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Case CV - Has it changed?

Discussion in 'Traditional Folders and Fixed Blades' started by black mamba, May 12, 2010.

  1. black mamba

    black mamba Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 21, 2009
    Case's Chrome Vanadium steel (CV) has been around for a long time, and with a deservedly excellent reputation. Even though the composition of the CV steel seems to constantly come into question, it has been revealed by an authoritative voice that it is actually 0170-6 (50100 B), which is basically 1095 with small additions of chromium and vanadium. Our forumite STR quoted BRK&T's Mike Stewart back in 2005 as saying this was common knowledge in the knife industry. Besides Case, it has been used by Cold Steel (Carbon V), Camillus, Becker and Western. Obviously, each company used their own HT recipes to bring out the performance criteria of their own products.

    Sharon steel made the original batch in the 1950s, but went bankrupt in 1988. Some time after 2000, Case and Camillus got another (unnamed) company to duplicate the chemistry and produce more of the steel.

    The composition, with the addition of chromium and vanadium, should be superior to plain 1095. Mike Stewart says it will outperform 1095. But, recent tests and anecdotal evidence support the case that GECs straight 1095 is both harder and better at edge-holding than Case CV. The only logical explanation is in the heat treatment.

    Do those of you with great experience of older Case CV blades believe that either the composition, or more likely the HT, has changed over the years? Were the older blades run at a harder Rockwell than current production? Thanks for the input.
  2. jpvjr


    Feb 19, 2007
    I have a Soddy Jr that's ancient I can strop that on my palm, can't do it with the new stuff. So I'd say the changed something I prefer it to be softer.
  3. I've wondered about this too. I have a 1970 10-dot large Case sodbuster with the 'carbon' blade. But, it's not specifically marked with the 'CV' in the pattern number (2138). I've wondered if it was the same steel, but maybe Case just hadn't gotten around to using the 'CV' designation at that time.

    It wouldn't surprise me if they've tweaked their process to make their blades easier to sharpen (& perhaps to make machining/stamping process more efficient). Buck Knives did this years ago with their 110 Folding Hunter, in switching from 440C to 425 and eventually to the current 420HC.
  4. knifeaholic


    Oct 15, 2001
    Case never marked the "CV" on the pattern number until 1996. CV was the predominant Case steel from the old days until about 1980 (very small percentage of the line was SS).

    If anyone knows how to read steel data, I have some 1950's and 1960's era documents on Case CV from the company that provided the steel to Case.
  5. black mamba

    black mamba Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 21, 2009
    Is it in the form of percentages of the alloying elements, like on A.G. Russell's Steel Guide?

    Here is it's link: http://www.agrussell.com/Steel_Guide/a/73/

    It shows 0170-6C as having .95% Carbon, .4% Manganese, .45% Chromium, and .19% Vanadium.
  6. safta


    Nov 26, 2005
    You can post the info in the maker's forum. I'm sure one of the metallurgist's there will be happy to identify it for you.

  7. Coonskinner


    Mar 28, 2001
    I think it is a little harder now than it used to be.
  8. DennisStrickland

    DennisStrickland Banned BANNED

    Jun 24, 2009
    case knives before 1980 or even later rockwelled at 53 or 54[carbon] i know after parker was gone or maybe during his last gasps the rockwell or alloy was improved. 1991 or 93 or so i skinned a mule deer with a standard copperlock & noticed a big improvement in the edge holding. cardboard cutting in the 70s & 80s was very poor . gerber, eye & even carbon imperials did better on cardboard than the case. i figured someone had authorized the harder rockwell to improve the knives.whatever is the situation case carbon is a much better cutter than 25 years ago.
  9. MarkPinTx


    Aug 21, 2003
    1095 is an AISI designation for iron alloyed with 0.95 carbon but variation of +/- 0.05 1070 is same but 0.70 w/o carbon. If true AISI there are no other alloying elements but some sulfur and manganese and phosphorous for other purposes. There are a bazillion other steel designators SAE ASTM DIN ASM etc and a lot of variation and similarity. 50100 is an SAE designation. It's hard to compare and rely on the compositions of carbon steel just based on what someone claims it's designator is even if that person isn't lying.

    The composition of stainless steels varies more widely and the designators tend to be more significant e.g. 420 vs. 440 vs 316. Same more or less with tool steels like D2 O1 etc.

    The proprietary designators like the various CPMs are like brand names and even more reliable.

    Of course heat treatment and hardness (related but not same) can render composition nearly irrelevant.
  10. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006

    Don Hanson has posted some definitive data on changes in CV composition. See post below. It is not just the heat treat. Current CV has less carbon.

    According to Phil Gibbs, who worked for Camillus, Camillus did not partner with Case to buy the lot of steel that Cold Steel marketed as Carbon V and which Camillus marketed as 0170-6C. Phil admitted that the composition of the Camillus steel was similar to that of Sharon 0170-6. But he said it was not exactly the same. He also insisted that the proprietary heat treat performed by Camillus produced a superior blade.

    Wayne Goddard wrote in The Wonder of Knife Making that he had taken a sample and had an elemental analysis performed on it. He posted the results in that book. 0170-6C was indeed extremely similar to the 1950's Case blade steel composition in Don's post. It is less similar to the current CV.
    Last edited: May 13, 2010
  11. black mamba

    black mamba Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 21, 2009
    I can well believe that statement, if Case was running theirs at from upper 40s to lower 50s HRc. Anything in the 1080 to 1095 range of steels can be run at 60+ HRc. So why are Case keeping their CV so relatively soft? Ease of sharpening does not mean nearly the same thing today, with diamond hones, as it did back in the 1940s. GECs 1095 is around 58 HRc, and by all accounts is noticeably harder than CV and still sharpens easily. What am I missing?
  12. Absintheur

    Absintheur Banned by Moderators

    Jan 31, 2008
    I own a number of pre 70's CV Cases as well as newer one. I agree the older CV knives did sharpen easier while the newer knives sharpen more like Carbon V (which I also own a good number of). I do admit I baby my knives, I use them but I try to use the right tool for the right job. If I am going to be breaking down cardboard boxes I use a box cutter, not my pocket knife. I prefer the older CV knives as I can put a near scalpel edge on them while that very fine edge is tougher on the newer knives. I often wondered if the newer CV had not become larger grained as well.
  13. artmichalek


    Jul 20, 2008
    They're probably trading off some edge retention for toughness. I don't know what vanadium does to the steel's microstructure, but edge chipping might become a problem at higher hardness.
  14. nphelps4130


    Aug 23, 2006
    Very interesting info in this thread :thumbup:
    I believe a higher hardness of Case CV would suit me better. I am with you black mamba on the the GEC 1095 vs Case CV.
  15. crbauhs


    Dec 2, 2007
    I am not to suprised by most of these results. I ha e always felt that Case runs their stuff aft, even more so in the old days. But it is good stuff if they would run it a bit harder like GEC then their knives would be a noticable step up in my opinion.
  16. Don Hanson III

    Don Hanson III KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 3, 2002
    Current Case CV blades rockwell in the mid 50s, 5 to 10 points harder than the old knives. I believe folks used to use pocket knives much harder than today, prying with the tips and doing stuff that would break harder blades. High blade hardness, upper 50s-low 60s started in the 70s' with custom knives. This trend has slowly worked it's way into some factory knives, this is a relatively new thing to the world of knives :)

    Vanadium retards grain growth in tool steel, very small amount needed, .20% +/-. Also adds a little wear resistance. Larger amounts can be problematic.

    Grain size is a product of rolling/forging and heat treating of steel. Industry usually always shoots for smallest size. Large grain leads to chippy edges and weak blades, not something I've run into with Case CV.
  17. arty


    Oct 18, 2003
    I have an old Case Peanut that dates from the late 1970's. It takes a good edge, but always seemed a bit soft to me.
    It made 440C seem hard.
  18. TLARbb

    TLARbb Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 24, 2010
    Ok, guys, how does the new CV compare to the "Surgical Stainless" Case currently uses on 90+% of their production? It seems that the knife knuts prefer the CV blades. Don't shoot me now, but if the SS versions are just as good or nearly so, seems that their mfg percentages are just about right.

    Does the general public want a nice shiny blade over a better performing carbon steel blade? Seems that fancy stainless and powdered metal technology is "obsoleting" the older carbon steels. Yet, there seems to still be a market for the less costly carbon steel knives (examples are MORA and OPINEL).

    When I am looking for a traditional slip joint or locking folder for EDC, I want a good performing steel. It helps if the knife is affordable. So, what is really better regarding current Case offerings - CV or SS?

  19. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    When I tested the edge retentions of CV & Tru-Sharp side by side in manila rope cutting, the CV did a bit better than the Tru-Sharp. Enough so that I would expect to notice it in every day use.
  20. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    You are missing that the current CV is based on 1085. The old CV was based on 1095. The difference in carbon will have an effect on edge retention even if the blades are tempered to the same hardness.

    GEC uses steel with more carbon and runs it at a higher hardness. It's not to wonder that they hold an edge better.

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