How Good is D2 Tool Steel?

Like anything else, the quality of a D2 steel knife depends on the maker/design. One of my all time favorite knives was the Benchmade Adamas (D2 steel). The factory edge was one of the best I've experienced at ANY price level. This knife just fell through paper effortlessly. Very impressive.
I eventually traded it off because A) I lived in a very humid place. B) The scales should have been G10 or Micarta with no coating. C) Although it was very heavy, I would have kept it if the scales were micarta. I still may replace it but I want to see a hard use test on an OKC Rat 1/2 in D2 or any Cold Steel CTS XHP knife first before. I don't want to wind up with a new stack of knives just because I wanted to feel some D2 love.


Depends on the heat treat and blade geometry.

I have never considered it as a steel I would enjoy. To rough to field sharpen, doesn't hold the edge as long as others, can be a pain to reprofile. Yet, others love it. It really depends on heat treat and geometry first and your own personal taste and usage second.
I have three Queen Pocket Knives a Zebrawood Stockman a Dark Bone Barlow and a #1L Stag Swing guard Auto. All have D2 blades. I love each and every one of them The Stockman is a "go anywhere, do anything" knife, as is the Barlow (#69 1/2).

These are some of my favorites because they can cut when I need them. After they are sharp, they tend to stay that way. D2 is good steel, but you must remember to take care of it and make certain that it's sharp before you use it. Don't let it get dull and touch it up periodically (and carefully). This should allow it serve a lifetime.
Makes for a great hunting knife steel thanks to the toothy edge it takes. Not so fun to sharpen.
D2 is a great steel. I find that it is awesome because it is semi stainless, so stainless enough while having properties of a carbon steel. There is CTS XHP which is supposedly like stainless D2.

Theres a video of someone on youtube putting the edge of their blade on a penny, hitting the back of the blade with a hammer until the penny folds in half abit, then testing the edge on paper. The edge didn't chil at all and sliced the paper with no catches. that really impressed me!
WOW! Thats insane, do you know which steel the blade was made of?
With appropriate HT (ask Nathan :thumbup:) Amazing :)

D2 vs CPM S30V. There are pros and cons with just about any steel. D2 is a really hard steel, and can be hard to sharpen without the right equipment, but it holds a nice edge for a long time. There is a cool sharpening video on Bob Doziers web site. As far as D2 rusting, just wipe the blade down in oil after using it and you shouldn't have any problems. D2 is considered semi stainless because it barely lacks the amount of chromium to be true stainless steel. As others have said, it is a middle of the road steel. CPM S30V is a premium steel that doesn't hold an edge as long as D2 but still has great edge retention. This steel is true stainless, so it won't require maintenance like D2. I would say S30V knives cost more but several reputable manufacturers price their D2 blades right up there with the other steels. Between the two, I would take S30V any day over D2.
Brother Lapdog, beyond less corrosion than typical "carbon steel" (say 1095 of 1084), what properties of carbon steel does D2 have? I like it for the properties of typical carbon steel that it lacks.
My son's Dozier in D2 was the only knife we had that would cut bear hide. I had a BR that would shave and it would not cut it. I like the steel!
Like them both , but prefer S30V. It's a little easier to sharpen than D2 , very rust resistant , and holds a working edge long. Both these steels seem to work better with a toothy edge.
I have these steels on fixed blades and have had no edge chipping problems or anything negative doing bushcraft and camping tasks.
I have a Griptillian with a D2 blade. It took the abuse of a hammer pounding on the back of it. ( accidently used the metal hammer instead of the rubber mallet it was laying next to)
My son's Dozier in D2 was the only knife we had that would cut bear hide. I had a BR that would shave and it would not cut it. I like the steel!

It's a wonder bears were skinned pre-D2?

I skinned a road-kill Black Bear with a Boy Scout skinner pattern some decades ago. 1095 Needed touching up a couple of times. The pelt became a rug.
I have a Griptillian with a D2 blade. It took the abuse of a hammer pounding on the back of it. ( accidently used the metal hammer instead of the rubber mallet it was laying next to)

Good to know. I also have a D2 Griptillian but have not really used it. I keep reaching for my 154cm version. Habit.
Go check Carother's forum for his take on D2. Very positive, with the right heat treat. It certainly got my attention. More info there than the cryptic reference above ;)
I have heard nothing but greatness about Nathan's D2. To the point where it made me buy one of his most recent EDC pattern d2 blades. D2 is very heat treat reliant, but given a solid treatment it will do what you need it to

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I had a Queen "fruit knife" in D2, I carried it for about a year, basically only had to sharpen it every 6 months. It held a great edge. I didn't look forward to sharpening it though that's for sure. It's one of those steels where it's a little bit more difficult realizing that there is a wire edge and it takes longer to break the wire edge off imho.
D2 is very underrated steel IMHO. When properly done the edge holding is comparable to many fancy super steel... Actually the edge retention of D2 on cutting abrasive stuff like hide or cardboard is slightly better than popular steel like CPM-3V or S35VN.
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As you know, "edge retention" includes factors other than abrasion-resistance. Cardboard cutting is certainly a good test of the latter. If the cardboard has the occasional staple, it may also be a better test of edge retention.
Most of the talk here is edge retention, how hard it is/can be done. In a "survival" knife you just don't want the knife to break. I would prefer it to bend and not break than a hard edge on a brittle blade.

Wonderful things might be done with D2 but my thought is that there are other steels that can be made into a tougher knife. I get a feeling that the pure quality of some of the more mainstream steels is getting a bit iffy. I think some of the more modern alternatives have the edge because the demands ensure they are made better. Its a feeling so I could be talking complete rubbish.

The bigger the blade the more important toughness is over edge holding. Big blades get whacked more. Has to be something pretty special to do both. Thickness in a blade is not just to add strength. Thats half the story, the other half is is to carry the grind through deep cutting. The edge does the cut for a mm or so, the grind pushes the material apart, and the spine acts as a wedge. An axe splits the wood rather than cuts.
Thickness per say is no guarantee of toughness, though having said that there there needs to be enough steel to do the job.

Anyhow, is D2 any good? Get the right maker who does the right heat treatment for the design of knife and its probably fine. Could another steel do better? Probably, if its done correctly. Thing is if its not done well it really doesn't matter as that blade is going to have no luck in it. I think probably some other steels done correctly might well be better. As a consumer we never know if a knife has the luck in it to do what we ask of it, until we have had it a few years. Thats if it lasts that long. What I call "the luck built into any blade". The better makers seem to build more luck in because the design, steel choice and heat treatment compliment each other. Not everyone gets it right, though many a blade is done well enough.

I have and used a Chris Reeve Project II for many many years. It and early one, No 9, and I think it is in D2 (most were in A2). Its survived me, so yes a great knife can be made of D2.
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