5160 or 1095

Jun 17, 1999
I'm thinking of having a large camp knife made for me. Which is a better steel for a knife with 8" blade?
My snap choice would be 5160 for its toughness and moderate tendency to rust.

Both can be great though, depending on heat treatment.

Didn't you see the thread on differentially tempered 5160 and 1095 by TallWingedGoat?


[This message has been edited by Steve Harvey (edited 29 July 1999).]
I've been talking to Howard Clark recently, he basically have me convinced that a camp knife made of L-6 steel would be the king of all out tough.

Howard is an ABS Mastersmith, and he does some weird stuff with L-6. He heat treat blades in a salt pot and give them a banite body of HRC 48-50, and a martensite edge of of 57-58.
The L steels are an interesting group, and are being used well by a number of makers, but to deal with your original question -- it is a real toss-up.

They are both fine steels but I vote for #1095 as having more carbon. Nonetheless, both can be wonderful, or can be useless, depending on the heat treatment. Make sure your maker can do it right.

Desert Rat

Rhett- For a camp knife I would definitely recommend 5160 over 1095. Properly heat-treated the 5160 will be easier to sharpen and for a chopping piece will be less prone to brittleness than the 1095. L-6 might not be a bad choice but mine would be 5160.
Dave Ellis, ABs, M.S.

Thanks. My maker recommended 5160. I just wanted a second opinion because I don't know much about steel.
tallwingedgoat: a couple years ago there was a poll of knifemakers on the knifemakers email list, asking which steel would they use for their personal fixed-blade, as the all-around fave steel. L-6 won

Thanks Joe,

Didn't think it was THAT popular because I don't see it offered very often. I think the reason is that they only come in rods and not flats, making it a nightmare for stock removal smiths.