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Production M390 - Expectation vs Reality?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Cosmodragoon, Jun 11, 2019.

  1. Cosmodragoon


    Jan 1, 2019
    LTK posted this video yesterday. If you don't already know, his channel has gone above and beyond standard knife reviews. He has gone to the trouble of having knives professionally tested, both for hardness and steel identity. Here, he shows and discusses some HRC results for popular production knives in M390.

    Do these results surprise you? Do they seem a tad low, much less for M390? What do you think is the ideal hardness for M390 and what seems to be the trouble here?

    cwsmith17 likes this.
  2. SVTFreak

    SVTFreak Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 8, 2011
    Personally, since m390 is designed for completely different uses than edges, I think it actually does better at slightly lower hardness. Makes up for the chippyness due to being designed for much lower edge angles. Granted I have less experience than many, but mine that seem to be softer perform better and still last decent.
  3. DeadboxHero


    Mar 22, 2014
    What seems to be the trouble?

    Large batch HT variables, profit margins, increased cost of abrasives needed to grind per knife. toughness concerns, Complaints from bad knife users that want to use like a crow bar. Complaints about sharpening difficulty due to lack of gear or technique.
    Lack of understanding that strength is important for the "edge" and that M390 will never be 3v even when softer and should be allowed to just be M390.
  4. jcoolG19


    Dec 16, 2018
    I'm not sure why anyone would want to pay M390 prices for S30V performance...or worse! Anyone think M390 at 57 HRC is ok? How about 54? Then we have the super tough M390 at 51 freaking HRC! Not my hard earned dollar! The video is worth a watch.
  5. halden.doerge

    halden.doerge I'll Sharpen Your Knife Gold Member

    Aug 17, 2014
    There's just so many ways to spend 42 minutes, though... :rolleyes:
    sodak, Lapedog, 7east and 8 others like this.
  6. jcoolG19


    Dec 16, 2018
    Like knife shopping for more M390?
    Skywalker31 likes this.
  7. halden.doerge

    halden.doerge I'll Sharpen Your Knife Gold Member

    Aug 17, 2014
    Just so, so many more ways...
    orangejoe35 likes this.
  8. jcoolG19


    Dec 16, 2018
    Hey... didn't post my laughing face! I got ya!
  9. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    Super steels should all be super all the time. Super Hard. Super Sharp. Super Strong. Super Good Looking. Super Easy to Sharpen. Super Tough. Super Flexible. Super Stain Resistant. Super Affordable. Super Exclusive. Super Long Lasting Edge Retention. Super Super. Super High Grade. Super Quality. Super Easy to Find. Super Lots of Likes on IG.

    Anything less and it's just not super. Miss just one of those points and it's just not super.
  10. jcoolG19


    Dec 16, 2018
    It isn't super steel if it doesn't behave like super steel. It's just overpriced and ordinary.
  11. TheEdge01


    Apr 3, 2015
    Eventually someone will come out with a steel that out performs super steel. They will call it Super Duper Steel.
  12. jcoolG19


    Dec 16, 2018
    And they will give it a soft heat treat so it performs like lesser steels, but they will sell a ton anyway. A short time later, some of those that bought it will tell you how great it is, and the hype machine will go into overdrive. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
  13. Cosmodragoon


    Jan 1, 2019
    If people don't want to watch the video, the relevant point is that most of the M390 knives tested below 60 HRC. As jcoolG19 noted, a few get down around 50 HRC! The list covers a reasonable price range and at least three countries of origin. I wondered if people here had more insight into why that is, or how much of a difference it really makes.

    A bunch of these fell between 58 and 60 HRC. I usually use "budget" knives and those are decent numbers for what I'm used to seeing. I don't have personal experience with M390 but is this a case where the premium isn't worth it at those values?
    mdrgn79 likes this.
  14. jcoolG19


    Dec 16, 2018
    Thank you! That is exactly the case. The premium isn't worth it, unless you just gotta have M390 printed on your blade.
  15. Banter 247

    Banter 247

    Feb 22, 2019
    I may do a follow up video to LTK’s to offer an explanation to some of the specifics of why we’re seeing this. @DeadboxHero already touched on some of the big issues relating to why the manufacturers are are putting out what they are, as well as actually slipping in a subtle cautionary “be careful what you wish for” note.

    There’s a lot to this topic, and a lot which may be repeated in the future.
  16. Fixall

    Fixall Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2018
    I really like that LuvThemKnives is doing this. I've always been curious about the hrc of various knives, but the info can be hard to come by.

    I also think it would be cool to see several knives of the same model and steel tested to see how big the variations are from one knife to the next.

    I would have liked to see it closer to 60 - 61, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the M390 of the Kershaw Dividend tested at 59hrc. Not too bad.
    cwsmith17, jcoolG19 and Cosmodragoon like this.
  17. Monofletch

    Monofletch Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 14, 2010
    Post of the day!
    Allan DeGroot and TheEdge01 like this.
  18. BITEME


    Dec 14, 2007
    Thats why 420hc can be so nice you don't pay much,you don't expect much and sometimes you get lucky and it holds a decent edge....the super steel way no matter the outcome your always pay
  19. McFeeli


    Feb 13, 2017
    Lionsteel Dom at 50.8? I’ve sharpened my Dom and it surely isn’t that low. My Shuffler also is quite a bear to sharpen as well. A wee bit easier than S30V, but not by much. Which is what I’ve come to expect from M390. Maybe I just got lucky, but I would think you’d notice a steel that soft relatively quick in use. I don’t know how that’d not come out by now with as many that’s been sold if it is a legitimate concern.

    I’ll admit I didn’t watch the whole video, I just looked at the list.
  20. Banter 247

    Banter 247

    Feb 22, 2019
    Part of the problem is that, prior to testing, there was no frame of reference beyond anecdote or feel.

    Best way to verify is to test. Sharpen to 15 degrees per side, tape off a 1” section, cut cardboard until it stops *cleanly* slicing paper (dulling or a catch forms). Repeat until consecutive tests get comparable results. This typically takes 1-4 sharpenings, depending on whether or not the steel was damaged during factory sharpening.

    Record. Post.

    Maybe you discover that you got a sample that differs from the other Lionsteel stuff tested so far. Maybe you’re surprised otherwise.

    The purpose here is to accumulate data, as opposed to seeking a specific outcome. Each of the testers will happily welcome more to the fold.
    tomhosang and jcoolG19 like this.

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