Subhilts- pros and cons...

Jan 23, 1999
I'm curious about opinions on subhilts. Are they just for looks? Do they serve any useful functions? Thanks.

IMHO a good sub hilt is one of the best looking blades out there.The ones I have are extremely light and fast. As far as a good self defense knife goes finger or hand placement is everything with them.Also the double gaurd and subhilt can get caught up in the draw with your clothes.I prefer a smaller gaurdless design for carry.Most of the ones I have seen are not designed for utility use so they don't really make a great field knife.Besides Loveless,Lloyd Pendleton makes a beautiful rendition.One of mine is a Pat Crawford from many years ago and I'm not sure he even makes them anymore concentrating on folders mostly. ColdSteel has a factory version which is pretty expensive for a factory knife. It has the right look to it but the sheath leaves something to be desired.Most custom makers offer there own version of this style.Tom Mayo who posts here alot has a real nice looking one on his website which I have had my eye on for a while now. The trouble is my wallet doesn't seem to agree with me.
A subhilt gives you a secure grip -- but it's only one secure grip. Most of like to change grips, use more than one grip on a knife. Different grips can work better for using the knife in different ways. Most of us martial artists like a knife that "flows" in the hand -- we're constantly shifting grip ... in effect, the knife is simultaneously pointing in all directions at once, it moves so fast. A subhilt interferes with that flow; it limits you.

-Cougar Allen :{)
But they do sell well to adolescents.

Desert Rat

Thanks for the input, guys! Anyone else? I'm still not sure if I want one or not...

i think they are GREAT>they arent for every knife....or for everyone...i have made a few for myself (i always sell them when offered cash) and they are easy to hold in the right side up or upside down fashion.....its like a lot of things in life...some people love them...apparently some of those in the post do each their least we live in America...where you can have an opinion and still own a knife.


Gee I'm 47 years old I didn't realize I still qualified as a teenager or adolescent. I believe the question here was pro's and con's of sub-hilts which most people posted intelligent answers. We could take this one step further and bring strictly collectible appeal in. If you don't care for sub-hilts thats fine with me there are some knives out there I am not crazy about. But posting little zingers with no back up or facts doesn't cut it here.
I own a Randall sub hilt and a Blackjack copy of a Randall.Carried a Randall sub hilt with me in Viet Nam.[another different one than I own now]Like to grip a knife in a combat situation,that wont slip.Very positive feel.
By the way I'm 60 years old an ex Marine and if I like sub hilts[I DO] do not like being
refered to as an adolescent.It has been a long time since I was one.IMHO


have a"knife"day

I have a few subhilts in my accumulated cutlery selection that have served me well in the field. It is all a matter of taste.I also have some friends and seven grandkids.
I do not think I would have any of this if I was still an adolescent.
We do not have time for childish invective in this forum. There is room for mature discussion of each persons preferences and experiences on this venue. I get enough CR*P
dealing with the people on the street to read it here.

And that is all I have to say about it.



"Cet animal est tres mechant;quand on l'attaque il se defend."("This animal is very mischievous: when it is attacked it defends itself")
I do not have a sub hilt, nor have I had one, nor am I looking for one. However, I think that I remember reading somewhere that the subhilt was a help in withdrawing the knife whould the blade become trapped.

Never having played with one, it sounds good to me.
I love being called an adolescent; it shows I'm still immature at heart.

I don't mean to condemn all knives with subhilts. Some of them are designed to allow some alternative grips. At worst they're not as limiting as handles with a groove for every finger, or brass knuckle handles, and at best they can flow nicely. Some styles rely on staying with one grip for defense, too, and people who teach and practice those styles are not necessarily idiots.

Knives don't get stuck in people or other animals -- see the Blood Groove FAQ, in the Knowledge Base at this website.

-Cougar Allen :{)
I haven't got the experience some here have, but...

I used to be a big fan of subhilts for the scure, locked-in grip and the added force on withdrawal. After more time handling knives, I don't see withdrawing or dropping the knife as a serious concern anymore, so I can't say subhilts seem necessary. They do limit your grip options. So functionally, I guess I'm slightly against them.

Nevertheless, they're gorgeous and feel great. Some of my favorite knives (production, my own, and other makers') are subhilts. I especially like subhilts on a big, classic "fighter," which I feel is by definition a functionless "cool" collector's knife in this day and age.

In short, functionally the cons outweigh the pros but I still love a nice subhilt.

-Drew Gleason
Little Bear Knives
Like most things, these can be done poorly or well. I've heard some talk about potentialy breaking your finger. What ever.

The main thing is a poorly done subhilt can be uncomfortable. And if your primary grip is the reverse grip, I don't reccomend them.

But if you mostly use a forward grip, and you have a well made example, they can work real well. Definately aid in retention.

As you guys know by know, I do a lot of primitive hunting and dispatch some wily critters with a knife. I've designed a few knives, haven't had them made yet, that incorporated a subhilt, substantial pommel, and lanyard hole as well as chechered grip to provide the ultimate in security.

Again, I work and fight mostly from a forward grip, and most people aren't wrestling with aligators hanging halfway off a 15ft jonboat with a harpoon with several yards of line hanging from it, while trying to slip the knife between scutes and into the neck of a prehistoric monster in order to sever it's spinal cord and end the fight. So as you can see, it's kinda a niche thing.

A subhilt can be a nicety, but not a neccesity, so I can kinda see where Desert Rat is coming from. More often than not these knives sell for looks. Not always, and it doesn't mean that you bought one just for looks, it's just that the same people who are buying stupid knives just for looks are also buying these just fot looks. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people buying for looks.

The again, I guess it's their right, even if I disagree with them and find them real annoying when they try to convince me something's real great, even if it isn't, just `cause they think it looks neat.
A personal favorite. Anyobe (besides Tom Carey) know what this is?:


Hint: Blade, Nov. 1996.

A few things--

I always thought there were FORMER Marines, not ex-marines!!

I own a couple. I love them, it actually feels more secure in your hand. Personal opinion on this, of course.

I've seen that one somewhere before that was refered to as "one of the rarer Blackjack subhilts" with the (I forgot) wood handles. Gorgeous knife, I must say.


The original post asked for opinions.

Thanks for reading my note as an observation rather than a condemnation.

Desert Rat

[This message has been edited by Desert Rat (edited 26 July 1999).]

I understand about the subhilt in reverse grip. I have in my collection a Collin Cox small subhilt clip point boot knife that works well either forward or reverse and transitions well. It is an exception to your posted observations. They do happen occasionally.



"Cet animal est tres mechant;quand on l'attaque il se defend."("This animal is very mischievous: when it is attacked it defends itself")
All I can say is that:

1) I love sub hilts

2) I love them so much I'm having one made right now

The Infamous ShadedDude
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