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5160 vs. L6 vs. S7 Tool Steel

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by flatgrinder, Feb 9, 2007.

  1. flatgrinder


    Dec 20, 2005
    Which one is tougher?

    Which one takes a better edge?

    Which one cuts longer?

    The intended application is a 7 to 8 inch camp knife. I'm kinda leaning towards 5160 (differentialli quenched) as this is what a lot of people have used in the past. However, I'm curious as to L6 and S7's properties.

    Which one would you choose and why? Any info would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks! :thumbup:
  2. Phillip Patton

    Phillip Patton KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jul 25, 2005
    On paper, S7 is the toughest, then probably L6. I've never seen impact test data for 5160, so I can only make an uneducated guess.
    Judging by carbon content alone, I would guess the L6 would cut longer.
  3. Larrin


    Jan 17, 2004
    S5 is both harder and tougher than S7, but it is an oil hardening steel and you can usually only find it in round bar. You might find a source for 9260 flat stock, which is S5 with less alloy. 5160, L6, and S5 can all easily reach 60 Rc, but that's pushing it for S7. I would be as interested as anyone else in edge retention comparisons between 5160, L6, and others. The bottom line is, though, use the one that is easiest to get or work with, because all have successfully been used in choppers.
  4. Bruce Evans

    Bruce Evans

    Sep 26, 1999
    I agree that either 5160 or L-6 will work for you....I use mostly 5160 on everthing,but if I had a source for L-6 as available as my 5160 I would it allot more also.I have never used S7 so I cannot compare it to the others.
  5. jdm61

    jdm61 itinerant metal pounder Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 12, 2005
    The 1 X 1/4 "5160' that Admiral sells is actually 9260 in that size only.
  6. IronWolf


    Apr 3, 2004
    Check out the 8670M form Admirals(listed as L6 on the web page, but they have it correct on the PDF you can order from) It will make a great chopper, and does not have the air hardening troubles that L6 can. Much easier to soften for grinding and drilling.

    Ken Nelson
  7. Don Hanson III

    Don Hanson III KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 3, 2002
    My choice would be L6. 5160 is tough but in my experience L6 will hold an edge longer and is also very, very tough. I have no use for S7.
  8. Danbo

    Danbo Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Nov 28, 1999
    I like the way Don is thinking on this issue. L6 is one of my favorite steels. :thumbup:
  9. Bruce Evans

    Bruce Evans

    Sep 26, 1999
    I have to agree that L-6 is a better edge holding steel than 5160.I just use 5160 most because I have 1500 pounds of it,not much need in anymore steel for a long time:D :D :D L-6 would be my first choice otherwise.

  10. flatgrinder


    Dec 20, 2005
    Thanks for all the replies! It's been really informative.

    Looks like L6 would be the way to go, however I can't find any L6 in flat bar stock. I'm currently using stock removal to make knives, so I can't forge down any round bar.

    I'm going to try some 5160, and when I finally get a place where I can forge, I'll try some L6.

    Thanks again for the replies!:thumbup:
  11. Terry_Dodson


    Jul 10, 2002
    Has anyone used 8670M form Admiral Steel? How does it compare to other L-6's?
  12. Phillip Patton

    Phillip Patton KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jul 25, 2005
    After making several test blades from 8670, I've decided not to use it for a knife all by itself, but I think it's great for mixing with 1084, 1095, or W2 in damascus.
  13. Barkes Knife Shop

    Barkes Knife Shop

    Jan 2, 2006
    I believe that L6 will hold a better edge than 5160. But I like using 52100, 1095, myself but that's me. It's all in the maker hand at the end of the job.

    Barkes :thumbup:

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