BG42 vs. ATS-34?

dogboye

Gold Member
Joined
Nov 23, 1999
Messages
7,054
Just how much difference is there between these two steels? I mean, in practical use? I have heard all about the Vanadium of BG42 making it a finer grained steel. But, how much does this really matter in two custom made knives of the same design, one with ATS-34 and one with BG42? Anyone? Please?

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"Absolute safety is for those who don't have the balls to live in the real world."
 
A lot depends on heat treat. Theoretically BG42 should get sharper and hold it's edge longer. Theoretically it's tougher and cleaner. If both are heat treated well, BG42 should outperform ATS34.

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Johnny
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SOG has begun using BG-42 (ball bearing steel) in a number of it's new knives. The X-42 series use the BG-42 steel.

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Sal Glesser (of Sypderco) said that they tested a lot of steel and BG42 came out extremely high. Tested better than ATS34 or CPM440V, for example. The Sebenza uses it and I have heard nothing but praise about the edge holding ability and how sharp it is. Try a search of the Spyderco forum.

Danny
 
I am just a user, and I find that the ATS-34 seems to hold an edge almost as long as the BG-42 but suffers from edge deformation/chipping. I perfer BG-42 or talonite, but that is my personal choice. I have a Running Dog Pup in BG-42 that is polished like a mirror. I always was told thet BG-42 did not take a polish well, but Mike Murphy seems to be a polishing fool! Mike, that is a good thing!
smile.gif
 
Copfish, are the edge bevels on the BG42 and ATS-34 blades comparable?
The reason that I am being so specific to "users'" experiences is that I am thinking of getting a custom, with BG42 and ATS-34 being possible steels. The BG42 is extra expense, and I'm wondering if it is really worth it.

Thanks, all... keep 'em coming, though, if you have more experiences.

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"Absolute safety is for those who don't have the balls to live in the real world."
 
Note that, as usual in the steel world, not all BG-42 is created equal. The guys at Strider Knives (ATS-34 fans) claim that they've tested BG-42, and found the standard 5/32" stock to perform exceptionally well, but the 1/4" stock to perform badly, worse than ATS-34. They further claim to have talked to the manufacturer, and it turns out the thicker stock is subcontracted out to a different manufacturer. I have no independent confirmation of any of these claims, just passing the info along.

Joe
 
Joe, I guess my biggest question is not so much about edge holding as it is in how fine an edge can BG42 take in relation to the edge that ATS-34 can take. As far as edge holding, I've just about given up on that with any steel. I have not up to this point been able to discern a <u>practical</u> difference in edge holding between, say, ATS-34 (Benchmade), ATS-55 (Spyderco), and M2 (BM), but the M2 takes a much finer edge, and is easier to obtain. Therefore it is my favored.

For me, the vaunted 440V takes almost as fine an edge as 1095 or M2, but doesn't hold that edge nearly as good as the M2, and not much better than the 1095 in my REKAT UNK. At this point, in my uses, BM's ATS-34 or the ATS-55 of my Spydie Standard hold a better usable edge than Spydie's 440V. So my experience so far has pretty much been that ATS-34 is about as good as it gets.

However, looking at the composition of the two, and reading the steel FAQ and reading threads, one would be led to believe that the BG42 should hold its edge as well as the ATS-34, yet take a keener edge due to the Vanadium. But, I'm a very inexperienced amateur, and really want to hear other people's <u>experience</u> with the two.

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"Absolute safety is for those who don't have the balls to live in the real world."
 
I always treat claims by knife companies about their choice of steels with vague suspicion.
Especially when they promote a steel that is of a "lower" grade . F'rinstance....Cold Steel's insistence that 8A is superior to ATS34. I suspect that they, sometimes, choose "lower" grade steels because of manufacturing and price concerns.
Of course, not saying they are lying...just justifying a commercial decision.
And, anyway, how many knives could the average junkie afford if they were all BG42 or 440V ?



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BrianWE

Believe me....being this old and having to live with all this experience is not the picnic I thought it was going to be.
 
I sharpen all my knives on the Spyderco 204. So I am hoping that the bevels are the same.
 
Rockspyder,

IMHO, the BG-42 takes a keener edge and is much easier to sharpen. The ATS-34 takes a better polish and, from what I've heard, is more stain resistant.
 
Gentlemen: There is no question in my mind that BG42 is a superior steel to ATS-34. It's made better, and has a better alloy content. I was one of the first knifemakers to use BG42, and have a lot of experience with it. It polishes extremely well-produces a better mirror polish because of the fine grain size and extremely low impurity level (virtually zero). However, it is more wear resistant due to the Vanadium content, so, it takes more work to produce the mirror finish.
At the risk of sounding snobbish, I think it's unfair to compare steels based on factory knives. Even the best factory knife heat treatments don't rival what a good custom maker can achieve-most factories don't go the whole distance WRT cryogenics, etc.
Anyway, BG42 is a GREAT steel, and, it doesn't cost but a bit more than ATS34.

RJ Martin
 
rj --

Any comment about Strider's claims that the thinner (e.g. 5/32") BG-42 stock is what the great claims of performance are based on, and that the third-party-manufactured 1/4" BG-42 is not of the same quality?

Joe
 
If I remember right, when Chris Reeves first switched over to BG-42 he was saying it was tougher, so he could use it harder for better edge holding. The rumor was that the BG-42 Sebenza had a 63 RcH blade.

Since then, I have hear contradictory statements from people saying that ATS-34 is actually tougher on paper. Anybody know the facts on that?

My notion is that Lynn Griffith and RJ Martin are probably both right. Well tempered ATS-34 is pretty good stuff. Depending on the criteria, the finer grain structure possible with BG-42 might or might not be a significant issue. Better is always best though ain't it? If somebody were offering me the same knife made out of either one at the same hardness, I would take the BG-42, I think.
 
The Chris Reeve brochure says, BG42 heat treated to 61Rc is just as tough as ATS34 at 59Rc. Rob Simmonich heat treats BG42 to 60-61 Rc (I believe). Pretty hard, which also supports that BG42 is the tougher steel. Chris said that when they switched from ATS34 to BG42, BG42 exceeded their expectations.

On the other hand, Tom Mayo and Darrel Ralph have not had very great experiences with BG42 it seems. Tom Mayo stated that BG42 was more brittle than ATS34. This was a while ago when Tom was offering both ATS34 and BG42. I believe now he just offers BG42. Maybe he could respond.

It all depends on heat treat. On paper BG42 seems better than ATS34 in every way. When Chris heat treated BG42 the first time, he sent it back to Labtrobe foe testing. When the results were in Labtrobe asked Chris how he did it, as they had never had such good results from their BG42.

RJ,

I'm curious as to your experiences with 420V and 440V and how they compare with BG42 and ATS34.

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Johnny
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Fact is there are so many variables in this equation, it is impossible to draw conclusions from testing knives made by even the same maker let alone two different companies. I don't use BG-42 because it is more expensive from the sources I know, and it doesn't come in all the sizes I want. On paper, it is certainly better. The Vanadium should give it better edge retention, because Vanadium Carbides are hard hard hard.

But like Lynn said, heat treating makes all the difference in the world. Edge geometry makes a whole lot of difference too. If the edge is too fine, it won't hold that edge. If it is too thick, it won't take as keen an edge, but what it takes will last longer. Most of my customers can't sharpen an ATS-34 edge let alone BG-42 (which is harder) so I resharpen for them (for free). CPM-3V has a lot more Vanadium than BG-42, and lacks only the Chromium to be superior in every respect, but it is not for everyone. It is a bugger to sharpen and resharpen. Then again more Chromium means generally large carbides and coarser grain. Less Chromium and it rusts. So take your pick.

In my most humble opinion, great steels are made by the maker who fashions it and the person who tempers it, not by the company who poured the ingot.

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Jerry Hossom
knifemaker
www.hossom.com


 
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