The lowdown on Camillus blade steels

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I'm a fairly new fan of Camillus knives. My favorites are the Model 99 utility knives and TL-29/Electricians' Knives, although I have several other models.

I've seen a few different opinions of which steel was used in the electrician's knives and Camillus knives in general. The electrician's knives are one of my all-time favorite knife patterns and an EDC for me. I had been under the impression that my knives had 0170-6 or 0170-6C for blade steel. Am I right?

Were different steels used over the production years of the TL-29/electrician?

Thanks for any information,
Bob
 

David Martin

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Without going and digging thru my notes for the exact statement from Phil Gibbs;
Camillus used 440A steel to about 1990 . Then went to 420 HC steel. They used that until they closed their doors in 2004 or 2005. DM
 
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2006 was the last year of production, with bankruptcy being filed for in February 2007.
 

buckthorn

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Can it be assumed that the steel and heat treat used for the contract Buck 300 series pocket knives and the Camillus "stainless" (in the 179 for example) were the same?
Thanks!
 

black mamba

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Here is a quote from an earlier thread by Phil Gibbs:

Many companies in the past have marketed knives made from "Mystery Super Steel"
Prior to my arrival at Camillus Cutlery Company, advertising literature referred to Camillus Sword Steel being used on their Sword Brand knives.
It was 440B!

I no longer work for Camillus, so I have no allegiance to them.

So apparently, the Sword Brand knives used a slightly upgraded 440B instead of their regular 440A.
 

buckthorn

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Thanks to all for the clarification regarding steels. Now, here's perhaps a more complicated question: How did the timing of using 440A (and/or 440B) vs. 420HC coincide (or not) with the changeover from three-pin scales to "one-pin-plus-plastic-studs-through-holes-in-the-liner" scales? In other words, if you have a Camillus knife that is stainless and you can guess it was made more or less around 1990, can you tell whether it was made prior to, or after, 1990 (and therefore made from 440A vs. 420HC) by examining scale construction? I imagine that complicating this was that any changeover in both steel grade and scale construction occurred gradually. And, assuming similar quality heat treat can I discern a difference between those two steels' performance? Do I really have to know this? ABSOLUTELY NOT! But I'm curious and perhaps others are as well.
 

David Martin

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I am guessing you are meaning in 1977 not 179. The particular steel cannot be ascertained without metalugery tests. But yes one should notice better edge retention with 440A than 420. And I have noticed that with a Buck 307 from the 70's. DM
 

buckthorn

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Can it be assumed that the steel and heat treat used for the contract Buck 300 series pocket knives and the Camillus "stainless" (in the 179 for example) were the same?
Thanks!

I am guessing you are meaning in 1977 not 179. The particular steel cannot be ascertained without metalugery tests. But yes one should notice better edge retention with 440A than 420. And I have noticed that with a Buck 307 from the 70's. DM


David, Thanks for helping to clarify and it's good to know that you feel there's a difference in performance between 440-A and 420. I had suspected there is but not sure whether I could have detected it.

In any case "179" referred to the Camillus model number, not a year. (I'm old, but not THAT old!)

But I still have the question of whether for an individual, one-pin Camillus knife, introduced prior to 1990 but continued to be be listed in the catalog after 1990, is there way of ascertaining which stainless it contains? I guess not.
 

David Martin

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Without having it tested. No. It was during that timeframe they switched around and used up what they had on hand. So, employees are not sure. DM
 

buckthorn

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Thanks again David.I'll just have to settle for not knowing what steel i have in my 179 other than it is stainless and of relatively low grade. If having a super steel were my prime criterion there are plenty of alternatives (though mostly not in traditionals). I "like" the 179 so I'll just continue to carry it, aware that it isn't "perfect". Is any knife the perfect one? It took me many years to get there, but i gave up on THAT search long ago!
 

David Martin

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The search for the perfect knife is like hunting for 'Big Foot.' Your not going to find it. I rotate around 3-4 folders, depending on what I'm doing. This seems to keep my picky disorder in check. DM
 

buckthorn

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The search for the perfect knife is like hunting for 'Big Foot.' Your not going to find it. I rotate around 3-4 folders, depending on what I'm doing. This seems to keep my picky disorder in check. DM

Realizing/accepting that makes life just a tiny bit more comfortable and less complicated, doesn't it?!
 

buckthorn

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If we can continue this thread a bit longer, what is the story regarding steel used for the springs? For the longstanding traditional styles they were almost entirely not stainless, (perhaps 1095, same as the blades). I believe that when the more modern styles such as the 2, 3, and 4, were introduced, the springs were stainless, as were the blades. On the 177 and 179, however, I believe that, even though the blades were stainless, the springs were not.Would someone please elaborate on the transition from non-stainless to stainless springs? Thank you!
 

Phil Gibbs

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The non stainless springs were 1095 Carbon Steel.
The stainless springs were 410HC (410 High Carbon).
 
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