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440c vs 420hc vs 1095

Discussion in 'Traditional Folders and Fixed Blades' started by Rsmith_77, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. Rsmith_77


    Jun 4, 2010
    Ok, i've seen the testing results comparing 440C to 1095
    and i've seen folks stating 440c being more abrasive resistant than 1095

    basically what I am wondering is. How does 420hc compare...does it stay sharper than 1095?
    does it hold a candle to 440c in cutting cardboard etc etc

    oh and i thinking bucks 420hc as compared to case's

    thanks in advance
    Mike Routson likes this.
  2. pistonsandgears

    pistonsandgears Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 12, 2011
    From what I have heard 440c is much better at holding an edge, maybe a little harder to sharpen. I think 420hc and 1095 are similar on edge holding and sharpen ability.
    Mike Routson likes this.
  3. dalee100


    Mar 15, 2008

    I have never really felt there was much to choose from between 440C and 1095 in actual use. Other than the stainless part. 440C is a bit bigger pain in the backside to sharpen than 1095 is. But many have diamond laps these days. So it's not really much of a problem anymore. Still, if you really want to experience sharpening nirvana, rub some old Schrade 1095 on a stone and feel the difference.

    420HC, as is 440A, is a perfectly fine stainless for a traditional slip-joint. Due to the much thinner blades and often full flat grinds, the blades don't feel as if they dull fast. Buck's 420HC is run to a higher hardness, (thanks to the Bose designed heat treatment), than Case does theirs. I have both a Buck 303 and a few Case TruSharp blades. I find them all to be completely satisfactory in edge holding.

    Overall, fancy high-tech blade steels just don't seem to be quite as important to slip-joints as they might be to more modern knives. Often more value is placed on aesthetics rather than superior metallurgy.

  4. pinnah


    Jul 28, 2011
    I have two older Bucks with 440C. They definitely challenge the standard stones in my Lansky. Possible but hard. Edge retention is better. But I struggle to bring an edge back on my strop. Usually need to use a stone to touch them up.

    Bucks 420HC and carbon feel similar when sharpening. Carbon seems to repond to the strop a better for me. But day in day out, I find them roughly comparable.

    I don't like Case's 420HC nearly as well. Seems to hold a burr longer.
    Mike Routson likes this.
  5. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    Buck 420HC holds an edge less well than 1095, assuming roughly the same hardness for both.
    420HC holds an edge less well than 440C, also.
  6. pinnah


    Jul 28, 2011
    Frank, there is a bigger difference between 440c and the other two, no.
  7. bemo


    Oct 19, 2006
    Heh,heh,heh, I was going to post that this is a question for Knarfeng but thought "nah, he's psychic when it comes to finding these threads."

    Out of curiosity Knarfeng, is there a master thread with your steel/edge testing? I very much appreciate the efforts you've gone through to provide this information.
    Mike Routson likes this.
  8. Rsmith_77


    Jun 4, 2010
    man, your killing me...
    i am REALLY wanting to get something in 440C now
    just to see the difference in my daily activities in the warehouse

    was really curious to see if bucks 420HC would be comparable but i wasnt sure
  9. sitflyer

    sitflyer Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 10, 2011
    Bucks 440C was what hooked me on that steel, and there are lots of oldies out there on the secondary market...
    Lately my favorite blades are GEC's in their 440C, their thinner grinds and excellent H.T. Bring out the best in this wonderful alloy ;) it far surpasses 1095 and 420hc in edge holding from my experience...but this is just personal observation.
  10. Rsmith_77


    Jun 4, 2010
    oh dont get me wrong.
    i really enjoy GEC's 1095
    seems to retain its edge noticeably longer than case's cv (although that might be a hardness thing)

    and with knarfang saying 440c is superior to 1095 for edge retention i am just...EXTREMELY curious

    perhaps i need to find me a little 3 - 3 1/4 pen blade with some 440c ;)
  11. sitflyer

    sitflyer Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 10, 2011
    Boker also does a few interesting patterns in that steel...
  12. Rsmith_77


    Jun 4, 2010

    now if only i can find some money after christmas :p
    course valentines day is coming up...then the wife's bday

    GABaus likes this.
  13. sitflyer

    sitflyer Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 10, 2011
    Do you like the stockman pattern Ryan?
  14. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    There isn't a master thread, but you can perform a search using the advanced search function for
    "single content type"
    search type"posts"
    "find threads started by user"
    user "knarfeng"
    forum "knife reviews and testing".

    That will bring up test reports that I put in that forum. There's even one comparing CV to Tru-sharp.

    Valid observation. testing doesn't mean much if it gives results that don't match the real world. With the exception of the results from M390, I don't think my test results have really surprised anyone.
  15. Will Power

    Will Power

    Jan 18, 2007
    I find GEC 440 harder to sharpen than their carbon but it stays sharp a lot longer (not as long as D2)
    GEC carbon retains better than CASE cv but must be harder as the sharpening is longer (sometimes surprisingly tough)
    Böker and Queen carbon seem softer sharpen up VERY keen but don't seem to lose edge quicker than CASE.
    Buck stainless performs very well indeed compared to all the above, just wish it wasn't all sabre ground but that's another matter.

    None of this is exhaustive, scientific just my own user experience. What I do notice is some variance in GEC carbon, some is really quite demanding to sharpen, maybe their hardening varies?
  16. 440C has higher carbon content than 420HC (essentially double), though roughly similar to 1095, and much higher chromium content than either of those two. In addition to the corrosion-resistance afforded by some of the chromium, the extra carbon + extra chromium accounts for a greater carbide content (chromium carbide, specifically) in 440C, which makes it more abrasion-resistant. That also means it's a bit harder to sharpen by conventional means, like natural (Arkansas) stones in particular. It will respond very nicely to diamond and silicon carbide, and should also do alright on aluminum oxide.

    420HC is sort of a 'middle ground' steel in between 440C and 1095, in terms of ease of sharpening. Lesser carbon content, and just enough chromium to make it stainless, but not significantly tougher to sharpen. Less carbon than 1095 (about half), which means it might not hold an edge as well as 1095 (carbon is what primarily accounts for edge-holding, in addition to decent heat treat). The lower carbon and presence of chromium also lends itself (usually) to making the steel a little more ductile, especially at lower hardness values. That ductility tends to make for some more stubborn burrs on the edge, which won't break off as easily.

    1095 is the easiest to sharpen, because it has nothing in it to make hard carbides (like vanadium or chromium, or other alloying elements). Obviously, the lack of any chromium also means this steel has no corrosion-resistance as well. The lack of carbides also simplifies the grain of the steel, so it tends to be very fine (carbides are usually larger & bulkier). Finer grain lends itself to extremely fine edges and great slicers.

    So, to summarize:

    If you're looking for better wear/abrasion-resistance and high corrosion resistance -> 440C
    If you want ease of sharpening and very fine edges -> 1095
    If you desire a good compromise between corrosion-resistance and ease of sharpening -> 420HC.

    Last edited: Jan 4, 2013
  17. C_Becker


    Oct 7, 2012
    I really like 440C and 1095, they're two of my favorite steels.
    420HC is a steel I actively avoid, it's harder to sharpen than 1095 and holds its edge worse.
    Compared to 440C it holds an edge way worse, and isn't that much better to sharpen.
    So basically it doesn't have any advantages against the other two steels.
  18. pinnah


    Jul 28, 2011
    Yes, this is what I notice. But, I also find that 420HC is closer to carbon steel than it is to 440C in terms of ease of sharpening (for me, on my Lansky, with normal stones). For me (and my Lansky) there is a very noticeable jump when I move to 440C.

    This perfectly describes my experience with Case's TruSharp (420?? at around 55 RC, iirc) and Buck's 420HC (around 58 RC, iirc). My Buck's clean up very easily (just a bit toothier than carbon) but the TruSharp forms a new burr if I sneeze.
  19. 440C holds sort of a unique distinction in my mind. It was the steel with which I first noticed the sizeable drawbacks of sharpening with natural stones (Arkansas). When I first tried it (on an older Buck '2-dot' 112 in 440C), it seemed the natural stones barely scratched the stuff. But there was a distinct threshold change, when I first used silicon carbide (wet/dry paper) on it. SiC eats 440C like candy, which surprised me after fighting it so hard on the natural stones. And I do agree, 420HC 'feels' very similar to 1095 and other simpler steels (440A) on the hones. The burrs of Case's 420HC are the biggest drawback to those, but I've gotten fairly comfortable in cleaning them up (via repetition and practice, practice, practice; I have a lot of Case SS blades :D ).

    Last edited: Jan 4, 2013
  20. akadave2

    akadave2 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 21, 2008
    Ive always considered 420 series steel to be the pot metal of blade steels. I believe 1095 keeps an edge longer and gets sharper. I think 420 is used because its cheap and easy to stamp into blades. 440C with a good heat treat is acceptable but I dont like it better than 1095

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