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S125V vs. S110V vs. S90V vs. S30V

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by The_Guide, Mar 31, 2009.

  1. The_Guide


    Feb 1, 2009
    I am going to be getting a custom folder built, and I was looking for some input in these steels. I have narrowed it down to the first 3 listed.

    I have read all the performance charts, the stuff over at crucible, and lots of other info.

    I am not concerned with cost, so which of these 4 would you recommend? Its going to be going into a Titanium Framelock Folder.

    Cost aside, do the 90, 110, and 125 offer much of an improvement over the 30?

    Are the higher numbers (higher vanadium content) more prone to chipping? I like edge retention and hardness, but not at the tradeoff of toughness. I feel the 125 may be too brittle for my purposes.

    Anything that can be said on this group of stainless steels would be much appreciated.

    The_Guide :cool:
  2. tdrussell


    Feb 25, 2009
    What are your usually uses like?
  3. The_Guide


    Feb 1, 2009
    I am getting this knife as a high end EDC.

    Purpose would include the usual tasks like cutting cardboard, opening packages, cutting plastic, maybe some whittling, (perhaps some shaving ;))
  4. sodak

    sodak Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2004
    I've heard that 125 has seen some chipping/cracking problems. From what I've heard, and it's just hearsay, well heat treated 110 is hard to beat. From my own personal experience, well heat treated CPM 10V, 3V, M2, ZDP, M4, and D2 are all hard to beat for edge retention.

    I've got a knife in 90, but haven't had a chance to try it yet.
  5. Samael


    Sep 30, 2007
    I'm happy as a clam with my five knives in S30V - can't imagine why anybody would need anything else. And yes, I've heard horror stories about the harder steels chipping.

    So much of the story with these "super steels" is about the tempering/heat treating anyway that it's hard to make any kind of across-the boards statement. Very few people have the ability to heat this stuff to two and three thousand degrees, or to properly quench it cryogenically either. Pay attention - just because it says "S30V," "S90V," etc., is no guarantee of quality.
  6. yablanowitz


    Apr 14, 2006
    As far as I know, S125V is no longer in production, there isn't a lot of stock floating around, and there aren't many makers who will use it. The only one I've heard of that will, would rather take a beating than use it. Grinding it is an industrial pain in the neck.

    S110V I have not tried, but it is supposed to be S90V on steroids. I find that hard to imagine, as I have a few knives in S90V and the edge-holding is phenomenal. I've not had any chipping on mine, but then all I use them for is...well, everything. I used my S90V Spyderco Mule to rip out a couple of square yards of sheetrock ceiling and scape off all the old paint, texture, plaster, tape and mud around the edges in preparation for new tape and mud. No chips and it took five minutes on my Diafolds to restore the edge.

    S30V would be great if there weren't other steels that are a lot better (for me). It is overkill for Joe Average, by far the easiest of those you named to sharpen but still a lot harder to sharpen than carbon steels or stainless steels like 440C or AUS-8. The edge retention is more than adequate for light use (what most folks would call normal use if you aren't in building trades).

    Unless you use your knife like I do, the higher end steels are nothing but status symbols, but there's nothing wrong with that, either. ;)
  7. The Mastiff

    The Mastiff

    Apr 21, 2006
    Guide, you might want to look at some of Phil Wilson's posts on these steels. He probably has the best overview on the steels outside of crucible. He noted recently he gave up on S125V due to brittleness. S110 is at, or near the same levels of wear, etc., but so far hasn't been chipping.

    It takes higher RC's than S90V, and has higher carbide fraction than S90V, so it has more wear resistance. He compares it favorably with 10V, and S125V ( wear resistance).

    He was one of the few that was making knives with S125V. Most makers wouldn't touch it due to the effort & trouble involved. Joe
  8. The_Guide


    Feb 1, 2009
    The heat treatment is done by Paul Bos. I have heard he is one of the top heat treaters and am assuming that he does a quality treat that would make S90V or S110V worth the extra cost.

    You know what, I think I'm gonna have to go with S110V.

    Thanks for all the help guys. i am really happy I found this forum when I did. I have gained so much knowledge since I first joined that all my friends call me the knife guy now. What a title to be given after only a few months of OCD like research. (I dont work anymore, so I have lots of time on my hands)

    The_Guide :cool:
  9. svrider3


    Jul 14, 2007
    Being called the " knife guy " isn't always a good thing. Sure, it'll give
    ya the big head for a little while(;)) but eventually you'll be sharpening
    knives for "friends" you didn't even know you had. :D
  10. Samael


    Sep 30, 2007
    Boy, ain't that the truth. But I don't mind sharpening knives. Polishing brass, though. . . .
  11. The_Guide


    Feb 1, 2009
    So I was at a knife store chatting with the clerk, and I could over hear a guy talking about how despite the significantly improved edge retention in S90V, he prefers S30V over S90V because it is tougher. In my head I was like "WTF?" so I figured I'd clear it up with the help of the knowledgeable folks here at Bladeforums.

    I know S90V, S110V, and S125V all have superior edge retention and wear resistance over S30V, but how do they compare for toughness? Does S30V have any advantage over its higher vanadium counterparts in that regard?

    I am heavily leaning towards S110V for my custom folder, but not if its hardness and wear resistance comes at a tradeoff for toughness. Damn, I thought this was a resolved issue and some guy had to go and say something like that ;)

    Thanks :cool:
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2009
  12. The Mastiff

    The Mastiff

    Apr 21, 2006
    In general, higher carbide fraction steels aren't as tough as lower carbide fraction steels. Typically, carbon steels, which have lower carbide fractions can take harder useage and tougher impacts.

    I'm not sure about the numbers but I'd think S30V would probably be tougher than S90V. S90V is more wear resistant, due to it's type of carbide, and amount of carbides.

    There are other variables such as proper heat treat cycle, design of the knife, etc, but in general, yes, it is a trend.

    Crucible's website has some graphs with this type stuff.

    Guide, if you want to try a fairly inexpensive knife in S110V, consider the excellent ( around $80) Kershar shallot in S110V.

    Several companies make S90V knives, such as the Appx. $190 Spyderco millie.

    Some ways to begin trying these steels for yourself.

    For super hard use kn9ives these type super stainless knives are not ideal for Prying, batonong, etc. They wear like no others, and Diamond hones are your friend when it comes to sharpenning.

    Alternate high performance steels are ones like CPM M4. It's non stainless, high speed tool steel that is a great balance between toughness, and wear resistance. If you can live with a knife that needs attention to keep it from rusting you should look into these extremely high performance steels also.

    My reccomendation? Try them all untill you find what works for you. I like them all, and use them all. Joe
  13. Samael


    Sep 30, 2007
    Agreed - the CPM website is great for this. There's also a good article on this subject in the June Blade magazine.
  14. The_Guide


    Feb 1, 2009
    What year?
  15. Samael


    Sep 30, 2007
    Sorry - this year. (It arrived in my mailbox two days ago; should be on sale in a week or so if you don't have a subscription.)
  16. The_Guide


    Feb 1, 2009
    Cool thanks! :thumbup:

    As soon as I find a place to pick one up, I will do so. :)

    The fact that you said June is what threw me. Thats something about magazines that has always boggled me... Its April, and the June issue of Blade is already out. Its like this with most magazines that I know.

  17. Samael


    Sep 30, 2007
    Heh. I picked up the July issue of Tactical Knives while I was at the grocery store yesterday. Crazy indeed.

    If you're not that familiar with it, Blade is more geared to knifemakers, custom knives and collectors. While you won't see too many articles on the newest Kershaw or Spyderco, if you're interested in things like metallurgy, edge geometry, and some of the more esoteric areas of this hobby, it's well worth the $20/year subscription price.
  18. The_Guide


    Feb 1, 2009
    Totally :thumbup:
  19. cotdt


    Oct 2, 2006
    Out of curiosity The_Guide, who is your maker?
  20. Bronco

    Bronco Moderator Moderator

    Feb 25, 2000
    In very general terms, hardness always comes at the cost of toughness. And vice versa, for that matter. It's just the way it is. And it's the reason why it's worth the effort to evaluate how you're going to be using a particular blade before you set the specifications.

    From what you've told us thus far regarding your intended uses, your blade is not likely to be subjected to large lateral stresses. As such, you can sacrifice some toughness for edge retention if you like, making 110V a fine choice, assuming you stick with any kind of halfway reasonable edge geometry.

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