AG Russell wants alloy suggestions

Apr 27, 1999
A.G. Russell is considering making some batches of his highly popular Deer Hunter fixed blade knife in alternate alloys as sort of a test vehicle. He has been having them made with 8A (AUS-8) and ATS-34. It sounds like VG-10 is likely to be next. He's been thinking of trying some others like D2, M2, or Cowrie (a Japanese powder metal). He is actively soliciting alloy suggestions from knife lovers.

I was delighted with his idea and asked his permission to pose the question on the Blade Discussion Forum. He gave me his blessing.

I already asked if BG42 was an option. The answer was "no" that would be too expensive. I think one of the issues is that the alloys have to be economical in Japan where the knives are built.

I really love the design of the Deer Hunter. It is really a high efficiency "hunter's knife". The handle and blade designs are really utilitarian. The blade is particularly thin which makes them cut like demons for game processing. I'd just love to compare how the design worked with VG-10 verses D2 verses M2. What would you guys like to see?

Here's a link to the knife:

[This message has been edited by Jeff Clark (edited 01-04-2001).]
Well, if BG42 is not an option, D2 would be nice. Properly heat treated D2 ground thin like that would be an awesome cutter. 440V maybe? CPM3V would be even more awesome.

Danbo, soul brother of Rambo
I really liked the cutting ability of the Deerhunter but the performance of the steel was not even decent on the one that I used.
CPM-10V would be nice, but very costly. 3V would be cheaper, make the edge finer than the current one. M2 would be interesting as well, but really push on the hardness, get it up around 66 RC, its not like you are chopping with it and the strength and wear reistance would be excellent.

from the initial post it sounds to me like they are only interested in using steel made in Japan....and I would certainly agree that paying the shipping and duties is prohibitive....thus the Crucible steels would be out of the question as well as D2, unless it is made in Japan also. This I dont know....but the options arent as wide open as some here would think!
The Deerhunter is one of my favorite knives of all time, and I'd love to see it
used as a steel test bed. I just responded directly in AG's forum, but to recap:

D-2 is my top choice for the next version.

After that, as far as non-stainless steels, I'd like to see 52100. If that's not
possible, A-2, M-2, 50100-B, and L-6 all sound interesting.

Stainless-wise, I'm not all that interested in anything but BG-42 or the
Crucible steels. If neither of those are doable, I'm not interested in any more
stainless Deerhunters, unless there's some super interesting stainless floating
around Europe or Japan that isn't available here, and AG thinks is especially

I also mentioned that AG might consider a Steel Lover's Package Discount
or something like that, for anyone who wants to buy multiple versions.


[This message has been edited by Joe Talmadge (edited 01-04-2001).]
I figure A2, D2, and M2 are pretty universal materials for the machine tool industries and would be available in Japan. They might not have the same names, but they'd be there. A bigger issue would be if the knife factories in Moki could find the right dimensioned stock and could work with them.
I'd love to see someone try that Cowrie supersteel in a production knife.
M2 is fantastic! D2 is very very good as well!

1. M2
2. D2
3. VG-10

All very good steels!


"To strive to seek to find and not to yield"
Ranger motto
It would be wonderful if someone were to post the designations and elemental compositions of steels available in Japan.

I have an interesting suggestion (maybe)...
Marbels uses 52100...but from what I see, it isn't heat-treathed as Ed fowler does.
Since 52100 is economically available everywhere, and it's a fairly cheap alloy compared to VG-10 or BG-42, I suggest this steel, and invest the money left in a proper heat-treath with cryo-quench.
Since you are looking for thin edged hunting knives, this steel is unbeatable for all I can say, but it also has the smallest grainsize I can imagine, which makes it easier to get it to a thin edge and scary sharp.
You can discuss this with me over E-mail if you wish, then I have something to do besides sitting on my desk and studying.

greetz, Bart.

"If the world wouldn't SUCK, we'd all fall off !"

You can E-mail me at any time....guaranteed reply !

member of the BKS
I came across this while looking around Carpenter Technology's website. Sounds kinda interesting, but I have no clue as to availability. From their website;

440-XH (tm)

(Nominal Analysis)
1.60 C, 0.50 Mn, 0.40 Si, 16.00 Cr, 0.35 Ni, 0.80 Mo, 0.45 V

Air hardening, high carbon, high chromium, corrosion resistant alloy which can be described as either a high hardness
Type 440C stainless steel or a corrosion resistant D2 tool steel. Possesses corrosion resistance equivalent to Type
440C stainless but can attain a maximum hardness of 64 HRC, approaching that of D2 tool steel.

Other than that, D2 sounds nice too.
An ingot steel with 1.6C and 16 Cr sounds brittle to me. Do they include any charpy or other toughness data?

52100 does sound interesting. By the way Bart student the Marble Arms catalog and Jason Stewart say that they use a mult-quench heat treatment with cryo-quench. They are a production company so their heat treatment batches are larger. You won't find the quality of a custom job, but they have one of the best factory heat treatments around.
Jeff, AUS-8A. I would be interested in 52100 as well. Have never used it, but continue to hear good things about it.

Walt, I too would like to see Japanese AND European steelcompositions. I have found Cowry X's and Cowry Y's compositions and those look good to me.

I'd suggest German powdersteels like Böhler K190PM (2,2C 13Cr 1Mo 3,8V). Forum fellow AchimW uses it in some of his customs. I don't have a clue how much K190PM costs.

"Good tools to sustain life, or at least make life more convenient"
-James Mattis
After reading the initial post, i think that the K190PM would be too expensive. It is a very good powdersteel which costs about half the price of the CPM S60V and S90V over here in europe.
As Böhler is an international operating enterprise, maybe you can ask their branch in the production country if and at which price it is available.

For those that are interested of Cowry steels and haven't found composition:
Cowry X: C 3%, Cr 20%, Mo 1% and V 0,3% hardness 66-68.
Cowry Y: C 1,25%, Cr 14,5%, Mo 3%, V 1% and Nb 0,3% Hardness 62-67.

BTW my source (company that sells and heat treats Böhler tool steels in Finland tells that K190PM max hardness is 62-67 when oil quenched.(Their English page don't offer hardness information and heat treat recipe)

AchimW, What is the hardness you use in K190 blades? I think that Cowry steels announced hardnesses are comparaple to this hardness announced to Böhlers Steel. So the hardness used in knifeblades is lower? Am I wrong?

"Good tools to sustain life, or at least make life more convenient"
-James Mattis