420hc. Good? Bad?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by MMehrtens, Aug 22, 2020.

  1. abcdef


    Oct 28, 2005
    It would be great if every maker would offer a model in 420HC as well as whatever other steel they use. Think of the possibilities.
  2. SALTY

    SALTY Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 19, 2000
    They say you get what you pay for but with Buck's 420HC I would actually say that you get more than what you pay for.
    LG&M, onionfan, Lodd and 2 others like this.
  3. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    Great all-round steel at least the way Buck heat treats it: tough, corrosion resistant, easy to sharpen to a very fine edge (unlike S90 and similar high vanadium steels). I used my 119 to field dress a moose I took on Ootsa Lake in northern BC years ago. Had to touch it up after skinning it but I doubt any steel could keep an edge against a lot of silica/sand/grit embedded in that greasy, gritty hide.
  4. NapalmCheese


    Aug 24, 2006
    Just use it for a while.

    If it doesn't work out for you, stop using it. If it works out just fine for you, keep using it.
    Natlek and BD_01 like this.
  5. midnight flyer

    midnight flyer Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 12, 2009
    Nothing to add except I agree with the fact it is a very usable steel. Back in the early 70s before we knew about all the super steels, Buck's 110 was the go-to work knife for the guys that could afford them. They were at work on the job site all day and all week, and with good cleaning and sharpening were equally at home as hunting knives during the season. Are there steels that are more rust/resistant, hold a better edge longer, and are more wear resistant 50 years later? Of course. But there is a reason that steel is still in heavy use and popular among the "user" crowd. It works, works well and is enormously affordable.

    Oh yeah, one more thing I agree with that has been mentioned. Don't throw your damn knife at a tree.

    jbmonkey likes this.
  6. jbmonkey

    jbmonkey Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Jun 9, 2011
    in 70s Bucks steel was 440c. 425m in around 1980. 420hc in early 90s. my dates are off a bit but ya get the general idear.
    onionfan likes this.
  7. soc_monki

    soc_monki Basic Member Basic Member

    Apr 5, 2019
    And their 440c is a BEAST. Their 420hc is great though, but I wouldn't mind having 440c be an option in the 110s again.
    wackafew, onionfan and jbmonkey like this.
  8. brownshoe

    brownshoe I support this site with my MIND

    Sep 6, 2002
    Buck's 420hc is fine, and comes with 30 years marketing hype but your 440c is better. I have one Buck in 420hc, one Buck in 440c plus several production and customs in 440c. My 440c knives hold an edge significantly longer. There's a good reason the 110 is made in better steel too, $40 for 420hc and $90 for S30v. For things like knife throwing however, 420hc is probably better. Your 420hc knife should make ya happy and take abuse.
  9. LG&M


    Dec 19, 2005
    I must be a steel snob. Buck is the only 420 I care for. Mostly I trust it will be done right, some of the others I don't want to gamble on.
  10. PaultheCarpenter


    Jul 12, 2020
    On a Buck - good. Everything else - not so good.

    Buck's heat treat and geometry is fairly magical.
  11. midnight flyer

    midnight flyer Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 12, 2009
    Thanks, @jbmonkey ! Someone told me many years ago the steel on my 119 purchased about 1971 by me was 440c, but I didn't believe him.

    Makes sense. That was the main camp/hunt/woods adventure knife for me for 30 or so years. It punched way out of its price class and it still an excellent all around knife even by today's standards. I noticed a significant edge holding advantage over my buddy's knife when camping with him about 20 years ago when he proudly showed me HIS brand new 119. His new one is still a great knife, and easier to sharpen. He is thrilled with it.

    I confess I know little about Buck's blade genealogy, I just buy them because they are such reliable workers at an excellent price. I wouldn't guess how many expeditions my 119 has been on and it looks nearly new.

    jbmonkey likes this.
  12. Chronovore

    Chronovore Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 29, 2019
    Your average 420HC is pretty subpar by modern standards. I don't mean compared to "super steels" either. I mean compared with common budget steels like 8Cr13Mov. The only place where 420HC has a clear advantage is toughness. Toughness matters for certain tools and certain tasks. For many people (if not most) and their ordinary EDC folders, the toughness difference between 420HC and steels with better edge retention is irrelevant. Even when toughness is needed, 14C28N offers better edge retention and is still fairly tough.

    The difference with Buck's 420HC is a good heat treatment. You get to see 420HC at its best. It's sort of like seeing an average athlete at their peak, on a good day, and giving their best career performance. If I liked the design, I'd have no qualms about choosing Buck's 420HC over 8Cr13Mov or AUS-8. However, I'd still be happier with one of the better budget steels such as 14C28N. As far as getting the most out of a steel via good heat treatment, Civivi's 9Cr18Mov is very good. I also like the Acuto 440 Kizer is using in the Tangram line of budget knives.

    This makes me wonder. Buck has done amazing things and stayed relevant by giving a great heat treatment to a mediocre steel. Now we've got a lot of better steels drifting down in price. There's a new budget particle steel coming out. What could Buck do with a Bos heat treatment on a better budget steel?
  13. jbmonkey

    jbmonkey Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Jun 9, 2011
    Buck makes a lot of knives in s30v nowadays. they have got the heat treat down pretty good on it. they have played and released models with a lot of different steels. more than most might realize if they aren't a fan of the brand.

    im always pushing for more in cpm154. I feel this would be a good replacement standard steel for them and us, but price points wouldnt be as good obviously and that and wear on machinery etc would kill the values we have today.
    onionfan, 000Robert and BD_01 like this.
  14. Mister_Punchy


    Jul 8, 2020
    I'm pretty sure any steel will be enough for that usage.
  15. vwb563

    vwb563 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 2007
    I’d say 420HC, especially any from Buck, is about perfect if that is what you plan to do with a knife. Stay away from the “super steels” if you plan on abusing the blade by throwing it at trees and cutting through hard wire as they tend to be brittle and their edges chip easily with only mild abuse. That’s my 2c.
  16. Chronovore

    Chronovore Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 29, 2019
    I've been seeing people post about the S30V Buck knives. If they release a design in S30V that really speaks to me, I'll be glad to try it.

    Just looking at BladeHQ, Buck still makes ten times as many knives in 420HC. It continues to be their go-to steel. That's what I'd love to see upgraded. I want to see Buck bring their base models into the modern age by giving a great heat treatment and getting the most out of a better budget steel. Now, I don't know what budget steels can benefit most from the Bos heat treatment versus what is needed to machine them and how much that would all cost. It's just that 420HC is such a low starting point in the modern market. Even at its best, there are limits and competition continues to build.
  17. afishhunter

    afishhunter Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    As mentioned by others, Buck is not the only company that uses 420HC
    Case ("True Sharp"), Boker, and others use it.
    I believe Buck runs theirs a point or so harder than Case and the rest, have a better edge geometry, and the BOS heat treat can't be beat.

    Also, don't throw your knives into trees unless they are an actual throwing knife.
    A throwing knife has a "softer" heat treat, and are designed to bend rather than break when (not "if") they hit wrong. (Even "experts" can be "off" and the handle or part of the spine hits first.)
    Of the actual throwing knives I've seen and owned, they are not designed to cut/slice like a "regular" knife, and truth be told, they didn't hold an edge worth a daRn, if you took the time and made the effort to reprofile the edge to cut/slice. (not surprising, considering the heat treat. They are not designed and built for throwing, not cutting, slicing dicing, or cleaning game, etc. I think my "best" throwing knife was 1060 steel with a Rockwell of between 35 and 45 on the "C" scale. However, it may have been less.

    At the Buck Skinner Rendezvous, I met a couple who competed in the shootin' matches (throwing a 2 pound knife with a 10 to 12 inch blade, and a tomahawk are part of the shootin' match. The throwing "target" is a piece of cord or string across the end grain of a (usually) hardwood stump. You want to cut the cord/string. If you stick in the stump but don't cut the cord, that's counted as a "miss". You usually get/got three tries ... or at least you did when I was going to the rendezvous back in the 1980's) who had custom throwing knives made from un-hardenable low carbon mild steel, like you'd normally find in a car fender, butter knife, fork, or spoon, to avoid the possibility of snapping the blade when it hit wrong. They "held an edge" good enough to "cut" the cord when they got a stick over the cord or string.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2020
    DocJD likes this.
  18. Bigfattyt

    Bigfattyt Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 23, 2007
    I have a bit of fhe ateel snob in me...not going to lie.

    But I do really enjoy Bucks 420HC. It is a great user steel for getting "parlor trick" sharp.

    Honestly. Every buck I have in the steel, I really enjoy.

    It won't have the esge holding of 440c, Ats34, 154 cm (or CPM 154) and many other steels like CPM3v, etc.

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