Fixed Blade vs. Folding?

Posted on: June 30, 2014
fixed blade graphic

Have you ever wondered what type of hunting knife you should get? From many hunters’ perspective, one of the most important things you should take into account is how the knife is made.

In this post we are going to discuss which type of hunting knife is best from a construction point of view. Not the types of steels or the brand of the knife.

When you hold any knife in your hand, you would assume there are only two different types of knives.

First, let’s compare the two from a construction perspective:

Fixed Blade:

As you can see in the photo the tang runs through the knife, in knife terms this would be considered a “full tang.” The blade is supported by the blade itself and it is one solid structure.

Folding Knife:

As you can see in the photo, when the knife is drawn it will be supported by the “spine” of the knife. Meaning, once you start slicing and dicing, all the force will fall onto that single point.
Although I don’t have the artistic abilities to draw it, the folding knives usually require a spring to help draw it/unfold it. Over time, it is very likely this spring will wear out or require maintenance.

Which one is better in a survival situation?

In my opinion, a full tang fixed blade would be your best choice. I personally believe the less moving parts the better. Depending on your personal preference, lots of hunters would also agree that they are more comfortable to use when skinning your game.

Does this mean fixed is always better?

Purely from a construction perspective, the fixed blade knife would be the superior choice. However, not all fixed blades are made equally. In an effort to save on production costs, many manufactures will use different types of tangs.

Have a look at the picture below:

Although there are a lot of different tangs on the market, these two are the most common.

The Sub or Partial tang is not as sturdy as a full tang. As you can see in the graphic, it doesn’t run throughout the knife.

Although very cheap, knives with Rat Tangs are even less sturdy.

To give you an idea of how poorly made Rat Tangs are, modern day sword makers ONLY use this type of tang for display weapons. The type of thing you put on your wall and NEVER use for real combat.

Does this mean you should never buy a folding blade?

A sword maker told me once that “every time you start to make a sword, it starts with a NEED.” Before making any type of purchase, you have to be very clear on what your needs are.

In the world of sword making, this might mean that you need to use one section of the blade for blocking or another part for stabbing.
When it comes to knives, it really comes down to how you plan on using it. Do you need a good knife you can clip to your jeans? Or do you need something for work and hunting on the weekends?

Whenever you decide to get any type of knife it will all boil down to your personal preference. If you want something you can easily conceal and put into your pocket, a folding knife might be the best choice. However if you want something very sturdy, a full tang hunting knife would be the best choice for you.

If you’d like to learn more, you are welcome to check out our post on hunting knives.

What are your preferences in hunting knives? What factors do you consider before finalizing your knife options?

–Contributed by Scott Moses

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