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Whenever I browse knife shops or online stores I see many fixed-blade knives whose handles are essentially just a piece of paracord wrapped around the tang. From my anecdotal experience this also seems to be a fairly popular choice - I'd guess that easily 25% of fixed bladed knives in local shops/stores have such a handle (I live in Switzerland).

Personally I always disliked these kind of handles: if I spend some 100-300+ $ for a good knife I'd like to get a quality product, and for me this includes the handle. Why would I want a handle consisting of just a piece of string?

  • A nice wooden or synthetic/carbon/etc. handle provides way better grip in my opinion, also it can't soak up water, and it's just over all a lot sturdier.

Why are paracord handles so popular? What is the idea behind it?

I get that you could unravel the paracord in an emergency, but let's be honest: a couple of foot length of paracord are not gonna decide over whether you live or die. And would it really be worth making your knife awkward and uncomfortable to handle just to get a piece of string?

  • In the 80s the stores were full of the Rambo survival knives with the hollow handle after the movies came out... trends – Erik vanDoren Apr 28 '16 at 13:03
  • Hehe, so which movie championed the paracord grip? :) – fgysin reinstate Monica Apr 28 '16 at 13:05
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    Not sure, I think internet preppers and kids did the work there. After all somebody did invent the term tacti-cool. To each their own. – Erik vanDoren Apr 28 '16 at 13:31
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    Aesthetically, it may be an homage to the ito (silk braid) on a katana. – Kevin Krumwiede Apr 28 '16 at 18:59
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Upsides

  • It "looks cool" (to some)
  • Cordage (but arguably useless as you have noted)

Downsides

  • Poor grip (compared to leather and manufactured alternatives)
  • More likely to cause blisters
  • Less durable, requires more maintenance
  • PITA to clean if it gets messy/dirty/sweaty
  • Once you unwrap the cord to use it, your knife has even worse grip.

IMO - It's a marketing gimmick and nothing more.

10

I think it can be a matter of personal taste, however:

Some people craft their own knifes, and using a paracord wrap as handle is easy to do, and easy to redo. There are some more and some less good looking wrap styles - again, personal taste.

This also applies when it comes to knifes you buy in a store. Some may like the paracord wrap just as you like something else.

And while 10' of paracord wrapped around your knifes handle probably won't save your life anytime soon, in a real emergency you can separate its inner yarn and strands (for example 7 inner yarns with 3 strands each, you get 21 x 10' of strands) which makes a big difference when it comes to building a shelter, traps, or using it as fishing line.

If you never use it, and your 300$ blade gets older, replacing a paracord wrap handle is a lot easier and cheaper than other fixed/glued/welded alternatives.

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    a properly riveted handle on a good quality knife can be replaced by a shop. (I would not be happy if a 300$ knife (300$!) had glued pieces. – njzk2 Apr 28 '16 at 15:05
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    @njzk2 Not to mention that a quality knife should last a lifetime, including the handle. Ruining a handle on a good knife would take quite some effort. – Carey Gregory Apr 30 '16 at 0:37
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As a knife maker I'm not overly fond of paracord wrapped handles. That said I've done a few and they have there place. I do impregnate the wrap with epoxy, both for durability and for moister protection of the steel under the wrap. It makes for a sure grip, so sure that if used hard and long it will raise blisters. But for a quick task in adverse conditions, cold, wet, blood, ect, it's not likely to slip in your hand. If you want a knife your going to skin an elk with then get a blade with a smooth and comfortable handle, if your going to use it once in a while paracord is OK. The one thing about the paracord wrap is that I can do one a lot quicker than I can a traditional handle, think 30 minutes vs. all day or more, so they are cheaper to produce.

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As Russell Steen said, you might like the looks.

But that aside, I see them as throwing knives that have a somewhat comfortable handle. If you try throwing knives with plastic handles, the handle might break. Paracord does not.

  • As far as I know there has been a tradition of silk cord handles in Japan, paracord for the handles is the 'modern' try for the same looks. – Willeke Apr 20 '18 at 16:25
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In addition to the other answers some of these knives are meant to have a use as a spearhead. You use the cord to tie the metal handle to a stick or split the stick a little, stick the handle in between and tie it closed. For this use these knives are arguably a lot better than anything with a decent grip. (Though not nearly as good as specialist equupment the owner is likely to have experimented with a little.)

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