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Thread: 440 series stainless steel

  1. #1

    440 series stainless steel


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    So what's the deal with this steel? How long has it been used in cutlery, who used it first, why has it gained such a lousy reputation?

    Then there's other things about that confuse me... Some people will say, "440c is okay," but then will avoid 440a and b like the plague, but from what I can see from their composition they really can't be that much different.

    Where did 440 get its bad reputation from? I mean, it's never really seemed like crappy steel to me as long as I was using good knives. I mean, seems like beating an old horse to say it comes down to heat treat, so I mean just assuming that it's 440a/b/c with good heat treat, what is really so bad about the steel?

    I mean, it seems to me that 440 is actually decent steel that everyone just strays away from because it's older, but then why are so many people fond of 1095?

    I just don't get the dislike for 440, and why so many people avoid it and treat it as if any knife produced with it would have been better off with cast iron. I mean, I understand wanting better steels, but I've seen some people suggest that any knife with 440 is just undesirable.

    I think that it has to do with the fact that the manufactures that aren't really focused in or concerned with at all quality craftsmanship and produce cheap knives are the ones mostly using 440 because it's cheap, and then the ones that produce a moderately priced, and moderate-quality knives also use it to keep the price down and just seemed to get associated with the other manufacturers. Winds up with a lot of cheaper knives procued in 440 with better quality than I would expect being found for really cheap prices; I see it mostly in traditionals with things like Rough Riders or Steel Warrior/Frost Cutlery knives.

    What do you guys think? Is it just a purely crap steel, or just too associated with crap?

  2. #2
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    I remember having knives of 440 since I started really paying attention to blade steels (about 15+ years ago). I can't answer most of your specific Q's, but, in my experience, it's a fairly inexpensive steel that takes an edge very easily and dulls very easily. Take it for what it's worth.
    If guns cause crime, then pencils cause misspelled words.

  3. #3
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    there was a day when 440c was super steel.

  4. #4
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    well seeing as how 154cm and ATS-34 are both evolutions from 440c im a big fan of all three, as for the others, if its marked 440b then ill trust it but last time i touched a knife that said 440 stainless the blade chipped while cutting paracord, this should not happen, as for the steel i can afford better and there are still better things out IMO for that money like carbon steels, why get 2 $5 knives when i can get a mora, opinel, dook-dook, or any other quality knife.

    Then there's other things about that confuse me... Some people will say, "440c is okay," but then will avoid 440a and b like the plague, but from what I can see from their composition they really can't be that much different.


    there may not be a major difference in the steel from 440b- 440c but its those little difference that take a steel from decent to great

    Where did 440 get its bad reputation from? I mean, it's never really seemed like crappy steel to me as long as I was using good knives. I mean, seems like beating an old horse to say it comes down to heat treat, so I mean just assuming that it's 440a/b/c with good heat treat, what is really so bad about the steel?

    nothing and if the company actually labels it for what it is, instead of 440 stainless then they probably put the effort into it but otherwise it doesnt have that sense of pride in their craftsmanship.

    I mean, it seems to me that 440 is actually decent steel that everyone just strays away from because it's older, but then why are so many people fond of 1095?

    yes older steels generally get put on the backburner but there will always be loyal fans, also theres so many different variations on 440c now that its kinda hard to tell who does/uses what, for example ats-34 came before 154cm i do believe (correct me of im wrong) and while most companies are using 154cm now, ats-34 is still just as good but its old news, what does saddens me most though is when a cool steel like zdp-189 pops up and kinda disappears, but thats for another discussion.

    I just don't get the dislike for 440, and why so many people avoid it and treat it as if any knife produced with it would have been better off with cast iron. I mean, I understand wanting better steels, but I've seen some people suggest that any knife with 440 is just undesirable.

    those people you see are either A: spoiled, or B: ill informed, of which both can be fixed with a good conversation, i would gladly take a knife with 440a/b/c (A not so much but if its free, hey who cares)

    I think that it has to do with the fact that the manufactures that aren't really focused in or concerned with at all quality craftsmanship and produce cheap knives are the ones mostly using 440 because it's cheap, and then the ones that produce a moderately priced, and moderate-quality knives also use it to keep the price down and just seemed to get associated with the other manufacturers. Winds up with a lot of cheaper knives procued in 440 with better quality than I would expect being found for really cheap prices; I see it mostly in traditionals with things like Rough Riders or Steel Warrior/Frost Cutlery knives.

    This goes back to my mis/un informed people, there are a bunch of companies that produce great knives for a great low price, what people seem to do these days is start making opinions based on other opinions without actually trying it out themselves (ie a man saying that sprite is the best soda in the world without tasting the others, or not trying out a well done 440c steel and saying that its horrible)

    What do you guys think? Is it just a purely crap steel, or just too associated with crap?

    personally i think if the company isnt going to take pride in their product, and do it correctly, then they shouldnt be making knives, but as to the steels, its so so, doing a proper HT is pretty pricey when mass produced so i wouldnt waste it on 440a but B or C and im all good

  5. #5
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    If you see ' 440 steel' then assume it's 440A .As there's been lots of 440A blades that gave a bad reputation. 440B is good for choppers as in my stainless kukri. Well HT'd 440A makes a good blade for a hunting knife. In more recent times better steels have been developed such a 154CM.

  6. #6
    There are knives like Rough Rider that are made from 440A, and cost less than $10.
    They hold an edge surprisingly well. I've never had one go dull, and I have never been disappointed with any knife made from 440A.

    Unless marked 440A, B, or C, I assume a knife that says 440 Stainless is actually something worthless like 420J2.

    If you look at European manufacturers many of them still use 440A/B/C in expensive knives, and they know how to get the best out of it. Kind of like Buck and 420HC.

  7. #7
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    Hi,

    440 series steels are kind of looked down on because you're hanging out with a bunch of knife enthusiasts. There is nothing inherently bad about 440 steels.

    As mentioned, there was a time when 440C was top shelf. Though many of us didn't care too much for it. It was hard to sharpen with the common stones we had back then. And it tended to chip more easily than the plain high carbon we were used to. These are both reasons a Buck 440C 119S didn't last long with me. Or my brother when I gave it to him. It chipped way to easy and then took forever to sharpen with Arkansas stones.

    440B has never been too commonly used by knife makers. It costs more than 440A for price point, and isn't quite as good a steel as 440C for nearly the same money.

    440A is still widely used in knives yet today. It's inexpensive to buy, easy on manufacturing tooling, heat treats well and takes a good edge and can hold it long enough for most uses. So it makes pretty decent inexpensive kitchen knives. And many slip-joint patterns, like say a Peanut or Stockman, can do very well with this steel.

    dalee
    If you think you understand what is going on, you haven't been paying attention.

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    Isn't 440 similar to 420? I have one "420" blade and it's my original Tekna Ocean Edge dive knife, purchased in the late '70's. It has been my goto urban EDC fixed blade for that long. One piece. Great blade profile that belongs on a fine OTF auto and it takes good edges with enough retention that I have not sharpened it down over time.

    I have carried it in boots, on belts, rigged it to danglers, carabiners and Becker backers, strapped to my leg, shoulder rigged, as a necker and on my pack. I have abused it, dropped it, batoned it and cooked on it. Never a fleck of rust, never a question as to its strength, great pryer, good twister, decent slicer, strong stabber, perfect serration, and double-edged. It's never bent, warped, chipped or cracked. 100 % reliable all the time. Aside from blade scratches it still cleans up pretty good too.

    As a bonus it came with probably the coolest, most secure, universally wearable and easily workable sheath ever for a knife of its size. It might be my favorite knife...certainly my most versatile and carried fixed blade.

    I don't think it's crap steel.
    Last edited by EChoil; 09-03-2014 at 05:18 PM.

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    double
    Last edited by EChoil; 09-03-2014 at 08:34 AM.

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