Steel Question

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Boston Blades, Apr 21, 2020.

  1. Boston Blades

    Boston Blades

    Apr 21, 2020
    Could someone please explain to me why my Swiss army knife that I bought when a boy scout nearly 30 years ago, which have used and abused and never cleaned or care for over the years, stays sharper longer and has less (actually, zero) corrosion and rust than all the higher-end steels on my more expensive and newer knives (S110V, S90V, D2, S35V, VG-10, etc.)? The Swiss army knife doesn't specify the steel used -- it simply says "stainless steel". I started buying nice knives 7 or so years ago and assumed the steel would be even better than my lifelong swiss army knife, but the steel on my new knives require way more sharpening and maintenance (I'm guessing new steel is stronger but I don't know). The cutting edges seem to chip on new knives too -- my Swiss army knife's edge surprisingly has never chipped. I never understood any of this. Just curious if someone could explain.
  2. 000Robert

    000Robert Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Mar 28, 2020
    Who knows? There are a myriad of possibilities. Maybe some of your "higher end" knives are counterfeits. I have a Damascus Bowie with stag handles with matching folder made in Pakistan that don't have a speck of rust on. I bought them several years ago and they stay in their leather sheaths (that you are not supposed to do).
    Every two or three months I put some fresh oil on them. I keep my stainless steel blades oiled also. I have no rust issues to speak of.
    Smiling likes this.
  3. Eversion

    Eversion Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 9, 2020
    Victorinox uses 1.4110 steel, often nicknamed "inox", although just about any comparable European stainless steel is also called inox.

    Victorinox steel is renowned for its corrosion resistance. However, it's edge retention is quite poor, and has relatively low hardness. That lower hardness helps
    it resist chipping, though, at the cost of abrasive resistance.
    Steel choice is all about comprises. Edge retention and corrosion resistance and toughness are chemically at odds. It's hard
    to have your cake and eat it, too.

    Those other steels are "stainless", but not corrosion proof. But they hold a sharp edge much, much longer than inox. If you want a fundamentally corrosion proof steel with superb edge retention, you'll have to look at LC200N or Vanax steel. But the compromise with those is the price.
  4. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    Higher end steels such as S110V, S90V, D2, S35V, VG-10 will hold an edge significantly longer than your SAK, but it will take longer (and diamond hones) to get to the same level of sharpness, due to their alloy and higher carbide content.
  5. Monofletch

    Monofletch Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Jan 14, 2010
    Plus add the mirror polish on that blade.
  6. Twindog

    Twindog Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 6, 2004
    Swiss Army knives are not my thing, but they are stainless, run soft and have pretty decent geometry.

    I have trouble believing your experience. However, there may be some explanations.

    The only SAK I have is, I think, a Soldier model. It's 0.1 inch stock -- so pretty thin. And its edge width is 0.02 inches, which is also fairly thin. Thin blades with thin edges will cut longer than thicker blades and less acute edges. Even when dull, they cut OK.

    Your newer knives probably have thicker, less acute geometry. They won't cut as well when dull to the same degree as your SAK. But they should not chip, unless you're buying really cheap knives. I think SAK blade steels run about 56 Rc, which is pretty soft (not strong). They are tough at that hardness, which means they resist chipping and breaking.

    Harder steels on newer knives generally run harder, especially the steels you mention -- probably 60 Rc is a good average. But some go much harder. They will chip easier, but unless you're really abusing your knives it shouldn't be a problem.

    If you're abusing your SAK the same way, you should be experiencing rolls and dents in your edge. Strength -- the resistance to bending, denting and rolling -- is a proxy for hardness. SAK are tough (won't chip), but they are weak, so they will dent and roll more easily.

    The steels you mentioned are well known to have much better wear resistance than SAK steel, so you are probably sharpening them wrong -- maybe leaving a burr that quickly tears off and leaves a dull edge.
    comis and anthonycastorena2014 like this.
  7. dano


    Oct 3, 1998
    Because steel type is largely used to sell knives, with performance improvements being secondary.
    me2 likes this.
  8. Twindog

    Twindog Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 6, 2004
    There is a huge benefit to the high-performance steels. Depending on the alloy, they can be super tough, super stainless or have super resistance to edge wear. And many can have combinations of those qualities that older steels cannot achieve.

    Just look at Ankerson's tests on wear resistance. There's a huge difference in blade steels. I never buy the name, I always buy the performance.
  9. anthonycastorena2014

    anthonycastorena2014 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 27, 2014
    Get a Spyderco Stretch.
  10. YellowSwiss


    Sep 28, 2015
    I love my Victorinox knives, and it is rare to find me without one, but I cannot imagine in any way how the edge retention would come close to that of modern steels like S90V and S110V. Although I always carry a SAK, it is always paired up with another knife with more modern steel. Lately my Griptilian in CPM-20CV has been my other knife.

    With that said, it would be cool to see a cutting test between your Swiss Army Knife and some of your other knives after they have all been given a similar edge angle.
  11. UmnumMAN


    Mar 21, 2020
    Your Swiss army knife may have mystical powers. Perhaps even possessed by a demon or another strong paranormal entity.
  12. allenC


    Jun 18, 2000
    Hmmm, I don't know.

    But I have never seen S30V or VG-10 rust or chip.
    D2 can corrode, but I've never seen it chip.
    Also, since your SAK is probably a standard slip-joint pocket-knife, you probably don't treat it and do the same type of cutting as you do with a locking modern folder.

    I think that if Victorinox made a SAK with VG-10 or S30V, and with the same edge and blade geometry, I'm positive it would stay sharper longer than the typical SAK.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2020
    Bigfattyt likes this.
  13. Velitrius

    Velitrius Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 3, 2000
    Indeed. Elric of Melnibone may just be missing his money clip. Best to be on your guard.
  14. patrickguignot


    Sep 10, 2015
    "Inox" is just the short form for "inoxydable" (which means "stainless" in French). So it's not at all specific to 1.4110 steel. It's just the generic term used for all stainless steels.
    S110V ou CPM154 or RWL34 or Elmax (etc, etc) are all inox steels.
  15. Bigfattyt

    Bigfattyt Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 23, 2007
    My experience with SAK steel is as above. It is very stainless. Easy to sharpen, does not hold an edge as long as other more premium steels.

    Smiling and Edgeoflife like this.
  16. deadzonepatrol


    Apr 11, 2019
    The only thing that can explain this is that you're not cutting the same things or subjecting the different knives to the same kind of use. Would be nice to know what the other knives are.
  17. Larrin

    Larrin Gold Member Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    Some "super steel" folders have thick edges that don't cut well or very long.
  18. Smiling


    Nov 21, 2019
    Well, I'm not really into folders or SAK's but I assume that you won't use a folder in a way you would use a fixed blade.

    I mean, you can, but it'll fall apart rather quickly.
  19. Boston Blades

    Boston Blades

    Apr 21, 2020
    Thanks everybody. Just for kicks, I'm going to try a cut test with the SAK against my others. It just seems strange that I've never oiled the SAK and have always treated it like I don't care about it and the blade is still near perfect 30 years later, whereas I didn't oil my Dragonfly for a year and it already has rust spots forming on the blade. For those who asked, the newer knives are legit -- BM Anthem, Crooked River (and mini), couple different ZTs, Spyderco Paramilitary and Dragonfly, and other similar-level knives. I presume they're all real since they all came from either the manufacturers directlly or Bladehq. I think folks are right that it might just cut better even if duller b/c it is so thin, and perhaps I'm not so hard on it bc it's a slip joint and doesn't feel as the others. Thanks again.
    000Robert likes this.

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