• The Wait Is Over. From this thread, orders for the 2023 BladeForums Traditional Knife are open & here's your handy order button.
    OPEN TO ALL MEMBERS WITH GOLD OR HIGHER PAID SUBSCRIPTIONS OR have 25+ posts in the Traditional Forum Preorder price is $160 shipped CONUS, price increase on 9/25 11:59PM when ordering opens to anyone on the forums
    User Name

Stainless Steel for large blades?

Seems common knowledge that large blades performs better with carbon steel (5160, L6, etc.). My question is how less well performing are the the various stainless varieties? Are AUS8, 440c. ATS-34 really too brittle for use in a large blade. Are knives like the Ontario Helles Belle and the Junglee Short Sword & Bolo not good choices?


Feb 25, 2000
I would check out what folks like Mick Strider and Ross Aki have been able to do with ATS-34 before making any judgements too swiftly.

Semper Fi

I have always thought that carbon blades are the best for large knives and swords. lately though I am starting to question that.

I have a dexter fish/splitter that is probably 440c due to the fact that dexter sells blanks of their knives through jantz knife supply and most of the blanks are 440c.

this fish splitter has a 12" blade and i jumped on this thing hard pounced is the word it was cheap and stainless so I thought I check out the brittle stainless theory.

I was amazed it held up there was a little bend but then I flipped it over and started allover again.

Plus I traded some one a 5160 criswell waki for a barong/kukri style 440c 14" chopper
I haven't tested this yet but I can't imagine this thing shattering anytime this century.

alot of people have said that modern technology in steels have improved stainless and I am starting to agree.

If I had tons of money to buy one large 440c blade and 1 large 1095 blade I'd like to kick some but testing them and really see.
Lower alloy blades like 1000 series steels have greater impact resistance and therefore can have better performing edges when a lot of chopping is done with a blade.

It all depends on the heat treatment and what you are going to chop though. ATS-34, if heat treated properly can make a great bush knife, same with 440C. Look for multiple temper cycles and cryogenic treatments for good toughness in those steels.
Loki :

Are AUS8, 440c. ATS-34 really too brittle for use in a large blade.

The Stainless steels are more brittle than the tool steels which are more brittle than the plain carbon steels. If this is a functional difference depends greatly on how you are planning on using the knife.

It is not like even the more brittle stainless steels like ATS-34 are going to shatter to pieces when cutting grass, hay light weeds or even some light wood. The main problems will be with the impacts that happen on occasion that you wish did not. Chop into a piece of wood, hit a nail, cut some weeds, hit a rock, that kind of thing.

I have used ATS-34 heat treated by Bos (and others) and in such contacts it will fracture readily. The more durable tool steels will fracture less and tend to indent more, the tougher carbon steels will just indent.

There are some kinds of use that will cause similar damage, for example chopping on heavy bone, especially if seasoned, cutting heavy guage wire, trying to dig/chop through rooty soil.

The more durable steels will also be able to take very heavy impacts to the spine so you can for example hammer on them with very hard objects for splitting purposes.

In regards to custom work the optimal solution is to discuss what you need with the maker and he should be able to tell you if you will have a problem or not.