Companies need to start issuing verified third-party HRC tests.

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Comeuppance, Jun 27, 2019.

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  1. Comeuppance

    Comeuppance Fixed Blade EDC Emisssary

    Jan 12, 2013
    It is no longer impressive that a company claims to use S35VN, M390, etc - the heat treatment is so vital in bringing out the advantageous qualities of modern steels that it seems ludicrous that this information isn’t already widely available.

    With so many companies showing lower-than-advertised HRC values, it would be in the best interests of the consumers and the companies to establish a sense of trustworthiness by having independent testing, perhaps even batch-to-batch sampling.
  2. Bob6794


    Apr 21, 2013
    There are those of us skeptical that the less than steller companies will cherry pick or have a dedicated batch to send off to be tested on their some. Thus gaming the system to look more trust worthy.

    Closest thing I can think of which is highly unlikely is someone with or willing to purchase a machine to test the knives buys them on the open market and post the results. And we as a community donate to the cause to continue this effort. That's the closest thing to a trustworthy 3rd party we could probably get.

    My personal preference though is to continue what I'm doing and only buy from companies who make quality knives which includes doing a proper heat treat. If I suspect a shoddy heat treat or can't confirm it's good either by testing someone has done or trust the company by reputation than I won't touch it.
    RipD, P2P, Workingsloth777 and 3 others like this.
  3. Comeuppance

    Comeuppance Fixed Blade EDC Emisssary

    Jan 12, 2013
    Really, though, what’s the point of gaming the system if you’re already capable of doing it right well enough to have samples made specifically for testing? It’s not like they have to use extra magic sharpness dust to get the right hardness; it’s a process that costs the same whether you do it right or wrong, provided all the same steps are taken.

    Besides, there are not many companies I can think of that I would suspect of cheating by sending bespoke samples to the testing facility, and they would also run a huge risk of permanently damaging their reputation were it discovered that they did.
    marrenmiller likes this.
  4. Mecha

    Mecha Titanium Bladesmith Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 27, 2013

    There was a guy here at Bladeforums doing that. His thread was called, "HRc revealed" or something like that. I can't seem to find it in a search. People were sending him knives to test, I think.
  5. Wowbagger


    Sep 20, 2015
    I see what you mean but they have to take into account a bunch of yo yos are going to be abusing their knives so they can't make anything that might snap in half even though that's what can happen with the heat treats that you and I enjoy.

    I suppose if they go out of house for testing there will be bucks under the table and more BS than you want to think about.

    Personally I can tell by use and a few sharpenings if I am getting what is advertised (or not advertised and implied which I think is part of what you are saying). So I'm good what ever they want to do (or say). I just won't buy the soft stuff again if I get lemons . . . he said having carried a Case today at HRC = Play Dough. (however the Para2 M4 was also in my back pack).

    The other point I wanted to make is : This
    And that is why we have CUSTOM makers . . . who have the skill AND are willing to really hang it out there (in thinness and hardness). . . for the few, the proud, the brave customers that can appreciate the real deal and are willing to pay for it.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2019
  6. BilboBaggins

    BilboBaggins Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 14, 2016
    I feel like if the big boys (Spyderco, Benchmade, etc.) would just publish their own in-house HRC it would be a major step forward. If they are putting the info. out there, then they are at least accountable to the number. Smaller makers would likely follow suit.
    Edgeoflife and Pomsbz like this.
  7. Comeuppance

    Comeuppance Fixed Blade EDC Emisssary

    Jan 12, 2013
    I contest the “think of the masses” argument when companies are advertising steels and HRC values to people who spend the extra money for those properties.

    Except Spyderco, Cold Steel, and others also produce knives with nearly ideal heat treatments. Extreme values are definitely the wheelhouse of the custom maker, but there’s a middle ground between substandard HTs and highly-specialized HTs that the majority of people looking for M390 and paying attention to advertised figures like “60-62 HRC” are literally being told is what they should expect.

    Accountability has been low-to-nearly-nonexistent in the area of heat treatments, and I think a combination of the two primary suggestions put forward is most optimal: standardized batch testing by a third party, and occasional amateur testing to back it up or expose foul play.
    P2P, Edgeoflife and PiercedBill like this.
  8. miso2

    miso2 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 19, 2014
    Just a novice question to the test.
    I understand the measurement procedure.
    From the HRc equation (HRc = 100 - 500 x indentation depth), 60 HRc steel would exhibit 80 micron indentation.
    I can imagine that if a blade is warped or not flat, then the reading is gonna be inaccurate, as the depth reading is going to be affected.

    I have read that the measurement is very accurate to the first decimal point when using a standard block.
    But how accurate could it be with relatively thin knife blades, which may not be very flat?
  9. Comeuppance

    Comeuppance Fixed Blade EDC Emisssary

    Jan 12, 2013
    Spyderco does this, though not directly or formally. Sal will occasionally post in-house testing values on the Spyderco website’s forum. It would be nice to see the kind of documentation some supplement companies provide. I think I got a full lab report with a bottle once, specific to the batch. That would be kinda dope.
  10. DocJD


    Jan 29, 2016
    The HCR per se , is not necessarily a indicator of superior performance .

    E.g. : I've read of Ganzo D2 being measured at impressive hardiness ~62.5 but not being so great in actual edge retention etc testing .

    I dream of some industry standard ,actual "proof testing " based on standardized performance based testing .

    This would need to be done and certified by some independent testing authority from samples bought at random on the open market . Something like Consumers Reports , at their best .

    I'm NOT holding my breath ! :rolleyes:
  11. Twindog

    Twindog Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 6, 2004
    Heat treat is good to know, but if it would be better to include micrographs of the grain size and carbide size and distribution. That's not terribly expensive.

    But would take an independent, third party to pull it off, buying random knives on the market and testing them. To make that work possible, you'd need funding, which most likely means a subscriber base.

    Consumer Labs might be a good model. You have to pay to join, but you get a ton of good information about supplements, how they work or don't work, what they contain, what they don't contain and what toxins are present -- all information brand by brand. Lots of people take supplements, so the subscriber base is there. I don't know if the afi knife community is large enough.
    DocJD likes this.
  12. stabman

    stabman Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 17, 2007
    Don't think we need it.
    It ain't like pharmaceuticals...I'm not gonna die if I have to sharpen my knife an extra time every 3 weeks. :D

    Besides, for people that care enough to be bugged by it, the info seems to get out there.
    Companies that are good at it are recognized, and chronically low hardness offenders get put on blast.
  13. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    It could be done. Funding could be from the crowd, or via manufactures, but items would come from the normal retail stream. As for accuracy, if the knife is treated as consumable, it wouldn't be hard to lap a flat section for testing. (well, it would be effort, but not technically challenging)
    I think end user education is more the solution. The steels are getting so specialized that just the branding isn't enough, and they are not as good of a representation of real world performance as all the other factors. Those other factors all falling under the banner of manufacturer. Some knives will be winners, some won't. That said companies knowing that people are checking up on them is a good thing, just like every car maker knows that their machines can end up on a dyno or milage test.
    DocJD likes this.
  14. miso2

    miso2 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 19, 2014
    One micron (0.001 mm) difference in the "measured" indentation depth results in 0.5 difference in HRc.
    I think the measurement error would be too big using different machines under different environments with potentially warped samples.
    I wonder how manufacturers test the hardness of their heat-treated blades at what confidence.
  15. dkb45


    Dec 16, 2012
    Considering that most of this information is part of the standard QC process, I don't see what there is to lose in not publicizing the information. If a company is using a high end steel but treating it poorly, I'd rather see them use a "worse" steel but treat it properly, and if you use ideal HT protocols and have strict results because of that, you can use that as a strong marketing point to counteract using a "worse" steel. I'd rather buy D2 that uses something like Dozier HT protocols than S35VN or M390 ran under soft or hard but brittle like Ganzo.

    This is a situation where transparency can only improve things unless your company knowingly releases substandard product. We've already seen Tuya and Manly get in front of this, and their handling and transparency makes me significantly more inclined to purchase their products.
    Edgeoflife and PiercedBill like this.
  16. craytab

    craytab Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 26, 2012
    Test every knife!

    Not through use of course.

  17. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    I demand a 3rd party test and embossed certificate for all my consumer durables.

    I won't pay more; them companies should do it so I trust them.
    jbmonkey, craytab and danbot like this.
  18. Comeuppance

    Comeuppance Fixed Blade EDC Emisssary

    Jan 12, 2013
    This seems like misplaced sarcasm since we already pay more for the advertised steel and HRC values.
  19. danbot

    danbot Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 31, 2009
    You said it yourself. It costs just as much to do it wrong as it does to do it right.
    Why would a reputable company (Chinese or not ;)) cut corners and then lie about the hardness of their blades?
    Sure, mistakes can happen, but only companies that really don't care would say "Oops, this batch is no good *shrug*...ship 'em anyway. hopefully the next batch is okay".

    The bottom line is that any knife maker/ manufacturer worth their salt is not going to engage in HT "foul play" at the expense of their reputation.:rolleyes:
    jbmonkey likes this.
  20. Quiet

    Quiet "That guy" Platinum Member

    Oct 11, 2013
    Use? Pssshhhh, let's just have a table with a bunch of charts scattered across it to argue over instead!
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