FAQ: Is it possible to order knives with handles that match?

14th Jul 2015

The answer to this question (which we hear quite often, by the way) is no -- and yes.

We definitely understand the desire to have a "matched set" to show off to hunting buddies, as well as the popular penchant for assembling a collection of knives in the same handle material. Because most of the knives we carry are either handmade or semi-production, however, matching handles perfectly isn't easy to do.

Actually, with natural handle materials it's downright impossible.

Cocobolo Knife Handles

The best way to explain that is with an example. Let's say that you harbor a special fondness for Cocobolo wood. You already have a full-size knife handled in Cocobolo, and you'd like to buy a smaller "piggyback" knife with handles that "match."

Now look at the four photos at right.

All four are Bark River knives -- same model, same production run. All were photographed in the same setting, under the same controlled lighting.

And all four are Cocobolo. See what we mean?

If you think it's tough to get a match in naturally finished, straight-grained wood (like this Cocobolo), consider that materials like burls, bone, horn and antler can be even more challenging. And dyed (artificially colored) materials raise the bar to impossible levels.

It's a matter of adjusting your expectations. If, to you, "matching" means "identical," you're setting yourself up for frustration (or disappointment, at least).

Our suggestion? Simply embrace the wonderful variety, variations and variegated character of natural handle materials. Vive la difference!

That, we think, is something to be proud of -- and well worth showing off.

If you still insist on matching your knives' handles, there's a ray of hope -- but you'll have to stray from natural handle materials.

Synthetic materials like Micarta, G-10 and C-Tek will, generally speaking, give you a better shot at a good match. There are no guarantees, of course -- with Micarta, hue and "visual texture" can vary from batch to batch and handle to handle.

Also, be aware that the appearance of a particular color of Micarta depends on the substrate used (canvas, linen or paper).

We've found G-10 to be more consistent. We have less history with C-Tek, but in our experience it's relatively easy to "match."

Here at KnivesShipFree we take great pride in our high-resolution product photography. When choosing your handle material, please use our photos to help you make the most informed decision you can.