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Buck 420 HC steel

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Jaundice, May 28, 2007.

  1. Jaundice


    Jun 4, 2006
    First post here:

    I'm not a knife knut by any definition, but I'm miles ahead of the average knife user. I've been reading here and learning.

    So I'm reading the steel FAQ, and I see that 420 stainless is considered an inferior steel for knives. I'm confused. Buck makes their legendary 110 out of 420HC, and the stock answer seems to be that this steel, "properly heat treated", can be considered "adequate steel".

    So, how good is the buck heat treated 420HC? How does it compare to 440C in edge retention, hardness, wear resistance, and durability to 440C?

    (Now that I'm learning, I consider 440C or AUS-8A the minimum steel I want for a knife)

    One more question, I have a 1990 Buck 110 that I've read should be made out of 425 stainless. How does this compare to both 440C and 420HC? Should I shelve it in favor of a newer model?


  2. M. McCord

    M. McCord

    Mar 24, 2003
    I have a Buck 180 Crosslock that I've used almost daily since 1995. I liked it so much that I've bought another that's used less frequently. And as they come up on ebay I've been known to bid on them. I like both the knife and the steel.

    The 420HC is easy to sharpen, can attain a hair popping/shaving edge and most importantly can retain that edge for a good while if properly used. I maintain mine by stropping frequently between sharpenings.

    I think, and I'd have to do a search to back this up, that 420 is an entirely different monster than 420HC. I'm thinking that whatever makes it "HC" is what improves it so much.

    I'm sure other, more knowledgeable blade fans will chime and answer all your questions though. Welcome...
  3. Buck's 420HC is heat treated under the oversight of Paul Bos, so it's about as good as 420HC can get.

    Compared to 440C, it's going to be a little easier to sharpen, but otherwise not much different in my experience with 440C and 420HC Buck's.

    425M didn't last long at Buck, I have a few in it and it seems to not hold an edge nearly as well as my 420HC Bucks.
  4. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    Welcome to Bladeforums!

    Steel composition is only part of the cutting performance equation. You also have heat treat and edge geometry.

    When folks talk about "properly heat treated 420HC", they are talking about Buck knives. Buck's 420HC is a decent steel, not the best, but decent. Buck's heat treat is tops. Also, their edge geometry is excellent. When these are all put together, you get a really decent blade.

    Cliff Stamp did some interesting testing. He took a Buck blade in 420HC and compared its performance to another maker's blade in what is normally considered a superior steel (154CM if I remember aright). The Buck retained its edge longer. Once the other knife was reprofiled to provide good edge geometry, it out-cut the Buck.

    IMO if you have properly heat treated 440C and if you have a proper edge geometry, the 440C blade will outlast the edge on a Buck. But you got two IFs there. You can get worse results with 440C than with Buck also.

    To the best of my knowledge the performance of 425M is similar to that of 420HC. (But I haven't seen a lot of comparisons either.) But Buck was not using their current edge geometry in the early '90's. So the edge retension may be less.
  5. Azis


    Dec 4, 2002
    If you never heard of any of the types of steel and you used a Buck 110 what would you think of the blade? People have used the 110 for years never knowing one steel form another but knowing the Buck worked very very well.
  6. rebeltf


    Jan 29, 2005

    Good point. There's nothing wrong with 420hc at all , there is always better and there is always worse , a lot of it depends on what you are using your tool for and of course personal preference.

    The higher end steels can be challenging for those not famaliar with sharpening.
  7. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    Have a look at Buck's website for more on 420HC (High Carbon). It's an excellent cutlery steel as heat treated by Buck/Bos, IMHO, and out-performed 440C in Buck's CATRA tests, I believe. It is also a lot easier to sharpen, particularly with the new Buck edge profile. Not the equal of S30V in edge holding, but a lot less expensive. Tough, corrosion resistant, takes a hair popping edge -- what's not to like?
  8. Troop


    Oct 26, 2006
    :thumbup: I have no problem whatsoever with Buck's 420 HC. As previously mentioned, Paul Bos oversees the heat treat. Best bang for the "Buck" (get it?) in a stainless. :)
  9. Fonly


    Sep 24, 2006
    I love my 110 and 192 ALOT, great knives, never will get rid of them.
  10. foodwish

    foodwish Banned BANNED

    Apr 3, 2009
    Categories: Main dish
    Yield: 8 Servings

    1.00 pk Frozen hashbrown potatoes,
    -thawed slightly (32 oz)
    0.50 c Butter or margarine, melted
    1.00 t Salt
    1.00 t Pepper
    0.50 t Garlic powder
    2.00 c Shredded Cheddar cheese
    1.00 cn SPAM Luncheon Meat, cubed
    -(12 oz)
    1.00 cn Cream of chicken soup
    -(10 3/4 oz)
    1.50 c Sour cream
    0.50 c Milk
    0.50 c Chopped onion
    0.25 c CHI-CHI's Diced Green
    -Chilies, drained
    2.00 c Crushed potato chips

    Heat oven to 350'F. In large bowl, combine potatoes, melted butter,
    salt, pepper, and garlic powder. In another bowl, combine cheese,
    SPAM, soup, sour cream, milk, onion, and green chilies. Add SPAM
    mixture to potato mixture; mix well. Pour into 2-quart baking dish.
    Sprinkle with potato chips. Bake 45-60 minutes or until thoroughly

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 3, 2009
  11. crbauhs


    Dec 2, 2007
    AS said before, it is alot about the edge geometry. And just to put this in perspective, Bucks 420HC will outlast the edge holding on Case, S&M, Vicotinox Inox, Aus-8, etc. That is my experience atleast, so you can definatly do worse and whatnot.
  12. Sep


    Mar 14, 2009
    What you need to remember is knife nuts (us, me included) don't think $100 for one pocket knife is outrageous, which is not the case with most "normal" people out there. Of course we want premium steel whenever possible, not just regular steel used by everybody.

    For people whose professions don't use knives all day long, plain 440 (usually means 440 A) and 420 is good enough. As somebody mentioned already, SAKs are made from even softer steel, yet a lot of people are perfectly happy with them.
  13. 555

    555 Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 5, 2007
    :eek: I was reading along and I thought rebeltf was back, then I noticed the Date. :eek:

  14. bradpierson26


    Aug 7, 2008
    if it has the Bos heat treat like the buck strider 882 then its decent
  15. Jake Bauer

    Jake Bauer

    Sep 19, 2007
    420 un acceptable in a knife? Absurd. 420J2 maybe.. but 420, and especially Bucks 420HC (Best 420 on the market) no way. My 110, and 650 Nighthawk are awesome!
  16. Angus McGunnigl

    Angus McGunnigl

    May 22, 2002
    Buck's 420HC is a fine steel. It's gonna do anything a knife should be expected to do, which does NOT INCLUDE chopping up cinderblocks.
  17. Cpl Punishment

    Cpl Punishment

    Jan 28, 2006
    Since this is up again. . .

    Buck's 420HC is a good steel for Buck's target audience. It's a low maintenance stainless that takes an edge very easily and holds it well enough for the uses most people will put it through.
  18. DelrinFred


    Jan 23, 2008
    Reading this thread, I see the Buck edge profile mentioned a few times. What kind of profile does Buck use on its knives?
    I have an older Buck 501 in 440C and it takes an excellent edge and holds up well. Does it have the same profile as the new models?
  19. Cpl Punishment

    Cpl Punishment

    Jan 28, 2006
    I think they mean the fact that it is a hollow grind.
    Hollow grinds don't hold up well if you pry with the edge or try to pound it through rebar or cement. They are, however, very easy to sharpen.
  20. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    In the late 90's Buck did a lot of work using the CATRA sharpness tester.

    From that work they generated an optimized edge and blade profile that they named "Edge 2000". It is a hollow ground blade, but it is not just any hollow grind. It has a specific profile. Since the CATRA test is essentially based on cutting cardboard, the resulting blade shape also excels at this task. (And it is good for other things, as well.)

    By the late 90's, Buck's standard blade alloy was 420HC.

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