In our last article about knife material handles, one material was left out of the bunch in terms of details, that would be stag. Many newcomers to collecting knives or simply learning about them are often confused when trying to look up information on stag or understand what exactly it is. The reason for that is unclear to me, as once you know it’s pretty straightforward, stag is essentially made up of deer antlers and it is a beloved material used in knife handles for high-end custom collector’s knives as well as basic everyday use knives.
What is Stag?
Stag is deer antlers. As a material, it is highly dense and offers a unique natural look that accompanies that durability. Though feelings are always subjective, many people report that stag has a fantastic hand feel and is a pleasure to work with as a result. It’s not unusual to think, considering that ivory is another natural material obtained off of Rhinos (due to which it has a rather notorious history) which is noted for being elegant and luxurious. Fortunately, stag is potentially more cruelty-free.
How is Stag Obtained?
Like many fun facts about animals, there’s a lot of trivia that is unknown to the general populace. It makes sense when you think about it, but most people don’t realize that deer shed their antlers once a year. Unlike rhinos that were hunted for their horns and left dehorned—which is cruel, stag antlers can be obtained cruelty-free by hunters who respect the law.
Many outdoorsmen have an appreciation for nature and animals and are well attuned to the seasons. There’s a time and place to scavenge for stag antlers and there are a growing number of hunters specialize in this sort of scavenger hunt. Generally speaking, stags shed their antlers late in the winter, and thus many hunters set about looking for these remains sometime in mid-March or thereafter.
Sambar Stag Knife Handle Material
The most popular stag is the Sambar stag that is from the India subcontinent and largely southeast Asia, these deer are notable among knife lovers as having the best antlers for creating knife handles out of stag. Unfortunately, this deer is a vulnerable species that has brought into question the usage of this particular stag in knife handles.
However, that doesn’t change the fact that many collectors’ knives already in existence feature Sambar stag and are quite gorgeous. The antlers of a Sambar stag are said to be notably dense and possess less marrow.
Overall, stag as a knife handle material is very durable, dense, and also has a widely considered attractive aesthetic to it. It’s rough and tough but also nice to look at. Many knife enthusiasts find that the rough texture of the knife also contributes a good grip to the handle. When stag is exposed to an open flame, it can create a type of burnt look to it that confers a very distinct visual to stag handles. This is often referred to as burnt stag.
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At Exquisite Knives, we live for the small details. Knife collecting, for that reason, is a rabbit hole that we’re not quite sure ever ends. There’s always something to appreciate, some nuance always to consider. Knife handle materials are one of those, the list of material types is ever-growing and ever-changing in the public consciousness. We look to the legends of past and the smiths of today to show us something unique and interesting, something practical or artful—sometimes both!
Come visit our shop and browse our collection to see what combinations the most renowned custom knife makers have come up with! If you’d like to contact us with any questions you have, please feel free to do so here.