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Ontario FF6 review – tang failure

Discussion in 'Knife Reviews & Testing' started by Return of the J.D., Sep 7, 2006.

  1. Return of the J.D.

    Return of the J.D.

    Nov 29, 2005
    Ontario FF6 review – tang failure

    Last night I had tang give way on an Ontario FF6 “Freedom Fighter Fighting Knife”. I was practicing snap cuts on a soft pine post, when the pommel flew off.

    The knife’s construction was as follows: blade is steel stock, I believe 1095, 3/16 inch thick. Tang passes through, and is enclosed by, a kraton handle—basically a tube made out of kraton—and screws into a steel pommel.

    Tang is ½ inch wide for the 4 inches immediately behind the blade, and is then abruptly narrowed to ¼ inch to the end of the tang. This 1/4 inch section is threaded, so that it can be screwed into the pommel, which is basically a mushroom-shaped piece of steel whose stem is inserted into the tubular kraton handle; the stem has a threaded hole into which the threaded part of the tang is screwed.

    Inspection showed that the threaded, ¼-inch section of the tang had broken off between the place where the tang thins down from ½ inch, and the place where the threaded portion screws into the pommel. My theory is that this is a design issue that Ontario may wish to address, because at the point where the tang is narrowed and threaded, the only other support is the rubber-like kraton handle material. This means that the force of any lateral impact is essentially going to be borne by a quarter-inch threaded rod—which obviously was not up to this use.

    I will mention that the chops in question, though not light use, were also not remarkably heavy—not like I was flailing away recklessly, trying to break the blade, etc. In my opinion, they were within the range of impacts that a utility or fighting knife should be reasonably expected to endure. It was also the first such use to which I’d put the knife, so metal fatigue was probably not an issue.

    By way of full disclosure, I had modified the handle somewhat prior to this event, by means which did not involve the part that snapped. I had narrowed the kraton part of the handle side-to-side using a belt sander, as the original shape was a little too large and round for my easiest use and retention; and I had likewise used a bench grinder to narrow the circular pommel into more of an oval shape. Though I can imagine that the removal of some of the kraton on the sides of the handle could have made the rubber a little more flexible, perhaps hastening the fracture, I have trouble imagining that the same thing wouldn’t have happened not too far into the future, without the modifications.

    Ontario mentions an “NSN” number (NSN: 1095-01-515-9874 ) for this knife on its website, which I think implies that one branch or another of the U.S. military uses this model. If so, I am a little dismayed to know that something with a critical part this weak is being relied-upon by our servicemen. My backyard martial-arts practice is one thing—but where those guys use their knives, this kind of fracture would pose real problems. I would recommend that Ontario consider stronger attachment systems, such as those used in traditional military-issue Ka-Bar utility knives, or USAF survival knives. Any system that retained the half-inch tang width throughout the tang’s length would strengthen the knife considerably.
  2. Cliff Stamp

    Cliff Stamp Banned BANNED

    Oct 5, 1998
    This sounds like a heat treatment issue, which isn't uncommon to Ontario. You may which to contact them directly.

  3. IUKE12


    Nov 25, 2005
    Any possibility of seeing some pics?
  4. darkestthicket


    Nov 30, 2002
    yes, pics please? :)
  5. Return of the J.D.

    Return of the J.D.

    Nov 29, 2005
    I'd love to send pics, but am not set up to do it. I'm with you: it takes a thousand words to depict what a couple of photos would.

    Thanks for the diagnosis about the heat-treat; I wouldn't be surprised if that were a lot of it. I think the fact that we're dealing with a thin little piece of steel no bigger than 3/16" by 1/4" -- with threading -- located right between two much-thicker pieces of steel -- is the biggest reason.
  6. Cliff Stamp

    Cliff Stamp Banned BANNED

    Oct 5, 1998
    Yes, that is a small cross section however try to break a 6" common nail which is the same thickness of steel. If you can take digital pictures you can host them on PhotoBucket or similar and then link to them anywhere.

  7. michiganroman


    Nov 22, 2012
    im considering this knife and am wondering if anybody knows if the tang design has been changed ? or knows where to find a pic of the knife without handle ? in the first place knife makers should set up pages of pics of all their knives without handles so you know what your buying !
  8. michiganroman


    Nov 22, 2012
    btw - instead of this described tang design if i had to keep the hollowed handle type (ide prefer full revealed tang with scale on each side because wider the tang stronger the knife) ide run 1/2" entire tang length . then the butt cap would be an inch long with 2 holes in it matched to 2 holes in tang for rivets . the cap would obviously have a slot in it exact size of 1/2" , and ide use something like jb weld in that slot to assist the 2 rivets in holding pommel on tight . the 1/4 wide threaded design is just a plain stupid obvious flaw , my ways way stronger and doesnt cost any more !
  9. TwinStick


    Jan 21, 2011
    I gotta say this up front "I am a HUGE fan of Ontario Knife Company." BUT--- I absolutely HATE that style of knife. Really, i can't say that strongly enough. I don't care who makes it. It is an inferior design. Now matter how you cut (no pun intended), that would ONLY be acceptable for a "light use" knife, IMHO. I had one made by a different well known knife company, fall out of it's sheath, while throwing my pack into the pack of a 2 1/2 ton duce, onto concrete & the cap flew off as did about 3-4 of the leather washers from the handle. I am sorry folks, but anything that is even remotely affiliated with war/combat/fighting should be full tang/exposed tang/extended tang. There are NUMEROUS companies out there that fit this bill. Why in the name of "do-what's-right" they don't issue them to our troops---is beyond me. Even the M7 bayonets we were issued SUCKED. I broke 3 of them myself, doing things that my BK&T's blades & OKC Spec-Plus would laugh at. Sad, because they really are not that much more expensive. Look at it from this point of view: out of all the gear a soldier has, his/her knife is about the least expensive, yet if they reach for it under fire, that means things have gone terribly bad, so the LAST thing i would want to worry about is my last resort weapon. I'm just sayin.'

    Call Ontario. Request a new knife. Be polite. If they refuse & you are sure you want to, tell them they just lost a life-long knife enthusiast as a customer. I own PLENTY of their products that i absolutely LOVE but also, I would kick them to the curb if they didn't make this right.
  10. michiganroman


    Nov 22, 2012
    so true twinstick , its ridiculous these weak tanged knives are even made let alone issued to military when it'd be just as easy / cheap , maybe easier , to make a full exposed extended tang
  11. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    I was thinking the same thing. I had issues with two of the same knife blade in the spec plus line over a decade ago. On one the tip folded over with hardly any real pressure and on another the tip snapped off pretty easily. I never have any problems out of their issue pilot knives and bayonets, but have had problems more than once with knives in the spec plus line.
  12. maurice.v


    Mar 19, 2019

    I have the FF6 and I've cut/chopped/sliced/hacked/stabbed many, many things with it and it's still sharp and holding up great. I think possibly it could be a dud or mistreatment of the knife or a combination of both. The Ontario FF6 is my favorite combat/utility knife and I don't use 'Favorite' lightly. I can use this knife to cut thick branches and other things. While the majority would prefer a bigger knife like a Becker or Esee, and until I need to chop bigger, thicker pieces of wood, I think I'll keep my FF6 at my side. Ontario is pretty good with their Customer Service support and they most likely will replace the knife if you contact them. I love my FF6, while Ontario changed the steel on the Spec Plus line from 1095 to 1075, the FF6 is still made with 1095 which I prefer. It's worth to get your FF6 replaced with a new one and which is why I am going to purchase another FF6, I just totally love this knife, it works great for me. To each his own I suppose!!
  13. Cobalt

    Cobalt Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 23, 1998

    Well, maybe Ontario has improved everything........ 12 YEARS AFTER THIS INCIDENT!!!:D
    slyraven, duramax and jeepin like this.
  14. jstrange


    Mar 31, 2012
    That might be long enough to get things turned around ;)
  15. brownshoe

    brownshoe I support this site with my MIND

    Sep 6, 2002
    Ontario has changed a lot. They have a subforum here and their Director of Engineering, Paul Tsujimoto (aka Toooj) participates.

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