Any else prefer the lower wear/higher toughness stainless steels?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by jstn, May 21, 2020.

  1. DangerZone98


    Dec 7, 2019
    Personally, I like well-balanced Goldilocks steels. They hold their edges decently but are not bitchy about sharpening. Here are my usual suspects:

    5160 (the kukris)
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  2. Baron Mind

    Baron Mind

    Mar 30, 2018
    I prefer option 3, high strength/high edge stability over tough but gummy or wear resistant but brittle.

    Category 3 usually consists of mid level carbide volume and hardness in the mid 60's. Steels like 4v, REX45, Cruwear, etc. Low carbide volume and low 60's HRC can also qualify, like 52100.

    Generally I try to avoid steels on the high 50's with a lot of Chromium. These steels tend not to deburr very well. I'd take high hardness high carbide volume over these.
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  3. Sonnydaze

    Sonnydaze Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 6, 2009
    I've had Dave's knives and leather-work.... There is no-one better, IMO. Dave is primarily a rancher, renowned leather-worker and knife-maker first class. He makes knives that cowboys want to use...usually relatively short blades and good steel. Many beautiful options for the grip material...
    His knife sheaths and belts are beautifully "engraved" (word?) and are available is horizontal carry and most other modes of carry.
    I wear his leather every day.
    Check him out... Horsewright Leather and Tack...
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  4. BillZee


    Apr 30, 2020
    Finding an steel alloy that is corrosion resist, tough, holds an edge, able to sharpen. That is the holy Grail of knife steels. That is you choose a knife steel with qualities you need for that knife.
    For me D2 works well.....I don't need a very corrosion resistent steel. Pick the the knife and steel to your need. most of a us.......Because it's new, cool and we don't have one.
  5. Smiling


    Nov 21, 2019
    I prefer simple carbon steels tho...

    Nothing sharpens up like they do.
    52100 and SK-5 are steels I have experience with.

    52100 had similar edge retention to D2 and D2 was really really hard to sharpen unlike 52100.

    I have CPM-3V knife too but I haven't tested it that good yet so I won't comment about it. I'll just say that for now I'm very happy with it.

    But it all honesty I really love simple carbon steels.
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  6. bikerector

    bikerector KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 16, 2016
    I've come to really enjoy the toughness of AEB-L after using it in a smaller machete for a while and am working on a fighter/utilty using it for functionality about like the Kabar USMC, so a mixed bag of uses. I find it an amazingly well-rounded steel.

    However, I think I may be on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to EDC or lighter tasks, toughness is often over-rated. I don't experience chips much and they're usually quite small, with the factory edge, or I received them damaged in a trade. But, I'm more of a tool steel guy, like CPM-M4 of V4E so I can get the good edge retention and pretty decent toughness with a little added maintenance. Most of the mainstay stainless steels work well for me and while not flashy I do like S30V quite a bit for folders.
  7. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    I don't actually have any S110V or S90V. I do have some M390.
    I've not noticed any tendency to chip.

    So it's not so much that I want "improved toughness" as it is that I am often happy with the performance of "lesser alloys" for my needs if the blade steel is properly heat treated to close to 60HRC. (Call the sweet spot 58-60)

    So much of the performance of a knife depends on factors other than the blade alloy. The blade design and edge geometry, the handle design and ergonomics, the fit and finish. I have many knives with fancy blade steel which I do not carry because they fail to deliver what I want in a knife.

    If a knife gives me everything else I want, I'm willing to give a bit on the blade alloy.

    The knife in my pocket at the moment has AUS8 blade steel. The steel is nicely hardened. The handle has likely the best shape I have ever found. It has a nice secure lock that I don't worry about. The knife is well made and has an action that is smooth as butter.

    Like you, I realize there are some tasks when it's all about the edge retention. But for me such usage is extremely rare. What I mostly want is a good EDC knife
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  8. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    I'm impressed by my Manly Wasp in 12C27 @ 60 HRC. Very easy to hone to a scary sharp edge. CPM 20CV (Spyderco Mule) seems very similar, easy to sharpen and holds even a better edge.
  9. Ben Dover

    Ben Dover Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 2, 2006
    CPM M-4 is a good compromise. Easy to sharpen, and holds the edge fairly well.

    OTOH, I use knives for cutting, not batonning, or prying, so toughness is not something that concerns me. My first choice today is Maxamet.
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  10. ATJ999

    ATJ999 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 12, 2013
    Some stainless steels I love are AEB L, 14C28N, Nitro-V, Z-Finit, and Elmax. Carbon steels? K340, K390, CPM 3V, A2, 1095, CPM M4. I like all around steels, not just crazy edge holding that often sacrifices another attribute for more edge holding.
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  11. justjed


    Oct 23, 2010
    When I want tough, I grab something in a carbon steel. When I need stainless, I usually grab a folder.

    That said, my EDC fixed blade is S35VN, and I have had no problems with chipping. It's easy enough to sharpen, holds a good edge, I like it. I also like the Sandvik alloys, 14C28N in particular. CPM154 is good, but there's nothing wrong with the 440x series when heat-treated properly. Or any other mid-grade steel, for that matter. Only poor choices in application, geometry, overall design, and heat-treatment. Get those things right, and any decent steel will make a good knife.
  12. jstn

    jstn Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 27, 2012
    Now I'm curious. What knife is in your pocket?
  13. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    A Grik. Not particularly comely, but works really well for me.
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  14. dirc


    Jan 31, 2018
    my usual edc is a leek with 14c28n - absolutely great all around steel - and the geometry of a leek is just something you'll be in awe with (unless you've used opinel & some of the thinner spydercos like the chaparral

    the fixed blade which get the most use is also 14c28n - a ruike jaeger

    speaking of which, my opinel is 12c27 which is very similar to aeb-l (similar to 13c26)
    here is some required reading for this thread - imho
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  15. jstn

    jstn Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 27, 2012
    The Ruike Jaeger is a fantastic blade. I got one for my dad and he loves it; I may need to get one for myself too now!

    Thanks for the links BTW. I had not seen those from Larrin, but they are certainly helpful. I am very surprised at how AEB-L surpassing all of those carbon steels, especially Z-Wear. I'm also surprised at how low Cruwear is on the toughness scale. It one one of my favorite non-stainless steels, and seems to be very tough in my experience.
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
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  16. John_0917

    John_0917 Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 15, 2014
    I like LC for its all around attributes and for performing like a carbon steel they won’t stain. It actually sharpens and performs a lot like Vtoku2 without the rust.

    It’s rather amusing today that steels like S35VN and XHP are “lower” wear resistance steels, shows how far we have come!

    If we could get a stainless analog to 3V then we would really be in business!
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  17. Chronovore

    Chronovore Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 29, 2019
    The Ruike Jager is a big beautiful piece of 14C28N. I've been surprised by how good it feels in hand. The spine and exposed tang are nicely rounded. I don't do any serious bush-crafting but I've enjoyed using it at camp and on the trail. It's the right size and the right steel for an easy general-purpose outdoor carry.
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  18. me2


    Oct 11, 2003
    I'm good with 8Cr13MoV, CTS BD1, & other similar steels. I chased the high wear steels up to S110V, and it performed no better than the others. Sold it, kept the knife in BD1, tuned the edge the way I want, and haven't looked back. 12c27 and similar are among my favorites, but I don't have any right now.
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  19. Rykjeklut

    Rykjeklut Basic Member Basic Member

    May 23, 2018
    Not quite sure where it falls on the scale, but I really like N690. Sharpens up by just looking at it hard enough.
  20. justjed


    Oct 23, 2010
    N690 is a cobalt steel from Uddeholm, similar to VG-10. Still a mid-grade alloy, in most opinions. I haven't used it personally, but by reputation it's not terribly tough, it's not the most corrosion resistant, and it's not the best edge-holding. But it is a really good combination of these traits. Gets sharper, easier, than many competitive steels, and holds an edge acceptably well. Just about all you could ask of any steel. I'll probably try it in the future.
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