420HC stainless vs 440

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by OMEGA DOOM, Aug 4, 2004.



    Jul 18, 2004
    is 420HC stainless any better then 440 c

  2. No 420HC is much less quality than 440C. Do a search or two and you will see much information on this subject.
  3. Jeff Clark

    Jeff Clark

    Apr 27, 1999
    440C is a harder and more wear resistant steel. One of the reasons that Buck knives stopped using it was that their customer's had trouble getting it sharp. Buck first went to 425M, but this still gave their customers sharpening problems. Most recently they went to 420HC as their standard steel because it was easier to sharpen than 425M. That still wasn't giving their customers the cutting performance that they wanted so Buck went to a thinner hollow grind blade profile that they called Edge 2000. Now an average guy can get a high performing edge. It won't stay sharp as long as 440C, but for most people it will be sharper.

    I am one of those guys who cursed the original 440C in Buck knives. I was good at sharpening, but no matter what I did it would never take the type of razor edge that I insist on for my knives. I developed a lifelong prejudice against the 440 series steels back in the 1960's. They are very heavy in chrome and to me take second rate edges. They are my least favorite. I even like them less than ATS134/154CM which I also dislike for the same reasons. 420HC is OK in a knife that I don't expect to stay sharp during the process of skinning an elk. For example it would be OK if I was only hunting deer.
  4. GarageBoy


    May 23, 2003
    BM's 440C takes a fine edge, but quickly becomes utility sharp and stays that way
  5. J.Davey


    Feb 10, 2004
    My Benchmade TSEK had a 440C blade and I have no trouble getting it shave sharp. I start with a DMT diamond stone, go on to fine Sharpmaker sticks, and finish off with a cardboard stropping. It may seem like a hassel to some, but when it comes to sharpening you get out of it what you put into it.
    flip888 likes this.
  6. ivan_yulaev


    Oct 20, 2003
    Both are good, easy to sharpen steels, and both will take a cutting edge. I was particulalry impressed with my Old Timer's 420HC, it took a shaving edge very quickly and kept it even after a good bit of package opening.
  7. guy g

    guy g Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 22, 2000
    both have real good corrosion resistance and would be appropriate for croc or shark hunting.
  8. Daniel Koster

    Daniel Koster www.kosterknives.com Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 18, 2001
    you'll never find a quality custom knife made of 420HC. ;)
  9. Grateful

    Grateful Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 5, 2002
    420HC is a long way from any kind of super steel but it is servicable and works well for a lot of regular users. I have a BM with 440c and it holds a good edge. It holds a better edge than my BUCK 110 with 420HC but not by a great margin. It really depends on the heat treat. BUCK's 420HC is pretty good,others I really can't say. I like 420HC much better than 440A.


    Jul 18, 2004

    :) thx you
  11. ColoradoDave


    Dec 28, 2002
    Makes me feel a *lot* better hearing you say that, Jeff. I just recently drafted into service an old Camillus-contract Buck Cadet from my collection—a knife I've had since the mid-70's—and finally got around to reprofiling it to my liking. I never used the knife much because it was so difficult to sharpen (back in those days of my relative knife ignorance) plus I'd already become reluctant to work a slipjoint really hard, since a lot of 'em back then wouldn't hold up to all the stress involved in being heavily worked on a stone.

    As it turns out, this is one super-tough slipjoint, and now that it's been reprofiled to ~12°/side is an absolutely ruthless cutter, with edge retention that's really pretty amazing.

    I only wish now I hadn't given away the Buck folding hunter I had from the same era.

    Anyway, point being, 440C with a good heat treat totally eclipses 420HC IMO.

  12. nozh2002

    nozh2002 Banned BANNED

    Jun 9, 2003
    It will be interesting to know when actually Buck stoped using 440C. It was introduced in 1964, but Edge 2000 is (I assume) from 2000.

    Thanks, Vassili.


    Dec 8, 2003
    No comparison - 440c properly heat treated is up there with ATS34 etc esp. around water esp. salt water.
  14. MelancholyMutt

    MelancholyMutt Doggy Style

    Apr 13, 2002
    420 is better than 440 in instances where frequent or constant contact with sea water occurs.


    Dec 8, 2003
    I was comparing 440c with ATS34 as far as "sea water" is concerned. The reason 420 is better around sea water is because it has no carbon to speak of.
  16. swingshot


    May 19, 2003
    In a lot of cases you won't find a good production knife with 420HC Either.

    Avoid Cold Steel's 420HC at all costs.

    440C is still a pretty good steel.
  17. Danbo

    Danbo Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Nov 28, 1999
    440C, properly heat treated, is good stuff. Forget the 420 crap.
  18. shootist16

    shootist16 knife law moderator Moderator

    Dec 25, 1998
    I had heard that another reason Buck went to 420 was that it was easier to stamp out the blades. 420 was "easier" to mass produce. Can anyone confirm this?
  19. Daniel Koster

    Daniel Koster www.kosterknives.com Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 18, 2001
    That is correct and Buck is not the only company to realize this benefit.
  20. Jeff Clark

    Jeff Clark

    Apr 27, 1999
    When you want to stamp out blades you need them to be as soft as possible in the annealed state. If all you have in your alloy is iron, carbon, and chrome it will be relatively easy on your stamping dies when annealed. Both the 420 and 440 types fit the bill. Alloys with molybdenum or vanadium are harder on your dies. Buck could have used 440A as well as 420HC for mass production. The 420 series are easier to take to a sharp edge and that probably came into play.

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