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Case true sharp vs SAK steel?

Discussion in 'Traditional Folders and Fixed Blades' started by jackknife, Oct 7, 2012.

  1. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    Being that two of my favorite knives are the Case peanut and my SAK classic, I should be familair with them. But my Peanuts, (damascus and chestnut bone) are carbon while my SAK is the stainless of some mysterious blend. I long ago gave away the one peanut I had in true sharp, so I have no reference. Now I find myself wondering about the new tan caliber peanut, in true sharp of course. All of my case knives are CV except for the damascus peanut, but the idea of a feather weight peanut is intriguing me.

    I was wondering if anyone here had an idea of how the true sharp stacks up against the SAK steel?

    I know that I'm happy with the edge holding and cutting of my SAK's, and was wondering f the true sharp is compatible. I know many years ago I did some testing of a bunch of knives, but for the life of me can't recall if I did a true sharp and a SAK.

  2. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    Don't know, Carl. Never tested any Vic blades. I have tested Tru-Sharp and it had the lowest edge retention of any blade I have ever tested.
  3. Modoc ED

    Modoc ED Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 28, 2010
    I believe Case's Tru-Sharp stands up just fine to most any other standard stainless steel. I'm not including exotic stainless as although I have some, I don't use them often.

    I have several SAK knives - Victorinox and Wenger. I don't carry or use a SAK anymore but if my memory hasn't failed me completely,:rolleyes: when I did use SAK knives, I didn't notice any difference between SAK stainless steel and Case's Tru-Sharp. I wasn't consciously looking for any either. They both did the job at hand when I had either in my hand.

    We've been down this Case Tru-Sharp comparison with other stainless steels from various makers on this forum many times with no clear winner - at least up to now.

    The Case Peanut with Tru-Sharp is a very inexpensive knife. Pick one up and give it a try. That'll give you a better result than reading about it here. Heck Carl, our time is getting shorter.:eek: I'd rather use em and test em for myself than read about em.:)
  4. Modoc ED

    Modoc ED Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 28, 2010
    Good grief Frank!! What were you testing them on - a brick???? I've always had good results with Tru-Sharp but as you've noted we all have varying experiences with various steels.
  5. Django.cj


    Jun 16, 2011
    I carry both with regularity, and honestly they're near identical IMO. Both are fine steels.
  6. Vic's SAK stainless (not sure what type/alloy) has always seemed very 'soft' to me, even compared to Case's Tru-Sharp. That can be both good and bad. The SAK blades will sharpen up very easily on simpler abrasives, so that can be an advantage. On the other hand, I've also noticed the SAK blades can seem quite frustrating on ceramics, especially on round/triangular rods. The softness of the steel makes it difficult, sometimes, to catch the burr in time. Real easy to scrub the burr right off of it, before even seeing it's formed. The tendency then, is to keep on grinding away, not recognizing you've gone much further than necessary. Bottom line, you need to go very, very light on the hones, and check after almost each pass for a burr.

    Case's Tru-Sharp, on the other hand, will make it very difficult to miss the burr. Burrs & wires hang on tenaciously to these blades. So, once they're formed, it's a matter of going back & forth, side-to-side, and gently filing them off. Sort of tedious & slow. Odd as it seems, I'm sort of glad for this, because it makes it rather obvious when the edge has been apexed (that's the difficult part with the SAK's blades). The burr is the definitive indicator of the apex, so it's real easy to know when to stop grinding away, and start refining & cleaning up the edge.
  7. Peter Parker

    Peter Parker

    Aug 18, 2008
    My two favorite soft steels Case's SS and Victorinox's SS, and I think Case's SS (may just be me) may have gotten ever so slightly better going by my 2010 amber bone 47! Regardless I like the dickens out of it!
  8. I don't see any major issues anymore, with edge retention on Tru-Sharp blades. I do believe, however, that the tenaciousness of burrs & wire edges on Case's Tru-Sharp blades can mimic the problem, though. Wire edges will make an edge seem to go 'dull' quickly, when they fold over. The key is getting rid of the wires from the start, after which the more stable steel left behind holds up pretty well. It was sort of an epiphany for me, when I finally noticed this, and a whole lot of doubts about the steel evaporated when I started doing a better job cleaning up the wire edges. I was somewhat unsure of what to think of Tru-Sharp prior to that, but don't have any issues with it, anymore.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2012
  9. supratentorial


    Dec 19, 2006
    Victorinox specifies 55-56 HRC on their website. The steel on Swiss army knives seems slightly softer than Case's SS in my opinion but I've never done Rockwell hardness testing. Frank's testing, found Case's SS to be 55 HRC.


    Frank's comparison of Case's SS and CV: http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php/595750-Case-Tru-Sharp-vs-Case-CV
  10. Modoc ED

    Modoc ED Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 28, 2010
    I don't know if you've seen the Spyderco instructional CD for the Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker David but in that CD, Sal Glesser (the owner of Spyderco and the inventor of the Sharpmaker) uses a Victorinox SAK as one of the demonstation knives in the CD and brings it to a razor edge with just a few strokes.

    I believe your point is valid but I also believe that when some people get a Sharpmaker, they just start right in and start using it without reading the instructions or watching the video that comes with one. Two common mistakes are not breaking the triangle rods in as demonstrated by Sal and using far too much pressure and using far too many strokes per side.

    You are right again when you say SAK steel is easy to sharpen. It is for sure. I think that is one of the reasons it is so popular along with the tools of course.
  11. That's the thing. I agree, it's initially difficult for most people to calibrate use of pressure on ceramic rods; took me a while to get a feel for them. It holds true for almost any steel, but the difference from one steel to another is that 'threshold' of 'How much pressure is too much, for this particular steel?'. Some are far more forgiving, if pressure's a little heavy, and others will make you pull your hair out. Figuring out the 'threshold' for each steel can take a very long time, if one is unaccustomed to using these sharpeners, or to sharpening in general. The SAK blades have about the lightest 'threshold' of any I've seen, in terms of regulating pressure on ceramics. They really need a feather-light touch.

    I've no doubt Sal is highly adept with ceramic rods; he's had a lot of time and incentive to practice with them (and he actually co-developed the original V-crock style of sharpeners, too). :)
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2012
  12. shecky


    May 3, 2006
    Little difference between SAK and TrueSharp, imo. Both sharpen incredibly easy, as long as one avoids the burr to begin with. But that's not a very different prescription from many other steels.

    If anything, I'm a bit tempted to say that SAKs have consistently felt a little bit softer than my True Sharp Case knives. As long as the overall profile is nice and thin, as it often is with Case and SAKs, sharpening and cutting ability remains pretty good. SAK steel is certainly among the more durable I've come across in pocket knives. A few years back, I went through a box of old used surplus pre-one hand opening GAKs, looked like they were taken right from the soldiers pockets, encrusted with dry mud. Mostly Vics, but a few other makes that were all identical in quality. Every one of them had blades that looked like they were used to pry stuff, blades bent, and bent back, ripples forever visible. A couple looked like the very tips might have broken off, and a new point crudely ground back with a bench grinder. Which also looks like the only way these knives were ever sharpened. And every one was still a good user with lots of life left.
  13. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    Tru-Sharp is a steel with no carbides, not much carbon, and only hardened to ~55HRC, what else would you expect but low edge retention when compared to alloys with carbides, more carbon, and higher hardness?

    Look fellas, of all of you I am the only one who does side-by-side edge retention testing. I've done a bunch of it and I bloody well know a the difference between losing the edge and having a wire edge. In my tests making slicing cuts in manila rope Tru-Sharp held an edge less well than any other steel I have ever tested. Even Bucks, which utilize approximately the same alloy, outperform it because they are harder. It is not an opinion. It is the result of the tests. Deal with it or ignore it as you wish. But it is data, not opinion.

    In my daily use, Tru-Sharp still fares less well in edge retention than any other knife steel I use. I much prefer Buck 420HC because at their higher hardness they hold an edge noticeably better. Now this IS an opinion because it is not based on an exact comparison, but merely on experience garnered over 50 years of carrying and using pocket knives.

    Now, all that being said, I sometimes carry a Case knife because they are available in a variety of different patterns. The steel, even with its lack of edge retention compared to other knives I use, is good enough for most everyday activities.
  14. Django.cj


    Jun 16, 2011
    I've given up caring about steels. At first I was so impressed with the Cold Steel videos, I got one and loved it. Then it was time to sharpen. It's been sitting in a drawer for years now since I can't get it anywhere near as sharp as a simple SAK or Case. So long as a knife lasts "long enough" for whatever application, I'm good.

    That said, I can't tell a bit of difference between SAK and Case stainless. I'd give CV or Buck's steel a bit of an edge, but it's a wash for real life. And really that's all I can muster enough energy to care about.
  15. zrfunited


    Dec 19, 2007
    In my experience, I like the consistency of the Vic's. Their edge retention seems to be on par with bucks 420hc. I stopped buying any case ss because no two I have ever had have performed anywhere near similiar. It's anecdotal, but I have come to the conclusion that the heat treat on case ss has quite a bit of variability.
  16. supratentorial


    Dec 19, 2006
    I find that surprising... I'm a Victorinox aficionado but Buck's 301 has better edge retention in my opinion... Buck's "SwissBuck" knives were similar to Swiss army knives... actually, they were Swiss army knives made by Wenger. ;)

    Frank, you're a knowledgeable fellow and know your blade steels --that's why I linked to your review. I'm a fan of data.
  17. dogstar


    Jan 23, 2011
    I find the Buck 420HC to have better edge retention than the Inox of SAKs. Sorry, a little off topic. Carl, don't have Case SS.
  18. supratentorial


    Dec 19, 2006
    Carl, That Case caliber peanut is calling your name. ;) I say go for it.

    My newest Case SS purchases have been a 47 stockman and several humpback stockman. I bought the yeller 47 pattern stockman in SS before they started offering it in CV. The ebony humpback stockman was only available in SS and I've used it quite a bit. If you are used to the steel on Swiss army knives, I think you will find it quite acceptable.
  19. OzarkCreekWalker


    Jul 25, 2011
    The only SS Case i have in a trapper from '68. It's not that great of a steel but is ok for a user. I haven't heard many complements about the new models in SS.

    I carry a SAK climber and, while it doesn't hold an edge forever, it sharpens very very easily. It stays razor for a while but also holds a good working edge for a surprisingly long time.

    I find that sharpening tests are difficult to do with Buck knives, because most are significantly thicker than all the others knives i own. However, their SS appears to be the best in a biz, as it behaves somewhat like good carbon steel.
  20. supratentorial


    Dec 19, 2006
    '68 was a long time ago.

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