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Knife construction question - tang, guard, pommel

Nov 18, 2006

I'm a novice and would like to get a nice, big, fixed blade knife.

From my research I've determined that a one piece steel construction would be best - blade, guard, tang, pommel. Is this correct?

When looking at manufacturers' description on the web - how can I determine a knife's construction?

Also, what is a "tapered tang" compared to a "full tang"?

Thanks for the help.
you are probably correct on one piece construction, but for what is likely 98% of normal use, it's not required IMO.

If it's not listed ask the seller, I imagine there are very few fixed blades where EVERYTHING is all one piece. ( Or you could look at Reeve fixed blades :) )
Generally, a full tang is the full thickness of the stock the knife was made from for its entire length. A tapered tang is thicker at the guard than it is at the pommel, which moves the balance point toward the blade.

Also, when the term "full tang" is used, it usually also denotes that the tang is the entire width of the handle, as opposed to a "stick tang" which runs through the handle material, but is completely surrounded by the material.

So one can have a full stick tang (like the old Marine Kabar), a full tang (like the old Western bowie), a full tapered tang (usually found only on custom knives), or even (although I don't know of any) a full length tapered stick tang.

Don't you just love knife terminology? :D
To try to add to the good information abive:

A guard, bolster, or butt machined or forged to be of one piece with the blade and tang could be designated as "integral." Sometimes they say "one piece."

If the guard, bolster, or butt is welded (not soldered) to the blade and tang, the difference in strength could be zero.

A "full length" tang may be full width, or not.

There are also tangs that are just under full width (Fallkniven F-1), a meaningless difference in practical terms. (The F-1 tang is also slightly LONGER than the grips. "Full Length +" ?)
It certainly appears to be full width and thickness. My guess would be that it will be a little pommel heavy, probably balance at the finger groove rather than at the guard. It should make the blade feel lighter than it actually is. It's a nice looking piece.
If you are looking for a full single piece, fixed blade knife, I highly recommend Chris Reeves fixed blades. Here is a link that explains the whole one-piece knife concept from Chris Reeves site:


I have the NKONKA model. I would not sell this knife if it was the last possession I owned and I needed to sell it for a kidney transplant. I'm going to be buried with this knife. It's in my will. :D

Really now, they are excellent knives and worth the price of admission, IMHO.
I hope you find that which you seek and your as pleased with yours as I am with mine!
Great - thanks for all the feedback.

The Reeves looks good, but I'm looking for more of a hunting style.

I like the looks of Dozier and Bark River - anybody have any info on these?

Thanks for the explanations - all of you. That clarifies a lot.

So, this Boker "integral" -


will be all one piece of steel (including bolster and pommel), with the tang an even thickness through the handle and the length/width of the handle - right?

If not for the name, you would have no reason to think it has an integral guard and/or butt. Merely saying the blade and guard are of the same material does not mean it is integral or one piece. If it said " all made of one piece of 440C stainless," that would be different. I would check w/ A.G. He is a good communicator.
I like the looks of Dozier and Bark River - anybody have any info on these?
Dozier's knives are extremely well-regarded and are optimized for cutting flesh - for hunting. He seems to favor hollow-ground knives. All that I have seen are in D-2, a semi-stainless steel.

Bark River makes a wide variety of patterns suitable for hunting, mostly in in A2 carbon steel or 12C27 ("Sandvik") stainless steel, but a few in other carbon steels. Bark River mostly produces convex ground knives.
For a hunting knife you don't need the extra strength, weight or expense of an integral. Dozier and Bark River both make excellent knives and have huge followings of very satisfied customers. I love my Bark Rivers- I'll have to let you know about Doziers when mine gets here!

If strength is that important, check out Busse Combat or Swamp Rat knives.
If you want a nice integral for not a lot of money, look at Ray Kirks Medicine Blade...I think they run about 200 dollars and the weight is very balanced without being heavy. I got one at the Blade Show in atlanta....very nice!
Both Dozier and Bark River make great knives. I am a utility user not a hunter so I can't recommend a specific model but my Dozier or one of my Barkies is nearly always with me. I have never felt the need for more strength in either.