There is a famous debate between full tang and rat tail field knives. Full tang knives have a heavy tip on the heel of the blade, almost like the talon of a shoe. The full tang has no bolster, and the heel is reinforced with a block of wood between the blade and the handle. Rat tails, on the other hand, have a thin heel of the blade surrounded by a thick bolster. Rat tails also do not have a block of wood in between the bolster and the handle, and their blades are actually shorter than full tang knives.
Before we answer, let’s look at what makes a full tang different than a rat tail. The full tang blade can be brought down to an angle of 90 degrees or more, much more than a rat tail can achieve. Also, the blade can be brought back up to an angle of ninety degrees or more, much more than a rat tail can achieve as well.
So what makes full tang blades so much better? In many cases, the edge of the blade is so near the handle that it can be gripped without leaving the rest of the handle material accessible. This is an excellent advantage over rat tails because the rat tail does not have nearly as much room to grip onto, especially at high angles. The full tang blades can also work well if you are going to use a regular file to file your nails.
One example of the Rat Tail knife being used in this manner is when a file is filed very thin at the point of use. The thin edge of the full tang blade will be able to grab the file and push it into position. On the other hand, using a full tang blade to file a nail will leave the end of the nail file slightly loose. If you need to push the nail a bit further out than you would with a rat tail, you won’t have any problem with the full tang.
When comparing full tang and rat tail blades for different uses, one thing that is very important to note is the weight of the tool. A full tang will be significantly heavier than a rat tail. To make matters worse, the Rat tail is sometimes seen to be weaker in some ways because of this weight issue. Some rat tails are made of a lighter grade of steel which can be seen on some of the tools such as the Nail File. Many people have commented that this makes the Rat tail much more difficult to sharpen than a full tang which is absolutely true.
As with most things in life, both the full tang and the rat tail knife can have their advantages and disadvantages depending on the situation. A full Tang is clearly the choice of many when it comes to nail and file handling but does have a few drawbacks you should be aware of before choosing. This is especially important if you need to carry it on your person at all times.