Stellite/Talonite/Cobalt 6 Airport Security Test

Jan 21, 2000
FYI to all--
I walked a David Boye billet of cobalt alloy--between 8.5 and 9 ounces--through two security gates. One at an airport, one at a courthouse. No alarms were set off. I had the airport security attendant check the billet with her wand, and it produced faint beeps when the wand actually contacted it. But obviously, the material produces only a very faint magnetic signature--only 3% iron, according to Deloro Stellite.
very interesting.....but magnetic is not the key....and how high did they have the beeper turned up....the point is....if you have a weapon...and youre trying to sneak it thru, and you dont make it...what then??? better to carry a small opinion of course.


I agree with Tom. That kinda trouble is no good. I guess some people might think it funny that they can "sneak" through with their new high-tech blade, but security won't find is amusing. Like speeding, it's not a matter of IF you get caught, more WHEN you get caught...then, how much time will you spend in jail.

High-tech stuff is cool, just not my thing when it crosses the border to illegal activity.

Just my $0.02,
TOM--I agree. I certainly wouldn't advocate trying to sneak a weapon on a plane. After all, anyone can carry a medium folder onto a plane, anyway. The test was in response to the speculation on whether the material would or would not set off the machine. Neither machine--at the airport nor at the courthouse--was checked for a setting. But I can tell you that the airport security gate I went through is one I regularly go through and have never passed through successfully without having to remove a cinch-style belt buckle. The courthouse gate beeps on small steel folders. If nothing else, I'm thinking about making the shanks of the next custom boots I order out of the stuff--steel shanks always set off the airport gate, which is a pain. As I said, FYI--no guarantees, just a trial run. As you said, it was very interesting. That's a pretty good chunk of metal not to raise a peep out of either gate system. Will
If the "metal detector" in question is a form of Magnetometer, then non-magnetic knives will pass through all day long.

Here we go again....

Metal detectors detect metal not magentism. There is such a thing as a "magnetometer" but it's a scientific instrument, not used for security (and wouldn't work; many guns have very little steel in them).

Metal detectors are affected by different metals to different degrees. Brass affects them more than steel, etc. Arches in your boots that don't set them off could save a lot of time for people who go through metal detectors on a daily basis ... and so could a belt buckle ... hmm ... I wonder what a talonite belt buckle would look like. That could be a new fashion craze for lawyers and people who fly a lot....

-Cougar Allen :{)
This post is not merely the author's opinions; it is the trrrrrruth. This post is intended to cause dissension and unrest and upset people, and ultimately drive them mad. Please do not misinterpret my intentions in posting this.
My thoughts exactly--hence, the test. Which bears your premise out to my satisfaction.
Like the moustache on your sig. Now if I could figure out how to do a beard...
Also am very much refreshed by your
As for how the metal detector does its job, I'm no technician. I only know that it's blind to 8.5+ oz. of cobalt 6B alloy carried bare-handed past the sensors.
Will; I feel your experience to be anomalous. Co is very magnetic. Despite the fact that a magnet won't stick to it. Consider the rare earth alloys such as samarium cobalt, which are extremely ferromagnetic; a magnet sticks to them.

Metal detectors detect eddy currents, the electrical current produced by ANY conductor when it passes through a magnetic field. Cu, Co, Fe, and Al are common examples of strong eddy current producers.

A much more rigorous test was conducted by a producer of Ti dive knives, and Talonite (r) was shown to produce large eddy currents.

Hope this helps, Walt
For those of you who would like to learn a little about metal detectors, here is a site:

If you want to know all about metal detectors, go here:

Will; I can think of several reasons why your experience happened in the manner it did, but decline to discuss these reasons on a public forum.

Hope this helps. Walt

[This message has been edited by Walt Welch (edited 02-11-2000).]
WALT--You seem to have a real depth of knowledge. One question--have you carried cobalt 6 alloy through an airport security gate? If not, you might want to try it. Might expand your obviously broad knowledge base even a bit more. Just a thought. If your experience is different than mine was, or if anyone else would care to contribute empirically by trying the same test, I think the info would be valuable. If someone has a different experience, certainly my results would have to be deemed unreliable. And I certainly would like to know if those results are unreliable before ordering my next pair of boots!
One reason I opened the thread was that, since two out of two security systems failed to notice the metal in my experience, I was interested in finding out about the experiences of others with the material.
Along that line, I think CJ related some very interesting experiences under "Cobalt 6 and Airport Security" on the general Discussions forum--might be of some interest.

[This message has been edited by WILL YORK (edited 02-11-2000).]
Will, Thanks for the kind words. I am a knife junkie and always like to have one with me. I try to relay info to others that I know works. While not knowing all the correct words/phrases etc. I do know what works and doesn't concerning metal detectors. I go thru them almost on a daily basis with my job. Hope this info has helped, best of luck!
Thanks, CJ. There's been a vigorous discussion of the subject on other threads, with many opinions offered. I think real-world experience is always potentially valuable in a case like that. I also realize that real-world experience can produce anomalous results, per Walt's perspective. That makes the volume of experience being weighed important, and I appreciate your input. Maybe some others will weigh in with personal experience. I'm hoping Walt will become curious enough to get some hands-on experience, because it sounds like he may be able to analyze any anomalies for us. One thing about my experience I'd like to revisit is that the wand did beep on the cobalt, just as you said. So the idea of "sneaking" something illegal onto a plane should be ruled out in any case by the prudent. Will
Well, gentlemen, I HATE flying, so doubt that I will be participating in any airport experiments. If I can find a friendly security guard at some location, however, I can test some metal objects.

The problem that I forsee is that there are so many variables that I doubt valid conclusions can be made.

One misconception is that it is the mass of the conducive object that makes it detectable. This is not the case. The shape of the object is far more critical. The surface area of the object is also important, since eddy currents tend to form on the surface of objects ('skin effect'). The orientation of the object is also important. Furthermore, the speed of the object going through the magnetic field greatly affects the detectability. The placement of the object relative to the loop of the detector is critical as well; the magnetic field generated by the object's eddy currents is inversely proportional to the cube of the distance from the detector. The sensitivity of the detector is also obviously important. Most are set rather low, so that an object must generate large eddy currents to be detected. This is to prevent the large number of false alarms caused by turning the sensitivity up.

One other consideration is that some metal detectors are designed to detect ONLY ferromagnetism. See this site:

Another misconception is that the wand detectors are more sensitive than the walk through (portal) detectors. They are not; they are more specific at localizing the source of the magnetic signal. A high quality wand detector will detect a small steel handgun at 7" to 10"; a pocket knife at 6"; a steel key ring at 5", a razor blade at 3", and a hat pin at 1".

Coug; the devices used about 10 to 20 years ago were actually MADs (Magnetic Anomaly Detectors); their use today is to detect submarines from aircraft; the actual detection is accomplished by the minute change (anomaly) caused by the mass of metal on the earth's magnetic field.

I hope that I have not bored you too much. All that I was trying to accomplish in my first post was to dissuade anyone from thinking they could sneak a Talonite (r) blade through a detector. Perhaps you can, perhaps you cannot. As other posters have most cogently pointed out, this is a good way to irritate security if you are caught.

Walt, I have found out, being wanded alot is that they usually skim that hand held unit off your body, less than 1 inch and accualy rubbing it on your clothes in the usual places that things might be hid in. I clip my knife in my Justin Roper which is for one very comfortable and doesn't rub on the pants and get in the way. They usually skim right past it since they are used to getting the beep there from the steel shanks. Even if I'm caught, it's all still legal because of the size etc. Just tired of the hassles where there not needed.
Here's another wrinkle to the discussion of detection systems: millimeter wave security devices that can detect plastic, ceramic and (of course) metallic weapons and the like.

Check it out at:

Note the link at the bottom of the page for a handheld unit to "remote" detect - very Sci-Fi, no?

As I posted on this subject in the past, I can't resist to add my 2 cents.

I have a friend who works for a company that designs all kinds of detectors. He said that the next generation - which is already on the market - could detect ANY irregularity on a person - even a plastic bag filled with water. LET ALONE ANY AND ALL THE KNIVES WE LIKE AND CARRY. That includes ceramic, carbon fiber, plastic, Titanium - you name it. These are very expensive devices so don't expect to find them anywhere - but if you ever do - well, this will not be a pretty sight, and I have to agree with all those who tried to talk you out of doing this.

DON'T mess with airport Security - especially when you are away from home (i.e. Europe and mainly Britain)

I am a lawyer and I fly allot - and I never try to mess with these guys - their sense of humor is very limited...

Blilious--Living in your part of the world, those sentiments take on some very serious conotations. We can get a little cavalier over here--thanks for the sobering note.
Well, if the next generation will detect anomolies such as bags of water, there goes the plan for sneaking extra booze on board in fake "colostomy bags"...

Don LeHue

Rome did not create a great empire by having meetings...they did it by killing all those who opposed them.

Rob Cude is a noted Navy technician who specializes in this sort of stuff. (He also collaborated with Kit Carson on the design of the U2 knife). If you go to "Eye's" aka Marion David P's page, I believe one of the links has some posts from Rob about cobalt alloys and titanium regarding their use in ordnance disposal (in which you want NOTHING with any signature... cobalt including Stellite and Talonite won't make the cut, titanium does). The type of equipment used at airports is also subject to the vagarities of adjustment differences, one unit to another, one airport to another, so your experiences can not be taken as a benchmark.


Glad to see you pay homage to us old Navy types
! MAD indeed! The stuff of ASW. Your explanation, as ususal, was spot on!

Fair winds and following seas my friend!

-=[Bob Allman]=-

I did NOT escape from the institution! They gave me a day pass!

BFC member since the very beginning
Member: American Knife & Tool Institute; Varmint Hunters Association;
National Rifle Association; Praire Thunder Inc.; Rapid City Rifle Club;
Spearfish Rifle & Pistol Club; Buck Collectors Club (prime interest: 532s)
Certified Talonite(r) enthusiast!

[This message has been edited by bald1 (edited 02-14-2000).]