How Tangy is Your Knife?

How Tangy is Your Knife

You’ve probably encountered a few zealous knife enthusiasts speed talking about the full tang bushcraft knife they just picked up the other day. If you’re not a zealous knife enthusiast, that phrase might raise a few questions: mainly, what is tang? Can I drink it? What does this have to do with knives?

Well, it’s not a drink. It’s not even liquid. Actually, it’s the opposite of that. Tang is sort of the backbone of the knife. It refers to the way the blade interacts with the handle. If you look at the back of your knife and you can see the metal going all the way from the point of the blade to the bottom of the handle, you have a full tang knife.

What Is There Besides Full Tang?

  • Full tang makes a knife very durable, but frankly not all knives need to be that hardy, so there are several variations.
  • Full Tang: The metal goes all the way through the knife handle.
  • Push Tang: The blade is pushed into a premade handle.
  • Rat Tail Tang: The metal thins out into the handle.
  • Encapsulated Tang: The knife handle is formed around the metal.

In most partial tangs, manufacturers use an adhesive called epoxy to help fasten the blade to the handle. But before you start worrying about your knife being held together with nothing but glue, keep in mind this is usually used in tandem with pins going through the handle and metal, or a notch that stops the blade from sliding out.

So Which Tang is Best?

It’s not necessarily full tang, although that’s definitely the strongest design for a knife. Making a partial tang knife isn’t about cutting corners (at least, not always). Sometimes all you really need is partial tang, so a lot of this comes down to what you’re going to use it for.

If you’re running through jungles, hacking away at thick vines and brush, then you’re in the realm of bushcraft knives, and full tang is pretty essential. But if you just need a sturdy EDC for general cutting around the job or house, a well-made partial tang knife should work just fine.

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Andrew has been a commercial writer for about a decade. He escaped from a life of writing mundane product descriptions by running away to the woods and teaching himself how to bake and chop stuff up in the kitchen. He has a background in landscaping, Filipino martial arts, and drinking whiskey.

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