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To me, 440C is THE BEST for small, practical and usable "pocket knives".
What I mean by "pocket knives" are those that can survive sweaty pockets, hold a respepctable edge, be returned to razor sharp easily, and can stand up to general and practical use use without worries of dreaded rust. You know, clean a fish, cut a steak, etc. without having to wipe it off until the next morning (or even after)
With ATS34 and 154C, you better have Tuf-Cloth nearby.
I seek out knives with these qualities and just ordered a Klotski for the above reason (440C).
[This message has been edited by Bill McWilliams (edited 08 March 1999).]
About 15 years ago I use to make knives by the stock-removal method and the steel that I used the most was 440-C. Primarily, I made small 2 1/2-4" fixed blades and never had one customer who said that he didn't like the steel. I believe proper heat-treat is the one single most important aspect of a quality knife.
Personally, I don't use stainless steels anymore in customs that I buy and that is because they are hard to sharpen and don't keep their edge long enough for me. Now, I use carbon and Damascus blades and they just seem to cut forever and they are so easy to re-sharpen (if properly forged) and mine definetely are. I have tested most of the stainless steels in use today and IMHO 440-C can hold its own! I think it is best suited for small folders that will be used and for blades to be used in a wet climate or around sea water. I don't think they are good for big knives or long blades. Just my opinion.