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The Downside of Talonite(R)?


Gold Member
Oct 5, 1998
Ever since I got my Munroe Chimera, I've been paying a little more attention to the threads with Talonite as the topic. In doing so I've come across a handfull of people who have been disappointed with it, and I'm not sure why. What, if any, are the downsides of Talonite? Isn't supposed to "hold" and "edge" 4-6 x longer than carbon steel blades? How could anyone be disappointed with that?
It's supposed to have "ET" edge holding properties, absolutely non-corrosive, and it's easy to sharpen...what is it's downfall and why are some disappointed with it?

From what 'others' have said, it is impact resistance that is the problem. For light cutting and no chopping this material is fantastic and highly recommended (others comments)

For careless use and chopping, steer well clear. It will not take it (others comments)

In other words, as a ceramic substitute it is GREAT! As a tough steel substitute it is a poor performer. Expect blade rolling and indentation for this role.

In a light weight 3-4 inch knife it would work best.(my understanding of the arguments, I may be wrong here, so don`t just take my word for it)

I was going to try some, but that fell through. As a result I do not want to personally comment upon it as I have yet to try it.

Hope it helps.


"To strive to seek to find and not to yield"
Ranger motto

A few useful details on UK laws and some nice reviews!
The cost of the material, around $150 per lb. is the main drawback.

Edge rolling can be controlled by appropriate blade geometry. The Talonite (r) chef's knife is still going strong in the hands of Nick Blinoff, a professional chef, who uses it as his 'number one chopper every day.' He says he sharpens it every 3 or 4 months. Here is a pic of this beauty:
<A HREF="http://albums.photopoint.com/j/View?u=306668&a=2279510&p=35537350&Sequence=0&res=high" TARGET=_blank>

Here is a pic of a few other Talonite (r) knives:
<A HREF="http://albums.photopoint.com/j/View?u=306668&a=2279510&p=34156950&Sequence=0&res=high" TARGET=_blank>

At top, the Kit Carson U2 dive knife, then a Tom Mayo drop point hunter, a Kit Carson #18 with Ti scales, a Kit Carson #18 slim with Stellite (r) blade and c-fiber scales. Next, a custom by Darrel Ralph similar to the large Apogee, and last, a Rob Simonich Cetan with Ti scales.

One more picture for Valentine's day (perfect gifts for the distaff side); two Kit Carson paring knives (3" and 4" blades) with Corion (r) handles:
<A HREF="http://albums.photopoint.com/j/View?u=306668&a=2279510&p=35271153&Sequence=0&res=high" TARGET=_blank>

There is one more alleged problem with Talonite (r), which is that some person has had a great number of knives made up from the alloy, thus depleting the supply. I consider this to be only a rumor.


[This message has been edited by Walt Welch (edited 01-27-2001).]
How well does it stand up to prying?


I get some pleasure from finding a relentlessly peaceful use for a combative looking knife.
Hoodoo take a look at my review of Allen Blade's Talonite neckknife, in reviews. I have done prying with it without any problems. The weakness of Talonite is very over stated in my opinion. Like Walt said if you want a chopper get the right thickness. Down side has to be the cost. Short term cost that is, a knife of Talonite should last for a very long time.

link for Hoodoo http://www.bladeforums.com/ubb/Forum3/HTML/002521.html

[This message has been edited by db (edited 01-27-2001).]
Mucho thanks for the link, db. I'll take a gander at it.


I get some pleasure from finding a relentlessly peaceful use for a combative looking knife.
Hoodoo; here is a better look at the two sizes of Kit Carson's U2 dive knives. Note that the points are blunt, and are designed for prying. Kit has yet to have one fail.
<A HREF="http://albums.photopoint.com/j/View?u=306668&a=2279510&p=36910070&Sequence=0&res=high" TARGET=_blank>

The following are excerpts from Talonite.com's web page. Please refer to the link at the bottom for the entire page.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">This is not a steel. Talonite® is technically a "Superalloy".

If tool steel stays sharp for 6 - 8 hours then Talonite® will retain an edge for 12 - 14 days.

Superalloys were developed for applications such as super turbochargers and aircraft turbine engines. These are applications where the alloy encounters severe mechanical stressing and it must have high temperature strengths, surface stability, resistance to high temperature erosion and resistance to corrosion.

The same qualities that make Superalloys excellent for jet engines make it excellent for knives. A Navy fighter on a carrier subjects turbine blades to more intense salt water exposure and higher temperatures as well as higher velocities than a dive knife could ever see.</font>

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Comparison to steel

Talonite® is widely used industrially. The fact that it is ten to a hundred more times or more expensive than steel and is still used instead of steel argues that it is at least ten times better. Part of this is wear, part machinability, part corrosion, part impact and a big part is reliability.

Aug. 31, 1998 - Requested Tests

Tests run with a piece of metal that is about .161" thick x .710" wide.

How strong is it?
I took an eighteen-inch piece and beat it hard and long against the edge of a vise. There were some impact marks but no dents, nicks or anything else.

Does it bend?
We took an eighteen-inch piece and clamped it in a vice and bent it about 90 degrees with just a big guy pushing on it.

Does it break?
It snapped at about 90 degrees.

Is it springy?
It springs back clean from about 80 degrees bend.

Hang Test
I took a piece and jammed it in the top sill of a steel door. Then I hung from it. I had both hands, one behind the other, with one hand next to the door. I weigh 222 pounds as of this morning.</font>

The site has much more info than the above, which is just some of the more basic points.

Hope the above helps.

Main Talonite page:

"sharks and dogs" he muttered, "sharks and dogs...."

Have been using above knife for over 6 months
Have sharpened it about 3 times
I use it EVERY day for EVERYTHING.
I leave blood on the blade, tape, grease, anything......clean it off with a little WD-40 about once a week......TALONITE IS INCREDIBLE STUFF!!
http://www.carbideprocessors.com for more info


John 1:14

[This message has been edited by tom mayo (edited 01-28-2001).]
Wow, I missed that dive knife. I've been thinking about a river knife made out of talonite for a while. How much those U2's run for?

Why I don't like Talonite in 4 words or less.
It ain't steel.
Now, in all fairness, I can say the same thing about ceramic and even stretch the point(
) to include stainless. I'm not saying that Talonite isn't wonderful stuff, but even by it's major fans, it's referred to as "stuff". Call me a traditionalist old fool, but,,,
Yes,I know the vitrues of technology and all that. There's just something abot a non-steel blade that is a turn off to me personally. It's narrow minded as all get out, but I don't feel I'm totally alone in thinking this way. Maybe in 30 to 50 years, when Talonite has some history to it, I'll change my tune.
The riddle of Talonite does have a nice ring to it though.
"Superalloys were developed for applications such as super turbochargers and aircraft turbine engines."

Possibly so, but cobolt alloys like Talonite and Stellite were around before 1920, and promoted as suitable for knives even then. And used as such in some industrial applications at least since the 1930's.
$$$, Other than that, you could not ask for a better general use material for knife blades. Edge holding and ease of sharpening are worth the extra cost for me. YMMV
Some back story on superalloys if you are at all interested.

A fellow named Charles Prangel, a German immigrant, made his living investment casting dental appliances and prosthetics in NYC in the 20's and 30's. He attended a trade show to 'legitimize' a trip he made to see a Joe Lewis boxing match. At this show he happened across a booth set up by Haynes alloys and learned about their cobalt-base alloys, then in use as an alternative to high speed steel for tool bits. Intrigued, he purchased some and began investment casting it. He soon found success in using it for his appliances.

Now enter in his brother-in-law, whose name I don't remember at the moment, anyway he was an engineer at General Electric up the river in Schenectady. Since marrying Charles' sister he made frequent visits to the shop to see what Charles was up to. He recommended to GE that investment casting be used to make blades for the new turbo-superchargers they were building to boost the high altitude power output of aircraft engines. They had a series of high alloy stainless steels they were going to cast blades from and then run in test rigs. They made extra molds as a hedge against breakage during the investment process. Well none of them broke. On a lark, they decided to cast some extra blades from the Haynes cobalt-based alloy. The Haynes alloy blades outperformed the high alloy stainless ones and were selected for production.

So that's how cobalt "superalloys" got their introduction into aviation. The British developed precipitation-hardened nickel-base alloys during WW2 that were forged into the blades for the first Allied jet engines. When jet engine technology was introduced here, GE was quick to substitute investment cast cobalt alloy for the forged nickel alloy blades and vanes in their early engines for economic advantage (savings in time and money... Ni superalloys are difficult to forge; narrow temperature window and sensitive to forming rate).

However there was a severe cobalt shortage during the Korean War and metallurgists began to understand that the nickel-based superalloys had the greatest potential for high temperature strength and oxidation resistance. At the same time high alloy stainless steels continued to improve to the point that they could claim to be superalloys as well. So cobalt superalloys gradually lost favor in aviation. They're still used for the vanes in ground-based gas turbines for power production, medical prostheses, and for cutting tools (which were their application in the beginning).

There you go. Superalloys in a nutshell. Technology is about serendipity.

[This message has been edited by GrantP (edited 01-28-2001).]

[This message has been edited by GrantP (edited 01-28-2001).]

[This message has been edited by GrantP (edited 01-28-2001).]
Oops. I used the word 'blade' in the last post. To prevent confusion, a 'blade' in a jet engine is actually a small airfoil and not something meant to act in any way like a knife blade. These airfoils are mounted onto disks to make them rotate like a pinwheel from the flow of burnt gas. Vanes are stationary airfoils mounted between the wheels ('blades' attached to disks) to modify the gas flow.

[This message has been edited by GrantP (edited 01-28-2001).]

I think I'm finally done editing them!

Maybe a spell and grammar check would be a nice addition to the site!
Jackyl, Talonite is a lot softer than most current blade steels. This means that it readily indents on impacts that a steel blade will easily handle. It is also significantly weaker, this means that the edge rolls faster and that the main body of the blade will bend under lower force. Rob Simonich has also stated that it will snap under less of a distortion than ATS-34 (I assume he means his).

You can overcome the lower strength by simply increasing the cross section of the blade, and this will as well raise the ability to resist deformation from impacts. However this also means that the cutting ability of the knife takes a significant loss. So in short, because of its lower strength and resistant to deformation, you either have to live with a lower performing knife or one that is not as durable as a quality steel one.

Most of the claims made about the Cobalt alloys while not exactly false are very misleading. For example industry blades in Cobalt alloys could very easily outlast steel ones by many times but this might not translate at all to an advantage in personal cutlery. Why? Because you don't cut with a knife the same way a press does. A person will put a lot of twisting forces across the edge of a blade because they are not a machine cutting a material held rigidly in place with near 100% perpendicular force. This means that high strength (which the Cobalt alloys do not have and the steel ones do) can make a large difference in edge retention, and that wear resistance not nearly as much.

As for the high cost, well yes, but you also have to factor in the fact that there is no need for heat treatment. Look at the overhead that is necessary for a maker to do a quality job in both regards to equipment and experience with time and temperature settings.

I tested a talonite blade once.

I did not like it for 2 reasons.

1. I like to test the cutting ability of a "steel" by taking the edge very thin and cutting wood. It also tests the toughness too. The talonite knife failed bigtime, as the edge kept rolling...It could be steeled back, but it was no use.

2. The cost of it does not cover the benefits. A 52100 cuts as good, even better with a thinner edge, but it rusts...
Now, how long does it take for a 52100 to get damaged soooo much that it becomes unusable? Very long, trust me. And since talonite costs at least 10 x 52100, can any of you say it will outlast 10 52100 blades?

Same with regular knives... a Benchmade costs 20 x an opinel... I doubt it can outcut 2.

"If the world wouldn't SUCK, we'd all fall off !"

You can E-mail me at any time....guaranteed reply !

member of the BKS
As to my knowledge cobalt super alloys were designed to work in far thicker edges than knife ones. And in conditions when blade's cost is nothing in comparison with sharpening costs. Please imagine the ground drill column with bit which works on some kilometer deepness. Is the bit with cobalt alloy cutting edges much more expensive than with steel ones? By all means!
But now imagine what would cost you to pull bit out to resharpen it?