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Knife Noobie needs a bit of help. Full-tang?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Drame22, Mar 15, 2013.

  1. Drame22


    Mar 15, 2013
    Hello everyone,

    I just signed up here to ask a few knife questions. My hunting forum has been pretty vague.

    I'm wondering what a good 'life-long' knife is. Something that I can use to prep food, fillet fish, open cans, hammer nails, etc without it busting on me. People have said a 'full-tang' blade is better. Is this true?

    Also, in addition to it being functional, if at all possible, I'd like to make it look awesome as well. Something like this maybe?


    Any thoughts? Advice for noob? Never owned a knife in my life.


  2. tiogatires

    tiogatires Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 6, 2007
    Well, a full tang knife will be strong enough, but I wouldn't be hammering nails with any knife even if it could handle it. There are plenty of hidden or tapered tang knives that are almost as tough that will last a lifetime if treated properly. Probably the most important question is what's your budget? Considering your original post, I would look into a fixed blade knife with some sort of synthetic handle material like G10 or micarta. I'm a lover of leather sheaths but kydex is very durable and extremely safe to carry a knife on your body. Start by telling us what you are willing to spend....

    Folks here are more than willing to help.
  3. The Mastiff

    The Mastiff

    Apr 21, 2006
    I don't know of any quality knives that look like that to be honest. If you are talking about using a knife to hammer nails I'd like to think you are talking about using the blade and not the grip. The knives that look like they have flat steel grip end caps like the "quartermaster" are actually not built for that kind of thing despite what they look like. I have seen a you tube video of someone pounding nails with the flat of the blade on a Svord Von Tempsky bowie knife. That's a huge, well built blade that's close to $200 but still doesn't pound nails like a dollar store hammer I bought.

    Good luck.
  4. Bigfattyt

    Bigfattyt Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 23, 2007
    From the standpoint of a knife that you are going to use in the woods, you won't find much more impractical than that knife.

    Skip the jagged spine serrations. The grind on that knife looks low and steep. It would not make a good chopper, food prep, or slicer.

    A full tang knife can be stronger than the same steel and heat treat in a hidden tang. Definitely stronger than a stick tang or stub tang.

    That said, a well made bowie with a hidden tang will be plenty strong.

    The only thing good about the knife you posted, would be at that price, you would not feel terrible when it breaks, or gets lost.

    You can use Google to search for topics on bladeforums. Search for terms like Cheap good knife. Inexpensive quality bowie.

    This was the first one that popped up. It is an older thread, and the question gets repeated pretty frequently here.


    Spend a bit of time here learning. Great forum. Tons of great information here! Good place to learn the ropes so you don't end up buying a knife that later embarrasses you to have owned it.
  5. sideways


    Feb 19, 2013
    Get a knife that you are comfortable sharpening. If you can't keep it sharp it does not matter how tough it is and you are better off getting something like a mora that is cheap to replace when dull. Without experience it what you need from a blade your first purchase is usually wrong, so take that into consideration when budgeting the expense.

    Can openers and hammers do their jobs better than any knife you will find. If you don't want too much weight you can get a p38/p51 folding can opener and use a rock for hammering stuff.
  6. Drame22


    Mar 15, 2013
    Sorry, I suppose I should have posted that up in the first place. I've got $100 saved up, but I'd be willing to go higher if it meant not having to replace my knife.

    Just to be clear, I don't plan on hammering in nails. I want something tough so that even in the worst case scenario(zombie apocolypse perhaps?) I can rely on my knife.

    The knife I posted was just more to show what kind of knife I want, not necessarily what my price range is. I don't know what they're called, but I've seen them around. Longer than a normal knife(like a KABAR), but not as long as a machete, and about as thick/wide as a regular knife. Like oversized bayonets almost.

    So yeah. Toughness is priority. I would still like it to look cool though. I know that's not a realistic point to be bringing up, but I place a lot of value in aesthetics. I guess I don't necessarily need a fully serrated knife. A partial serration would be nice. And being made of something other than wood or leather is a huge bonus. Plastic won't degrade.

    Can anyone bring up any examples? And how exactly do I go about caring for a knife?

    How would you define 'comfortable' sharpening? I've never sharpened before but I don't imagine it would be either entertaining or boring. I figure it would just be neutral. You're just sharpening a knife.


    I live in the Northwest, and this summer I will be taking several survival/hunting/fishing courses from my local Trackers group. I'm also an avid camper(though I rarely get to leave town) and this is part and parcel of me building up a good camping collection. Thanks to my re-enacting days, I have all the cookware and clothes I could want, and my tent is now in the mail. The next item on the list is a knife, then an axe or hatchet.

    Also in regards to practicality, I guess I'm trying to balance it. Out of the thousands of knives, there has to be one that's both cool-looking and functional.
  7. hardheart


    Sep 19, 2001
    There's a lot to consider, while it can also be incredibly simple to just pick up a decent knife and get to cutting.

    Caring for a knife is going to depend on what it is made of and how it is built. If it is stainless, then rust is minimized. If it isn't stainless, then a coating will help, unless/until it wears off. Also, the edge itself won't be coated, so you can lose sharpness without cutting if it isn't protected. Stainless isn't stain-proof, so handle construction is a question for most steels. If you get a full tang knife, then the tang is exposed around the edge, and if the scales are not epoxied on, then moisture can get underneath and rust your handle. Strength of non-full tang knives is usually not an issue, and there are centuries of stub/stick/rat-tail tangs to show it. You've already mentioned a preference in handle material, but also be aware that there is stabilized wood, which does not swell, shrink, or crack like untreated wood can if of the wrong species. You'll need a good sheath for carrying the knife, keeping it protected, and keeping yourself protected from it. You should decide if you want a guard, and what shape if so. You should consider how it will affect your grip and the ability to cut in different ways. Weight is going to be a factor in carrying, cutting, and chopping. There are practical and legal questions for length. The blade shape is going to control how well it stabs, chops, slices, filets, etc. The type of steel is going to influence how long the edge lasts and how hard it will be to restore. It also determines toughness, given the shape and thickness you decide upon.

    You might check with your group about the coursework, many come with suggestions on the kind of knife to bring. The Frost's Mora is a popular and inexpensive choice with a fair amount of variety n their selection.

    you might want to lurk this sub-forum as well and read some threads http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/forumdisplay.php/692-Wilderness-amp-Survival-Skills
  8. elkins45


    Jun 17, 2006

    I can't even begin to imagine how uncomfortable that handle would be to grip for a long period of use. I also can't imagine trying to dress or skin a deer with that long blade and the sword fighter blade guard getting in the way. That blade has two main purposes, fighting and eye appeal. It's not very practical for most everyday knife chores. I suppose you could buy it for show and also spend $15 more and buy a good Mora Clipper at the same time.

    Google these for practical multi-use knives:

    Fallkniven F1
    Buck Nighthawk
    Beretta Loveless Hunter
    Spyderco Moran
    Ontario Ranger
    Ontario pilot survival knife

    That will get you started in the right direction.
  9. fadugleman


    Dec 28, 2012
    Even if it is full tang I highly doubt the quality of that knife. For those purposes I Really suggest looking into the becker knife line up.
  10. elkins45


    Jun 17, 2006
    Personally I think the ESEE RAT-4 looks pretty cool and is still quite functional. I especially like the orange ones. Be aware they have fairly large grips so they may not be the best choice if you have small hands.


    The Scrapyard SYKCO 511 is one knife that you couldn't possibly destroy, and they would just send you a new one if you did. Scrapyard has an almost fanatical following for making tough but functional knives. The handles on these knives are extremely comfortable and they are full tang as well.


    Both of these knives are carbon steel blades, but worries about rusting are highly exaggerated. People survived in the wilderness with carbon steel blades for centuries before stainless steel. As long as you don't store a wet knife in the sheath for long periods of time you won't have a problem with corrosion. Oil is your friend.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2013
  11. jimmyd1982

    jimmyd1982 Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 23, 2011
    I'd suggest getting a mora or condor and then using the money you saved to get a sharpening system like the spyderco sharpmaker.
  12. Monofletch

    Monofletch Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 14, 2010
    Look at the Ontario RD series. I have an RD4 and it will take more abuse than I can give it. 1/4" thick blade and full flat grind. What more can you ask for!!
    RD6 might work for you. Well within your $100 budget.

  13. marcinek


    Jan 9, 2007

    It all depends on what you mean by "cool-looking." If by "cool-looking" you mean "fantasy" (like that knife you posted), fantasy and reality realy, if ever, mix.

    Now, if you mean "I think the sensibility of this knife's design is cool looking"...then you should be in luck. The Ontario RDs and ESEEs mentioned in this thread are highly functional "outdoors" knives, as are Kabar Beckers and Fallkniven knives, like the F1. None of them are "tacti-sexy-awesome" though, but I think the F1 is a beautiful knife.

    The one question I wanted to ask you is, as a "avid camper", a knife like the one you posted is what you are looking for to use when camping? :confused:
  14. jonathan13


    Oct 21, 2012
    Whoa hold da phone!!! Knives are for cutting things. Opening cans and hammering nails calls for different tools. No affence to anybody, but full tang knives are nessicary if you are abusing your knife. Under normal use you don't need full tang but they are better.
  15. jonathan13


    Oct 21, 2012
    I saw the knife you linked and I literally laughed out loud. I mean, that's great for hanging a the wall but it looks terrible for using. First of all don't get a knife with serrations on the back. You can't battoning with it and they are not as usefull as the plain edge. Also, don't get something that looks uber-tacticool. You are just going to make people drop solid gold bricks in their britches. I recommend esee,ontario,buck,or falkniven.
  16. Final Option

    Final Option Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 11, 2012
    As far as sharpening a knife, there is lots of info here in the forums with basic field to bench type procedures. To me and many others knife sharpening is not a boring activity, quiet the opposite. Putting a sharp edge on a dull knife is almost magical. Good luck on your journey!
  17. goodeyesniper


    Aug 31, 2009
    great advice. spend under $50 bucks on a well regarded knife, then get sharpening equipment. You don't need to spend a hundred bucks on a fixed blade, especially when you have no clue what you actually want in a knife yet.

    Usually the more simple the knife looks, the better. avoid serrations and crazy guards and stuff on those fantasy knives. I would rather have a small Swiss army knife than a big, fantasy styled fixed blade.

    Oh, and the better you get at being outdoors, the more you'll realize you can survive perfectly well with a small, thin, folding knife. Half the stuff us knife nuts like to do with our big fixed blades is completely unnecessary for survival. Like using knives to baton. But we think it's fun, so we do it.
  18. sideways


    Feb 19, 2013
    For what it's worth, you can get by on a camping trip pretty well with just a swiss army knife. It'll even open cans.
  19. Drame22


    Mar 15, 2013
    Well, I did say I was trying to find a balance between functionality and, what was it... tacticool? :) I'm stealing that phrase. But just a few things fellas.

    Again, that knife was an example. I chuckled at the 'Night stalkers don't quit' bit. It was more to show the blade style. All I know about that knife is the tip is not a tanto-style. It's.... drop-point? I'm still learning the terminology. And that the grip is made of something more modern than leather(no offense to you KABAR owners, I know they're lovely knives). I could do without the ergonomic grip too.

    So from what I've gathered so far, full-tang is by far the most durable knife design. Feel free to pull out a quote and correct me if I'm wrong, I'm here to learn! But full-tang is a single piece of metal all the way from tip to buttplate, right? And then a half tang would be like a blade attached somehow to a grip?

    What is the best blade material? Ideally something that doesn't rust but I feel like that's reaching for the stars.

    How would I make sure it has been epoxy-attached?

    I find it hard to believe there's no crossover between a fighting knife and utility knife. My Marine buddies swear up and down that their KABAR's are all the knife they'll ever need, and I have personally seen them ripping open cans, throwing them into trees(all the normal things bored Marines do I suppose), and their knives look just fine. A little scraped up, but still sharp and completely useable. And at the end of the day, they're all able to school me in knife fighting(albeit with a KABAR rubber copy) with that same knife.

    Let's just assume for the moment that I will be fighting as well as working with this theoretical knife we have yet to settle on. I did say worst-case up there somewhere right? Should I be looking at two different knives? From what my buddies have told me, intimidation is half the battle in a knife fight, which is the reason I chose a longer knife for the example. And based on how I keep losing our practice fights(mostly because those guys are pretty freakin' terrifying even with a rubber knife), I'm inclined to believe them.

    I have average sized hands for a man elkin. At least, I think I do.

    Also I forgot to mention, I do have a leatherman. Not one of the super-duper, 100 tools in one, but it has a few blades, clippers, the basics.

    How do you skin a deer? And what kind of dress did you use? Just a joke! But seriously, I'm not familiar with the 'dress' term. I understand skinning at least.

    Well Jonathan, I'm still hoping to find a balance between tacticool(still, loving that term) and functional. And the reason I want the serrations(which the aforementioned Marines have already assured me is "one ornery sunuvvabitch to sharpen") is because I may have to be cutting through wood or rope at some point, and that seems easier than sliding a smooth edge up and down.

    Especially considering on this next camping trip, I will be the only one even remotely qualified to be building shelter(not tents, a communal one) out of tarps and rope. I'm also the only one bringing a knife, hatchet, or anything more useful than a tent. Many of my friends have never even set foot outside a paved and bathroomed campsite. I'm of course talking about different friends than my Marines. They've all seen action and I'm sure in any sort of survival scenario they could keep me alive, but alas, they are busy.

    That, and last time I took a bunch of hipsters out camping, I was the one building the site anyways while they all played in the lake. So for my purposes, assume I'm all alone and I need a knife that can do anything and everything. Including but not limited to cutting rope, prepping food, fighting off a particularly aggressive grizzly bear, etc.

    In regards to steel blades, I will most definitely take loving care of my blade if I need to, but if there's some super-material I'm not privy to, I'd rather just have that.

    I meant no offense for sharpeners out there! I've never sharpened a knife, beyond a basic kitchen one on one of those pole-things(as you can see I am an expert in this field) chefs use. It doesn't look boring. From watching my buddies, it looks peaceful. Almost like a ritual.

    Cheers all, and thank you. I really appreciate y'all taking the time to help out a noobie.


    PS- Can anyone recommend a good waterproof flashlight? That's another critical part of my camping gear that is missing.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2013

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