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Thread: Cold Steel's Leatherneck SF and 4116 German Krupp

  1. #1
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    Cold Steel's Leatherneck SF and 4116 German Krupp


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    In what seems to be a move based on sheer lunacy, Cold Steel has decided to replace the SK-5 steel in its Leatherneck Tanto and SF knives with German 4116 Krupp. I say "lunacy" because the Leatherneck is supposed to compete with some very nice Ka-Bar Marine knives, as well as other, similar, knives.

    When its Carbon V steel dried up a few years ago, Cold Steel decided to replace it with AUS8, which was a decent stainless steel. No problems there. But then, for some inexplicable reason, Lynn Thompson decided to replace the flat grind Leatherneck w/SK-5 with a hollow grind pair of Leathernecks made from 4116, which I consider a great stainless steel for my toe clippers and little else.

    I'm very pleased with Cold Steel's line of knives and generally have a high regard for the company's heat treat. I'm a little disappointed that LT decided to retreat from using his VG-1, which I thought was a definite step up from AUS8A, and I'm hugely disappointed that the Leatherneck series are going to be made from a stainless steel that's probably on the same level as 440A, if not a click below 440A.

    So what do you think? Not about Cold Steel...I don't want this to turn into a Lynn Thompson/CS bash. I think CS has some terrific knives, but I watched Gerber and CRKT go to some pretty horrible steels and don't want to see CS go in that same direction.

    Concerning the Leathernecks: I don't think I would have bought them regardless because I'm just not convinced that SK-5 is in the same league as 1095. I don't have anything against the CS Outdoorsman and Tanto Lites. They're cheap and they come with a very sharp blades. And I prefer the Tanto Lite to the Kobun (w/AUS8) because I get an extra inch out of it and it comes sharp and polished. But the Leathernecks are meant to compete with some very nice knives of the same price range, and I don't think 4116 Krupp can compete with any steel or stainless steel now being used in the Marine line-up. So why did they choose it? Just to be cheap and increase profit margins? Because their flat grind SK-5s were broken in wood splitting tests?

    I just don't understand it. Has anyone here bought one of the 4116 Leathernecks? If so, what's your opinion?

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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Confederate View Post
    But then, for some inexplicable reason, Lynn Thompson decided to replace the flat grind Leatherneck w/SK-5 with a hollow grind pair of Leathernecks made from 4116, which I consider a great stainless steel for my toe clippers and little else.
    It is because CS had military contracts abroad that required stainless steel as a contract parameter.

    As far as nail-clippers, I never have to sharpen mine

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    Nail clippers can be made from pot metal...as long as they're stronger than the nails they're clipping. And yeah, I know some clowns will buy a knife and then pound the living daylights out of it until they get it to break. Then they send it to the manufacturer and run the video on YouTube!

    That said, I bought several knives made by CS with blades made from 440A. I called them and talked to one of their techies who made no secret of the fact that he despised 440A. Yet I found the Night Force and Pro-Lite knives I had purchased to be very good knives with excellent edge holding properties. I then got a 440A Recon with a clip point blade and am still using it and carrying it. But when the 440A was gone, the knives either were discontinued or, as in the case of the Recon, reissued with G10 scales and AUS8 blades.

    I'm ticked at CS for discontinuing its VG-1 blades. I'm not going to buy their crummy San Mai III blades with a VG-1 core, but I like their AUS8 stuff. It's easy to sharpen and holds a respectable edge. But after all the tooting about VG-1, I now see that CS is no longer using it in their excellent Voyager series. But the introduction of 4116 Krupp is what really bothers me. I can understand them using it in their junk survival and budget blades, but with the Leatherneck?? If CS is going to market its Leatherneck series of Marine knives as budget models, fine, let them drop the price twenty dollars and go from there! But to keep the prices about the same as 1095 knives (and AUS8) is just a bit ridiculous.

  4. #4
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    This thread got me wondering which version I have... I bought one right around the time they started switching steels, so I never was sure.

    But, it turns out that SK-5 takes a nice patina when covered in mustard and vinegar

    Last edited by Grease; 06-29-2012 at 11:05 PM.
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    Yup, it looks nice. How, exactly, did you do that?

    If Cold Steel had to use stainless for its overseas contracts, why not AUS8? 4116 Krupp doesn't have a great reputation, though I do find it suitable for its Tanto-Lite knives which, if anything, are beautiful and come deadly sharp. For twenty-five bucks you can't beat it. Six inches of 4116 steel really isn't bad for a quick, sharp blade. But if you use that steel in a Marine knife, your reputation will suffer in the U.S. market. Cold Steel has outstanding heat treat, but the steels it uses are just short of the competition, mainly. I don't know if AUS8A is the same as AUS8 or not, but CS uses 1055 whilst its competition primarily uses 1095. And when the company came out with VG-1 steel, most people, including me, cheered. But guess what? No VG-1 in the current CS lineup. I sense cut corners all over the place! As for its San Mai, you use VG-10 and better for core steels. Why does CS use VG-1 as a core steel for its San Mai?

    Eventually CS is going to have to determine who its customer base is. I consider myself a fan, but this two steps forward and one step back is not a great way to run a company.

    If anyone has any practical experience with 4116, I'd like to hear about it. Toenail clippers aside, it's a cheap steel. If they can indeed make it as good as 440A it might be good for some applications. But it didn't list which 440 steel 4116 was comparable to.




    The Tanto-Lite is a 6-inch blade and is a bargain for twenty-five bucks.

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  6. #6
    You keep saying 4116 is bad steel. You are mistaken.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by shecky View Post
    You keep saying 4116 is bad steel. You are mistaken.
    Yeah--my problem with the change is that they went to a friggin' saber grind from a ffg. 4116 is pretty ok stuff--not earth-shattering or anything, but I find it performs about the same as the stuff in Victorinox knives (SAK's and food service) which is actually a good choice for a stainless knife that's likely to soak up some abuse. But the change in the grind is just silly to me. It went from being a variation on a MK-2 to something more resembling a MK-2 clone with a CS logo on it. And their story is suspect, if you ask me.


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    Quote Originally Posted by FortyTwoBlades View Post
    Yeah--my problem with the change is that they went to a friggin' saber grind from a ffg. 4116 is pretty ok stuff--not earth-shattering or anything, but I find it performs about the same as the stuff in Victorinox knives
    This is my sentiment as well. The grind change bothers me more than steel change. 4116 is on par with 420HC, if you ask me. I don't mind it at all

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    I didn't say is was a bad steel. I said it was a cheap steel.

    The reason they went to the saber grind is because people were trying to split wood with it and it was breaking. For splitting wood, you really need a spine, and people were sending their broken flat grind knives back to CS for replacement. In another thread, I pointed out that if you really want to baton with a knife, the tanto is the ideal design. The CS Voyagers are flat grind knives except for the tantos. They are heavier, have a substantial spine that can be whacked as much as you like and a hollow grind blade that is sharp enough to cut strips of paper. If you want to cut tomatoes and other foods into thin strips, use the flat grind knives (especially the outstanding Hold-Out). If you want to split wood, use the hollow grind tanto configuration.

  10. #10
    Of course the reason why people were breaking the knives while batoning them was they were doing it wrong. Honestly, some folks could break a bowling ball with both hands tied behind their back. Poor technique and an overly large piece of wood will break almost any knife. All CS needed to do was maybe lower the RC a point or so and that would lend the blade a little more shock resistance. They really didn't need to cave to a few idiots abusing a tool. And I by no means consider properly done batoning to be abuse. But I only saw evidence of the knives failing under full-blown abuse.


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  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Confederate View Post
    I didn't say is was a bad steel. I said it was a cheap steel.
    What makes you think it's cheaper than SK-5? SK-5 isn't exotic steel in any way.

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    I'm not saying that SK-5 is exotic. It is rather mundane, but it's pretty much a 1055 steel competing with 1095 steels. The German 4116 Krupp, though, is pretty much a cheap low grade stainless that works well with frequent sharpening. The twenty-five dollar Tanto-Lite is a great knife for the money, but for much more than that you'd want to move up to the Kobun, which has AUS8 stainless, which is about two clicks up from 4116.

  13. #13
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    4116 is a good steel for kitchen knives.....

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Ankerson View Post
    4116 is a good steel for kitchen knives.....
    Because they tend to get abused. Like soldier's knives. Just sayin'.


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    I got one of their folding bushmans, it was great at first,with the factory edge, but then seemed to go dull a lot quicker than a lot of other knives ive used.seemed to need a lot of resharpening.

  16. #16
    It holds an edge similarly to Swiss Army knife steel. Dulls faster than some other common pocket knife steels, but sharpens rapidly and takes a lot of abuse well.


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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Confederate View Post
    Yup, it looks nice. How, exactly, did you do that?]
    Two 10 minute mustard smears, then a couple hours wrapped in a vinegar soaked paper towel to texture the darker stain.
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