Rugged, Long-Lasting And Easy On The Eyes… G10 Might Just Be The Ultimate Knife Handle Material.
You often hear G10 lumped in with a variety of other materials, such as Micarta, glass-filled nylon, carbon fiber, and more. In this vein, you’ll also see misrepresentations such as ‘G10 Micarta’, this is generally incorrect despite being so close to right. This raises the question…
What The Hell Is G10 In The First Place?
G10 is its own material and is more or less a generic trade name for a subset of insulating fiberglass composite. Because it is a standard material used in both civilian and military manufacturing, it is very consistent and must meet certain standards to be called G10.
It is made in a similar way to Micarta, but instead of actual layers of cloth fabric being compressed, G10 uses glass cloth to achieve a similar result—a grainless, easily shaped material that is resistant to the elements and most chemicals.
It first appeared on the radar in the 1950s, but it arguably has seen the most use since 2000 and it has knives to thank for that.
G10 Usage And Properties
G10 is made colorful by alternating these glass cloth layers before it is heated and compressed. The original versions of this were a bit bland, and like Micarta, were developed to provide insulation barriers for electronics. G10 material is not common in electronics today, but in its day it was considered to be quite good at its job.
It is now primarily used for knife handles, gun grips and accessories, robotics, 3D printing, and in some aerospace roles. It has great strength-to-weight properties and is easily shaped, making it ideal for modern manufacturing techniques. Unlike Micarta, it won’t change color when wet and it doesn’t absorb water or chemicals. It is impervious to salt water, making it a great choice for any products that require a firm grip in maritime conditions.
Advantages Of G10
Durability is key to a knife handle. It is, after all, your interface with a sharp, dangerous tool. If you don’t trust your handle material, you don’t trust your knife, simple as that. G10 Gives you a lot to hang on to.
Very strong and light, it’s waterproof, corrosion-proof, and can be washed with normal cleaning products with no ill effect. On knives that are used for hunting or the outdoors, it isn’t bothered by blood, fat, or hasty cleaning methods.
If G10 is textured, it will provide a sure grip in all conditions. Don’t like that your grip is just a bit too textured and perhaps a bit sharp in places? Just take out some sandpaper and knock the edges off and then wipe it down with mineral oil. It will appear just as new.
G10 is just a rockstar material for knife handles because it does what we need it to do in all capacities from initial manufacture to end-use maintenance. G10 is a win-win material across the board and it shows.
Disadvantages Of G10
Due to the overwhelming amount of advantages G10 has over most other knife handle materials, the downsides are for the most part a personal matter. Some people don’t care for the appearance or texture of certain G10 products, and still, others don’t care for how widespread the material has become.
Wood, bone, and Micarta all have significant followings, but are less durable overall than G10 and are usually heavier. These materials do require regular maintenance unlike G10, but this is a relatively subjective thing at the end of the day.
GREAT G10 HANDLE KNIVES
Benchmade 15500-3 Meatcrafter
The Meatcrafter has been around for a few years, but it continues to undergo evolutions. This particular model features a razor-sharp blade using the company’s SelectEdge technology. The 15500–3 model is visually attractive and features green G10 grips with nice-looking accents.
The knife comes with a Boltaron sheath finished in high-visibility orange. The author has experience with the Meatcrafter series, and has found them extremely suitable for their niche. The blade profile is not especially thick, it borders on filet knife territory but is heavy-duty enough for working on large pieces of meat and big animals.
This knife isn’t meant for chopping or use on bone or camp chores. Rather it is for end processing of soft tissue only. The blade has a good degree of flex for boning, though not too much that it won’t give clean presentation cuts in the kitchen if you are trying to impress company. Though, the $370 price tag is impressive in its own right should your dish not wow your guests.
Tops Sky Marshall
Tops is known for making some of the most rugged and powerful cutting tools on the planet. Very few, if any, could be called under-engineered, rather it is just the opposite. Most Tops blades are thick, and heavy, and hold up to years of the worst abuse that their owners can put them through.
The Sky Marshall is one of those items in life you buy once and keep using. Barring being dropped into a lit forge, there is little that can deter the stout Sky Marshall. The knife has a tanto point and rear serration coupled with a daunting 1/4” spine. The knife is finished in all black with black G10 grips. It is both an attractive conversation piece and a hardcore tool. The blade profile has a lowered point and a specially contoured handle with a deep, secure finger choil to give it extra power when thrusting. The Sky Marshall retails at $210 and comes with a black Kydex belt sheath.
Tops Muley Combo
Another G10-handled set from Tops is the new Muley series, made specifically to address materials that are hard on blades when hunting. The Muley series is born to hunt and is best purchased in a set with a double sheath ($500), though each knife can be purchased separately should you wish. One is a standard knife while the other is a knife-handled saw with a gut hook meant for dealing with bone and cartridge.
The combo doesn’t take up much space and affords the owner a high amount of general utility when both weight and durability are concerned. The backcountry hunter doesn’t always get away with pack animals or 4-wheelers, so having multi-use tools is very important when ounces count. The dedicated saws take up room in the pack, and knives with gut hooks are a liability when splitting kindling or skinning. In this set, you get the best of all worlds and each is made of super-tough, easy-to-clean 154CM.
The G10 grips are meant to be stylish but also high-visibility thanks to their orange liners. As field tools, the Muley combo here is hard to beat, and the author looks forward to putting them to hard use in the coming years.
LT Wright Apex
LT Wright is a name synonymous with edged tool quality. The Apex is an interesting knife not just in construction, but in shape and cosmetics. It features black G10 grips with a striking bright green liner and a bright, saber-ground A2 steel blade packed nearly in a brown leather sheath.
The knife has a profile common to many working knives and resembles a Puuko in overall aesthetic, though, it has one interesting point worth touching on. The blade and the spine are reverse curved, giving the blade a deep belly and the handle a distinctive upturned profile reminiscent of traditional Japanese tanto and katana profiles.
This intriguing knife is excellent for just about any task from kitchen chores to outdoor labor, breaking down game, and as a regular EDC knife. The Apex is a fascinating product that deserves more than a second look, and for a decent retail price of just under $200, it won’t break the bank, either.
Toor Jank Shank
One of the more interesting knives released recently, the updated Toor Jank Shank is part EDC knife, part karambit, part self-defense tool, and all American made.
The knife is beefed up over the original release and is thicker in more places while more ergonomic in others. The most visually appealing variant on Toor’s site is a black blade with eye-catching white G10 grip panels.
The knife has an easy-to-maintain straight edge that can be used in many ways in conjunction with the finger ring or without. The tip is aggressive and will easily penetrate through most common clothing and jacket materials.
While not a true karambit in that it lacks the signature curve, it should translate easily for fans of the design while offering daily utility lacking in a hook-shaped tip. The Jank Shank retails at $195 and the included Kydex sheath is compatible with a variety of mounting interfaces.
Kizlyar Supreme Hammy
Hailing from Russia, the Hammy is a cute little blade that has a lovable little hamster engraved on it. While it is small, the Hammy lives up to its namesake—a tough, resourceful little animal that can pack several features into its cheeks… rather to say its small, easily carried profile.
The Hammy comes with bright orange G10 scales and is meant to be a highly visible working tool. The edge profile is designed for common cutting tasks and the handle is contoured for comfort in long periods of use.
The Hammy is the least costly of the bunch here at just $99, but it punches above its class and will probably be the knife in this group that you use the most daily basis. The Hammy comes with a multi-position leather sheath that also features a cute hamster motif.
The Esee 5 is not a new knife, but it is notable for being so rugged and storied that it just had to be mentioned here when talking G10.
There are many models in the Esee 5 line, but the stand out—visually and functionally—is the all-orange model complete with black-and-orange G10 grips. This knife has a highly functional grip texture, is visible in many different light conditions, and is remarkably easy to maintain.
The Esee 5 is a weatherproof machine and it is a popular choice for bush crafters, rescue crews, hunters, and many military personnel for its wide-ranging capabilities. The G10 grips on this knife are available in other colors as well, and due to its popularity, a wide range of other G10 options are available aftermarket through renowned retailer The Knife Connection. TKC makes a full range of G10 grips for most of the Esee line should you wish to change colors or make your trusted blade just a bit more yours.
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