The Zytel renaissance

Jul 22, 2000

With the help of forumites and searching through threads, I settled on my next knife purchase. A Zytel handled Spyderco Native.

The thing that surprises me is that I found myself going against the buying trend of my last few knife purchases of knives with high-end scale materials.

This time I actually preferred a Zytel handled Native. Yes. Cheap Zytel (or FRN).

It's tough, scratch resistant, and it's also fairly light. Best of all, it molds to virtually any shape with aggresive textures for grip; something not easily done with some other synthetics like Micarta, and G-10. Zytel is just plain comfortable. It's a wonderful material for a hard/daily user knife.

With all these advantages, why have I been swayed away from Zytel by marketing, and peer pressure? Now, I'm strictly speaking in regards to user knives; not collector knives which SHOULD have high end everything.

Why do we treat G-10, and Micarta like gold? True, each has an advantage if you want to make banal comparisons: G-10 is stronger per square inch, and Micarta is prettier. However, they are still just synthetics formulated in a lab...just like Zytel.

It took forumites at a thread hailing the advantages of a Zytel Calypso Jr. -- cheaper yet lighter, and better steel (arguable), over its stainless handled counterpart, to open my eyes to this unappreciated material.

I think another turning point was when I was handling my BM-710 (G-10) and Pinnacle (Ti), and my inexpensive SOG Magnadot (Zytel). To my surprise, the Magnadot was much more comfortable. I could cut all day with the molded Zytel handle in my hand over slabs of G-10 and titanium. Besides, isn't comfort a major issue when buying a knife?

With companies like Spyderco sticking high end steels in FRN handles, perhaps Zytel is set to make a comeback. There's just a simplicity that's lost when you get into "fancy shmancy" materials. The Zytel knife is like a Glock, or a '68 Camaro: simple, and it does it's job well.

I'll continue to cave into peer pressure and buy knives with high-end handles but, I'll always be able to squeeze a Zytel handled knife in the collection.
Interesting analysis.

No doubt it's strong stuff- surely capable.

I just don't care for it in most cases.

Feels, I don't know- kind of cheap, I guess...

I thought the zytel scales on the CRKT Point Guard were quite nice. It certainly has a useful place in creating comfortable useful knives. My preference would be in a scale use as opposed to a fully zytel formed knife, even though I have some of those too.

It has other knife uses too, say as a sheath material. The Stiff Kiss sheaths work just fine in this material. Yes I could want more, but it is highly functional for the price.
the zytel on my CS Scimitar feels and looks good. i also have g10, aluminum, and carbon fiber handled knives.
I like FRN.

And with Spyderco offering so many great designs....

Can't beat the price either.

Pants don't fall quite as fast.

I recently posted about this.....

With Spydercos you get...

Ambidexterous clips and openings.

Strong and Reliable Locks.

A nice price.


Good Stuff.

Thank you,
Marion David Poff aka Eye

My website, guided links, talonite/cobalt alloy info, etc....

>>--->Bill Siegle Custom Knives<---<<

"To wait for luck is the same as waiting for death." -Japanese Proverb

"Place you clothes and weapons where you can find them in the dark." -Lazarus Long
Zytel is good stuff. I think Buck was the first to use it in folders. Like Kraton, it may not be the prettiest but it is totally functional.
I love my Delica! I love my Native! I love my Merlin! I love my Endura! I love the fact that I can carry all of them on me at one time and not hardly notice that they are there! I also love the fact that, if, by some chance, I break or lose one, I can replace it fairly inexpensively thanks to it being made of Zytel!!!!

Own an SOG Seal 2000 and pound the hell out of the zytel handle a couple of times. It stood up to the abuse very well.......only minor scratches without visible dents. Would gladly give a thumbs-up for this mat'l anytime.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by cntrline:
The light, dawning.</font>


I'm not sure whether the light is dawning on me finally, or it's a sad attempt on my part to regress back in time?

It's got me scared man!

I prefer G-10 for folders, micarta for FB. I take both and steel even over zytel. I'm carrying a Zytel 440V Native right now and it's great. I do know that zytel folders can be smooth/rough, thick/thin. Some of the zytel folders I've seen have some blade play, easily adjustable but present.

G-10 folders I've had (Military, Police, Starmate, Reif) had no play at all neither did my stainless folders (Delica, Endura, Police).
Heck, it is time to see the first production fixed blade sold with optional slabs that you can screw on/replace/tune-up/decorate at home! No matter whether you like Zytel, micarta, wood, bone or whatever.

My two cents,

I had nice things to say about a Spydie Goddard Lightweight recently (in Reviews). I bought one for my roomie and I still think it is overall a better knife than the CRKT KFF for only a hair more cash ($5 difference at one dealer). The Goddard had better steel (ATS55 vs. AUS6), a lockwork you can trust on the initial opening without having to hit a second lever, and grip ergos were good but a bit below the CRKT.

Raymond and I had an opportunity to actually handle a KFF recently, and his view was that I picked him the better piece. He carries the Goddard daily and uses it pretty heavy (he does auto electrical for a living).

Upshot: I think grip SHAPE matters considerably more than the material. If the shape is right even "lowly" Zytel will do just fine and if the lock and blade steel are above average, you can get something world-class out of the mix.

Now, all that said, the really top-grade lockworks such as the Axis, Rolling and Arc need dual steel liners to work right. If Zytel is above the steel liners as SOG has taken to doing, no problem. A good lockback such as on the Goddard or any of the larger CS Zytels is *good* but...they're not the absolute best and without steel liners, lockback is all that's available.

That's the remaining limit on pure Zytel grips.