3v HRC Debacle

Discussion in 'Benchmade Knife Company' started by T.L.E. Sharp, May 16, 2019.

  1. T.L.E. Sharp

    T.L.E. Sharp Oatmeal Pecan is better than Chocolate-chip. Platinum Member

    Jun 30, 2016
    This thread is going in GKD:


    It's also being echoed on IG and probably Reddit (I'm not on Reddit.). I was surprised not to see a corresponding thread in here.

    Apparently an independent test has shown rather disappointing hardness ratings on the new Bailout's 3v. Well under Crucible's recommendation and in line with the poor edge retention test results done by users.(take those with a grain of salt.) Something like 56hrc.

    While this particular instance is related to a single model, it's part of a growing conversation about the marketing behind the latest and greatest super steels.

    Some companies, like Benchmade, seem to be actively peddling these steels as upgrades and premium features, drastically increasing the retail price, while giving them a soft, warranty friendly heat treat that negates any possible performance gain.

    I've heard anecdotal reports that some m390 blades won't hold an edge during simple cut tests as well as the 154cm that they're meant to be an upgrade for.

    Personally, if indeed they are being left at 60hrc and below to stave off warranty claims for breakage, I'd like to see a change in warranty policy. I'm not a moron. I'm not going to use a $250 knife with m390 @ 64hrc to pry open shipping crates. Just charge me for a new blade if I break it and give me one that will hold an edge worth a damn in the meantime.
  2. T.L.E. Sharp

    T.L.E. Sharp Oatmeal Pecan is better than Chocolate-chip. Platinum Member

    Jun 30, 2016
    BigKurtHaze, willc, mdrgn79 and 2 others like this.
  3. bikerector

    bikerector KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 16, 2016
    I feel like the only piece that is valid for having low HRC is the ease of sharpenability in the field. But then, wouldn't something like 5160, 1095, 1075, 420HC, A2... or really any other soft-ish steel have been nearly as good? I feel like even some of the wimpy, non-tough steels are tough at the mid 50's. I mean, I have felling axes with higher hardness than that and I don't foresee them spontaneously assploding.

    I don't think the steel is a bad choice, per say, but it's a horrible waste of money since that performance can be found from a lot of other steels, or at least as much toughness that could possible be inflicted on such a knife before something else fails on that knife.

    I guess it's for somebody, just not me.
    Alchemy1, cbrstar, mdrgn79 and 2 others like this.
  4. Halfneck


    Jun 30, 2005
    If you are going to make a knife with an upgraded steel, with the accompanying increase in price, why not take advantage of all the steel has to offer?
    Alchemy1, willc, sliceofaloha and 3 others like this.
  5. Lapedog


    Dec 7, 2016
    Thank you for this thread because it is so true. I understand that some companies like Emerson and CRK are committed to fairly soft heat treat.

    I b also understand that most production companies won’t take the steel to its highest hardness. However I would want my knife with “upgraded” steel to perform like an upgraded steel.
    willc, sliceofaloha and mdrgn79 like this.
  6. Fixall

    Fixall Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2018
    With durability being so important, that must be why Benchmade went with a super durable aluminum pommel and extra tough Grivory scales instead of steel and G10. :rolleyes:

    I don't buy that explanation. If they wanted tough, why didn't they just use 5160 and be done with it (spoiler: I'm guessing it's because they wanted to profit off the 3v name).

    This, and a couple of @Benchmade's recent choices have left a bad taste in my mouth. It just seems like Benchmade is going the way of Gerber and is moving away from high quality knives for enthusiasts... And increasing production/marketing for the masses, while keeping the "butterfly tax". Right now the 555-1 is my only Benchmade (not counting my field sharpener). Until/unless Benchmade gets their crap together and decides who they want for customers, it's going to be my last.
    loon#r, Alchemy1, cbrstar and 5 others like this.
  7. Barman1

    Barman1 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 21, 2013
    I saw a thread on this matter a few days ago, it's around here somewhere and I'm too tired to look it up.
    There are a few points on the hrc testing accuracy.
  8. bikerector

    bikerector KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 16, 2016
    If I remember right, BM even spec'ed it to be in the 55-58 rockwell range. I think the link the TLE has in the OP is the one you're referring to, or that's where I saw the protests to the test method.
  9. T.L.E. Sharp

    T.L.E. Sharp Oatmeal Pecan is better than Chocolate-chip. Platinum Member

    Jun 30, 2016
    This is true. The bailout test was done through the coating, which someone probably smarter than me stated could skew the results. IDK.

    I've offered up my 581 in uncoated m390 as well as a ZDP-189 blade from another manufacturer if @Alchemy1 or anyone else wants to run a test on them.

    If we can prove that Benchmade leaves all or the majority of their "upgraded" steels so soft that there's no sense in paying for the upgrade perhaps we can force a change.

    I'm not really upset about the issue to be honest. It's not like the m390 barrage of mine will be outdone by some gas station m-tech. As stated above, Benchmade admittedly specs them low. That was their decision to make, just like it's our decision not to buy any more of them until they change their HT. ;)

    If there's enough outcry we might be able to get them to change that. I'd kill for a Bugout that holds an edge like my ZDP Delica.
    mdrgn79 and bikerector like this.
  10. madcap_magician

    madcap_magician Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 27, 2005
    Even CRK bumped up to 59-60 a few years ago on their S35VN from 58-59, IIRC. Emerson and apparently now Benchmade are in a league of their own for softness, though.
    loon#r, Alchemy1, Sonnydaze and 3 others like this.
  11. Silent H

    Silent H Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2018
    Well if they were going for a flexible blade on this one, then it would make sense to pick a more flexible handle material too. I imagine Grivory is probably "tougher" than G10, as in it will flex more before breaking. That being said, if I buy the Bailout, I'm going to put some aftermarket carbon fiber scales on it.

    They're not the only brands, ZT runs some of their S35VN soft, Cedric & Ada on youtube found that the ZT0909 had soft steel compared to other brands' S35VN (and I think he tested two different ZT0909s). I'm sure all the major names do it, the steels are more about marketing than performance.
    Cedric&Ada link:
  12. Sergeua


    May 1, 2016
    Anyone else wondering why these numbers 58-55 = 3
    Is it some kind of compound heat treatment? Otherwise, seems like a lot of wiggle room, which already scores minus points in my book and there is no need for getting into further details.
    Somone educate me, because it doesn't spell quality to me.
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
  13. Silent H

    Silent H Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2018
    Any of the larger companies are going to give a range of HRC values for their final product. The final HRC can vary slightly from batch to batch of steel, and depending on how much steel you heat treat at one time, you can have slightly varied HRC in the same batch. Lots of variables play into it, and it's not cost effective for big companies to QC the HRC of each blade to a single number. Take a look at the specs on any of the major dealer sites like Blade HQ, if they list the hardness it's almost always a range.

    The only time you're going to see a guaranteed HRC value is if someone is doing their own heat treat and testing each blade that goes out the door. It basically limits it to custom and small batch makers.

    In reality 3V performs best in the 58-61 HRC range, so that's what we think Benchmade should have gone with.
    bigsurbob likes this.
  14. Sergeua


    May 1, 2016
    I don't know boss. Their bugout is 58-60 and lots of other models on their site will be spread by 2 points. This thing is 3...
    59-60 is a good enough variation to me. Here you can end up with a 55 and maybe if you are really lucky it will be 58, which probably never happens. Seems very inconsistent, like it doesn't even matter. Doesn't show much care already.
    mdrgn79 and sliceofaloha like this.
  15. Yo Mama

    Yo Mama

    Sep 25, 2011
    Yes but with 154cm it makes sense, with 3v it makes 0 sense to me
  16. Dallas T

    Dallas T Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 6, 2013
    Has anyone simply asked jimmy from benchmade to chime in? He’s usually pretty responsive. I ask cause I wound up getting one and so far like it a lot, even though haven’t used it tons I’ve noticed no issues.
  17. John_0917

    John_0917 Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 15, 2014
    Emerson 154CM edge retention is so bad that I have seen significant better edge holding (and similar toughness) from the 8cr14 on the Kershaw Emersons.

    As far as this 3V, I wonder if they meant to make it so soft or is BM’s quality control just so bad that they did it and didn’t realize it? Not joking.
    marrenmiller, mdrgn79 and Mo2 like this.
  18. Fixall

    Fixall Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2018
    Benchmade states in their literature that the HRC for their 3v is 55 - 58.

    They were aware and this was intentional.
  19. Silent H

    Silent H Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2018
    It was definitely a conscious decision by them, we just want to know why they decided to go with 55-58 HRC when the steel is capable of being made much harder without sacrificing toughness.
    bikerector, mdrgn79 and John_0917 like this.
  20. John_0917

    John_0917 Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 15, 2014
    And crucible says 60 is best...I’m curious if the test being done through the cerakote had an impact, that doesn’t seem like the most “pure” test.

    Bigger question overall for me is why did they use 3V on this knife anyway? S30V would have been fine, probability more logically really.
    mdrgn79 likes this.

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