blade material: 154-CM or ATS-34 (59-61HRC)

Jan 4, 2001
I was just curious as to which differet people perfer in a folder. And to what the actually difference is.. if someone wouldn't mind enlightening me. Thanks
154CM is made in the United States. A decisive factor.
Put it this way: I have yet to find an ATS-34 knife from ANY maker, production or custom, that I am REALLY content with the edge I can get on it.

HOWEVER, I have yet to get a blade in 154CM from Benchmade (the only maker that I have gotten 154CM blades from yet) that I was not FULLY content with the edge I can get on it. As far as edge holding, I can't tell a difference between the two.

A dog at play has the mind of a wise martial arts master, a mind capable of perfect focus. - Marc Christophe

I also think I percieve a major difference between ATS-34 and 154CM, at least on production blades. I have used 154CM blades from Microtech, Speed Tech, and Benchmade, and in every case, it seemed to take a finer edge than production ATS-34. I have some very well heat treated hand made ATS-34 blades that have the same refined grain structure, but production ATS-34 has a tendency to form big, elastic burrs on the edge that take careful polishing to get rid of.
it has been my experience that the 154cm steel used in microtech, emerson, and mod knives is much better overall in edge retention, ease of resharpening, and overall toughness than any ats-34 blade i have ever used.....154cm and ats-34 are very close in composition but not exactly the same....quoting from the chart that spyderco puts out 154cm has 1.05 percent carbon, 14 percent chromium,.50 percent maganese, 4.0 percent molybdenum, and .30 percent silicon....ats-34 is made of 1.05 percent carcon,14 percent chromium, .40 percent maganese, 4.0 percent molybdenum, .03 percent phosphorus, .35 percent silicon, and .02 percent sulphur....they are close but not exactly the same....i think the way the steels are smelted/mixed/processed as well as rolled when hot, not to mention heat treated, quenched, and hardened makes for some difference also in the manufacturing process as well as the way the knife makers put an edge on the final blades.....i have been impressed with 154cm's overall performance but not its rust resistance....nothing about ats-34 impresses me.....i'll take aus8a steel any day over ats-34....and dont even get me started on that joke of a steel overall favorite is bg-42 which is basically 154cm with a dash of 1.2 percent vanadium which gives me the performance qualities of 154cm and the rust resistance i like...just my .02cents

[This message has been edited by feverdoc (edited 01-05-2001).]
My experience with both steels is limited to Benchmades (3 folders in ATS-34, 2 in 154CM), and differs from those above. I have not noticed any difference in sharpening the two. Haven't really noticed any difference in edge-holding, either. The AFCK takes a little finer edge than my 940s do, but that is subjective, since they both take a hair-popping edge. My other two ATS-34 knives do not take as fine an edge as the 940s.
No practical difference in my limited experience.

feverdoc, what trouble have you had with ATS-55? My Goddard has been used and abused as a work knife in a very bad environment for a couple of years, takes a good edge, and holds it well. I haven't seen much difference in it's performance and that of the steels mentioned above. My other ATS-55 knife is a Dragonfly which doesn't see any heavy use, so no comment there on edge-holding, though it is screaming sharp.
My only 154CM is LCC. It doesn't sharpen easier or get sharper than most ATS-34 blades I have. BM's ATS is harder to sharpen than others. This may also be my imagination as all BM's must be rebeveled more than my other ATS-34 knives.

Only thing that may make 154CM (LCC) feel easier to sharpen is blade geometry. LCC's blade angle is less than 20 degrees/side so I only need to remove a little steel. With 20 degree/side rebeveled blade needs to be removed more steel (volume is larger of course) to achive same effect in edge area.

My experience tells that firstly There is really no difference in sharpness or edgeholding between My LCC and e.g. Spyderco Wengers. Secondly the sharpest knife I have had was clearly my axis (I took the time to sharpen it properly - no other reason) so there isn't a difference in attainable sharpness either.

BM's do chip easier than others.

The composition is announced by manufacturers . I belive (yes I only suppose) that if properly analyzed both have those 0,0x% contens of sulphur etc. These are not powder steels or cleaned as Bg-42 so these are not as clean of impurities.

I could be talked to belive that RWL-34 is better with this same composition as it is powder steel.

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

[This message has been edited by Tommi (edited 01-12-2001).]