Full tang not necessarily stronger tang.

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Houlahound, Dec 5, 2019.

  1. Houlahound

    Houlahound

    374
    Aug 2, 2017
    Almost a given these days in the era of over-built knives most expect a full width, full length tang.

    Historically this was not the case for swords or knives.

    I am not a designer myself but listened to a historian weapons guy talk about most knife and sword failures don't occur in the tang. In fact a partial tang of a softer steel can in fact give you a more robust knife the a monolithic super steel full width full length tang.

    Kinda makes some sense thought it would be interesting to get opinions on it.
     
    WillB likes this.
  2. shunsui

    shunsui Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 12, 2008
    It would be boring if all knives were the same. Various designs are fine with me as long as the craftmanship is up to the task.
     
    Gravy and Houlahound like this.
  3. evilgreg

    evilgreg Why so serious? Gold Member

    Dec 25, 2012
    Every time someone on here proclaims they would never buy a fixed blade that didn't have thick blade stock and a full tang "for strength and reliability" I think about all criminally stupid things I've done with a Mora, and then I smile thinking about how much it would cost to replace it even if I did break it.

    On my long list of items of forum common wisdom that are mostly untrue, "knives with a partial tang are too weak to be trusted" is right up there near the top.
     
  4. 3fifty7

    3fifty7 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 24, 2016
    While in many many cases stick/partial tangs are adequate, if treated equally more steel will be stronger.
    Historically resources have been scarce, and no more was used than absolutely necessary.
    Why compare different styles with different treatments to proclaim one style being superior.
     
    marrenmiller likes this.
  5. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    I have absolutely no problem with buying or using a knife with a reduced tang. I suspect the full tang (full thickness and full length) are generally stronger, but I don't really do much that requires that strength. I think when buying or choosing a knife and eliminating reduced tang knives from consideration is a mistake. But everyone has their preferences.

    In part, the tang design reflects the type of handles that are or were being done or were popular.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2019
    Fisher1573 likes this.
  6. Blues Bender

    Blues Bender Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 27, 2014
    And here I am, reminiscing about the 90’s...

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Grandmaster

    Grandmaster Gold Member Gold Member

    832
    Jun 14, 2015
    But if the whole knife is being heat treated, would´t it be stronger as it is one solid piece? The scale/handle material would come into play if its half tang, and the heat treating in the past, does that has change? I know little about it, but interesting nonetheless, Would like to know more about it OP, did you see it on youtube?
     
  8. evilgreg

    evilgreg Why so serious? Gold Member

    Dec 25, 2012
    And because of my, uh, advanced age, here I am remembering the Tang ads from the 70s. I couldn't find the one I was looking for, but here is a cartoon ad about Mars being made of Tang:

     
  9. DocJD

    DocJD

    Jan 29, 2016
    :eek: Nasty space orange Kool-aid aside , full tang IS stronger with equal steel/HT . :)
     
    slyraven and marrenmiller like this.
  10. WillB

    WillB Gold Member Gold Member

    475
    Feb 3, 2007
    I like full tang knives as a rule but fully admit the likelihood of my requiring the full tang's strength attributes is close to nil. I still prefer the way they look, and feel personally and don't own any fixed blades that are not full tang. All things being equal, more steel = a stronger blade. I suspect the bolded part above is not the case at all...
     
    marcinek likes this.
  11. marrenmiller

    marrenmiller Basic Member Basic Member

    Apr 6, 2017
    I am not a historian, but it is my understanding that the use of full-tang bladed weapons was not as common in order to maintain weapon balance, or because it was viewed as largely not worth the extra material usage. That being said, some swords essentially were full-tang. Furthermore, swords did break frequently in battle, and I bet a good number of them were right at the blade tang, because...

    Full tangs have two innate advantages over stick tangs: they will likely have fewer stress concentrations depending on the design, and they have a larger cross section. The cross section part is obvious; for two tangs of the same material and heat treated the same way (in the absence of stress concentrations), the full tang will have a larger cross section/moment of area and be stiffer and stronger than a comparable stick tang knife. But possibly more important is that the full tang knife has no sharp notches, large holes, or sudden geometry changes that will cause spikes in the peak stresses seen by the blade tang. Stress concentrations can result in deformation or failure of the blade tang upon impact or heavy loads (see some good reading here on the subject) long before you would normally expect the tang to fail.

    Can you design a stick tang to be stronger than a given full tang? Absolutely. Can you make the steel so soft at the partial tang that it will bend long before breaking in any loads reasonably seen in battle? Sure, and that might have happened even inadvertently hundreds of years ago due to the difficulties of doing a consistent heat treat in a forge. But is it a weaker design? Yes. It may not matter, or you might value a partial tang for better weapon handling over the benefits of added strength. But in an apples to apples comparison with the same materials and processing, full tang is stronger.

    I would prefer full tang whenever possible, especially if my life depended on it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2019
    MtnHawk1, JDRanger, danbot and 2 others like this.
  12. marcinek

    marcinek Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 9, 2007
    Nailed it. Often knife stuff comes down to simple physics or geometry.

    If the only variable is cross sectional area, the larger cross section will be stronger.

    So the full tang will be stronger.

    The question is "Is that strength really necessary?"

    Probably not. Ask anybody who used a KABAR USMC in combat.
     
    Smiling likes this.
  13. marrenmiller

    marrenmiller Basic Member Basic Member

    Apr 6, 2017
    Definitely not necessary, but for peace of mind I'd probably get a similar weight knife with a full tang. Why not, really.
     
    MtnHawk1 and marcinek like this.
  14. Houlahound

    Houlahound

    374
    Aug 2, 2017
    Still doesn't get past the fact that historical evidence shows sword failures in combat don't occur at the tang. They mostly occur at the opposite end of the tang.
     
  15. marcinek

    marcinek Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 9, 2007
    Agreed. Same here. And it does affect the balance too...which can go either way. I like the "full tang" balance often.

    But, ones stick tang really probably isn't going to break in normal use either.
     
    marrenmiller likes this.
  16. marcinek

    marcinek Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 9, 2007
    1) What is the "opposite end of the tang?"
    2) Poor metallurgy and sword making, and swords banging together at the point of breakage are the causes for what you are talking about. The tangs have nothing to do with it.
     
  17. WillB

    WillB Gold Member Gold Member

    475
    Feb 3, 2007
    Source? Swords and knives have different jobs and requirements, etc, so not apples apples really. Do any decent knives actually fail during combat? They fail when being used to pry things, chop things, etc, usually at the edge of their design and capabilities. Would have to be a really crappy knife to fail when actually used against flesh. Maybe lose a tip striking bone? Maybe... Swords broke when? I assume when hitting something hard like armor? Other swords? Maybe miss the opponent and strike a rock? So many variable in sword designs too, seems not applicable to full tang knives to me.
     
    MtnHawk1 and marcinek like this.
  18. marrenmiller

    marrenmiller Basic Member Basic Member

    Apr 6, 2017
    I've seen broken Ka-Bar tangs before, but I've also stabbed one through a ping pong table with no issues, so think they're more than adequate for utility.
     
    marcinek likes this.
  19. Houlahound

    Houlahound

    374
    Aug 2, 2017
    Opposite end of tang would be tip end??

    Source originally Matt Easton a big HEMA guy into competition, history, academic history, reenactment, criminal forensics of edge weapon attacks....etc.

    Also I just googled broken blade images, the cold steel broken skull by Steve Austin comes up but nearly all the broken blade images of knives are toward the tip or forward of the ricassso area which supports Matt's claim from historical use of swords in combat.

    But yah, knives are meant for flesh not pry bars. Swords do have to routinely deal with high impact which knives don't.
     
  20. marrenmiller

    marrenmiller Basic Member Basic Member

    Apr 6, 2017
    Search "broken tang" on google.
     

Share This Page