A2 steel, knife snob

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Oct 19, 2004
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I admit, I'm a snob. I recently got into knives at a gun show where a guy sold me a Al Mar SERE Operator with S30V. He told me it was the newest best steel used in knives today. I got the knife home and started experiencing with it cutting paper, cardboard, tennis balls, etc. and was very pleased with it's performance. I did research on the internet, (which happens to be how I found this site) and found that many agree that S30V is the "good stuff."

However, I've also seen certain people who talk with high regards to D2, as well as A-2 steel. The Rc of all these, to my knowledge is about 60-62. I went ahead and purchased a Ka Bar D2 Extreme and love it. I'm wondering who makes a good, reasonably priced knife with A-2 steel? And, what is the Rc of A-2 steel? What is the ultimate steel used in knives today? What manufacturers have knives with the hardest Rc? From what I read, A-2 is the toughest steel used in knife making. I'm looking for a knife with ultimate edge hoding, and sharpness, so I'd like a hollow grind. If anybody has any experience with knives made from A-2, your input would be appreciated.

P.S. I'm not the Chuck Buck, my name is Charlie Buckalew (aka Chuck Buck) and didn't realize the other guys name when I chose a screen name. No mockery or disrespect intended.

Thank you

Charlie
 
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Jun 10, 2003
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You seem to measure steel just by the hardness but there's lots more to consider. In choosing a steel for blades you should look at how the knife will be used.Decide if you want stainless.Will the knife be used for just cutting or impact like a machete. Will it be a 'survival' knife which might be 'abused' ?Any steel can be heat treated to various hardness levels. For a non-stainless A2 is excellent, for stainless S30V is the king thogh D2 is great too.
 
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Oct 4, 1998
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Bark River Knife and Tool uses A2 for their knives. The ultimate blade steel IMO is CPM 3V.

Jack
 
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donovan said:
Bark River Knife and Tool uses A2 for their knives. The ultimate blade steel IMO is CPM 3V.

Jack

yup, try bark river knife and tool. Mike Stewart has a VERY loyal following, offers great pricing and his convex edges are very well regarded.

brkt has a forum over at KFC.
 
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Mar 26, 2004
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The ultimate steel? D2 and 154CM are excellent for slicers (154cM needs cryo treatment), as is S30V. The higher the rc of a knife, the more brittle it is - S30V tends to be tougher than D2, although D2's properties seems to vary a lot with the heat treat. A2 is an excellent steel, but M2 is very wear resistant - M2 is a high speed tool steel best used for small knives. It is very wear resistant and can be made with a very thin edge. L6 (bandsaw steel) and the German saw steel that John Greco uses (8670, I think) are probably the knigs of tough.
 

Esav Benyamin

MidniteSuperMod
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Besides RC, which can vary even within one steel from manufacturer to manufacturer, you have to consider the heat treat, which has to be done right to get the best performance from the steel. You also have to consider blade geometry: is it thick or thin; hollow, flat, or convex ground; does it have a secondary bevel, etc.

For example, Fallkniven using VG-10 and Bark River using A2 both offer convex edges. Both using S30V, Strider offers a flat grind and Chris Reeve offers a hollow grind.

One knifemaker once nearly started a riot here by saying there were only two types of steel: high carbon and stainless. That may be simplifying a bit too much, but he had a point. Deep analysis of the steel is for metallurgists. Scientific testing of each steel at each RC is for the laboratory. A simple folder or small fixed blade may never be used hard enough to stress the steel enough to matter exactly what the composition is.
 
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Feb 16, 2004
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I would agree that you shold try out a Bark River. I have the highland and it holds a great edge, and then sharpens right up on nothing more than a strop. Mike Stewart's A-2 is done very well from what I have read, and my experience with it proves the same. I have had no problems with rust or stains, but I do occasionaly oil the blade to help protect it.
 
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I am only a recent entry into the bizarre and demented world of blade nuts, but from my ignorant viewpoint, I would have to say that VG10 is nearly perfect for almost everything.

It sharpens easily (to a scary degree) and seems to hold the edge very well.

The only knives I have used are VG10, ATS34, SGPS, 8670, 9510 (?-Cold Steel's carbon), unknown, and the inimitable GINSU.

But if a better all around steel than VG10 exists, it would be amazing to me.

:)
 
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Jun 16, 2003
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As has been noted above, it's what the maker does with the material that counts -- heat-treating, grinding, edge goemetry. For example, I have two knives in "Sandvik" SS. One is so soft it needs seemingly endless sharpening. The other, a Helle, is far harder and holds an edge pretty well. You can get an excellent knife in any of the steels mentioned if it comes from an excellent maker.

So much for objectivity. Buy a Bark River knife. You'll be impressed at the bench-made quality for a production knife price. There are several BRKW dealers, all of whom stock what they think the buyers want. Knifeworks has pretty good prices on what they carry.

Good hunting.

Tom
 
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Oct 3, 1998
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Charlie,

I share a fondness for properly heat treated A2 as well. If you're looking for a great field knife, the best I've experienced is the Mission MPK10-A2. The steel has been properly heat treated, impregnated with oil, and coated with AlTin. The handle is very ergonomic made from hydrel/kelvar.

FWIW I've had blades of all sorts of materials (including exotics like Talonite). Each have their advantages and disadvantages. And proper heat treating and geometry can make or break things too. But ultimately one looks for a combination of optimized materials and design implementation. In A2 the Mission achieves that in my book. I've had mine for over 5 years and it remains not only a keeper but a prime user :)

-=[Bob]=-

Not to be forgotten: James Mattis, Walt "Doc" Welch, Rob Simonich
 
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Oct 17, 2003
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Just how tough is A2 with a proper heat treat??? A2 has been known to be tough but i remember reading somewhere that it wasn't all that tough in reality. that it's only relatively tough compared to something like D2.

so would A2 with a proper heat treat approach a proven tough steel like 3V???
 
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Oct 19, 2004
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Yeah, from what information I can get off the web from sites like Cliff Stamps and such, it seems like A2 is really no better than D2 or S30V, definetly not as tough as 3v. But like the people before said, it's all in the heat treating/tempering process, geometry and the intended use of the blade. Any of the steels used by the top manufacturers will do just fine, as long as you don't use the knife for something totally absurd. Like using a small folder with a hollow grind, to chop down small trees, and pry on stuff or whatever. Stuff like that should be saved for a knife with a flat grind and not to hard, maybe 58-59. However, if your using a knife to cut nothing tougher than fishing line, or maybe some form of cloth or something, a hollow grind and higher rc, say 60-62 would be better as it would be sharper and stay that way longer. I dunno, I posted a similar thread a while back and a guy said, "any good manufacturer will use the proper steel for what the knife's size and intended use is" or something to that effect.

I guess that would mean to leave the metallurgy to the scientists, and professionals, and trust them, and also to go with what you've experienced with and determined to be a good product/steel.

As far as intended usage goes, I think it only takes a moderate amount of common sense, not to abuse a quality knife. They were intended to be used, for possibly tough tasks, I would think.

I dunno, I think I'll go with another S30V, as I'm very happy with my Al Mar SERE Operator with S30V, or maybe A2 or M2, maybe if I get real ambitious I'll go for a 3V. Thank you to all the bladeforum members, I learn a lot from this site, I really do. You're all great to "talk" to.
 
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Maybe a tad OT but whats the name of that German steel that is so hard you need a (Need to say this with a Dr. Evil voice, ond make the speech marks motion) 'Laser' (Not necessarily on the moon. Seriously it was mentioned on this forum about a year or so ago, perhaps longer. Like I said a bit OT but I think that won out in toughness but may be a nightmare to keep sharp (if you can get it reasonably in the first place)
 
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Temper said:
Maybe a tad OT but whats the name of that German steel that is so hard you need a (Need to say this with a Dr. Evil voice, ond make the speech marks motion) 'Laser' (Not necessarily on the moon. Seriously it was mentioned on this forum about a year or so ago, perhaps longer. Like I said a bit OT but I think that won out in toughness but may be a nightmare to keep sharp (if you can get it reasonably in the first place)

8670? maybe, L6, I dunno. Feel free to Email me if you think of it!
 
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No, I don't think it was that, Im pretty sure it had a name, and no,before the smart A$$es chime in, it wasnt 'Unobtainium' :D
 
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Temper said:
No, I don't think it was that, Im pretty sure it had a name, and no,before the smart A$$es chime in, it wasnt 'Unobtainium' :D

Unsharpenabilium?

(Ain't 8670. I have a couple of Grecos and they sharpen with hard pressure on "crock stick.")
 
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Feb 24, 2002
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Aaron Riley uses A-@ on the Severtech. I have used one for many years and it gets razor sharp and holds up well.
 
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PErsonally, I hate A2. I have a bunch of knives made from it and they ALL rust at the drop of a hat. If you look at them the wrong way they'll rust. All of my A-2 knives have spots of rust on them regardless of what I do to them to protect them. I have carried my own 1084 knives in my pocket in the summer, sweaty, as neck knives, etc and the rust a LOT less readily. D2 is almost stainless steel. It gets a bit of a patina on it, especially in kitchen/acidic enviroments, but it's just out of bounds to be considered stainless. A2 is tough and it is a good steel for knives, but the rust just drives me crazy.
 
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