Good question, take it from me I have tried many steel types and grinds and I would say that for an all purpose steel use carbon steel like 1095 or the like. Carbon sharpens easier and can will throw a spark when used with flint in a emergency. Also only get a flat ground blade. This grind is the strongest and easiest to maintain. Thats my opinion!
Rust is not a big issue for me, so I prefer tool steels (A-2, M-2, D-2, O-1, etc.) for their extra edge holding and slight resistance to corrosion. Talonite (stellite, cobalt) are very cool, but I like to put a really slick razor edge on at least part of my edges, and tool steels sharpen nicer. I also tend to view my knives as last ditch defensive tools also, so a modicum of toughness is a requirement of mine.
I tell you what though, if toughness and obsessively sharp edges were not important, but only low maintenance, high-quality cutting, I would go Talonite all the way. I have a couple of Cobalt folders (Boye Dendritic cast Stellite), and it is really nice to be able to just swish them in the ocean, wipe them on your pants and put them back in your pocket.
I've tried them all, except for Talonite (and that will change before long), and IMHO nothing beats forged tool steel!! Why? Because it holds a better edge longer and is easier to sharpen. Just my opinion!
I agree. That is why I flat grind almost every model I make. But then again, this is my opinion. (based on ability to cut nails with out damage)
Lynn Griffith-Tactical Knifemaker
Winner of "Best Tactical Knife" at 1999 PKA show My website
See my award winning "Spec Ops Tanto" in Gallery 3 of my website GriffithKN@aol.com
Discounts to Police and Active Duty Military