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Production M390 - Expectation vs Reality?

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

  1. jcoolG19


    Dec 16, 2018
    Everytime I see you defending soft steels, it makes me wonder if you actually use these steels enough to tell the difference. Even casual use would show enough difference between m390 at 59 and 54 to be very noticeable. Do you just like having those numbers on the blade, even if they don't mean anything? I can't think of any other reason why anyone would be ok with it.
    Bonzer, BITEME, willc and 3 others like this.
  2. Cosmodragoon


    Jan 1, 2019
    The Dividend in M390 had been an attractive prospect. I'm not necessarily turned off by the 59 HRC, even if the steel would be better at higher hardness. I'm curious though. How much different would it be from something like VG-10 or 14C28N at similar hardness?
  3. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    Well I have only one M390 knife. It's a slipjoint. It seems to cut the stuff I need to cut fine.

    Is it soft? I don't know and lord help me I'm not going to worry about it.

    Over time I've found I like modern folders in carbon/tool steels. I do have a good array of what might be called "Super" stainless steels too.

    I don't see a benefit for the average user to chase super steels and to chase the theoretical upper limit of hardness. Not when those come at either the expense of an empty wallet or chipped or broken blade.

    The current drive by social media influencers to raise awareness feels just disingenuous and more about creating a problem to drive clicks to themselves than any issue that is worth worrying about. I like trying those new steels but I never expect them to be an ultimate peak.
  4. John_0917

    John_0917 Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 15, 2014
    Well, actually no.

    It’s not that brittle, but it’s more at risk for chipping than some steels are, I saw a pic of someone’s manix that they dropped and the point snapped off, BD1 probably wouldn’t have done that, you just have to be mindful, moisture also.
  5. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    That's the whole deal. Someone chases down this latest and greatest "super steel" without understanding it and they drop their knife and it breaks or pop a dime sized chip out of it when they hit a knot and they freak out. You don't need to go far to see examples of that for any decent sized brand.
  6. Casinostocks

    Casinostocks Factotum Platinum Member

    Mar 20, 2016
    The question regarding this steel has come up on a few occasions on another forum on this Site. The copy/pasted response below is not from me as I'm totally unqualified on this subject matter, but the author of this blurb is a very, very respected knife-maker on here who adheres to his own experimentations and findings, as opposed to data sheets, etc. I am merely posting this to present another opinion on the matter, not to flame or draw trolls to where it was copied from. Take it FWIW and as you may wish to:

    "The Shiro I'm carrying uses M390. I think I had it in a Reate I lost too. It's not great. No better than the S30V in the Sebby I was carrying before that, and that didn't set a very high bar.

    I have experimented with the alloy here and have done heat treat trials with it. I don't really like it. It's not bad, but it's not great. I suppose the abrasion resistance is very good as is the corrosion resistance, but it doesn't stay very sharp in real use as well as alternatives such as Elmax. I think there's just too much alloy and carbide for the matrix to properly support a knife edge. Mushy crumbly when I've used it.

    I think one reason folks have mixed results with it is because, in my experiments, it was unusually sensitive to quench rate. The Rockwell hardness numbers they show in the data sheet are what I've seen in atmosphere quenches but my testing of the alloy here I got significantly higher numbers with faster quenches. This degree of sensitivity and the variation you will get from one setup to another and from one geometry to another means that the optimized heat treat for it may be illusive and inconsistent. Most volume makers waterjet, heat treat, then grind. That solid cutting edge area was thick during the quench, and it was a nitrogen gas quench in the oven which isn't real fast to start with, so I don't think they're always getting the quench rate that alloy needs. Not ideal for the alloy and would explain why it doesn't perform great in the factory knives I've used.

    So, to me, I think it's probably an outstanding material for it's intended uses, but for cutlery I've seen better real world performance out of regular S35VN. People put too much credence in those card stock cut tests and perhaps knives with obtuse edges or subject to light use. I played with it and didn't get the edge stability I want and haven't messed with it again."
    Bonzer, steff27, BigKurtHaze and 7 others like this.
  7. Akcir


    Sep 16, 2012
    I think most folks like to get what they pay for. I also believe that a lot of people on this forum are more than "average users", whether it be collectors, demanding users, or those who have a passion for the hobby.
    I've learned over the years (sometimes the hard way) what I like, and what I don't like. And just because I don't care for something, doesn't mean it sucks for everyone else. But it's kind of the shits to pay for a higher level of performance, and then be disappointed.

    I have 2 small fixed blades in M390.
    A Bradford G3, and a Lionsteel M1. I bought both right after they came out. I really like the M1 design wise, but the G3 will cut circles around it as far as edge retention goes. Guess which one gets carried most often. I also have a Mule in Maxamet, and one in PMA11, along with a Manix 2 in S110V. Call me weird, but I find a lot of joy and satisfaction when I use one of those long winded slicing machines.
  8. jcoolG19


    Dec 16, 2018
    I've never tested any 14C28N at 59 HRC. If done right, I would expect it to smoke M390 at 59, as 12C27 did in a few tests already. VG-10 performed pretty well, too.
  9. bobobama

    bobobama Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 15, 2017
    Let's keep things simple here- is this another case of yesterday's "super steel" becoming tomorrow's
    budget steel?
    Danke42 likes this.
  10. jcoolG19


    Dec 16, 2018
    You have an M390 knife and it cuts stuff so that's good enough for you. That's great, but if I am buying a knife, I am buying knowing the potential of the steel, and if I am paying the price for M390, or any other high end steels, I want that potential available. Whether I use it or not, shouldn't matter because I'm paying for it. What a weird concept...get what you pay for.
    So, my testing and the testing my friends do is disingenuous? I don't think you really believe that. I think the info counters the myths and false claims you have probably been spewing as gospel for a long time. You're afraid of being exposed. Too late!
    Mo2 likes this.
  11. jcoolG19


    Dec 16, 2018
    Not really. The potential of M390 is real, and very relevant today.
    Mo2 and DeadboxHero like this.
  12. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    I thinks some people need to adjust expectations to match reality.

    For a lot of people the current run of influencer/social media testing has little to no value.

    The only gospel I preach is self awareness and self reliance. Any research I do hinges on the maker of knives. Not the latest fad.

    The whole spammy clickbait chumbox vibe this stuff gives is for suckers. "Gut Doctors Beg Americans To Thrown This Vegetable Out Right Away", or "Police Say This Is The One Navy SEAL Flashlight To Put In Your Car At All Times" is on Par with the "Your Knife HRC Is Too Low Click On This Link To Find Out What You Should Buy Next".

    Hard pass on that kind of Hyperbole without substance.
  13. Banter 247

    Banter 247

    Feb 22, 2019
    Unfortunately, none of this is about bragging rights or theory.
    Sharpening is removing material.
    That should be all that needs to be said to provide instant context.
    Mo2 and jcoolG19 like this.
  14. jcoolG19


    Dec 16, 2018
    The reality is people are paying for something they are not getting. I don't know what kind of undeveloped mindset thinks that is ok, but I'm happy it isn't too common.
    Stay happy in your bubble, the real world would probably be too much for ya.
    BITEME, David Richardson and Mo2 like this.
  15. FiveToes


    May 22, 2019
    I don't know who originally posted this and won't speculate on their capabilities but given that he experimented with it, and didn't like it because among other things, it was "crumbly"; I don't know that I'd put the most weight in that as a solid opinion. Have you ever heard M390 from any of the other makers described as crumbly? Again, that's not a challenge to the original poster but he's getting results that don't mirror anyone else's results, so I'm going to guess the outlier here is his process. I'd still like to pick his brain for further details on the heat treat he used and compare to other methods.

    I also don't understand his issue with catra tests. If he has a better method of measurement I'd love to see it. We have evidence in this thread that a single HRC point can double the edge life in real world measurements. That should be enough to justify the want for someone to make a fully hard blade. I've not seen evidence of that from any of the big production makers yet. Maybe Spyderco but their measurements elude me for the moment.
  16. Casinostocks

    Casinostocks Factotum Platinum Member

    Mar 20, 2016
    ^ if you know how to research the Forums, it’s easy to find out as to whom was the author of the piece which I copied and pasted. FWIW, in my humble opinion this knife maker’s views take significant precedence, at least for me, over what I can find in YT videos / in print.

    FWIW, I own serial Shiros with M390 steel so it’s not like I’m griping because I can’t afford higher end production knives with M390 but I do prefer S90V which they use in their custom division knives.
  17. jcoolG19


    Dec 16, 2018
    I have only found one production knife that has hit 62 HRC. A single PM2. There may be more, but I haven't found another yet. That knife was cut tested by Outpost76 and the results, even at 18 degrees, were very impressive. 2 points made a huge impact on retention.
    Mo2 and DeadboxHero like this.
  18. 91bravo

    91bravo Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 2008
    I like M390. I have a PM2 with that steel and have had no problems cutting with it and sharpening it. It's a knife and I cut stuff at work with it. When it gets dull, I sharpen it.
  19. jcoolG19


    Dec 16, 2018
    Like I said above, a PM2 was the hardest M390 yet. I'd like some, too!
    I'm pretty sure that's what you're supposed to do with a dull knife.
  20. FiveToes


    May 22, 2019
    I can respect a professional's opinion and still not agree with them on a specific subject. I don't know why the source of the data is important, when it's repeatable data published in the public domain. You can turn your nose up at testing performed by an amateur enthusiast but if you can't refute the claims people aren't likely to agree with you.

    I still cannot understand why people in this thread are defending everyone at the production price point running their steels soft. 1 HRC point is enough to double the cutting capacity in easily reproducible tests. This is obviously not for everyone for many reasons already stated but the stance that we should be happy with compromised heat treats is absolutely baffling.
    willc and tomhosang like this.

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