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1085 Steel...how good is it?

Discussion in 'Knife Reviews & Testing' started by SnowmanBob01, Feb 20, 2010.

  1. SnowmanBob01


    Feb 20, 2010
    I wanted to know the general feeling about 1085 steel. How fast will is rust?, durablilty?, edge retention?
  2. rifon2


    Oct 9, 2005
    I like it a lot. By its very nature, of course, it's very close to 1095 as to edge retention and otherwise.

    1085 is used in some very good knives - the Ka Bar Heavy Bowie, and the Browning Crowell-Barker Competition come to mind.
  3. misque


    Jul 9, 1999
    1085 will rust while your looking at it if you don't take prior precautionary measures. Just like any straight Carbon, low alloy steel.
    Durability and edge retention is excellent if heat treated properly. It can be used in springs as well as swords and be equally good at the given task depending on construction and proper HT.

    Hope this helps.
  4. Blop


    Mar 7, 2003
    From my point of view a blade must not stay shiny silver clean. A carbon blade will and should get gray or black through use. That been said:

    Once i wanted to teach my wife about proper knife care considering carbon blades. The objekt was a small kitchen knife, made from 075 carbon stell, should be something may be called 1075.

    I cut into an apple with it and let it lay.

    The only thing, happening was a light gray tone on the blade. The way to let it rust, real red rust, was to let it wet in the ditch.

    But, you have to look very very long for this.

    I never oil my carbon blades.

    What was about to learn: Carbonblades are not that much rust sensitive as often told.

    Keep it dry and more or less clean. Is just enough. You get a patina, that is all.

    I live in central europe.

    The Ka-bar heavy bowie came to my mind too. I found this steel grade to be the best choice for a medium chopping camp knife. Balenced in edge retention and toughness.
  5. Andrew Colglazier

    Andrew Colglazier

    Sep 14, 2006
    1080-1085 are steels often used in farm implements which see heavy use in the soil such as digger points and the like.

    It is a steel often used in larger knives like big bowies and choppers. It takes a good edge and is very tough when properly heat treated.

  6. misque


    Jul 9, 1999
    Great post. And, I agree with you. The naturally aged patina is the way to go on a Straight Carbon Steel knife. I also agree that keeping it fairly clean and dry is the key to keeping the knife rust free.
    As far as the rust thing goes, I live in Florida where, if it's left unattended, a Straight Carbon Steel knife will rust fairly readily. Our sub-tropical climate with it's resident high humidity will see to that.
    I'll still take the 1085 steel though because I like knives that tell a story of how they've been used and treated.
    And, a patina is a beautiful thing.:)
  7. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    1085 is tougher than 1095, but has lower edge retention.

    It's carbon steel. It will rust if not protected. All steel was carbon steel until about 90 years ago. Our forebears seem to have made out with it OK.
  8. Marion David Poff

    Marion David Poff

    Oct 8, 1998
    Well put.

  9. Any Cal.

    Any Cal. Banned BANNED

    Jan 1, 2006
    I think that should be qualified slightly to say that 1085 could have less edge retention in abrasive mediums, and only if the 1095 managed to get an optimal heat treat, which could very well turn the 1095 into something considerably less than the 1080/85

    I think that 1075/1080 still tend to have some lathe martensite, which could help them hold a finer edge under a little more distress than 1095, which I think is entirely carbides, so the 1080 could tend to hold a finer edge longer under certain conditions, along with a bit of added toughness, and a better chance of an optimal heat treat. While this is a bit of conjecture, I don't worry a bit about a bit lower carbon content.

    Of course, I don't know that there would be much of anyone who could tell the difference in actual use, at least not without the same job and two optimized blades.:eek:
  10. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    I've not noticed any difference in ability to take or hold a very fine edge in any pure carbon steel. I have noticed a difference in edge retention between 1095 and 1085 when performing side by side cutting comparisons.
  11. Any Cal.

    Any Cal. Banned BANNED

    Jan 1, 2006
    Well that is an interesting data point. I have knives of 1080 and 1095, and haven't noticed a difference, though I have not put them side by side on the same test because they are different profiles. I guess I did once, but the 1095 stank in comparison, cutting rope, and I assumed it was a soft blade.

    ETA, Knarfeng, were the two knives the same RC and geometry, just out of curiosity? Or just two factory blades? I am just wondering if you were doing it with two 'mules' or similiar, and how much was attributable to other factors.
  12. Gator97

    Gator97 Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 10, 2000
    It's funny, I just compared 1085 vs 1095 steel compositions. The thing is , in theory 1085 can have higher C content than 1095. Specs allow for that.

    I don't quite understand the whole super fine grained(composition wise) 10xx series thing, 1069 vs 1070? What's that supposed to be? 0.20% of Mn difference?

    On the other hand we have W1 steel where the spec allows 0.70% to 1.50% Carbon... More than twice the difference between upper and lower limits. And Euro guys have 10 different steels in that range all listed as AISI W1, but different steels in their standards.
  13. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    I'm guessing that the added Manganese in 1069 is for improved machinability. Ask Mete.

    While the very top of the 1085 Carbon range overlaps the very bottom of the 1095 carbon range, the likelihood of having a two blades and have a 1085 blade with a higher carbon content than a 1095 blade is infinitesimal. In general, the 1085 blade will have less carbon than 1095, giving it greater toughness and lesser edge retention at a given hardness.
  14. Gator97

    Gator97 Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 10, 2000
    I do understand the possibility is small, that's why I said in theory. Just funny how those two steels having several other 10xx in between them still can be identical or at worst 1095 having less C.

    I know very superficially what Mn does in the alloy. Not being a metallurgist it's hard for me to estimate what 0.20% will really do, especially when we have other steels with Mn variations in composition much greater than 0.20%.
  15. tankerw


    Mar 9, 2010
    Can anyone tell me why Becker stoped using 0170-06 c in there knives
  16. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    Those were made by Camillus. Camillus shut down.
    When Camillus used that alloy to make blades for Cold Steel, they called the alloy "Carbon V".

    Beckers are now made by KaBar using 1095 Cro Van, which is a similar alloy.
    I understand that KaBar runs the blades a bit softer than Camillus did.
  17. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    Sorry, I missed your question.

    I do side by side manila rope cutting. I sharpen both edges at the same angle using a Sharpmaker. Cutting rope minimizes the effect of other blade profile issues. I make 20 slicing cuts, then examine the blades for damage using a hand lens.

    The two alloys were Case CV and Camillus 1095
    Case CV is 1085 with a bit of Chromium and a bit of Vanadium.
    The Camillus I know to be 1095.

    I don't have hardnesses on the blades, so you are correct, I could have been measuring a hardness difference. The blades I measured were both pocket knives. (That is why I could not measure the hardnesses. Makers of traditional pocket knives anneal the tangs so that they wear better at the pivot.)

    The best I can say is that the results were in line with what I had noticed with stainless blades that I had tested and whose harnesses I had measured. If the hardness of both blades is the same, the one with more carbon has better edge retention, even in alloys that don't form a lot of carbides.


    Feb 8, 2012
    Around 50 bucks, on Ebay.
    It's not exactly the one thee and me would think of, but a Vorpal Blade it be.
  19. shqxk


    Mar 26, 2012
  20. arty


    Oct 18, 2003
    I have two Sabatier knives, 4-Elephant knives. They are made from 1075, and I could never tell the difference in edge retention between them and a couple of Gerber paring knives in 440C. I know that 440c should hold an edge longer, but tell that to my knives.
    1085 carbon should be decent steel. It is not M4, but can work well if heat treated well.

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