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Thread: 420J2 vs. 420HC: the difference?

  1. #1
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    420J2 vs. 420HC: the difference?


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    Most of the Buck Knives are of 420 HC and though of a low carbon content, it seems to take a good edge and hold it pretty decently, and apparently is quite easy to retouch up to shaving sharpness again.
    On the other hand, 420 J2 seems to be at the bottom of the steel spectrum, used mainly now on the cheapy PRC-made knives.
    According to my experience thus far (not a lot on the resharpening part yet), 420 HC, although far from a "best" steel (there really isn't an all-around best), seems to me to be an honest, working knife steel that makes pretty good knives. So if they are both 420, why the disparity?
    Jim

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    South of Minnetonka, MN USA
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    As best I can tell 420J2 is ordinary 420 steel. 420HC is 420 "High Carbon" with about 0.5% Carbon. As I recal 420 J2 has about half that much carbon.

    ------------------
    "Defense against knife attack:
    Option 1. If you have a gun shoot him."

  3. #3
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    Got back to my notes so I have better numbers for 420 alloys. 420HC is .45-.55% carbon 1% Mn, 12-14% Cr., .5% Ni,, and with a trace of Mo. 420J2 is .3-.4% Carbon, 12-14% Cr, (and that was all my source said).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 1999
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    Edmond, OK, USA
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    I am new here, and I realize that this may not be appropriate on this thread, but I have a question on the 420 series steels. My wife is looking at purchasing a Boker Top Lock. The blade is advertised to contain 420 series steel. How can a person tell whether a manufacturer is using the lower grade 420 steel or not? Write them? Any other way? Boker is saying that the Rockwell Hardness is in the 54-55 Rc range. Does this point towards the 420HC? Thanks.

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    Glenn

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
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    Assume 420J2, just like when someone says "440" assume 440A. The steel is the heart of the knife, and folks will give any info they think is in their favor. If it's hard to find out details, that's almost always because they're nothing the maker wants you to know. When a knife is made from a good steel the company will make that abundantly clear (look at Kershaw's knife actually named the "Ti-ATS34").

    By the way, does your sweetie have any choices besides the Top Lock?

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    -Corduroy
    (Why else would a bear want a pocket?)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 1999
    Location
    Edmond, OK, USA
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    59
    Thanks for the reply. My wife is also looking at some of the knives from CRKT. I think the knife is called the 'commander'. It is the one with the skeletonized handle. I think that blade has AUS-6 series steel which I have heard is roughly equivalent to 440A. Maybe I can steer her towards some higher end blades so I can justify getting another one. One other question on CRKT: doesn't the bead blasting on the ATS-34 blade make it more prone to rusting? Just wondering.

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    Glenn

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Bead-blasting any material that can rust is asking for trouble - it creates a rough surface that can trap corrosive substances and offers the maximum surface area exposed to the elements. Even a "stainless" like ATS-34 can and does rust, and this is much more common when it is bead-blasted. I have seen more than a few Benchmade CQC-7s, for example, with rust spots that cannot be effectively removed except by refinishing the knife. A lower-carbon stainless would fare better, but only corrosion-resistant materials like titanum should really be bead-blasted, in my opinion.

    It sounds like you're wife is looking for an attractive moderately-sized design with metal handles. I haven't been happy with the lockup on the Commanders I've handled. My girlfriend and I have purchased three of the small Smith and Wesson SWAT knives (and one big one) and all have been quite secure - maybe have a look at those? They are the "exception that proves the rule" - most sites list them as "440" but they are 440C. The Beretta aluminum-handled knives are also very nice, in my opinion, and are also 440C.

    I mention these two because they are in a similar price range to the Commander. In the Top-Lock's range there are dozens of fine knives in better steels, including Benchmade and Spyderco offerings. Feel free to email me - I enjoy helping knives find people.

    ------------------

    -Corduroy
    (Why else would a bear want a pocket?)

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