When making or buying a new knife, you need to choose the best handle material for your needs.
G-10 and Micarta are both resin-based composites that make for excellent knife handles.
Micarta is made using two-component resin and canvas, while G-10 is mainly resin and fiberglass.
Both materials are:
- Aesthetically they have many variations of color and texture
- They last over time,
- They are water resistant
- They are convenient to use,
- the G10 costs less even if the same micarta is a cheap material
- the G10 and is less susceptible to environmental factors but also the micarta has good qualities.
Both the G10 and the Micarta are excellent materials for the handle of the knives, but each has its own characteristics and qualities that characterize it and therefore can guide your choice.
In this article you will be able to see many different aspects of each material to help you decide which one is best for you.
G10 vs. G10 Micarta
Depending on your likes, dislikes and needs, G10 could be a much better option than Micarta or vice versa.
They are both renowned and valued materials for the handle, and each of them has its own place in the world of knives.
So let’s move on with the comparison!
Composition of material G10 and Micarta
G10 and Micarta are composite materials, which simply means that they consist of more than one material and “fused” together (in the case of Micarta and G10, two-component resin and another fabric material).
The manufacturing process for G10 and Micarta is extremely similar, but the differences between the two materials become noticeable when looking at their composition.
Micarta is much more natural while G10 is made of many synthetic materials.
The composition G10
G10 is a composite material created from fiberglass and a synthetic epoxy resin.
The process begins by immersing the fiberglass cloth in the epoxy resin and then layering the soaked fabric layer by layer until it reaches a defined thickness that is pressed to compress the epoxy resin and the fiberglass and the heat at the extremes allows to form the composite material that we all know as G10.
The composition Micarta
Micarta is the popular brand for resin and fabric composite materials, consisting of two main types: canvas and linen (there are also variants of Micarta made from canvas, paper, fiberglass, carbon fiber and more).
Just like the G10 manufacturing process, you make Micarta by soaking linen or canvas in organic phenolic resin and then compressing them all together using high pressure and heat.
The production process is very similar and personally over time I have built a press and the two aluminum tops that I use to give heated pressure to allow a good polymerization of the resin.
Compared to other common knife handle materials, G10 and Micarta are with carbon some of the most durable and robust options.
For most people who use their knives as Survival/Prepping tools, EDC or otherwise for external use, both the Micarta and G10 are durable over time.
According to Accurate Plastics,below are the tensile and compressive strength numbers for both G10 and Micarta.
Tensile strength is the strength of a material when it is extracted outwards, and compressive strength is when it is compressed inwards.
|Material||Longitudinal tensile strength (PSI)||Transverse tensile strength (PSI)||Flat compressive strength (PSI)||Edgewise Compressive Strength (PSI)|
Although the data shows that G10 is stronger than Micarta in every category, you should not think that Micarta is not a suitable material for knife handles indeed.
For most uses and people, both materials offer more than enough durability.
G10 has a Rockwell hardness rating of 110 RC, while Micarta has a 100 RC.
The fiberglass fabric used in G10 creates a weaving pattern that gives it incredible strength and durability.
The most natural and soft linen and canvas used to create Micarta simply do not have the same level of strength.
Both materials are extremely durable, hard to scratch and super durable, but the G10 is usually preferred if durability and durability are primary factors in your decision but if you are looking for grip in humid conditions the micarta is superior.
Water resistance of the G10 and Micarta
Micarta is more natural, and its “ingredients” in linen, canvas, jute or paper are more susceptible to moisture absorption.
Sometimes the phenolic resin in micarta if the production process is not perfect has microscopic cracks and holes, which allow a small amount of water to penetrate into the outer layers of the material.
Dents, scratches and regular wear can increase water absorption, but it’s not a problem unless you’ve created deep marks that go deep into the material.
The G10 is made of epoxy resin and fiberglass, it has fewer microscopic holes where water can penetrate inside.
Moisture penetrating the material is confined to the outer layers and evaporates quite quickly.
Although they are not completely waterproof, both G10 and Micarta are both extremely water-resistant materials.
As long as you let them dry properly afterwards, you should have no problem wetting both materials and consider that in certain uses where there is a lot of moisture and water the natural ingredients of Micarta acquire a better texture and are easier to grasp and hold when they are wet which for the G10 happens but to a much lesser extent in most cases.
For most knives, the appearance of the knife handle material is important and the handle as well as the importance of providing good ergonomics and good grip to work safely also gives the knife the aesthetics that for some has a relevance.
I am sure that you also want a material that looks good and matches well with the aesthetics of your blade while being extremely functional and practical.
Micarta and G10 may look similar to the inexperienced eye, but there are some pretty significant differences in appearance and color options.
Aesthetic appearance of the G10
There are two main types of G10 with regard to appearance:
- monochrome and
Due to its more synthetic base, G10 has many color options and is often more vibrant especially in the multi-colored version than the Micarta.
It is polishable, although you tend not to polish it too much to have more grip and it glues very well with epoxy resin to the blade.
The multi-color G10 is usually more expensive than the single-color G10.
Knife-knives and companies often have their own colors and styles characteristic of the G10, but the mixed color G10 usually incorporates black mixed with another color.
Some of the most common G10 color combinations for knife handles are black and brown, black and blue or black and anthracite gray.
Below are some standard G10 color options for knife handles:
- Forest green
- Dark blue
- Vibrant green
Aesthetic appearance of Micarta
Using organic canvas, packing canvas or paper base, micarta typically has a much more natural and soft color than G10 but it is also a feature that is more appreciated if you have to make the knife look more natural or vintage.
Micarta has such a specific texture and color that it is difficult to replicate and makes the handle of an outdoor knife very sturdy and beautiful.
You can also get Micarta with unique colors and really creative and captivating effects using fabrics and varying the layers although usually the colors are much softer and have a natural tone but it is something that I personally appreciate.
Below is a list of some common colors of the Handle of the Micarta knife:
- Forest green
- et cetera.
The grip of the handle of the knife
When they are still in the form of plates both the G10 material and the Micarta do not have much surface structure and this makes these two materials incredibly slippery and difficult to hold properly when they are in their raw form.
There are techniques to make G10 and Micarta more adherent and structured in the production process by pressing the canvas or packaging canvas closer to the Micarta surface and weaving the glass fiber near the surface in G10 but the production of Micarta and G10 with a rough surface is not always aesthetically suitable for all knives and this makes the grip less effective, so many knife knives resort to engraving an additional 3D texture on the surface of the handles of the knives creating three-dimensional textures.
Most micarta manufacturers and makers who make the Micarta and G10 themselves have their own unique handle weave pattern, but crossed, checkered and weaving patterns are among the most common.
The handles of the G10 and Micarta knives have approximately the same surface structure and grip at the end of the knife manufacturing process but not in the presence of water.
One of the main differences between the two materials in terms of grip is their reaction to water.
The G10 becomes more slippery when introduced into the moisture, while the water slightly improves the grip on micarta knives.
This is an important element for your choice!
If you put them next to each other and with the same plate size it is difficult to notice the difference in weight and density between Micarta and G10 but there is a slight difference in weight to consider when choosing between the two materials.
|Material||Density (g/cm³)||Density (lb/inch)|
Most knife owners will not notice the difference in weight, but G10 is slightly denser and heavier than all three types of Micarta measured.
Unless you are a serious hiker who needs to pay attention to every gram in your bag, the weight difference between G10 and Micarta should not be a significant deciding factor between the two materials.
The difference in weight between G10 and Micarta, while it exists, is really minimal. For most knife handles, the difference between the two materials is a few grams.
Although the price often does not directly reflect the quality, many people like to take this into account when deciding when choosing a material for the handle of the knife.
Some choose the Micarta because it is cheaper and others the G10 because they think they give more value to the knife which for me does not really make sense with this type of materials unless they are choices for large-scale industrial knives but at this point you have wrong blog because here we talk about custom knives.
While the most obvious factor is the cost of the material itself, shaping the material into a knife handle and adding any texture needed to create a super handle can and indeed adds value to your knife
So it’s not just the cost of the material that values your knife.
Both materials are quite slippery when raw, the Micarta generally requires a little more work and texture to turn into a good knife handle than the G10 but also offers better grip.
Looking at both materials sold by cutlery material suppliers, here is a quick price comparison of G10 and Micarta:
|Material||Material color||Material dimensions (mm)||Price||Price per square inch|
|G10, 3-0||Black||3 x 292 x 216 mm||US€15.60||US€0.16|
|Micarta Canvas||Black||3 x 292 x 216 mm||US€11.70||US€0.12|
|Linen micarta||Black||3 x 292 x 216 mm||€13.60||US€0.14|
|Jute micarta||Black||3 x 292 x 216 mm||US€25.30||US€0.26|
|Micarta Paper||Black||3 x 292 x 216 mm||US€11.20||US€0.11|
Prices vary depending on many factors and also on the manufacturer who certifies the quality of the product but this you need to have an order of magnitude on the cost of the G10 and the different types of Micarta.
Micarta canvas is 25% cheaper than G10.
The G10 is generally more expensive than the Micarta but it does not mean that it is always so because some types of micarta just for the fabrics and textures used can also be more expensive such as White Linen Micarta® .
This type of micarta is made of real linen and made of a fine linen mesh material of high quality thermosetting with phenolic resin.
This type of handle micarta is more stable and durable, it will not cause problems of expansion-contraction or moisture absorption, and mirror polishing by polishing with standard and rouge wheels.
Compared to other common knife handle materials, G10 and Micarta require very little maintenance if any.
Anyone who has used a knife regularly and made it last for a long time knows that maintenance is important to keep a knife in good condition and in the case of the two materials the micarta needs a little more maintenance.
This principle also applies to the handles of the G10 and Micarta knives although less frequently than the maintenance of wooden handles.
Maintenance of a G10 knife handle
The G10 is one of the simplest materials for the handle of knives to keep in good condition and to maintain.
It is not porous, strong, dense, and its composition is mainly synthetic.
All these qualities make G10 extremely easy to maintain and almost impossible to spoil with regular use.
To keep everything in good condition, it is enough to wash off the handle in G10 after using it in a situation where it has become very dirty or whenever you feel that it has material deposited.
To wash it just rinse with water and regular soap; no need to oil or do anything else to maintain the G10.
Maintenance of a Micarta knife handle
The Micarta, just like the G10, requires extremely little maintenance, but requires some maintenance from time to time due to its more organic base.
Whenever the handle of your Micarta knife gets dirty or after using the blade for a long time, rinse it with cold soapy water and let it dry completely.
Depending on how often you use the knife, apply a little vegetable oil to the Handle of Micarta every week or so.
Oiling the Micarta handle will help keep the material cool, so that it will not easily develop microscopic cracks that can let in moisture, dirt, sweat and debris.
It is a simple act but it can add years to the life of the handle of your Micarta knife even if I repeat it is a super material especially if it is of quality.
The G10 is a great synthetic material for knife handle and although more expensive than the micarta and has almost zero maintenance problems and is super durable, has good water resistance and is therefore a good material for the handle of the knife.
Micarta has more natural ingredients so it has more varied aesthetic color and texture options, it has a lower price, but it has less water resistance, more maintenance needs and lower durability but that is more than enough for the handle of a knife.
Choosing between Micarta and G10 for the handle of your knife as a personal opinion is not a difficult decision because both are excellent materials and are excellent both and have an almost equal number of pros and cons.
If you want a good grip even in situations of important humidity such as on rainy days then it is better to have a good grip!
Which one you choose therefore depends largely on your specific needs, aesthetics, budget I would not say because it is cheap materials and preferences.
Personally I prefer the micarta but it is a personal choice that is linked to the fact that it is created using more natural and non-synthetic materials (apart from resins) and for the effect it takes to the touch using it.
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