If you are a camper or someone who actively trains for a potential survival situation, the importance of possessing a high-quality knife cannot be overstated.
The wilderness can be very unforgiving at times, and unless you are ready for every potential scenario it is really easy for those wilderness conditions to overrun you. A good knife serves a number of purposes for wilderness campers, backpackers and preppers.
Not only will a knife act as a defensive tool to help protect you from predators, it is also a vital tool for performing some of the most basic, yet crucial tasks needed for survival.
For instance, a good knife can help you gather and modify materials needed to make a shelter; it can help you collect small twigs and tinder necessary to start a fire; and it can even assist you in producing and preparing food—a tool that makes trapping, hunting and fishing easier and more productive.
One of the main hallmarks of a good knife is the handle or grip to which the blade portion of the tool is attached. Users have many choices when it comes to high-quality knife handle materials, but two of the best and most popular of these are G10 and Micarta.
To help you make the most educated decision regarding your next survival knife and its handle, below we will take a closer look at both the G10 and Micarta grips, their characteristics, differences and similarities.
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The Importance of a Good Knife Grip
We have already pointed out that the G10 and Micarta handles, also known as grips, are two of the most popular on the market today, but why is that so?
Just what makes a good grip and why is it so important? Here are some of the factors you should consider when choosing your next grip.
- Durability is crucial in a grip material. You want a grip that will stand the test of time, even in the worst climatic conditions, including rain, snow, frost and heat.
- Great feel. Here is the bottom line when it comes to feel: If a knife grip does not feel good in your hand, you should bypass that knife and instead choose one that feels comfortable and natural when you hold it. After all, unless the knife feels good in your hand, you probably will not get much use out of it.
- Impact resistant. There’s a reason that knife handles are not made from glass. These handles must be very impact resistant, able to withstand accidental drops and constant impacts. The blade of the knife is not very useful to you if the grip shatters upon impact.
- If you camp and/or backpack frequently, there will come a time when you encounter wet conditions, either from rain, sleet or snow, or from water crossings. Because of this, you need a handle/grip material that resists water damage even after prolonged exposure to wet conditions.
- While a “bad-looking” knife handle might still work well in a survival situation, it may not have the eye appeal you desire. If you are going to spend your hard-earned money on a knife, why not choose one that looks just as good as it performs?
G10 vs. Micarta: The Differences
There are a few key differences between the G10 and Micarta grips. Let’s take a look at some of those differences:
The different materials used to make the G10 and Micarta knifes represent the most significant difference between the two grips.
While the G10 grips are always comprised of fiberglass that is carefully layered, the Micarta grips consist of layers of fabric, typically canvas, burlap or linen, but also leather, nylon or continuous layers of paper.
The kind of laminate that essentially holds the different materials in place while adding a measure of impenetrability is also different in the two grips.
Makers of G10 handle grips use epoxy throughout the handle to hold together and cover the fiberglass; while Micarta grip producers interweave throughout the grip a substance known as phenolic resin.
Phenolic resin is a type of durable plastic that super-hardens as it dries.
Gripping Under Certain Conditions
Another difference between the G10 and Micarta grips is how easy (or difficult) they are to handle in certain conditions. According to experts, when you compare the two grips, the one with the G10 finish on it seems to be a bit easier to handle when it is dry.
Conversely, knifes that possess a Micarta finish are more stable in the hand in wet conditions, when the handle is moist.
The reason for this disparity is not exactly known, but professional knife makers (blacksmiths) point to the materials used and the laminates that cover them to explain away these differences. Because the handle is smoother on the epoxy-covered G10 grips, dry conditions are very favorable.
The Micarta grips, on the other hand, seem to absorb moisture better than the G10 grips and are thus easier to handle in wet conditions.
The materials, along with the laminates used to cover both the G10 and Micarta grips tend to produce a different look or finish between the two types.
Because of the fiberglass and epoxy makeup of the G10 handle, one can expect to see a lined or concentric pattern that sparkles when exposed to light.
The Micarta grip can take on a number of appearances that cannot be achieved with the G10 method. That’s because the makers of these grips, who use cloth/fabric as the base, have a variety of color palettes and designs from which to choose.
G10 vs. Micarta: The Similarities
Although there are certainly some differences in the way both the G10 and Micarta grips look and feel, the two handles do have a few similarities.
Both the G10 and Micarta grips are laminated and are known to be very durable. Their super-strong laminates enable both handle types to withstand impacts.
They will not break or chip even when dropped from considerable heights and both can take quite a beating in the bush.
Fabric-based handle grips like the G10 and Micarta are also known to be ultra-flexible and, as such, can withstand a lot of repeated torque.
Those camping in really dry conditions are going to love the feel of the fiberglass and epoxy-laden G10 handle, while winter and wet-condition campers may prefer the better wet-grip of Micarta.
However, when all things are equal, you simply cannot go wrong with either the G10 or Micarta brands.
Both offer a unique look that differentiates them from traditional handles made of metal, wood or bone, and both are very strong, durable and impact resistant, able to withstand all of the survival-dependent tasks for which you will need it.