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440c and n690 co the same steel?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by harkamus, Feb 12, 2010.

  1. harkamus


    Apr 23, 2007
    Is it just me or are these steels the same? I'm trying to figure out because I'm eyeing a knife that is listed as 440c on some sites and n690 co on other sites.
  2. 3Guardsmen


    Mar 16, 2005
    They're not the same steel. They are similar in terms of C and Cr content, but 440C has no Cobalt, unlike N690Co. I'm quessing you were looking at a "red class" Benchmade knife of some sort.;)

    Benchmade switched between 440C and N690Co on a few of their red class models.
  3. harkamus


    Apr 23, 2007
    Nope. I was looking at a new Fox Cutlery karambit liner lock that has a wave feature. I suppose in this case I hope it's n690 co and not 440c.

  4. 3Guardsmen


    Mar 16, 2005
    Good to know. Fox Cutlery uses N690Co pretty religiously, even in their OEM work, so my guess would be that the site that listed the steel as 440C was wrong. I'm guessing the knife you're looking at actually uses N690Co, and not 440C. You could try contacting Fox via email for a more definitive answer.
  5. A.P.F.

    A.P.F. Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 3, 2006
    3Guardsmen is right on the money with his comments. Fox loves N690Co as do I.
  6. Mad_Maxx


    Nov 29, 2007
    fox unfortunately uses n690, the karambit is made with N690co, Fox Cutlery and Lion Steel use it very often, unfortunately here in Italythe steel is very fashy also because of the Extrema Ratio thing,unfortunately it's not a great or even good steel,it's just not bad

    ER has a great marketing strategy, unfortunately many tests prove that N90co is not a hard use steel not only being stainless and not cabon but because i'ts "good" only for small knives and not for hard use ones.
    I've seen too many test of n690 steeled knives fail and have personally and with some italian forumites tested to see how they performed.
    I'd like to give a personal suggestions to many US forumites, if you like the design ok, buy them but if you plan to use thembuy a real hard use knife, learned this also here on BF
    cheers from Italy
  7. DennisStrickland

    DennisStrickland Banned BANNED

    Jun 24, 2009
    some time back i saw n690 cataloged as separate from n690co. whether a mistake or not reference to steel chart only shows n600 with cobalt. i've found n690 with colbalt to be similar to vg10 & a very decent performer. however with out cobalt i would expect this alloy to be marginal.
  8. Mad_Maxx


    Nov 29, 2007
    n690 is n690co
  9. Smash05


    Jul 16, 2007
    What would you consider a hard use steel so I know where you are coming from?
  10. Mad_Maxx


    Nov 29, 2007
    well we usually chop and baton with knives and we cut, we did nyon rope cutting tests and the ER performed bad, a forumite compared a ER con the USMC wich performed better in curring, stabbing, batonig, cutting tires, wodd even cutting fish and paper

    hard use can be various, no stupid tests but the ER performed very bad even for tasks that are usual for a knife

    i'll try to post some pics, i can already tell you the ER performed OK, worse than the USMC but OK, i it costed 1/3rd it would be an ok knife, it's not good for what they cost

    Lion Steel made some knives for fox, one being a licensed copy of the NEXUS Caio (some here know the NEXUS knives) made of n690, it broke right after some wood choppind and batoning, first the edge CHIPPED then with little trouble ine of our testers managed to break it, no abuse, just hard use as could occur in a survival situation

    oh and I'm italian, MCKF forum member :D if that's what you were asking :thumbup:

    i'm not starting a fight or whatever, spend your money on what you want, just don't be blinded from ER and n690co steel, my 2 cent on this

    cheers and stay sharp
  11. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    N690 is not the same as 440C. The compositions are different. The performance is different. In my side-by-side comparisons cutting manila rope N690 held an edge better than 440C. The edge retention performance of N690 was similar to that of 154CM and VG10. In my opinion N690 takes a finer edge than 440C, though I can't measure the difference.

    Neither 440C nor N690 is a suitable alloy for a chopper. Either would be excellent for a cutter.
  12. Gator97

    Gator97 Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 10, 2000
    Nope, 2 different steels, see for yourself 440C vs. N690 composition comparison.
    There's alternate names for both too.
  13. harkamus


    Apr 23, 2007
    Well to put it fairly, who buys a karambit for hard use? Honestly, there are better blades out there with a better blade shape for utility purposes.

    This one will reside in my pocket for if and when I run out of bullets if shit hits the fan and a situation (self defense) warrants it (the use of a gun for self defense). For that purpose even 440c would be decent. You don't need super steel for self defense...just a brain and training.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2010
  14. Mad_Maxx


    Nov 29, 2007
    for self defense it's OK, any steel even 440A would be good, I was talking about n690co for hard use military knives or hard use knvives NOT only meant as fighters

  15. harkamus


    Apr 23, 2007
    Point taken, but I thought I made it clear when I posted the pic, it wouldn't be a hard use military knife.

    Anyway, I'm with you on hard use. For hard use I'd want something at least along the lines of d2 or better.
  16. dogboye

    dogboye Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 23, 1999

    What knarfeng said. Of the two, I'd take N690 over 440C, but just marginally. I, too, feel that 690 takes a finer edge. I have one knife of 690, and it is one of my GO-TO knives for hunting/field-dressing. My other is Fallkniven VG-10. This is over 154CM, S30V, D2, ATS-34, A2, AUS-8, and quite a few others. All these being from well known and respected makers, both factory and custom. N690 is an EXCELLENT user steel, but I would not use either it or 440C for a large chopper-type blade.
  17. Gator97

    Gator97 Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 10, 2000
    Spyder, how do you sharpen them? And what is the final grit you use?
  18. KarlMaldensNose


    Feb 3, 2009
    That is one of the main reasons I decided to sell my Spyderco Hossom Forager before I used it even once. Thing I don't understand is why Jerry Hossom, who one would assume is quite knowledgeable about steel, would either recommend or simply abide by the use of this steel in his large chopping knives. I have read reports of Spyderco Hossom blades chipping out with hard chopping.
  19. mete

    mete Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    Mad Maxx, there are a number of different melting methods used for N690 so you can have the same composition but different melting practices thus different names[N690 vs N690Co] .Offhand I don't remember the details.
    I'm carrying a TOPS knife made by Fox .I find the N690 steel to be similar to VG-10 or 154CM. I'm very happy with the knife though it's for EDC not 'hard' use. BTW the Fox folder has lower hardness than the TOPS though the same steel.
  20. Jerry Hossom

    Jerry Hossom Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 1, 1999
    I've not heard of this happening, and I'd be interested to read about how it happened and what was being cut at the time. Do you have a link to a review that discusses this?

    N690Co contains Cobalt to retard crack propagation, thus the "Co" at the end. It's good steel, made by Boehler in Austria, and I'm a little surprised to hear about the failures people have experienced. That said, high alloy steels are fairly demanding in their heat treating process so it's possible someone screwed that up on a batch of blades. True, stainless steels are not as tough as many non-stainless steels, but then too they don't lose their edge due to rust as can easily happen with tool steels kept in a wet sheath or used to cut corrosive materials.

    To their credit, there are a great many stainless steel blades being used everyday by military personnel in hostile environments and challenging applications and those users are less than tolerant of equipment failure, particularly those in special operations. In fact Spartan Blades which is owned and run by a couple ex-Special Forces guys use S30V in all their blades and supply a great many of them to Special Forces personnel at Ft Bragg. Strider also uses S30V and many of their knives are used in combat operations. Chris Reeves Special Forces knives are S30V as well, so stainless is not synonymous with failure. Poor design and poor heat treating certainly are.

    All the Spyderco knives I designed use a heavy convex edge made expressly for chopping. The edge is thick at the top of the convex, ~0.040-0,050", and would take considerable lateral force on a hard object (not wood) to chip or crack, but there's no doubt a person who wants to break a knife, any knife, can do so. Personally, I've not heard of one of the Spyderco knives failing.

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