Steel that holds the best edge?

Locutus D'Borg

Platinum Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2012
Messages
3,444
As someone who does not sharpen his own knives (I don't have the time to learn this art, and happily send them back to the maker), I tend to buy knives that have a higher edge retention and I forfeit the ability to sharpen easily. I have been happy with ZDP-189 and M390, and so far CRK's 30 and 35 blades are doing well under light to moderate use. Even well-known SS damascus makers (Mike Norris, Devon Thomas, etc)'s blades seem to hold a good edge, although I don't know what steel is on their edge.
 
Joined
Jun 2, 2011
Messages
2,972
I agree that it's not incredibly useful and that context and intended use are very, very important factor to consider but it's still not useless. For example, if there are no hypothetical situations where 1095 will hold an edge for longer than M390 it's safe, and useful, to point out that M390 holds a better edge than 1095. Now when we get to comparisons between, say, M390 and CTS-204P or even a bigger gap like maybe S30V and CPM M4 it gets a lot less useful or true.

That is my point, 1095, will never outperform any of the modern day premium stainless steels except when one is worried about sharpening. These tests give very valuable information. If at the very least it is a way (CATRA testing) for manufactures to benchmark and compare steels in different knives. It would be like saying performance numbers given by an auto manufacture are pointless becasue of altitude, temperature, pavement type, etc. But a Toyota Camry will never beat a Corvette in any test under any conditions. I understand all the scenarios listed, but the different scenarios are smaller variables that affect the outcome of edge retention very little compared to steel composition number one, and heat treat, and geometry secondly.
 
Joined
Apr 7, 2003
Messages
2,314
Allz I'm trying to say is that "edge retention" means "how well does it resist dulling?", and since there are multiple dulling methods, all of this focus on abrasion resistance is missing the mark. Also, grindability isn't really a factor in the use of the knife, whereas fuel economy can definitely be a factor in use of a car. For that matter, from repair records I've seen, the Camry is likely to go farther without some sort of failure than the Corvette. Hence, in two real "contests" (reliability, fuel economy) the Camry beats the Corvette. I don't recall if the OP said "What steel retains its edge the best when kept in a dry, controlled environment carefully push-cutting through hemp rope?", but I think he just said "What steel has the best edge retention?", and that answer, as I asserted earlier, varies entirely with the usage scenario.
 
Joined
Sep 26, 2011
Messages
538
M4 and k390 are excellent steels. I have also been working with s35 that holds and edge very well. The op is probably going to look at cost as well when he picks his steel so some of the higher end stuff may be out of the question.
 
Joined
Sep 19, 2001
Messages
8,942
Edges dull by loss of metal, so steels that resist abrasion, deformation, fracture, and corrosion have better edge holding. There isn't a lot beyond trying to get wear resistance, high hardness while maintaining usable toughness, and resisting corrosion through care or alloy content.
 
Joined
Mar 1, 2010
Messages
10,844
Allz I'm trying to say is that "edge retention" means "how well does it resist dulling?", and since there are multiple dulling methods, all of this focus on abrasion resistance is missing the mark. Also, grindability isn't really a factor in the use of the knife, whereas fuel economy can definitely be a factor in use of a car. For that matter, from repair records I've seen, the Camry is likely to go farther without some sort of failure than the Corvette. Hence, in two real "contests" (reliability, fuel economy) the Camry beats the Corvette. I don't recall if the OP said "What steel retains its edge the best when kept in a dry, controlled environment carefully push-cutting through hemp rope?", but I think he just said "What steel has the best edge retention?", and that answer, as I asserted earlier, varies entirely with the usage scenario.

I know that a previous poster mentioned cars but let's forget about that and get back to edge retention.

Edges dull by loss of metal, so steels that resist abrasion, deformation, fracture, and corrosion have better edge holding. There isn't a lot beyond trying to get wear resistance, high hardness while maintaining usable toughness, and resisting corrosion through care or alloy content.

This one^^^.
 

Ankerson

Knife and Computer Geek
Joined
Nov 2, 2002
Messages
21,096
Allz I'm trying to say is that "edge retention" means "how well does it resist dulling?", and since there are multiple dulling methods, all of this focus on abrasion resistance is missing the mark. Also, grindability isn't really a factor in the use of the knife, whereas fuel economy can definitely be a factor in use of a car. For that matter, from repair records I've seen, the Camry is likely to go farther without some sort of failure than the Corvette. Hence, in two real "contests" (reliability, fuel economy) the Camry beats the Corvette. I don't recall if the OP said "What steel retains its edge the best when kept in a dry, controlled environment carefully push-cutting through hemp rope?", but I think he just said "What steel has the best edge retention?", and that answer, as I asserted earlier, varies entirely with the usage scenario.

Not really if one is using the knife to cut with instead of prying, hitting it with a hammer etc...

Nobody is talking about push cutting through rope either.... So I don't know were that came from..

The thread is about edge retention pure and simple so the answer is just as simple as the higher the alloy content the higher the edge retention will be given optimal RC hardness.

Edge retention is a direct relation to alloy content.

Other factors such as edge and blade geometry also factor in.

Steels like 1095 aren't even on the same planet with steels like CPM 10V and it really doesn't matter how one tries to slant it.... ;)

The alloy content just isn't there in the low alloy steels and that is the bottom line and it doesn't matter who makes the knife or what the so called magic HT may be... That's just marketing BS to sell knives at a higher profit margin or Hype by those who just don't want to spend the money on the higher end steels.

That's not to say that knives in 1095 etc won't cut stuff and aren't nice, but reality is there are steels that will perform one heck of a lot better.

It all depends on how much one wants to limit themselves and they are limiting themselves if they go with the lower alloy steels and that might bruise some egos or whatever and if it does then that's just too bad....

Ego and hype don't equal edge retention.....
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jun 2, 2011
Messages
2,972
Which one will go farther on $100 worth of gas?

Touche, although the new Corvette will be getting close to 30 mpg highway and the current gets about 26 mpg highway.

I didn't read Jim's response above before posting this, but like the way he put it, and for anyone who doesn't know he knows a little bit about edge holding ;)
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jun 8, 2009
Messages
1,690
i made a few folders with rex 121. its pretty easy to grind soft (unlike what people seem to believe) i even hand rubbed them very successfully in the same amount of time it takes say s90v. they perform very well in folders at rc 72. i was carving y name into hardened s110v with them. and i never had any brittleness ploblems either.
 
Top