezing cold handle, depending on where you are, and the season.

My favorite handle materials are carbon fiber, G10, and micarta.
I have a basic Kershaw Chive, with the bead blasted satin stainless handles. Very nice knife, but the handle gets slippery very easily. FWIW, I etched the non clip side, and the actual clip, with Naval Jelly, and the result is a significant improvement in "grippiness". The etched surfaces have a dry, almost rough feel, reminiscent of an old blackboard. I'd recommend this mod for anyone annoyed with a smooth slippery satin finished stainless handle.

I posted here about the mod.
I like g-10, and titanium. Never had a knife in micarta and it would also probably be good. I dont tend to work in super wet, bloody or oily conditions so grip has never surfaced as a real problem for me. Ive never had slip problems on any knives no matter the handle type. For me its more about look and tougness and weight
for work purposes, i like g-10. heck-of-it purposes, i like the metal handles. not that picky
It depends upon the knife...

Overall I prefer synthetics like G-10, micarta, and FRN (Zytel).
if I actually plan to use the knife, I haven't found anything I like more than G-10. I haven't used anything with micarta handles yet, and all my metal handled blades have pretty much stopped being used.
Stacked leather is my first choice for a fixed blade, then various synthetics for both, then wood and bone, THEN metal.

Metal has problems- gets cold in winter and your hand freezes to it, gets hot in summer and you get burned, gets slippery when it's wet/bloody/oily unless it has some really aggressive checkering that can take skin off if you aren't wearing gloves.