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3v HRC Debacle

Discussion in 'Benchmade Knife Company' started by T.L.E. Sharp, May 16, 2019.

  1. jcoolG19


    Dec 16, 2018
    Sure, it's ok to disagree.
    As far as huge issue, it's not. It's a pocket knife. Personally, I like it. The steel doesn't hold an edge for crap, but it isn't any worse than 8Cr. I bought it because people had questions about testing through the coating. No one was willing to let me strip the coating off of theirs. So now I have one, and I use it. I know exactly how it holds up, and I know how hard it is. For the guys that are getting great performance with theirs, hey that's awesome. Maybe you got lucky and got one near the top of the range. I know damn sure it's not 55-56. Unless they think 8Cr is stellar.
    mdrgn79 likes this.
  2. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    I am not sure if you did get the point.

    People that use the knife are fine with it regardless of their forum status.

    Folks who want to boost up their social media/online status clicks aren't OK with it. You're certainly free to post whatever you want for your youtube reviews etc. but when you come on here and post something that's not true you'll get roasted to a crisp. That's inevitable.
    colin.p and craytab like this.
  3. jcoolG19


    Dec 16, 2018
    I'm not a YouTube reviewer. I'm just a regular guy that tests steels for people. Some of them happen to be YouTubers. I don't have a huge online presence or following, and I don't really want one.
    Roasting? You are a funny guy!
    mdrgn79 likes this.
  4. Dallas T

    Dallas T

    Apr 6, 2013
    As far as huge issue, it's not. It's a pocket knife. Personally, I like it. The steel doesn't hold an edge for crap, but it isn't any worse than 8Cr. I bought it because people had questions about testing through the coating. No one was willing to let me strip the coating off of theirs. So now I have one, and I use it. I know exactly how it holds up, and I know how hard it is. For the guys that are getting great performance with theirs, hey that's awesome. Maybe you got lucky and got one near the top of the range. I know damn sure it's not 55-56. Unless they think 8Cr is stellar.[/QUOTE]

    It doesn’t hold an edge for crap? May i ask in what way you are claiming this? I ask cause i am an owner of one and have nothing but good experiences with it. Solid for what it is, super sharp and easy to sharpen. Used it quite extensive while camping on wood, glides through all types plastic. I’ve noticed no edge retention issues.
  5. jcoolG19


    Dec 16, 2018
    Most of my cutting is at work. No wood. Lots of nylon netting and banding, plastic parts trays, zip ties and cardboard. Cutting nylon netting on a wood block, the factory edge was wasted it 10-15 minutes. Edge , near the top rolled severely. The rest was just blunted. You're right it sharpens very easy. After sharpening, I used it for a couple days. A few boxes and zip ties. Had more edge rolling, but overall, not as bad as the factory edge. Got the roll straightened and resharpened. I got a couple days out of it with intermittent light use. More edge rolling and blunted apex. Stropping doesn't help because the apex is gone or rolled.
    If you are getting good performance from it, I would tend to think your blade is a fair bit harder than mine. I envy you there! I really do like the knife. I wanted a Bugout but it felt too small. The Bailout is a nice lightweight design that has enough grip length for me. The steel itself is a strange choice for a folder, but they are not doing it justice. At least not with a lot of them. You have me curious about yours. If you ever want it tested, just message me.
    mdrgn79, Mo2, jux t and 3 others like this.
  6. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    Question for the experts. I know that HRC is generally given as a range, partly due to sampling size and tolerances. But I don't know how "big" one point of hardness is. For example I know that 1*C in temp is not really noticeable by a person, but three or four would be (room AC kicks on for example) and I know that most people cannot tell the difference in 1mm from any distance, but most could tell if one object was 1Cm shorter than another at that same distance.
    Now, how accurate and precise are hardness testers? Could a hardness tester be calibrated one unit higher or lower than another without any major sign? For example I one helped a classmate in a shop class build his project bookshelf, and we noticed that his pieces didn't fit well. Turns out he'd used two tape measures, and over the distances he was using them they differed by 1/8inch, enough to be a problem.

    I don't want anyone to dox themselves, I don't think we need to go that far, but many here have made it sort of clear what industry they are in, landscaping, education, or what hobby they support with a knife (fishing, hiking etc) So what job involves a lot of what seems to be warehouse or loading dock work, but also gives someone access to high precision tools? It all leaves me a little puzzled.

    This is where I'd normally leave some advice about reading whole posts and not ascribing motive, but not caring anymore. jcool, either put up, or shut up. Real proof or get off the pot. There are enough self proclaimed experts here already, and so far you have not shown anything to prove you are worth paying attention to.
    ArchVV, craytab, Nbrackett and 2 others like this.
  7. jcoolG19


    Dec 16, 2018
    Put up or shut up? Maybe, just asking the questions would be a better way to proceed. I have nothing to hide, scores to settle or anything to gain by doing what I do. I'm not a collector or fan of any brand, but I have noticed some trends among them, good and bad. Most people seem to like what I do. The only negative responses come when someone doesn't like the results.

    Reading through the 4 short paragraphs you left, I deciphered 3 questions. You would like to know what the difference is with one point on the Rockwell C scale, and more about how it works. There are literally hundreds of pages that can explain it way more than I can. Google is your friend here. What I will tell you is that it is not linear. the difference between 60-61 is far greater than 30-31.

    The second question seems to be about the machines themselves, and their accuracy. I'll limit my answers to C scale only and the Wilson I use. UCI, other portable testers and Superficial testers do not work the same and have different limits of error. Most quality manufacturers have a +1/-1 limit of error. What that means is if the machine they produce tests within +1/-1 point within the required test conditions, it is acceptable to them. Consider it a kind of tolerance, like the HRC range given by knife makers. Now this is where most people make the mistake of thinking every machine has that limit of error. That is the maximum limit of error acceptable, not the designed target. Good quality machines, that are maintained and calibrated regularly, can be much more accurate than that. Which leads us to the third question, or group of questions.

    The third question seems to be about where I work, what we do, and if the equipment is good enough to give reliable results. I will not disclose the company I work for. I work for a company that is a design and fabrication shop. It's a machine shop with a big engineering department! We make high pressure equipment primarily for the oil, gas and chemical fields, but quite a few others as well. We use about 120 different materials from A286 to Zirconium. Our products are used in applications that require up to 150,000 psi, often volatile substances. We are a DoD/NASA contractor, and have been for many decades. As for the equipment I use for testing, the PMI gun is https://www.thermofisher.com/order/catalog/product/XL3TGOLDDPLUS. The Rockwell tester is a Wilson 4JR. It is ancient! The machine is probably older than I am! That said, it is the most accurate tester we have. That's why they keep it and use it daily. We have a fairly new Instron Digital and Phase II UCI testers, but that old Wilson smokes them both when it comes to accuracy and repeat-ability. It is calibrated every 60 days, and serviced once a year or when needed. We use Wilson standards discs before and after, and sometimes during testing. Repeat-ability is under .5 consistently. When testing knives, I do one reading, unless the owner allows me to do more. I give actual readings with decimal, I don't round up or down. Our ISO procedure is written that way for single readings or single parts with multiple readings, so that's what I do. When I am permitted to do multiple readings, I have found very little variance on steels with a good HT. Usually, a half point or less. Steels with a questionable HT can show a huge range. At this point, I have tested somewhere between 250-300 knives. I have had my results backed up by a few companies that have had the blades retested by outside labs that have confirmed my results. There was one small company that had some issues with their equipment. They sent test blocks that I gave them to a Swiss lab that verified my results. Because of that, they shut production down for a week, bought a new tester, new heat controls and redid their HT protocols. Another has sent multiple samples to see if their issues had been fixed. Two others replaced blades, somewhat begrudgingly, from what I was told. The testing isn't perfect, but it is way more accurate that someone using a knife for a bit and guessing.

    Anything else? Just ask.
  8. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    There we go. See, An answer is not as useful as Your answer. Because how you describe the situation gives a greater picture than just the simple data. I applaud your humility in giving a real description of the situation, and those are the sorts of answers that give you value here. Like it or not, rookies all get treated the same because everyone has the same access to google. So while you may have your expertise, it only starts to count as you contribute, and other members see how you handle yourself. Often this sort of discussion goes a very different direction.

    Again, thanks for taking the track of actually engaging. I gotta spit, but I thought it worth responding now.
    mdrgn79, jcoolG19 and Alchemy1 like this.
  9. Banter 247

    Banter 247

    Feb 22, 2019
    A word on use and edge retention testing:

    Steve, Gerald, and Tom use a very similar methodology, to provide as much apples to apples comparison as possible. I’ll skip over controls, and get to the most bare bones piece.

    They cut cardboard until 1 the knife is no longer shaving sharp or 2 the knife no longer *cleanly* cuts paper.

    Emphasis on “cleanly”, because that means dulling or deformation causes a catch.

    They repeatedly state that the knife isn’t done cutting at that point, only that it’s where the test stops, because... tests need a metric.

    Why do tests need a metric? Because there is no value to performance statements, absent predictable, repeatable results. The results these guys get, given same samples, are predictable and repeatable. Point of fact, at least one of them (Outpost76) posts results once he gets consecutive same-range results, to proof where it stopped.

    How does this relate to the “use vs YouTube” conversation? Two ways:

    1. If you’re using a Bailout in 3V and it’s still cutting cardboard beyond 115 feet, that’s not a “gotcha”. These guys are testing 1” sections, stopping when a catch forms. When you use the full blade and don’t stop using the knife when a catch forms, you should *expect* to see substantially more cutting than a test number shows. However, that also holds true for steels that are kicking the butt of the Bailout in those tests. So, if you feel like the Bailout’s edge retention is great, I have amazing news for you: the Bugout destroys it. (See? No anti-BM witch hunt. Points of fact, I gave a Bugout away in my channel’s 1K subscriber giveaway, positively reviewed the Super Freek, etc)

    2. If you want to put more stock in unquantified anecdote than testing, that is certainly your choice. Just understand the value of saying “I choose to believe so and so because they said so”.

    There’s a reason people started testing in the first place.

    Ultimately, though, it’s up to each of us how we spend our own time and money. I won’t begrudge anyone for doing things their own way.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2019
  10. jcoolG19


    Dec 16, 2018
    I didn't enter the conversation to be an antagonist. I was part of the testing and part of the conversation elsewhere. The biggest clarification I had hoped to make was that this is not a Benchmade witch hunt. The problems with the steels are industry wide, and Benchmade is not immune. There is a much larger, and more encompassing conversation going on about this outside this forum. This is your forums, your at home place if you will. I respect that. As for Benchmade, they are a solid company with a well earned rep. Even they miss the boat sometimes. I'll give them a huge thumbs up when they hit a home run (M4 Freek) and call them on their flubs, too.
    I am serious about testing questions. I know people have them and I try to be as transparent about them when I can.
    Alchemy1, Mo2, mdrgn79 and 1 other person like this.
  11. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    As I said before, I'm just one guy. Sure I've got a join date from a while back, but that makes me no more an expert on knives as I am on anything else. I don't much care for discussing knives outside of a couple other spots, no interest in instagram and the like. I have little time for self-professed experts who just declare knowledge. I know I can't evaluate your claims, but I know that there are plenty here who can, and will. The joys of the hive-mind. I'm here for more knowledge, and we are here to have those deeper discussions. It is useful to know that you are doing this as part of a profession rather than a backyard hobby. I think that clarity brings a lot to the table. Despite all appearances, many here can be reasonable. Over time, people will know when to listen and your statements will hold weight based on your handle, but for the time being its still worth letting people know how you come to your answers, there are a lot of folks here.
    Its very possible that I mis-read some of your earlier posts in this thread. It seemed like things were going a different direction. Anyway, bygones and all that, and I'm glad for it, its a rare thing.

    Is it possible that as the heat treat gets pushed to the higher ranges in the 3V, they were getting some QC problem that means that the lower hardness knives were over represented? Is it possible that the wider heat treat tolerance was done for a reason of economics? Or was it simply a choice of 3V being a "hard use steel" where the shine has come off s30v? I mean a marketing decision is a fair call sometimes. Or is it that overall hardness wasn't as key a feature as tensile strength, and resisting chipping?
    Often times we get in the mindset of wanting all the answers to the whys of something, but then are left with little more than "I wouldn't have done it that way" Not every swing is a hit.
    jcoolG19 likes this.
  12. Banter 247

    Banter 247

    Feb 22, 2019
    There were many questions about the why, so @Alchemy1 asked them, and shared the answer. He has shared the exchange on YouTube, and previously here on BF.

    ^ that reply is for third party observers with an interest in follow up.
    Alchemy1 likes this.
  13. Alchemy1


    Dec 31, 2011
    I did. I’ve also linked the chart with all of the testing that has been going on for months and covers many different brands. I’ve also posted all 5 of the Spyderco’s that were sent in before BLADE and the fact that I will be sending off a Hinderer, 2 Striders, a GEC, and a Case next. However, the gentleman has made it clear that he only looks in a few places for information. That was also a lot of what I heard when I put the YT video up. People missed all of the step-by-step info that I put up, in real time, on IG.

    Nothing to do with this specific response or member, but I do not believe the best place to get an objective look or dialogue about any product is in that manufacturers sub. If we were in the Spyderco, Chevy, or Frigidaire sub, I’d expect the same type of discourse.
  14. Babyboomer

    Babyboomer Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 25, 2017
    That’s interesting to me, because the manufacturer’s forum or sub-forum is the first place I look for information.

    It would never in a million years occur to me that Instagram (or any of the social media) would be a reliable source of information about something like heat treating — unless it was something announced by a manufacturer. Other than the various forums I’ve joined, I tend to avoid the other internet platforms. Not a member of FB, IG, Twitter, or any of the others.
    jcoolG19 and Alchemy1 like this.
  15. Alchemy1


    Dec 31, 2011
    A9BD987C-EBC5-43E1-A742-255EAC8E0846.jpeg Yes
    Everyone has a right to gather information where they choose. Everyone has a right to share information they choose. Everyone has a right to just scroll past information. That’s the beauty of being in a country that affords us the freedom of choice.

    As I said, my comment had nothing to do with you. It is clear that your mind is made up and any attempt for anyone to present objective data (even when it is supported by the manufacturer, themselves) to you is futile. I respect your right to do that.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
    jcoolG19, mdrgn79, Mo2 and 1 other person like this.
  16. Carlito86


    Apr 28, 2017
    I had to cancel the order thanks to these testing.
    I.pay premium,I want premium. It does not matter of I use It or It stays in my collection. I want to know that I have a very capable steel. This Is not.
    No cash in. I Will bu once they fix It: there Is Nothing to be fixed some guys Say. Keep the butter knife. No cares.

    I am impressed by the fact that there are people defending a sub optimal HT by a top maker behind the very simple reason that manufacturing at 55 hrc Is cheaper. And I ,like most of you, have more than 50 knives in my collection,so there Is no hate for benchmade but I am the client.
  17. Babyboomer

    Babyboomer Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 25, 2017
    I hope my first post in this thread didn’t give you the impression that my mind is made up about anything.

    I’ve always dismissed Instagram as the site with heavily filtered phone photos and nudeyogagirl. Didn’t realize there was actual information there. I’ll have to re-evaluate my impressions—not that I’ll ever be involved with one of Zuckerberg’s businesses.
    ArchVV and jcoolG19 like this.
  18. jcoolG19


    Dec 16, 2018
    Benchmade gave us their answer. We might not agree with their reasoning, but I don't think they are being dishonest. I think it was a Friday afternoon and everyone just wants to get the weekend started kind of decision.
    The testing is just a by product of my job, thr only thing I'm truly an expert at has nothing to do with knives. I rely on the expertise of others to help me understand the questions I have. As I said, I'm not a collector. I just like knives. The science of the steel is fascinating.
    I actually started doing the testing to find dishonest companies claiming they were using steels they were not. It turns out most are honest about that. It's the quality of the HT...or lack of, that seems to be the biggest issue. I can't tell someone if the HT is good. Hardness testing only tells you if it's in an acceptable range. The guys doing the cut tests are the ones proving the heat treats. The amazing thing is there are multiple testers and their results are usually very close to one another's results. If anyone hasn't been following the M390/20CV testing, you should. It's pretty eye opening.
    willc, mdrgn79, Fixall and 3 others like this.
  19. John_0917

    John_0917 Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 15, 2014
    As far as more real world experience, I still don’t know the hardness of my second run example, but it’s hard enough for me and I like it, enough said.

    Side note, knife steel nerds has a good article up now about 3V...I didn’t realize that it is as similar to Cruwear as it is, or that Cruwear is as old as it is (early 1970s), they were both essentially designed for the same purpose and Cruwear was the derivative with more tungsten while 3V has more vanadium.
  20. Alchemy1


    Dec 31, 2011
    C7A2F240-C09F-48CE-B177-EFE868292290.jpeg C191AF36-D4FB-44CB-83EA-60CECB06FCAF.jpeg 2D42CAE2-CD8B-4F3F-8640-0B27F8971A4D.jpeg 4E2B7491-6B74-4A82-B0CF-60431408E227.jpeg 3A15D232-BE48-42E0-B466-710405D63A6A.jpeg 749EB20E-BB99-4317-9EE3-DCE2F0EC5450.jpeg 4310F070-3280-43F0-9525-43F5A9582B0C.jpeg F7F4E4B3-717E-4EEE-9A6F-C9D9C123C610.jpeg
    https://www.instagram.com/p/BvjoEp8nGrd/?igshid=1m5xfhr2tjozd (Link to the video where the stills were taken)

    Absolutely. This is a topic that has been kicked around a lot in the last few years. For suburban use (breaking down Costco boxes, opening the mail, cutting down you kid’s straw, etc.) we could all go back to 440c and be more than fine. To some “super steel”, as a whole, is a joke and the biggest waste of time.

    This was not and is not marketed as a suburban knife. It was marketed as a black class, EDC/Tactical, knife for “professionals”. Interestingly enough, that professional language has been removed from the description.

    However, I have taken several screenshots, directly from Benchmade source material, that show this knife is not marketed as (which could be read as meant to be used as) a glorified box cutter (which we all are guilty of).

    If you look in one still, directly from their marketing info, they’re cutting some type of heavy duty military cylinder (looks like a smoke or something). We have already shown that the edge stability is not near high enough to do something like that, which is a direct result of geometry and heat treatment. Ironically enough, if you watch Benchmade’s own promo video, they talk about choosing 3v because they can make it thin and maintain edge stability.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019

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