Knife Handle Material Guide

Zytel HandleThere is nothing better when you pull out your trusty pocket knife than to have a secure grip. The materials used to make a knife handle vary from plastics to steels and even bone. Below you will find some of the most popular knife handle materials on the market.

Knife Handle Materials

GRIVORY (Polyphthalamide): Grivory is a glass filled Nylon similar to Zytel but with greater rigidity.  Used on many Cold Steel knives.

G-10/FR-4 Epoxy: Consisting of a continuous filament glass cloth material with an epoxy resin binder, G-10 (FR-4 is the flame retardant version) is a high strength material that is offers both excellent electrical properties and chemical resistance.

STAG: derived from naturally shed deer antlers. When exposed to open flame, stag takes on that slightly burnt look. Commonly found on pocketknives.

BONE: Bone is usually given a surface texture, most commonly in the forms of pickbone and jigged bone. Bone is often dyed to achieve bright colors (e.g. green, blue, and black). A very common handle material for pocketknives.

MICARTA: the most common form is linen micarta. Similar in construction to G-10, the layers of linen cloths are soaked in a phoenolic resin. The end product is a material that is lightweight, strong, and pleasing to the eye. Micarta has no surface texture, it is extremely smooth to the touch. It is a material that requires hand labor, which translates into a higher priced knife. Micarta is a relatively soft material and can be scratched if not treated properly.

CARBON FIBER: Carbon fiber is composed of strands of carbon, tightly woven in a weave pattern, and then set in resin. Of all the lightweight synthetic handle materials, carbon fiber might be the strongest. The main visual attraction of this material is the ability of the carbon strands to reflect light, making the weave pattern highly visible. Making Carbon fiber is labor-intensive, meaning that knives with Carbon Fiber handles tend to be a bit pricey.
ZYTEL®: Du Pont developed this thermoplastic material. Of all synthetic materials, ZYTEL® is the least expensive to produce, which explains the abundance of work knives that have this material. It is unbreakable: resists impact and abrasions. ZYTEL® has a slight surface texture, but knife companies typically add additional, more aggressive surface texturing to augment the Zytel’s texture.
TITANIUM: a nonferrous metal (a metal not containing iron) alloy, 6AL/4V is the most common type with 6% aluminum, 4% vanadium, and 90% pure titanium. This is a lightweight metal alloy that offers unsurpassed corrosion resistance. It has a warm "grip you back" feel and can be finished either by anodizing or bead blasting. Besides handles, titanium is also commonly used as liner materials for locking liner knives.

ALUMINUM: like titanium, aluminum is a nonferrous metal (a metal not containing iron). Commonly used as handles, aluminum gives the knife a solid feel, without the extra weight. The most common form of aluminum is T6-6061, a heat treatable grade. The most common finishing process for aluminum is anodizing.

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