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Super steel comparison? (K294, Rex121, 10V, etc)

Discussion in 'Knife Reviews & Testing' started by michaelm466, Jun 17, 2012.

  1. michaelm466

    michaelm466 Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 5, 2009
    I recently got my first blade in CPM-10V and have been very impressed with it, after some searching I can't really find much info on comparisons between the top tier of super steels, as in the steels production companies won't/don't work with. What I know so far is that CPM-10V = A11 = K294, the stainless version is of course more rust resistant but loses some toughness and edge holding which is CPM-S110V = K390. But how do these compare to some of the other steels as far as edge holding and toughness (enough toughness for say a 4-5" fixed blade at around 3/16 stock, maybe a little thinner, probably wouldn't be doing any batoning). Hopefully Phil Wilson or Ankerson can comment.

    Steels I'd like to hear you're comparison/experiences with:
    Micromelt Maxamet

    or any others I don't know about that would be competition in edge retention with the above.
  2. sodak

    sodak Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2004
    I've got a custom in 10V and K390, both from Phil Wilson. They both outcut almost all of my other knives by a significant margin. HOWEVER, (you knew that was coming, right?), they are both incredibly optimized for cutting in their geometry. I am tempted to say at this time that 10V has the edge, but it is also 64.5 HRC, while the K390 is 63.

    So there are a lot of other variables at play here, which makes it hard to really rank them. I'm finding geometry to be as important as the steel in cutting ability, which will affect edge retention.
    Lipripper likes this.
  3. Ankerson

    Ankerson Knife and Computer Geek Platinum Member Gold Member

    Nov 2, 2002
    I have tested:

    10V (64.5)

    K294 (64)

    S110V (63.5)

    S110V (65)

    All Phil Wilson Customs....

    Once we get into this level of edge retention, and it's very high one is really splitting hairs.

    Nothing beats K294 and CPM 10V that I have seen yet.

    The closest thing that I have personally tested was S110V at high hardness.

    Phil Wilson says K390 is very close to K294 from his testing.

    This Phil Wilson Custom Bow River in K294 at 64 HRC made 1,800 slicing cuts through 5/8" Manila rope and it would still slice printer paper clean, K294 is an extremely aggressive cutter.



    Last edited: Jun 18, 2012
  4. Huntsman Knife Co.

    Huntsman Knife Co. KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Sep 10, 2010
    I have a CPM 10V knife at 64 RC. Im pretty sure it's about as good as steel can perform in a knife. It slice like a hack saw and is still tough enough that I don't have any issues with chipping. Once you get to 10v I think the only way a steel can be better is to have higher toughness and higher stain resistance. As far as actual cutting that you do with a knife I don't see how something could cut better than 10V.
  5. The Mastiff

    The Mastiff

    Apr 21, 2006
    When you get up into steels with more wear resistant carbides than the A11 class ( 10V, K294, etc.) you begin to get into steels that have problems that make them not so great at being a knife. Being too fragile at knife edge thickness and geometries is one of the most common with the very high carbide/tungsten replacement steels. Not getting really sharp is another complaint that has been mentioned here before.

    Looking at the charts you begin to see the big drop offs in toughness with the super high wear steels like S125 and above. 10V is in the D2 range or better for toughness depending on which chart you are looking at. It's about as wear resistant as I'd go other than as an experiment. I currently don't have a 10V knife, but I do have a Phil Wilson S110V, and two S125V knives( not Phil Wilson made), one of which is full hardness.

    If I did it over I'd probably have selected 10V instead of S110V, but at the time I thought I was going to be able to afford both. Oh well.

  6. michaelm466

    michaelm466 Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 5, 2009
    This is what I was kind of thinking about micromelt maxamet (around 30% carbide and 68HRC) as well as REX121, I would guess they would either be a step up in edge retention above A11 class at the sacrifice of corrosion resistance and/or toughness (especially with the high HRC) or due to the brittle edge they would microchip much more than the A11 class and so would be about equal or perhaps less.
  7. TriviaMonster


    Jan 2, 2012
    I am curious how the maxamet performs. Its a high speed steel made for hardness at high temps and only has 6% vanadium. I'm curious to see how it performs and I know Kershaw plans on running it around 68hrc if I remember correctly. Should be a beast. But, 15v is really in a class all by its lonesome self as far as wear resistance goes compared to A11 class stuff. Not sure about the toughness, but I read one maker decided against it after testing because it lacked toughness to an extreme degree even compared to 10v for example.
  8. Rapt_up


    May 4, 2012
    Honestly, having cut manilla rope in a "field" situation, I can't imagine how much more edge retention one could realistically need. Beyond bragging rights... :eek:

    With a knife like that I might forget how to sharpen it between sharpenings. :)
  9. GURZO77


    Jul 9, 2011
    This is a knife made in Italy (Sardinia) blade style has Japanese katana.
    Steel is a really hard to grind with the normal natural stones. (CPM 10V)
    In these photos you can see a blade sharpening with Japanese stones.
    Sharpening lasted several hours, the last Japanese stone has grit 15.000.
    Then I did stropp up to 50.000 grit.
    with aluminum oxide paste very concentrated.
    The results are a very sharp edge, upon contact with my fingertips, I feel a sensation of micro needles.
    The edge is 21 °.
    Could be cut without difficulty:
    1 - Phone List for cutting pressure
    2 - Shaving Hair
    3 - Pork rind very hard.

    the particular composition of the steel can make cuts without much difficulty compared to standard steel.
    I hope that sharing was appreciated, sorry for my English written with google translated.:)

    Last edited: Jul 15, 2012
  10. Gunsnknives


    Mar 26, 2011
    GURZ077, thank you for the post and effort to translate!!! Your pictures and descriptions are great!
  11. Ankerson

    Ankerson Knife and Computer Geek Platinum Member Gold Member

    Nov 2, 2002
    Yeah, A11 (10V and K294) cuts like a hacksaw it's so aggressive, but it can take a highly refined edge also because it's very fine grained.
  12. Ankerson

    Ankerson Knife and Computer Geek Platinum Member Gold Member

    Nov 2, 2002
    Awesome :thumbup:

    You have to be loving that knife. :D
  13. GURZO77


    Jul 9, 2011
    Thanks guys.
    I wanted you to see how steel cpm10v is a real razor thanks to its composition rich carbides.

    I sharpened other steels:
    CPM S30V - Spyderco Military- 8cr13MbV - tenacious-ambitiuos-persistence -
    N690Co - made ​​by me (many blades)
    440 b-c- K720 - C70 (homemade knives)
    w1 (roselli ax)
    12C27 - mora knives (many types)
    aus 8
    420 (various kitchen knives)
    Triflex Carbon - mora knife steel
    scalpels (many types)
    Kitchen Knives - Wusthof - victorinox - montana
    straight razor and more ...
    I sharpened - these steels - such as a razor ... but the satisfaction of CPM 10V is really really really great.

    for me a great steel for the "pure cutting" ...
    Hello and thanks for your attention...
    and, sorry again for the English translated by google ..
  14. cm_bushman


    Oct 22, 2012
    Whoa whoa whoa here. Sorry to revive this thread and all, but in your shootouts of S30V, CTS-XHP, M390, and S90v, cuts ranged from 240 to 460. S30V scored 300 cuts. Are you saying that a Phil Wilson 10v custom will cut 600% longer than a S30V Military, and almost 400% longer than a S90V model? THAT is the gap between customs and production you allude to in your 5/8 rope thread? (Am I comparing apples to apples here by the way, or were two different criterea used?)

    Geez, that's insane. I have got to get me one of those! I know hardness is at two different levels with the knives, but still, that's a large jump from what many consider "super" steels.

    In your opinion, how would 10v and S90V compare in exactly the same knife? I must assume from the datasheets a very large portion of the performance in the Phil Wilson knives are from his design and geometry, since nothing there indicates 10v is a full four times as wear resistant as S90v. This really goes to show you what you're paying for with a prestigious maker like Phil.
  15. sodak

    sodak Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2004
    Your conclusions are probably correct. If anything, Ankerson's numbers are somewhat conservative, from what I've seen. Geometry is really what does the cutting, and you select the steel that can support the thinnest geometry possible at a given hardness. Generally, the harder the steel, the stronger the knife, and the better it can support a thin edge.

    I just got another Wilson, a Bow River in S110V at 63 HRC, pretty much identical in looks to the picture that Ankerson posted of his earlier. It's 0.005 inches thick behind the edge. Wow. It's hanging in there with my other 2 pretty well. I'm still using and testing all 3, and I suspect the CPM10V will remain on top, but the other 2 aren't that far behind. Contrast that to the Spyderco Southfork, S90V, about 0.02 or so behind the edge. That is a huge difference, and for a production knife, the Southfork is remarkably thin and stacks up favorably with most any other production blade that I've seen yet. Very favorably.

    Thinning out the edge by an order of magnitude takes you places that you have to really experience yourself.

    And sharpening? From full dull to full sharp in a couple of minutes max. No burr to speak of at that hardness, and not much metal to remove. You get the best of both worlds, keeps an edge for a very long time, and sharpens up faster than most knives. Gotta love it! :D
  16. cm_bushman


    Oct 22, 2012
    That's astounding. So really, if you're going for pure cutting performance, there is no diminishing return on a Phil Wilson, (or similar custom using comparable geometry and materials), as some say with top-end knives. You pay four to six times as much as most production blades (give or take, of course), and you get four to six times the performance! This is the first I've heard of the lack of burr formation and ease of sharpening, which is just another plus. I hazard to guess high hardness is the reason Hitachi Super Blue and White #1 are so highly praised for easy sharpening by kitchen knife enthusiasts

    I'm very interested in these A11-class steels, and K390. I believe that they are the practical limit today for user-friendly knife steels with maximum edge holding while retaining acceptable toughness. I wonder how they compare in a head to head with Maxamet, Rex-121, or Rex Champion. I'm not as crazy about the 30%+ carbide steels in theory, but they do illustrate an interesting extreme in the knife world today. Farid's Rex-121 Mules seemed to fair pretty well.
  17. Ankerson

    Ankerson Knife and Computer Geek Platinum Member Gold Member

    Nov 2, 2002
    10V and 90V in the same knife?

    Well taking into count that that 10V knife would be 64 HRC and 90V would be 61 HRC and with the added Vanadium in 10V along with the very high compression strength there would be a difference, thinking maybe 30% or so.

    You also have to take into count that Phil Wilson is the very best at what he does and he gets the max out of the steels that is possible so comparing his knives to any production blade is like comparing an airliner to the space shuttle.

    If I actually cut until Phil's knives were as dull as the production knives the percentages would be closer to 1,000% or higher.

    Yeah they are because I don't cut until the knives are dull, they still have good working edges on them or better. :)
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2013
  18. gine


    Sep 2, 2007
    My phil wilson bow river in K294 @64 HRC is the highest edge holding steel i've used. CPM REX-121 might not have enough toughness to support a thin edge from chipping or breakage. I haven't seen much about 15v but the charts say it's highly wear resistant.
  19. TriviaMonster


    Jan 2, 2012
    15V is unreal, it has 50%(!) more Vanadium Carbides than CPM 10V. All the K390 in the world won't match it in wear resistance, and if all you do is ultra light tasks it will blow your mind. In a scenario like that, the edge will probably dull due to corrosion before it rounds off. But it lacks toughness compared to 10V or CPM 9V(lower C and V for increased toughness over A11). And the real nightmare is running it very thin at the edge. A small chip or two will be very difficult to sharpen out, so to negate that possibility it will need to be run a bit thicker behind the edge. That in itself is a step backwards as a thicker edge is less effective at cutting than a thinner one. The other option is running the 15V softer, which again, is a step backwards. And I am sure the new ZT in Maxamet will be cool, but it will not be a razor blade and may not cut all that well.

    Also, the only reason to choose S90V or better yet, 110V over the A11 steels is corrosion resistance. And even though 10V is more corrosion resistant than, say 52100, sometimes you just need it. And if you don't need the extra corrosion resistance, the toughness you gain with the A11 steels is much more useful for a knife. I manage a car wash and non stainless really takes a beating there. I can get M4 to surface rust in one day if I am using it due to chemicals and the humidity inside the wash. I have never oiled my CTS-204P Socom Elite and it has zero rust, not even a patina anywhere. Same with my S90V HTM.

    Custom steel gurus like Phil will always have a leg up on the production makers as they can tailor the knife for the job, and you can bet anyone who buys one of Phil's knives will have some idea of what it can take. ZT and Spyderco and others will always have to grind the edge a bit thicker than ideal because warranty claims and careless users.
  20. JayGoliath


    Mar 27, 2010
    I like that last sentence.

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