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Thread: Knife Steel Article

  1. #1
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    Knife Steel Article

    Been trying to learn a bit more about the various steels used to make knives beyond the hype and marketing. This seemed like balanced article, but I'm not an expert on the topic. For those with the expertise, what say you? What's another article to read on the topic that summarizes the various steels? Some of the "ultra premium" steels like CPM S110V sound cool, but not clear the $ is worth it beyond bragging rights and such. But, buy once cry once as they say. Sounds like the basics will cover most people most of the time in most situations.

    http://knifeinformer.com/discovering...t-knife-steel/
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    I don't consider myself an expert on the topic, but like you, have tried to learn as much as I can on the topic by browsing Bladeforums and learning from the experts who are th experts. Just like I do here.

    As far as S110v goes, from what I know, it is ultra wear resistant so it has great edge retention. Likewiise, it is that much harder to sharpen because of it.

    It also depends on your needs. S110v might be wear resistant due to the vanadium content but is not as tough as say something like CPM-3V or CPM-M4. So if you are looking for a survival blade, S110v is probably not your best choice.

    These type of steels get expensive because they are all of the powder metallurgy world which makes them a whole lot more uniform , but due to their wear and toughness, harder on the tooling and manufacturing equipment. Heat treating them correctly is usually also a tricky and expensive process which add to the cost. Correct heat treat is one of the most important parts of the process. You can have the newest and greatest steel, but if it's heat treat is wrong, it will perform sub par and be no better than an "inferior" steel.
    Last edited by Adrenaline_6; 07-28-18 at 21:04.

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    From what I have learned through Bladeforums and personal experience is the same steel from two different makers will have 2 potentially different heat treats. It the proper heat treating of the steel that is WAY more important than the particular steel itself assuming the steel you choose has the properties you are looking for. I own a Paramilitary 2 in S110v and loved it for about a year and a half and it finally needed a touchup sharpening. The metallurgy in the S110V requires more work (wear resistance) to get sharp than other knives in my collection and this knife, while sharp now is no longer in my rotation. Just don't want to deal with the effort required to sharpen it up.

    I consistently carry my CPM-S35VN steel Chris Reeve Inkosi and my GEC 15 Beer Scout in 1095 Carbon Steel. 1095 Carbon steel is easy to care for, keep it oiled and/or dry after use and it will patina, which protects the blade from rust. The Reeve Inkosi is Stainless and requires no care but a cleaning 3-4 times a year and stropping every other month to get shaving sharp. For fix blades camping I use Carbon Steels like A2 and O1 along with CPM-S35VN steel knives as well. While I own dozens of supersteel knives, I rarely use them as the less "super steels" fit my needs perfectly.

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    Personally, I’ll take the overall outstanding performance of S30V and S35VN with their relative ease of sharpening over the more premium S90V and S110V. To a lesser extent, I’d also prefer 1095 and O1 over D2 and A2 if talking about non-stainless blades. For a large knife, 5160 all the way. Assuming all are properly heat treated, of course.

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    FWIW the bushcraft/outdoors world is pretty big in the hard carbon steels like 1095. They take an edge well, put up with a lot of abuse, and can be used to strike for combustion. The trade off is that they need a bit more care as for as oiling and such to prevent rust.

    That’s not to say the stainless blades aren’t good, but I. Price they usually cost a lot more.

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    I have read tons of stuff but tend to lend more credence to my real world experience. S110v is great at getting a really keen edge, but is super chippy, s90v is similar. S30 tends to hold a working edge for a long time, but does not keep the very keen edge very long. S35 is a bit better than s30 at holding the keen edge. D2 is good, but can rust and is similar in performance to s30 imo. My only experience with 154cm is benchmade's, and it is garbage...too soft to hold an edge for any prolonged use. I find, based on my limited experience, Elmax and m390 seem to have the best overall balance of edge retention (wear resistance) and toughness (resistance to chipping).

    All of my experiences have been with either my own knives, or those of customers, so I have tested a good 3-4 dozen knives in various steels. I have experience with bigger knives done in higher carbon steels like 5160, 1095, 52100, etc. and I find all of these to depend on the heat treat (52100 gets chippy at around 60-61 RWH).

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    Quote Originally Posted by JackFanToM View Post
    I have read tons of stuff but tend to lend more credence to my real world experience. S110v is great at getting a really keen edge, but is super chippy, s90v is similar. S30 tends to hold a working edge for a long time, but does not keep the very keen edge very long. S35 is a bit better than s30 at holding the keen edge. D2 is good, but can rust and is similar in performance to s30 imo. My only experience with 154cm is benchmade's, and it is garbage...too soft to hold an edge for any prolonged use. I find, based on my limited experience, Elmax and m390 seem to have the best overall balance of edge retention (wear resistance) and toughness (resistance to chipping).

    All of my experiences have been with either my own knives, or those of customers, so I have tested a good 3-4 dozen knives in various steels. I have experience with bigger knives done in higher carbon steels like 5160, 1095, 52100, etc. and I find all of these to depend on the heat treat (52100 gets chippy at around 60-61 RWH).
    If heat treated correctly, S110V or S90V should not be super chippy. Now, saying that, compared to 5160, CPM-3V, and CPM-M4, S110V will be more chippy in hard conditions. It just doesn't have the same toughness as these steels do, but a well known and respected Bladeforums steel tester, commented S110V as not chippy if the heat treat was done correctly.

    I agree, M390 is great, Elmax too, as well as CPM-20CV, and CTS-204P. (all similar) My edc is S35vn (an old ZT0550). It does a decent job at holding a working edge, but keeping it hair popping, takes time and effort.

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    Most of my knives are either Elmax or S35VN, have great edge retention and haven’t had problems with chipping. I have one in S90VN and it is great so far but wat a bitch to get sharp (beyond factory edge).

    I have a Fallkniven F1 in 3G. I did not see that steel on this list. That said, i have been very pleased with the knife so far in basic camp site use and minor food prep.
    Last edited by hotrodder636; 08-04-18 at 15:24.
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    This is helpful to understand the composition differences of various knife steels...

    http://www.spyderco.com/pdfs/SpydercoSteelChart.pdf

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    Quote Originally Posted by hotrodder636 View Post
    Most of my knives are either Elmax or S35VN, have great edge retention and haven’t had problems with chipping. I have one in S90VN and it is great so far but wat a bitch to get sharp (beyond factory edge).

    I have a Fallkniven F1 in 3G. I did not see that steel on this list. That said, i have been very pleased with the knife so far in basic camp site use and minor food prep.
    3G is a layer of SGPS (more commonly known as SG2) layered between two pieces of VG2. I have an older Shun kitchen pairing knife that uses SG2. It is one of the earlier powder metallurgy super steels back in the day. It holds an edge pretty well for the kitchen but a lot trickier to sharpen than VG10 is.

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