Posted by: SWGK Admin on Jan 25, 2011
If you've been around knife lovers you've probably heard them talking about "full tang." Maybe you aren't sure what that really means. If so, let's dig into the definition a bit.
The term "tang" can apply to either a fixed blade knife or a sword. The tang is the part of the blade that is covered by, or encased by, the handle or grip. Full tang means that the blade extends the full length of the grip. Half tang means the blade only extends partially into the handle.
There are other types of tangs, including: an encapsulated tang where the handle is fitted to the blade and the tang actually takes on the shape of the handle or grip; the push tang where the tang is actually pushed into the handle (a push tang can be either half or full tang); the hidden tang where the blade is screwed into a hollow grip; and the stub tang where the tang is only extends into the handle about one inch.
When looking for a quality knife, the general rule is that the longer the tang, the more sturdy and dependable the knife. Since a full tang features a blade that extends the length of the handle, the blade is more secure and has the added strength of the handle behind it. This is especially true when the handle is also well-made.
In a full tang knife, the handle, or grip, actually conforms to the blade shape and outline. This means it is most often one solid piece, which is what adds to the strength.
The handle, which is made from a variety of materials including wood, stag, or man-made materials, is typically attached to the tang using screws or brads. It may also be wrapped in cord, braided leather, or other materials. A full tang is usually the most securely built knife you can find.
Often the way to determine if a knife contains a full tang blade is to examine the pommel, or end cap. If the blade extends the full length, it will generally be attached to the pommel in some way.
Keep in mind that just because a knife contains a full tang blade, it doesn't necessarily mean it's a stronger knife. But the foundation for strength if there.
Always look for quality construction, a reliable brand with a name you can trust, and a warranty against defects when purchasing a full tang knife. Of course, all of these are characteristics of a Gerber knife so it then becomes just a matter of choosing the one you like best.