Uncomfortable handles, your thoughts?

Oct 8, 1998
I have a confession to make.

I dislike almost every handle of every knife I have ever held for one reason or another.

It is so bad that my buddy and people at work disregard me when I start talking about knife handles.

The AFCK is a brick, the Goddard ltwt is sharp on my index, the Military's cut out is too big, the Genesis' cutout is way too big, the Apache is a squashed banana and the guards will eat you, I could go on....

I hate choils, hate them with a passion.

Am I alone?

Marion David Poff aka Eye, one can msg me at mdpoff@hotmail.com If I fail to check back with this thread and you want some info, email me.

Check out my review of the Kasper AFCK, thougths on the AFCK and interview of Bob Kasper. http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Meadows/1770/kasperafck.html


I like a handle that gives me a little versatility in grip choices, as I use a knife for many different cutting chores. In exchange for this versatility, you usually sacrifice in the general “ergonomics” of the standard grip.

I seldom have to use a knife for extended periods of time, so the tradeoff in versatility vs. ergonomics is worth it.

And no, I am not all that crazy about the choil.

Sounds like a large part of your problem is inherent to production folders - flat handles with rectangular cross-sections. I was trying to understand how you could think of an AFCK as "a brick" and then I realized (correctly, I hope) that it's because its cross-section is a very wide rectangle. Right?

Your hands (everyone's, I mean) want a round, organic shape. But such shapes are bulky and involve much more production time when put in the medium of folder scales, so folders generally have flat scales with just radiusing or a chamfer. These are easy to make and slim in the pocket. Only trouble is it's frankly an awful shape to hold, but we put up with it out of habit.

Here's how I solved this in one case (though I simply put up with it on most of my knives). I cut new scales for an AFCK out of 3/16" black linen Micarta and contoured them to fit my hand. I didn't slim them down any more than my hand wanted, because I wear pretty loose pants and care more about the knife in my hand than in my pocket. The knife is about .75" at its widest, but has a fairly oval cross-section and narrows considerably at the finger-cutout and towards both ends. This also added some weight, which doesn't bother me as it assists the "drop" opening method. The final result is alarming to most folks when they pocket it and compare it to something like a Police Model, but the look on their face when they put it in a firm grip always tells me it's a worthwhile trade-off.

The only production folders that feature any such contouring (that I know of) are the Kershaw/Onion Task series, and these have just a shallow rounding applied to the G-10 scales, not narrowed anywhere or tapered into the knife's profile at all. Still, it's a start. I think production time will keep contouring a feature on hand-mades only, though.

So if this is a part of your probem, I'd say pick a production folder you're fairly comfortable with (unless you can afford custom) and have someone replace the scales or do it yourself. If you choose the latter, feel free to contact me with any questions about the process I use (I've done this to a number of Benchmades besides my own).

-Drew Gleason
Little Bear Knives

Consider the individual who must use a knife for extended periods such as a meat cutter or a chef. These people DEMAND proper handles because not only will the knife be more comfortable but it will be SAFER than a handle which does not fit the hand.

The general public deserve the same consideration that the pros insist on.

I take that back.

The public will buy anything that is stylish rather than functional so they deserve the junk that is on the market.


[This message has been edited by george tichbourne (edited 15 August 1999).]
Check out the handle on the new Hood/Simonich creation, called the Kanji. It's over at Hoods Woods.


Grab hold of a SPEEDTECH,it's by far the most comfortable handle on any knife I own.Both forward and reverse grips.
Ray beat me to it! You must handle a speed tech.

Believe it or not I don't mind rectangular handles, in fact my AFCK is far more comfortable than many knives where the maker tried to make the handle more ergonomic and curvey. On the other hand, one of the most comfortable handles for me is my A.G. Russell Deerhunter, which is pretty curvey.

The Speed Tech is basically nothing but curves. I still haven't decided how I feel about those handles, I'll need to actually use one before I finalize my opinion. But if you grab a piece of clay and squeeze it, the resulting profile won't be too far off from the Speed Tech, lots of curves and swells.

Supposedly, the outfit that machines Speed Tech's handles is the same that machines the handles for Ti Knives.

The Chris Reeve Sebenza is thin, but it's made so that your hand doesn't find any sharp corners unless you put your finger on the blade edge. Even the inside edges of the handle slabs are beveled all the way around, and the spine of the blade is beveled and rounded.

If you like an "organic" handle, the Kellam lockbacks offer hand-friendly birch and reindeer antler, but the steel is 440A and not the latest high-end stuff.

AKTI Member # SA00001
I agree with you Marion and dislike flat and square very much. A knife is a hand tool. Therefore IMO grip ergonomics is single most important design feature in an good knife followed in a close second by blade geometry and balance.

Has any of you handled OEC's Field-Lite, Pocket-Lite zytel series folders. These designs do a good job of addressing what you don't like in production knife handles. These lockbacks are offered with clip-point and spear-point blades in AUS-8A blade steel.

In designing these knives I looked at all the zytel handle folders out there and focused on creating something new and improved with grip ergonomics on top of the list.

The handles on this series are fully contoured and the clip sets flush with the handle surface so you don't feel it. The clip is warranteed and replaceable in case of breakage. Zytel is a slippery material so I developed a new raised point Tri-mond pattern (Triangle-diamond) which offers better grip than any zytel pattern out there. There is also a milled thumb grip on top of the blade for extra security during hard knife use.

As the designer I may be biased however I feel these features combined offer one of if not the best designs available in the zytel handle category. After introducing these folders in 95-96 I thought most of the competition would incorporate these same features in their knives but so far we've been lucky. Flat and square seems to still be their focus. Also look for our new Impulse and Magana folders with fully contoured handles and recessed clips.

Do any of you own one of our zytel knives? I look forward to your comments. For more info on these folders visit our web site.

Outdoor Edge Cutlery Corp.

David Bloch,

Visit our new web site at http://www.outdooredge.com

Just to come to the defense of rectangular handles. I've found that extremely round handles teld to do a bit of unintentonal shifting(rolling) in your hands when you do heavy cutting. Especailly when your hands are sweaty. While a rectangular handle tends to stay with the edge pointing the right derection during cutting. Comfort wise, they both can either feel good of bad, alot of it depends on handles profile. Lagre finger cutouts are bad(IMO) because they can usually fit one and a half fingers on them, so your birdie finger is left on a sharp corner. I also don't like handles with big bumps in them. The spyderco native is borderline on having this problem because at least the bumps are in good places, and MD I think is also borderline on this problem as well because of the large bump below the finger cutout.

One other thing I think ruins handle is heavy checkering. Light checkering I like, but if you squeeze your knife and feel hot spots on your hand from the texture it is to much(IMO) and needs to be sanded down.


Self improvement is a hobby of mine :).

Mr. Bloch,

I haven't handled one of your Zytel knives for more than a few moments and don't have much memory of it. What you are saying sounds excellent, though. Thermoplastic knives are a great opportunity for manufacturers to break out of the "square" mode of thinking because they are not cut from sheet stock (steel, Micarta, G-10, etc.) and thus rounded shapes do not mean more hand-work or machining. The mold can be as round as a manufacturer dares; the fact that most Zytel knives are still fairly flat indicates either that manufacturers are more concened with slim feel in the pocket or are simply confined in their thinking about folder shapes.

To others,

I have not handled the Speed-Tech knives yet, but when their pictures were first posted here I was very impressed. They are exactly what I am talking about with invorporating an oval or egg-shaped cross-section into a folder, and I could not help but be reminded of my AFCK when I saw them. There is a lot of promise there, but the complexity of the shape is undoubtedly part of the reason they fall into the highest price class of production manual folders.

Adam --

I agree with your point that there's a danger in making things too round, in that your hand can start sliding off if the design isn't carefully done. In addition, the more precisely-ergonomic a handle tries to be, the greater the chance that it won't quite fit a specific hand -- precisely the reason I hate finger grooves.

Ken Onion's curvey handles feel pretty good. As I recall, the handles on the knives David Bloch refers to are somewhat similar to Ken's design.

Given your dislike for finger choils, dare I ask what you think about the Carnivour?(Picture me cringing at the keyboard).
While I do TOTALLY agree that most factory knives could use more roundness in the handles, I have to disagree about the finger choils. One of my main concerns about a folder is: "Is this knife's design such that it will guard my pinkies from sliding on up that sharp sliver of steel?" If the answer is NO, then I move on. Granted, some choils are so deep, or shallow, or small, or large that they actually hinder a work knife's performance, and are sometimes a danger to the user. Run from such knives. But still, good choils are better than nothing and it sure beats surgery and stitches. MHO.

Now, I totally agree with you Marion. Almost every knife handle I've ever handled I've found something wrong with. I hate to say that I just make do,(cringing at the keyboard again), but there it is.

Perfection is a truly difficult thing to obtain, especially in the world of cutlery.
And sooo... the search for the "Holy Grail" goes on...and on...and on...

The choices we make dictates the life we lead.

[This message has been edited by misque (edited 15 August 1999).]
Nothing short of a pure extension of your hand will be truly comfortable. Some handles are made for the sole purpose of looking cool, like the Pardue Benchmades and the Spike, comfort isn't a real issue with those knives. I am not truly satisfied with any knife I own, if I was I really think I would never have to buy a folder again.

The most comfortable handle I have held is by far the MOD Trident, but it all comes down to how the ergonomics of the handle fit YOUR hand, not mine. You might just hold the handle too tightly, or maybe you are not down with how the aspect of a clip modifies your grip.

Here is an idea for all the people like you who demand superior handle fit for their own extremities: Foam scales placed on top of G-10. Have you ever help an ASP, those nifty collapsable batons you see police officers carry? They come standard with a VERY comfortable and form-fitting foam handle material fitted over aluminium. VERY nice on your hand, very well done and very easy to hold in any position, because the handle is a a standard shape that YOU customize each and every time you wear it. I wonder if anyone makes those kind of handles on folders...

Robert Joseph Ansbro

If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed. -Stanley Kubrick, 1928-1999


I am the moderator on the forum "The Balcony" located at Cinematopia, please come support this brand new site
mr. bloch
I used to own the wedge I. I was a nice little knife, the handle was a little too small for my paws but it felt good. I took it in a lake in wyoming and had to cut some rope in the water. the handle didn't really slick. It is definetly a very fine cutter. Anyway I gave it away to a buddy who really liked it alot.
What kind of steel was in the blade?
Thanks for the support.

Rectangular handles are probably my problem.

Man, that Speed Tech keeps talking to me.

The knife handle I like the best too date is the Gator handle. Of course it is too big to stick in your pocket.

David Bloch, I am looking forward to what you are going to do with the Apogee.

The Sebenza is a good compromise.

Marion David Poff aka Eye, one can msg me at mdpoff@hotmail.com If I fail to check back with this thread and you want some info, email me.

Check out my review of the Kasper AFCK, thougths on the AFCK and interview of Bob Kasper. http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Meadows/1770/kasperafck.html


I think the steel in the Wedge 1 is AUS-6, but I could be wrong...

I need a bigger bucket.
I feel that the flat handle is plenty comfortable and is most likely the most efficient shape for the folder construction. The shape, size, blade, and material used all need to mate with the size of your hand. My AFCK is an example of a great design.

Not really mentioned... I strangely put a LOT of emphasis on how a folder feels in my back pocket. I like the rounded polished handle of my Random Task. I would like see more folders that are rounded and polished. Makers could have a line of flat economical workhorse folders and a separate line of smooth shaped. Someday a maker will make a folder that when closed it will be smooth all over to the same width of todays flat folders. Sleek and beautifull... I'll bet that if will sell.