Ats-34- does it chip easily or is it just me?

Jun 20, 1999
All of the Benchmade models I own are constructed with ATS-34 steel and they chip very easily- explanation?
Perception. I have been using Benchmade ATS-34 folders hard and long, and I have never had edge chipping problems, though I acknowledge that they are not as tough as they could be. What are you doing with the knives that is resulting in the chipping?

Not all ATS-34 behaves that way either. I have a few custom made ATS-34 blades that are much tougher, though they don't all hold an edge as well as the Benchmade blades do.

[This message has been edited by Steve Harvey (edited 22 June 1999).]

I was using the my AFCK to slash at a cop who was tryin to arrest me and the blade struck his badge, JUST KIDDING! Actually I was opening a package and the upper part of the blade hit a metal object inside the box, and there you have it, a chip.
I have never had any problems with my ATS34 blades chipping. My Genesis (my original) has held up nicely and my custom drop point hunter (made by Corduroy) hasn't ahd any problems, either. I even went so far to examine Cord's knife under a magnifying glass to look for micro chips after chopping some small branches, cutting rope and whittling a 2X4 and couldn't find any. I'm very happy with my ATS34 blades. Must be the heat treatment

Also, read Steven Dick's editorial in this month's issue of TK. It's very interesting...he talks about ATS34 vs some of the exotic steels and makes some interesting points.


Did you regrind the edge? Do you know what the edge angle is at? I have reground my edges to a 17 to 20 degree angle and have had no problems with chipping. If you have a angle thinner than that, maybe that is your problem.
I chipped the very point on a mini AFCK trying to fish out a small wire in a narrow space. I know it was was a stressfull situation for a thin point,but it did seem to chip with little effort.I noticed that when the knife was brand new the very tip was discolored to a blue.Apparently overheated when factory edge was ground.That would've made the tip softer would'nt it?Anyway I have never had any other problems(except light rust in my pocket)with ATS34.I actually like the steel quite a bit.
scott w
I have had Spydies with ATS-34 blades and used them for years. Never had a problem with them. In other threads on this, some have suggested that the heat treatment, drawing, and tempering may be the problem. The Spydie catalogue points out that if the blade is too hard, it will be brittle and that is why tempering is so important.

Walk in the Light,
My experience:

Yes, Benchmades in ATS-34 chip easily. No, ATS-34 doesn't always do that. I am convinced Benchmade has gone too far in the direction of edge-holding at the cost of toughness.

I snapped the point on my AFCK so long ago that I don't remember it, doing nothing terribly tough. Most of the AFCKs, Leopards, and Spikes that I have seen carried by friends and knife-store customers had similar damage. I'd call it epidemic. Edge chipping and loss of serrations are not that uncommon, either.

My own knives in ATS-34 have performed quite differently, which I feel may be because they are slightly softer. Though they have shown good edge-holding, I have had no chipping even on a large "combat machete" that I used to cut hardwood, coins, and even aluminum barstock. The barstock caused some edge deformation but not chips. Also, my ATS-34 feels and sounds very different when sharpening compared to Benchmade's.

Conclusion: Same steel, so the difference must be in the heat treatment (yes, the geometries differ, too, but the bevels themselves area ground at the same angles and by the same methods, provided I have sharpened the Benchmade). My guess is Benchmades are "too hard" for most users' demands. Benchmade themselves says they stress edge-holding very strongly... perhaps too much so?

They can still be some darn fine knives (including my favorite), of course. Just if I had my druthers they'd be softer or in a different steel.


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)
here we go again....dont know where they heat treat but this is THE critical area for getting the most out of the steel...also... the way they are stated above...very thin equals more likely to chip, in my experience with ats...which is considerable...i have found it very tough at high hardness.....but the edge rolls a little, which tends to make me think it is not likely to chip...but the heat treat is critical...especially in larger companies... where batch to batch can be inconsistant.. i am NOT saying this is in fact the problem with benchmade...just pointing out a possible cause......
Soloman, they are too hard. ATS-34 is promoted as having better edge holding than 440C, what they don't tell you is that for the same reason its also more brittle. Thaddeus discussed this is some detail and started a large thread on it here a few months ago.

If Benchmade lowered the RC a couple of points then they could increase the durability and the edge would stop chipping. However a lot of people regards higher RC as being simply better so I doubt that is going to happen any time soon.

What I don't understand about their knives is the direct contrast in geometry and blade material in terms of intended goals. They are in opposition.

The thinner edges made of ATS 34 do tend to chip easier. The only BM I've ever chipped was my old 970 Emerson CQC7 that has the thin chisel chicken.

I chipped both the plain and serrated part of my p/s mini-AFCK. Nothing I couldn't sharpen away on the plain part, but my mini-AFCK was definitely a touch more brittle than, say, the gin-1 delica that it replaced (no big surprise, I don't think). With ATS-34 being so widespread, it's to be expected to see a reasonably wide range of heat treats. I've seen really really tough ATS-34, and some that's a bit brittle.