G10 is a strong composite material capable of producing nearly indestructible knife handle scales. With outstanding strength and hardness, these knife handle materials resist abuse from regular and occasional use. If treated correctly, knife handle made with G10 can last for many years. However, you may need to polish or smoother the surface layers periodically to maintain them in good shape.
Knife handle scales made with G10 are harder than alternatives like FNR or Micarta. You can apply as much pressure as you normally can, and the G10 will most likely put up with it. This is the result we found after conducting different experiments to test how strong the G10 handle material, which we will talk about here.
What is G10 Handle Material? What is it Made of?
G10 is a laminate composite created from a combination of fiberglass and resin. To create it, manufacturers use a compression and heating technique.
The fiberglass cloth layers get soaked into resin, and then they put pressure to start compressing and baking the material. This process creates a durable material, which is also hard and lightweight. In brief, a G-10 handle is usually the most resistant material within the laminates of the fiberglass resin group.
Popular brands using G10 for their knife handles include Spyderco, CRKT, Kershaw, KA-BAR, and Gerber, to name a few. While it’s available in different knife styles, this handle is more prominent in outdoor folding knives due to its cheap price and superior durability.
Is G10 Strong Enough? – Our Findings
We’ve all heard about G10, but is it really as strong as people say? To answer this question, we put the G10 through different tests to determine strength, hardness, and durability. After completing each test, we found that this fiberglass material can resist intense abuse from hammering and dropping impacts. Check out how each experiment went and its results to determine how strong G10 knife handle material is.
G10 is one of the hardest materials out there, ranking at 110 on the Rockwell Hardness scale. This level of hardness grants its properties to withstand impacts after dropping on concrete, rocks, ceramic tile, etc. While chips and discoloration are likely to occur, the damage is minimal and barely noticeable. Sometimes there’s no damage at all, providing clear evidence that the material is almost indestructible in daily tasks.
Due to its hardness, G10 is a tougher material when compared to FRN or Micarta. It’s so impressive that you may destroy the blade of the knife before damaging the G10 handle scales.
The durability of G10 is undeniable, but we wanted to put it to the test to see how much it can take. For this analysis, we considered several factors like tensile strength, compressive strength, and flexural strength. We used different techniques such as hammering and applying considerable pressure over G10 handle scales, which effectively put up with the abuse.
G10 has a tensile strength of 40,000+ PSI lengthwise and 35,000+ PSI crosswise. While this information doesn’t say much as is, you will find that G10 has outstanding resistance to tension before budging.
The compressive strength of G10 is 60,000+ PSI flatwise, and approximately 35,000+ PSI edgewise. Testing the compressive strength of a G10 handle is easily one of the most satisfying experiments we performed. We decided to go all the way, using a hammer to hit the scales and an anvil as a platform.
After continuous hammering of at least 100 pounds of force, the handle scales barely had any damage at all. Some dents were visible on the handle scale patterns, but they looked fine overall. Keep in mind that this was an unusual test, as you would not regularly hammer on the G10 as we did. Therefore, you can rest assured that the G10 can drop from a considerable height, and it will put up with impacts.
On .125-inch of thickness, the flexural strength of G10 is 55,000+ PSI lengthwise and 45,000+ PSI crosswise.
While we can argue that G10 is not as flexible as other materials, it does have a decent amount of flexibility before breaking. We put G10 handle scales through a flexural strength test and found that the material can bend at approximately 15° before breaking. It took putting a knife through scale and tang to pry it and finally break it.
The test also showed that no matter how much you bend it by force, G10 will not deform. This benefit allows knifemakers to mold handle scales to a preferred ergonomic shape and trust it will stay that way on their custom knives.
How long does G10 last?
Handle scales made with G10 can last a lifetime. In fact, you can smooth and polish the material every once in a while to recover its overall appearance.
Is G10 brittle?
No, G10 is not brittle. Furthermore, unlike poor-quality natural materials like wood, G10 doesn’t get softer as time passes either.
Does G10 absorb water?
G10 can resist exposure to water, but it isn’t a waterproof material. However, the water penetration is very low, and it won’t absorb moisture under normal circumstances.
Is G10 as strong as carbon fiber?
The composite found in G10 has superior strength to weight ratio when compared to carbon fiber, but this difference is barely noticeable in knives. Also, carbon fiber is better in terms of heat resistance and stiffness. On the other hand, G10 is sturdier, works better in humid areas, and costs less.
Is G10 stronger than aluminum?
Aluminum is more rigid and can resist impacts well, like if you drop it inadvertently. Still, this knife handle material will display scratches and dents more visibly than G10. On the other hand, G10 is lightweight and can resist temperature changes better than aluminum. Plus, it’s less likely to show nicks or dings even if you hammer with it.
What is the difference between G10 and FRN?
The most significant difference between G10 and FRN is their flexibility. As seen in Spyderco FRN, it feels soft and flexible, enough that you can gouge or cut it. The chances of FRN breaking are low, but it will deform if you try something like hitting hard concrete with the FRN.
On the other hand, G-10 is more rigid and not as flexible. It will most likely start breaking down before deforming. If you hit the concrete with it, it will chip but not deform.
What’s stronger G10 or Micarta?
The difference between G10 and Micarta is that G10 features glass fiber as the core material, whereas Micarta knife handles use linen and fabric or paper occasionally.
Another difference is that Micarta usually offers more design variations, making contemporary and rugged scales. However, G10 handles are smoother due to the multidirectional woven pattern. Lastly, G10 uses an extremely tough epoxy resin binder to put together its thin layers, and Micarta utilizes phenolic resin instead.