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A2 Steel

Discussion in 'Fiddleback Forge Knives' started by thurin, Jan 15, 2015.

  1. thurin

    thurin Wanderer

    Dec 19, 2012
    Since some folks might not read the Instagram thread - you should :) - I thought I'd start a new thread for the discussion around Andy's "Hint" from this morning.


    Original Instagram post is here: http://instagram.com/p/x3_BsVOBMZ/

    So what's everyone's take on A2? I know it generally compares well to O1 but I have no personal experience with it, other than being on the wait list for a SBT in A2 for a few years now and I don't think that counts for much.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
  2. xxwjtxx

    xxwjtxx Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 13, 2013
    Great topic Nathan -- for those of you unfamiliar with the A2 vs 01 debate (bring out the dead horse), the basic takeaways are as follows

    - similar hardness albeit, a2 tends to be a bit harder
    - a2 has a bit (marginally) better rust / oxidation resistance; 01 will patina / oxidize faster
    - some say 01 is easier to sharpen due to its compisition and or A2 may chip easier albeit has better wear resistance, but this is widely subjective given every mfr's HT of the two steels may vary as can the mettalurgic composition of the stock from steel vendor to steel vendor
    - a2 is air quenched; 01 is oil quenched

    IMO both will make fantastic, razor sharp, bushcraft knives, which with a little maintenece and care will last a lifetime. Note a2 is nothing like a stainless despite whatever you may read -- while it may provide marginally better protection in a harsh environment, it is no substitue for 154 when it comes to corrosion protection.

  3. Kirkwood

    Kirkwood Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Seems Andy used A2 fairly often pre-2012. Nowhere near as much as O1. But it popped up quite a bit in those old threads.

    Good discussion here Steel Selection Question? O1 or A2? with input from Andy, Scott Gossman and Carl Reichsteiner. Pretty esteemed group. :thumbup:
  4. thurin

    thurin Wanderer

    Dec 19, 2012
    Beyond the characteristics of A2 (which I hope someone will help me understand), when it comes to Fiddlebacks, we have other things to think about, like what will the finish on the flats be? Can it be spalted like O1? Does it need Fiddletexturing like the stainless? HT scale left on? Hard to tell from the Hint pic.
  5. thurin

    thurin Wanderer

    Dec 19, 2012
    Thanks guys! good info here.
  6. Fiddleback

    Fiddleback Knifemaker Moderator

    Oct 19, 2005
    01 is still my favorite, and going to be the go-to steel at Fiddleback Forge. I'm sprinkling in some A2 so that there are new 'rare' options. That is all. The two are very similar in chemistry and performance. A2 tends to take a flashier spalt.
  7. thurin

    thurin Wanderer

    Dec 19, 2012
    Thanks for the info Andy! I'm interested to try one out.
  8. Kirkwood

    Kirkwood Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    I want to see that flashier spalting. :D
  9. Panthera tigris

    Panthera tigris Street Samurai Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 21, 2012
    I had a Bark River Bravo 1.5 in A2 that had some chipping, but I'm quite certain it was a consequence of edge geometry rather than flaws with the steel itself.

    I've found that a 40 degree inclusive edge on a hard use knife is more robust than most factory edges, including those that have been convexed. I know this analysis would make the bark crew a little incensed, but that is my experience.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2015
  10. dcycleman


    Feb 16, 2009
    I find A2 to be quite a bit more corrosion resistant to 01. You have to work at it to give it a patina. I have also found it to have a bit better edge retention., I have experienced no chipping with a2. (gossman). I feel it sharpens easily , much easier than 3v or the other cpm steels. A2 will not produce a spark from flint while 01 will
  11. schmittie

    schmittie Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2009
    I'm my own personal experience, my one A2 steel knife has out performed every knife I've ever had in edge retention and durability. I know it's only one knife, and HT, grind, etc all play a roll but I would LOVE to have a A2 Fiddleback. I remember when Andy used to make them available here and there. It's going to be nice to see it again. :
  12. MajorD

    MajorD Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 18, 2007
    I'm a big fan of A2. I have more knives in A2 than in any other steel. It's a breeze to sharpen (leather and compound) and holds an edge very well. I've cleaned many a deer on the same edge with just a few passes on the strop. Still hair popping sharp.
  13. catalystman80

    catalystman80 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 1, 2013
    Can't really comment any better than what Will wrote initially, but I too have had very good experience with A2 knives. All of mine are Bark River knives and one LT Wright. In my personal experience, the A2 seems to hold its edge a bit better though can't say from experience whether this translates to it being a little harder to sharpen (but as Will said, there are other variables that are introduced via the manufacturing process). All the A2s I have came with convex zero (though very thick spine as most BRKT tend to be), so I've not found a reason to sharpen and/or reprofile on my stones other than maintenance via stropping. If I were to nitpick, you can't throw sparks off using a flint (not to be confused with ferrocerium rods as that just needs a sharp spine) - but I honestly can't see myself ever needing to use that technique except to practice and show off to my Sunday school kids :D In summary, I'd say it's marginally a better performer than 01 in edge retention, and since 01 is a great steel, so too is A2.
  14. Cimarron56


    Apr 14, 2014
    The following were taken from the A.G. Russell steel composition chart

    Steel Carbon (C) Manganese (Mn) Chromium (Cr) Nickel (Ni) Vanadium (V) Molybdenum (Mo) Tungsten (W)
    O-1....0.85-1.00.....1.00-1.40...........0.40-0.60..........0.30............0.30................ — .........................0.50

    So A2 has much higher chrome content, but not nearly enough to be considered stainless. It also replaces the tungsten in O-1 with molybdenum. Moly does not give the same opportunity for carbide development that tungsten does, but it increases toughness without significantly reducing hardenability so that should offset some of the loss of toughness resulting from the higher chrome content.

    Note: I am not a metallurgist, but I have slept in a few Holiday Inn Expresses in my time!
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2015
  15. FeralGentleman

    FeralGentleman Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 13, 2013
    Looks good. I'm in.

    Attached Files:

  16. Dcaggie06


    Jan 14, 2014
    I'm gonna be quite more definitive than some of yall... A2 is superior to O1 in almost every way especially in capable hands. There! i'm super stoked and must try to nab me a A2 FB.
  17. CapitalizedLiving


    Dec 1, 2007
    I recently made the switch to LT Wright knives (Andy has plenty of business, so no worries right?) and have knives in both O1 and A2 steels. They both perform exactly the same for my purposes, which is mostly cutting vegetation, cleaning fish, and making stuff out of wood. No discernible differences in edge holding, staining, or sharpening. But if they are hardened differently then I would expect the edge holding and sharpening to change quite a bit.
  18. McVeyMac


    Feb 19, 2013
    The only A2 steel that I own is in a BRK. Soon after I got this knife I found Fiddleback Forge. So actually I have not taken it out and kicked the tires on it. I should probably do that though. BRK made a bunch of knives in this steel before venturing out into CPM 3V, M4 and others. I would even say BRK built his reputation using A2 steel.
  19. skyhorse

    skyhorse Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 30, 2010
    My thoughts exactly. :thumbup:
  20. crex


    Oct 4, 2002
    Because of the extra chrome and moly, A2 is more finicky when forged. Other than that, both are workhorse steels that only require a good thermal cycle recipe and attention to edge geometry to outshine most other forgable steels. Since O1 is more easily obtainable and forges so well, it's my favorite.
    (of course forging quality/characteristics aren't Andy's primary concern)
    Personally, they are pretty much like tractors - with all things being reasonably equal, it comes down to paying extra for JD Green (paint).

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