Full Tang Vs Half Tang Knives: Which Choice Is Better?

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When buying knives, whether it’s kitchen cutlery or survival gear, the tang is a very important feature to consider.

The tang basically refers to the part of the blade that is in the handle.

A full-tang knife will have the tang run throughout the entire handle.

Half-tang knives, as the name, suggests only have a tang that runs through a portion of the handle.

Most experts recommend full-tang knives over half-tang ones since they offer superior balance and comfort.

If you’ve been wondering what tang is in a knife and why it matters, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we compare full-tang knives vs half-tang knives to see which one is the better choice for you.

Types of Full-Tang Knives Types of Half-Tang Knives
Full Partial
Skeletonized Rat-tail
Extended Tapered
Encapsulated Push
Stick tang Harrowing

Full tang knives

In a full tang blade, the steel runs as a single piece from the tip through to the handle. These blades are considered the strongest types of blades. This is because this design allows you to apply maximum force and provides you with leverage that the knife will not break.

Since it extends throughout the entire length and width of the handle, it is enclosed in between two grip material portions held together by rivets and epoxy.

It is also possible to see the blade’s metal edge enclosed between the two handle parts. As such, it is usually the same shape and width as the grip.

How is it made?

They are made using a one-piece solid metal that starts at the tip of the cutting edge to the handle. This kind of design is machined into a unique shape so that it fits perfectly in the two-piece grip.

Uses

It goes without saying that they are arguably the strongest and most durable type of knives in the market. As such, they are ideal for undertaking heavy-duty cutting tasks and are always to use instantly.

Due to their extreme strength, full tangs are perfect for use in hunting procedures and for survival circumstances such as in the jungle. These blades come in handy in instances where you need to exert excessive force, especially when cutting through hard food items.

Pros

The greatest advantage about these is seen in the fact that these blades are robust and hence can cope with excessive force and strain without breaking.

Additionally, they are well balanced since they have more metal in the blade and handle. Since these blades are mostly used for hunting, they boast a unique grip and a perfect length-weight balance.

The extra mass in these blades due to the construction moves the blade’s balance point towards the hand thereby creating better balance, leverage, and versatility.

Cons

The only downside about them is that they are comparatively heavy due to the extra metal used in the construction. As such, beginners may find the blades heavy to hold for a long time.

Half tang knives

A half tang blade is the exact opposite. In this design, only a part runs into the handle.  In this type of blade, the handle is attached to the blade using rivets or glue in some cases.

Due to their construction, they are susceptible to breaking when excessive force is applied. However, in contrast, they are ideally hard to identify, as even manufacturers do not advertise these blades as such.

These blades come in different designs and shapes depending on the type of construction as well as intended use.  Folding knives are considered to be they as the metal shank only extends to the handle-blade pivot point.

How it is made

The construction of them varies depending on the type and purpose. In some blades, it is pushed into ready-made grips. For instance, some are secured in place with rivets or epoxy. In other blades, the handle is expertly molded around the half tang.

In some blades, it features a bolt threading that is held firmly in place by screws. It is necessary to note that half tangs are usually a price factor. As such, you will mostly find them in the cheaper and more lightweight blade categories mostly designed for decorative purposes.

Uses

These blades are mostly designed for lightweight cutting tasks. Mostly, these blades especially pocket knives are used for light slicing and cutting tasks when hunting.

Decorative swords and knives are not intended for actual cutting and slicing use. This is because they are not designed to withstand great external forces.

Pros

The key advantage here is that it weighs considerably less compared to full tang ones.

These blades are also ideal for knives that come with exchangeable blades. Without it, a folding blade cannot function.

Cons

Although they are perfectly ideal for light uses, these blades are not capable of leveraging as great force as when using a full tang blade.

Additionally, they are prone to breaking quicker.

Identifying the type

It is advisable that you identify the type of tang first so that you can recognize its capabilities and strengths.

The easiest way is by checking how far the blade extends into the handle.  There are also some manufacturers who indicate on the packaging the type of tang.

Once you identify the type, the next thing you should pay keen attention to is the knife’s strengths and weaknesses.

This goes a long way in ensuring that you only use the knife for its recommended and appropriate uses. Consequently, this will enhance life and durability.

Conclusion

Yes, full tang knives differ from half tang ones in several ways. As such, they are a better choice compared to they especially if you are shopping for all-round blades that are multi-purpose. However, half tang knives are also an excellent choice especially for people looking for secondary knives for light cutting and slicing jobs. Whichever type of knife you settle for, it is advisable that you only opt for superior quality blades.

Last Updated on September 6, 2021

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My name is Andy Wang, and I'm a retired chef. I used to work at the City Vineyard restaurant in NYC. I also had a culinary degree from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. And this blog is where I share my love for knives and cooking with people like you.