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This article was originally published in Issue 2 of our magazine.
G-10 isn't the latest business jet that all the iced-out rappers are flying in these days. It's a durable material that's popular as handle scales for knives. Its use on folders and fixed blades has become more prevalent in recent years — particularly among cops, troops, bushcrafters, and outdoor adventurers who are looking for something that can take a serious beating in the most serious conditions.
Some people assume that the blade is the most (and only) important part of a knife, but the handle is just as important. Without a sturdy grip, you wouldn't be able to keep the tool in your hand, let alone use it for any vital tasks. So the handle is the yin to the blade's yang. Both are equally important; that's why more and more manufacturers are putting G-10 scales on their knives.
However, not every end user of a G-10 handle really knows what he wields in his hand. Is it plastic? Is it fiberglass? Why is it so expensive? Does it really perform when SHTF? In this case, the marketing is true: G-10 is among the best knife handle materials to be in your palm in an emergency situation.
G-10 is actually a laminate. It's made of layers of fiberglass cloth that are soaked in an epoxy resin binder and then compressed under high pressure before being baked. What does that all mean? It means G-10 has all the strengths of other popular synthetic materials, but fewer weaknesses.
It's incredibly strong, so unlike more traditional knife handle materials such as wood, G-10 won't crack, break, chip, or scratch easily. It also stabilizes the knife by providing outstanding lateral support, preventing flexing during hardcore use, such as, maybe, cutting through a fuselage.
As the saying goes, ounces equal pounds, and pounds equal pain. G-10 provides tremendous benefits in an extremely light package, helping to keep the weight of a knife down. It reportedly has the same tensile strength as aluminum, but is 30 percent lighter. So a G-10 knife is ideal if you have to GTFO, but can carry only a limited load.
Slippage is rarely an issue with a G-10 handle, because it can be textured to a variety of patterns and finishes that provide both a badass aesthetic and a sturdy grip. (It also comes in different colors, another reason for its popularity.)
When you're off-grid, finding knife oils is probably pretty low on your priority list. Thankfully, G-10 is a low-maintenance kind of gal. She doesn't need any polishing products like a stag handle does, and when she does get dirty she cleans up quickly with dish soap, a toothbrush, and warm water.
G-10 was developed in the mid-20th century as a base for circuit boards because it doesn't conduct electricity. Today, it's used in a variety of applications, from electrical equipment and medical diagnostics to rocket cases and antennae insulators. Unless you plan on stabbing a Decepticon anytime soon, electrical insulation for a knife is probably an unnecessary attribute — but it is kinda cool to have.
G-10 is resistant to chemicals and doesn't absorb water or even moisture, which means it won't rust, shrink, or expand. It also doesn't conduct heat or cold. So if you accidentally drop your knife in snow or lay it too close to a heat source, you can still handle it immediately without numbing or burning your hand.
There's no such thing as a perfect handle, and the same holds true for G-10. But, most of the complaints about G-10 stem more from the way a particular handle feels in hand or in your pocket (e.g. it's too thick, too thin, too smooth, too rough, etc.) as opposed to the properties of the material itself. Some non-believers say that G-10 will crack under a hard impact, but so will pretty much any other knife handle material that's not rubber or metallic. Besides, if you've just been hit with enough force to crack G-10, you have much bigger things to worry about than the condition of your handle.
It's a tough-as-nails material that gives the end user an assured grip during all manner of duties, from light-duty chores like cutting paracord to hardcore tasks like batoning wood logs. It requires almost zero care, can be used in any environment, and will last like nobody's business.
With this in mind, we present you with a guide to some of the more recent knives that feature G-10 handles. Though varying in size, shape, and texture, they all have one thing in common: superior quality and functionality. We're certain you'll find one that fits your needs.
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