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D2 Ka Bar vs 1095 Carbon Ka Bar

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Peak_Oil, Feb 25, 2008.

  1. Peak_Oil


    Nov 6, 2005
    Looks like the D2 is only available in a combo edge, and is twice the price of the 1095 Carbon.

    ETA: Here are the lowest prices I've found. In some places the 1095 was more expensive than the cheapest place that had the D2. I guess there's some flexibility in the pricing. I've updated this post as people have weighed in and added more info.
    1095: $49
    Next Gen 440A: $72
    D2: $74

    Here's the one I have


    and here's the D2


    What is so different about the D2 that it's worth twice as much?

    Bass Pro has mine for about $50, and the D2 for about $90.

    Here's the Next Generation Ka Bar. This one is 440A Stainless, and the silhouette matches the D2. Price on the Ka Bar website is $110.


    At first glance, it seems that the price is more related to whether you're looking at the straight blade from the old silhouette or the combo in the new silhouette.
  2. Monocrom


    Feb 1, 2006

    Okay.... I'll just assume you're not kidding.

    D2 is a tool steel that'll hold an edge longer than 1095. Much longer. It's also difficult to work with because D2 is a very hard steel. (Two big reasons why it costs so much).

    The downside? You'd have an easier time sharpening a brick, than you would trying to put an edge on a dull D2 blade.

    Among those two steels, I'd go with 1095. You save money, and you'll actually be able to resharpen it when it goes dull.
  3. sharp-k


    Apr 6, 2007
    I think the D2 is the answer for a stronger "Ka-Bar", Noss shows the limits of the classical 1095 ...
  4. lotus1972


    Feb 12, 2006
    Most guys don't use their Kbars for cutting as I would say upwards of 75% of our troops now carry a multi-tool or know a buddy who does. Kbars are good for going stabbity stab with and opening things like cans and digging trench holes and gun placements.

    That D2 looks a ton better simply by getting rid of that cheasy gaurd the old Kbars had and giving it a more ergonomic feel. Plus you have serrations for tough cutting jobs saving the edge for things that really need it like bad guys.
  5. BJE


    Apr 12, 2006
    I prfer the carbon versions. They are less expensive and it would take forever to thin out the D2 on conventional stones, it takes long enough with the carbon. I also like the classic feel of the leather handle and sheath. You can cut the top part of the guard easily, I did that last year. You could probably find that thread. If not I can try to put some pics up when I get my camera.
  6. CaptInsano


    Apr 11, 2007
    If those were the only benefits then you'd be better off buying a Next Gen in 440A for 30 or 40 dollars less than the D2.
  7. KnifeFury


    Sep 21, 2006
    I have owned both.

    Let's just say I still own the D2 Extreme.
    Better steel, a much nicer handle-gaurd-butt package and optional Nylon / Cordura Blackhawk Sheath is sweet.

    By the way, there is also the Next Generation KA-BAR option made of 440A... but still worth the money to upgrade to the D2 Extreme IMO. Again the Nylon / Cordura is also a must! I actually bought a spare one since it also fit my SOG Tech Bowie perfectly!
  8. Peak_Oil


    Nov 6, 2005
    Was this the sheath?


    or was it this one?


    Actually, I think those are the exact same items.

    Wow, just found the D2 for $73.95! That's only $25 more than the 1095.
  9. Ben Dover

    Ben Dover

    Aug 2, 2006
    In most cases, there's a very good reason why one product costs more than another. This isn't rocket science! :D
  10. jcs71


    Mar 30, 2006
    Actually the nylon sheaths are made by Eagle Industries. Slightly better quality IMHO.
  11. ahgar


    Jan 4, 2005
    it really boils down to personal preference since each steel has its merits. personally i'd pick the 1095 myself, good steel for all around use.
  12. CaptInsano


    Apr 11, 2007
    From what I've seen I would agree, but not a straight $50 difference as the MSRP suggests.
  13. CaptInsano


    Apr 11, 2007
    Hey, look what showed up in my mailbox today!!



    Plus a Blackhawk sheath


  14. ezzekial


    Aug 7, 2007
    id go with the d2 not only is it stronger but once use have it sharpened u dont have to let it get dull just to touch not to mention edge retention is longer it would be alot stoinger than the 1095 plus if u look around u might find abetter deal than having 90 bucks ive seen some d2 kabars for 70 specially at gun shows where the discounts are great
  15. t1mpani

    t1mpani Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Jun 6, 2002
    Saying that one steel is harder than another or "holds an edge better" is a serious case of oversimplification. A 1095 blade at 60HRC is harder than a D2 blade at 59HRC. In this particular case, I think the range listed for the D2 is 59-60HRC and 57-59 for the 1095, but that's a manufacturing choice, not an inherent property of the alloys.

    Now, D2 has higher abrasion resistance than 1095, which affects its ease of sharpening and reprofiling, but not to the degree that so many claim, especially not in the era when you can go to a hardware store and plunk down $17.00 for a course or medium DMT. The higher abrasion resistance is often touted as a boon to edge holding, but this is really only true in specific types of cutting. Most dulling that people experience during knife use is not abrasive, meaning not that the steel is actually getting worn away. If you're going to be slicing extensive amounts of cardboard, rope, or other such abrasive media like furry animal hide, then yes, high abrasion resistance is going to be an aid to you. Most people don't do that type of extensive cutting with a seven inch long, saber-ground blade however.

    The principle difference you will see between D2 and 1095 Kabars in terms of edge holding lay in their behaviors under different types of stress. Most dulling, especially in this type of knife, is not from the steel getting worn away but from edge damage in the form of deformation or fracture. Both steels will do both, but 1095 leans more towards deformation while D2 is more likely to fracture. D2 has higher deformation resistance than 1095, so it is less likely or "willing" to roll/dent/blunt, and so can support a thinner edge for extensive push cutting and shearing (think paper cutter, planing wood or batoning). On the other hand, deforming isn't all bad, as a rolled edge can be straightened. D2's edge loss is more likely to take the form of edge chipping--the low ductility of the steel making it less capable of hanging together once its strength has been overcome. Fixing a chip generally means filing/grinding away a lot of good blade material surrounding it.

    So, for some cutting applications, D2 has better edge holding than 1095. For some others, 1095 is better. Don't buy the line from anybody that any cutlery steel does EVERYTHING better than another, that's simply not the way materials work. Focus on making an alloy exceptional in one area, and it becomes less exceptional in another.

    If you're planning to do a lot of chopping/hacking with your knife, D2 is not a step up from 1095--you want added ductility in a blade that's going to see a lot of impact use. If what you're doing is going to be more general cutting, overall it's got a bit of an advantage compared to 1095. While I have to give the requisite "...a knife is the most expensive and least effective prybar you'll ever find" line, the deformation resistance of the two is again a factor--the D2 blade, especially in this case where it's probably a point or two higher on the HRC scale, will take more force to bend. However, it's also more likely to break when the strength of the blade has been overcome, where the 1095 will generally flex more without damage.

    Of course, if you're going to be in very wet conditions, that affects edge holding too. D2 is right on the brink of being considered stainless based on its chromium content. It will rust (as will 440A--there is no truly "stainless" steel), but resists it much better than 1095 which has just about zero corrosion resistance. Just humid air will dull a knife edge over time, oxidizing that thin strip of steel and weakening it.

    But, some points of practical realism--these differences are detectable between these alloys, but all of them are steel. D2 will not shatter at the drop of a pin, 1095 will chip and, as mentioned, 440A will rust. None of them simply 'holds an edge' better than the others--it depends on the use and conditions. You make gains and sacrifices no matter which way you go.

    As to the higher cost of the D2 extremes, part of it is reflective of Kabar's initial cost of bringing these out several years ago. They required molds to make the handles, new materials, new tooling and different heat treatment procedures. Also, especially back then, D2 was definitely a buzz steel to the production knife industry and the demand for knives in it played into their pricing too. True, the molds and tooling have long been payed for, but once a price point has been accepted, manufacturers will tend to stick close to it, or at least not drop it down much--just the same as any industry. But yes, D2's added abrasion resistance does mean that it wears out machines/wheels/belts more quickly, and takes longer to work with.

    As to whether it's worth it to you, you have to make your own judgement call on that based on your typical uses for this type of knife, level of sharpening skill (although again I HIGHLY recommend getting some good quality diamond sharpeners--they're less expensive and more rugged than ceramic sharpeners and diamond really isn't impressed with the hardness of any steel), and how interested you are in experimenting with different blade materials. I really like D2, really like 1095, and if I'm fishing saltwater or cutting up a bunch of vegetables, I really like 440A.

    Best of luck,
  16. Peak_Oil


    Nov 6, 2005
    Wow, Warren, thank you very much for that insightful and information-packed post. I appreciate that you went over how the D2 steel and the 1095 carbon steel differ in their characteristics.

    Well done.

    Just read it again. I believe I have finally learned something about steel. Are you a teacher?
  17. t1mpani

    t1mpani Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Jun 6, 2002
    No, a professional blower-upper of stuff, but the working environment where that takes place does encourage a mindset of thinking things through carefully. ;)

    Glad I could be helpful--let us know what you decide.
  18. exponent

    exponent Banned BANNED

    Feb 28, 2008
    those are smooth looking knives... especially the one on the bottom.

    well its a win-win situation whatever knife you decide to buy.
  19. muddog49


    Nov 1, 2007
    I just got a Ka Bar 7" US Army version in 1095. Plan to use as a truck knife and all around user abuser. Should be a great knife for $50
  20. tiannawin


    Jul 28, 2006
    That was a great write up T1mpani. I have a USMC ka-bar and was planning to get the D2 extreme for upgrade. There is nothing wrong with the 1095 but its nice to have the D2 too. I'm just waiting for a good deal or when the price go down a little bit. Thanks for the useful info.

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