1. Welcome to the New & Improved BladeForums. New software info here. Please report problems in Tech Support, and read existing threads before posting! - Spark
  2. I've changed the default forum style to Flat Awesome based on feedback. Don't like it? Click here to change how the forums look Feedback on this is welcome here.

Spyderco M390 compared with Microtech CTS-204P

Discussion in 'Knife Reviews & Testing' started by Gunsnknives, Aug 1, 2012.

  1. Gunsnknives


    Mar 26, 2011
    I understand there are Microtech haters out there...I can understand why they hate Microtech but I would kindly and respectfully ask that we keep this thread on topic.

    I'm a bit of a steel junkie. I like different steels for various reasons...but I like high wearing steels most of all. So when I saw the Socom Elite Youtube vid of Crimesontideshooter testing the Duratech 20CV, I got interested in testing other variants of M390. I couldn't find any 20CV, but then found out that for 2012, MT released some blades in CTS-204P. In short, I tested my Spyderco PM2 in M390 against my new Socom Elite in CTS-204P.

    Test Scenario:
    Both edges sharpened with an EP to a 30 degree inclusive bevel with a 3 micron finish. Enough to be hair whittle sharp. When sharpening, there were no apparent differences between the steels that I could tell. I will say, the MT factory bevel seems a bit obtuse...maybe 40 degrees inclusive or more. The Spyderco factory bevel seemed to be right at 30 degrees. I regret that I did not test my Socom BEFORE re-defining the lower angle, 30 degree bevel...oh well.

    I went to my local hardware store and obtained some 3/8" manila rope. I would like to have done my test on 5/8" rope since that seems to be the more common practice...but there was none available.

    2012-08-01 16.28.45.jpg

    To define sharpness, I made 10 cuts then tested the blades (at the point of use) to see if they would still cut specifically defined items. I tested sharpness by testing 1) Hair Whittling sharpness 2) Arm hair shaving sharpness 3) Phone book paper slicing. I stopped at phone book paper since I consider my knives dull if they cannot cleanly slice phone book paper.

    2012-08-01 16.21.21.jpg

    I cut the rope only using the belly of the knife. I defined 2" of the blade with which I would do all my cutting. I didn't want to cut with the whole length of the blade since a longer blade would then out cut a short blade, all things being equal. Also, I would have to cut more rope if I used the whole length of the blade...I'm getting older and that would hurt my poor little hands...

    Finally, as a control to make sure I wasn't fooling myself into the results, I threw in a third knife in to the test to force a different result. My "control" knife was a Benchmade Rift in 154 CM. It is convex, hand ground to a thinner edge. Again I used this only to force a different result and realize that the different geometry makes this and apples/oranges comparison. But then again...I wanted a different result.

    2012-08-01 19.13.49.jpg

    During the cut test, I found that the Socom Elite was quite comfortable to use. The handle fit my hand well and I can apply a lot of pressure either on the jimping of the handles just behind the blade or on the blade itself. The thick blade stock of the MT helped make this comfortable. I would also say that the MT seem to cut easier than the Spyderco as they started to dull...even at the end of the test, the MT still seemed to cut easier than the Spyderco. I don't know if that is a function of handle comfort or if the different steels are actually cutting differently ( I suspect the former is the case).

    The Spyderco was comfortable to use, but not as much at the MT. Jimping on the blade is effective without being too aggressive.

    The BM was the least comfortable, but I still love the lines of that blade (as a side note, 154 CM makes a great razor...M390, S90V, ZDP189 do not).

    If you're the impatient kind, you've already scrolled down to see the "winner". I will say that I'm sure there are variations and "operator error" in this, but the difference is enough that I would say I think there is a "winner" here.


    The MT CTS-204P cut longer than the Spyderco M390.

    At the end of the test, the Spyderco simply dulled...no chipping or rolling and the blade was in good shape. The Micro tech did have some noticeable micro-chipping. Not horrible...but they were there. Perhaps that micro-chipping contributed to the cutting efficiency and positively impacted the results of the MT ( I don't really know, but it's a theory). I know that Crimsontideshooter found ZERO edge damage on his test of the Duratech 20CV version, but he may have had the factory bevel (darnit again I regret not testing it at factory angles). The BM also suffered micro chipping.

    So I hope this post was helpful or interesting. If anyone has any experience with their CTS-204P, I'd love to hear it as well. Microtechs seem to end up as safe queens sometimes, but I hope there are some out there who have used them and can share their experiences with us. I'm waiting for the green handled PM2 in CTS-204P from one of my favorite dealers...then I can do this same test with that blade ...and my S90V Millie.
  2. spyderchop


    Mar 15, 2012
    interesting... wonder how my para 2 in cts 20cp would hold out
  3. dflores


    Dec 29, 2011
    Blade geometry has a big factor in those tests
  4. Shishiga

    Shishiga Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 20, 2010
    No, not in this test. The rope is not thick enough so even moderate geometry difference would not have any serious impact on the results. But the setup is excellent for the edge retention test. I am actually glad that the author reprofiled the MT. Thus, both steels have equal chances, and it is obvious that Carpenter made super steel again.

  5. Shishiga

    Shishiga Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 20, 2010
    Thank you for the test. Very interesting, but I expected Carpenter's steel to be superior.
  6. capid1


    Jan 11, 2011
    Why would expect it to be superior?
  7. Ankerson

    Ankerson Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 2, 2002
    I am wondering that also.....

    Without HRC testing it's hard to say...

    A point in hardness could make that much of a difference in the results.

    That said M390 and 204P, both at the same hardness and in like blades should perform about the same..... They didn't in this test so other than blade geometry something else is different, likely HRC hardness and or thickness behind the edges.

    Same as S90V and 20CP did at the same hardness (60 HRC) in the same model knives (Para 2's), they did exactly the same in my testing.

    36% is a huge difference in performance taking into count the same alloy content of the steels so something is going on that is different.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2012
  8. jwolf90


    Oct 17, 2011
    ^ Agreed, I would think hrc is different or the thickness behind the edge to show that much difference
  9. Gunsnknives


    Mar 26, 2011
    I am wondering if the better edge retention and micro chipping may be an indication of a hardness difference. I cannot claim that CTS-204P is or isn't better than M390 but I do like the MT over the Spyderco for the two specimen I tested.

    But don't get me wrong, I'm not ready to sell my Spydercos yet.
  10. Ankerson

    Ankerson Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 2, 2002

    Something I would have to see to tell what is going on with the edges..

    M390 and 204P should be VERY close in performance from the alloy content.
  11. Shishiga

    Shishiga Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 20, 2010
    It is just my subjective opinion based on using Military M390 and Whaleshark in CTS-204P, MT seems to hold its sharpness noticeable longer. I think that the difference is in the heat treatment. A friend of mine tested Para 2 S35VN and Socom Elite in the same steel on manila rope. Para 2 did 130 cuts before it refused to cut paper, MT did 200 cuts.

  12. Ankerson

    Ankerson Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 2, 2002
    That's a 50% increase... ;)

    Could be a number of factors going on to cause that much of a difference like I posted above, or a combination of them.

    Just thickness behind the edge alone can really make a huge difference.
  13. Gunsnknives


    Mar 26, 2011
    Since there seems to be a somewhat unexplained difference in performance (except maybe more metal behind the cutting edge), I tested my S90V Millie (usually a drawer queen). I also reformatted the table for easier (and more space efficient) reading. From cutting with M390 (and CTS-204P) to S90V, I get the feeling that S90V will keep a working edge for a VERY LONG time. Edge retention seems comparable to M390...but it just seems to have more bite even though it would no longer slice phone book paper cleanly. S90V demonstrated no edge damage, like the PM2 in M390.

    I LOVE the fact that Jim has done his rope cutting tests to rank the steels...but I want a better understanding for myself of how good these steels are. Since I'm doing it, I'm just sharing with you guys so you can take it for what it's worth.

    Last edited: Aug 3, 2012
  14. Ankerson

    Ankerson Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 2, 2002

    I think it's great what you are doing. :)

    I am testing a Military CF in M390 right now, will also test the S90V Military, both with coarse edges to compare them.
  15. stwesterner


    Nov 28, 2009
    I've recently read that the MT socom elite (2011 and 2012) has a thinner behind the edge thickness than the military and para (though not by much) i have also read that MT in general has a slightly harder HRC outcome than other production manufactures...
  16. Buffalohump

    Buffalohump Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 7, 2006
    I am looking at a MT in CTS204P at the moment... good to see them using high speed steels. I wish they would make some more in Duratech 20CV, I dont have anything in that steel.
  17. Gunsnknives


    Mar 26, 2011
    Thickness behind the 30 deg bevel I measured:

    PM2: 0.033"
    Socom Elite: 0.030"
    Military: 0.030


    As before, I am sure there are some measurement errors...but those are pretty close to me.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2012
  18. Atakdog


    Sep 3, 2012
    I think the steel could be equil if given the same heat treat.
    My Ultratech is harder than I have ever heard that S35vn is capable of; I would estimate the Rockwell around 62.
    If Microtech can do that with S35, I bet they gave a hard treatment to the CTS-204p also (maybe the reason for the micro-chipping)
  19. Razorsharp-Travis

    Razorsharp-Travis Banned BANNED

    Aug 16, 2011
    im just gonna guess MT goes to 62 HRC :)
  20. eodtoad


    Apr 5, 2013
    Two factors: behind the edge thickness (socom's edge is thinner), and HRC. Microtech runs their steel about two points higher.

Share This Page