Top blade steels and why

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Jeremy D Bittler, Oct 3, 2019.

  1. David Mary

    David Mary KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jul 23, 2015
    I stand corrected! I guess I just like to look for how I can give the benefit of doubt, but sometimes that benefit evaporates...
  2. Jeremy D Bittler

    Jeremy D Bittler

    Oct 2, 2019
  3. craytab

    craytab Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 26, 2012
    I didn't read their explanations. They have m390 and 20cv listed in different categories. They clearly don't know what they are talking about.

    Stick around here and read more. Seems you want someone to give you a quick and easy answer to whatever question you come up with. That is not how learning works.
    David Mary likes this.
  4. Ajack60

    Ajack60 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Apr 21, 2013
  5. DeadboxHero

    DeadboxHero Triple B Handmade, Custom Knives Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 22, 2014
    Man, you're going to go on a wild goose chase if you're just looking for concrete affirmations about the best steel, your asking a question as silly as what's the best vehicle, look outside, vans, trucks, cars different kinds for different things and no one size fits all.

    The problem with your question is that the knives performance is the sum of all components not just the steel, so if we give you answers you'll just get tunnel vision.
    Another problem is your skill level in use and sharpening will also change what will perform better.

    Just use these generalities, more stuff in the steel makes it more expensive and cut longer but perhaps more prone to damage with misuse and may be difficult to get sharp if one lacks sharpening knowledge, ability and harder abrasives. The advantages being you can sharpen when you want to not because you have to. It's not that it stays laser sharp forever but that it doesn't blunt with cutting as easy and can physically cut longer.

    Less stuff in the steel may help it fit into non cutting roles better where the biggest concerns are breaking rather than cutting longer. Will have a lower learning curve to use and maintain but simply doesn't cut as long.

    There are always caveats and exceptions and I could write a book about the specifics but this will get you started.

    I'd recommend getting into sharpening if you want more answers and narrowing down your preferences and uses with experience will help out find what's best for YOU.

    I like my steels on the extreme side, that doesn't work for everyone though.

    Gimme Rex121 at 70rc,
    15v at 67rc
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2019
    J.K 83, Currawong and David Mary like this.
  6. SpyderPhreak

    SpyderPhreak Rocketman for hire Platinum Member

    Apr 13, 2004
    If you really want an honest answer, this is it: It depends. Sorry, but it's true.

    Your best bet is to try some out and see what YOU like. Get some less expensive knives in 1095, O1, 52100, AEB-L, 154CM / CPM 154 / RWL 34, and S30V. That's 3 carbon steels and 3 stainless. Start there before moving up to the newer "super" steels. Get a feel for how those steels "age" (in other words, how they cut, how long the edge lasts, etc.) Learn to sharpen first, before going any further, or you'll never get to truly appreciate the "super" steels later. All 6 that I listed are relatively easy to sharpen unless run ultra hard.
    ShannonSteelLabs and willc like this.
  7. singularity35


    Mar 1, 2010
    1. Sharpest
    2. Sharp
    3. Dull
    David Mary, AntDog and marcinek like this.
  8. cistercian

    cistercian Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 22, 2015
    Which brand of S30V? I had a 531 Benchmade and found it hideous...
    it chipped like mad and was a pita to sharpen. (bevel angle and thickness behind the edge not cool)
    Meanwhile a fellow knife nerd was saying how wonderful Spyderco S30V worked for a Para 3.

    I bought a Lil Native in S30V and started using the hell out of it. First off, it can go 2 or 3 weeks
    before it won't shave hair. Second of all it takes like 2 or 3 minutes on the Sharpmaker to
    get very sharp. The sharpening time alone makes it a winner...and it has chipped once in use.
    I cut a lot of cardboard and one box caused a tiny chip...which took 3 minutes to fix!
    I find that Spyderco S30V makes for a great EDC steel. It does not seem to chip much and
    it holds a working edge long enough to make me happy. And it is easy to sharpen.

    Obviously, the blade profiles in my example have to have a giant impact. I find myself
    loving the full flat Spyderco blades over everything else.All of my Spydies have symmetric
    edges too which are also at an angle that works great with the Sharpmaker.
    Para 2s I own in S30V have also been stellar and easy to sharpen.

    I own a Para 2 in M390 but I have no idea what sharpening it is like. It still does not
    need it! I use it very little to be fair.
    I have heavily used 154CM as well and sharpened it many times. S30V is better to me.

    I have yet to get a blade in CTS-XHP but from what I have heard, it is excellent.
    I have blades in D2, M4, and K390. But I never actually use them...I just carry
    them occasionally. (Benchmade Infidel, Spyderco Advocate, Spyderco Police 4 G10)
  9. Chronovore

    Chronovore Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 29, 2019
    It looks like the OP has been bitten by the knife bug. Now he is trying to jump in head first and get some quick answers. I understand the excitement and that's a good thing. Some people like to size up the pool before they jump in. The valuable advice has already been given: that it will take time, experience, and trying different things IRL. That's part of what makes this a great long-term hobby.

    There is a lot to learn here. Heck, I've carried a knife for decades but only jumped into that deep end within the last couple of years. I'm still learning and that's part of the fun.

    I'm an advocate of decent budget knives for a lot of reasons. A big part of that is being able to try different ones without breaking the bank. The budget arena is an excellent place to try out steels with different properties and also to explore sharpening. Maybe spend some time down here before selecting a fancy super steel. Enjoy some 14C28N, VG-10, N690, Acuto 440, Civivi's 9Cr18Mov, and of course some budget D2. Make it a learning year. :)
    bigsurbob likes this.
  10. Tjstampa

    Tjstampa Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 25, 2019
  11. K.O.D.

    K.O.D. Sanity Not Included Platinum Member

    Aug 21, 2013
    Benchmade, Spyderco, and ZT had issues. Chipping. I've only had two knives in that steel that weren't chippy. A Strider SnG which I sold years ago, and my Spyderco Yo2.
  12. Natlek


    Jun 9, 2015
    You talk to much ;) Try this way..................With nearly every steel, you’ll have to trade off one thing for another.
    Jeremy D Bittler likes this.
  13. Black Oak Bladeworks

    Black Oak Bladeworks KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 5, 2019
    As others have said, the best steel depends what you are doing with it. And just because a steel might usually be "better" than the other the heat treat will make or break the steel. Also most steels are just trade offs. Cpm3V holds its edge longer than 1095 and is much harder to resharpen because of that for example. Blade grind angles will also effect performance. Best of luck!
  14. Kaibab270

    Kaibab270 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 20, 2019
    My irrelevant 2 cents would put M390 variants closely followed my s35vn at the top (if both are heat treated properly of course). I like a nice mix of corrosion resistance, wear resistance and decent toughness over a steel that is the absolute best in just 1 category.
  15. DeadboxHero

    DeadboxHero Triple B Handmade, Custom Knives Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 22, 2014
    Oh I'm just trying to be nice and go further in detail, when I was new, no one really went out of their way to explain much or "why" except for a very small handful of folks. Just paying it forward.
  16. Jeremy D Bittler

    Jeremy D Bittler

    Oct 2, 2019
    I'm not look for necessarily the best steel but a list or group of top steels that are similar sp I have a starting point..I never buy cheap knifes... KNIVES!!! My experience in life had taught me 99.8% of the time you get what you pay for...
    bigsurbob, Currawong and David Mary like this.
  17. jstn

    jstn Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 27, 2012
    My top 5, in no particular order:

    1) LC200N - I like this for EDC because I sweat a lot. It does not rust and had good edge retention. Perfect for EDC use.

    2) Cruwear - Very tough and has good edge retention. Easy to sharpen and I've never had it rust, surprisingly. I love this steel.

    3) 3V - I like this in fixed blades. It is super tough and a great steel.

    4) Good old S35VN - It is ubiquitous for a reason. Great all-around steel, and in my experience, one of the tougher stainless steels. I prefer it to M390.

    5) Nitro V - I am all about this steel right now. It also might be my favorite depending on the day. It holds a decent edge, and it is really tough for stainless. Also, it is incredibly stainless. I have a few fixed blades in Nitro V, and I am looking to get a large fixed in it to see how tough it really is.
  18. marcinek

    marcinek Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 9, 2007
    1) Again, top for what? Based on what application? Based on what properties? AUS8 is one of my favorites because it keeps a great edge well, is easy to sharpen, and isnt expensive. It has never broken despite what you have convinced yourself.

    2) Your "you get what you pay for" theory doesn't apply. There are a ton of great inexpensive knives and a ton of terrible expensive knives.

    3) Learn to sharpen.

    4) Read more HERE. You have gotten bad information and there is a lot of it out there.

    5) Again, while you are pushing the reset button, get a Mora, get a SAK, get a VG10 Delica, get a CV Case, and get a Sharpmaker and USE THEM.

    Everyone here was at the point you are. The solution is not to throw wads of cash at high priced supersteels. That is just being a marketing department's dream.

    The solution is to learn about metal properties through use and find what charactetistics suit you.

    THEN go chase steels with the junkies!
    Rykjeklut, David Mary and jstn like this.
  19. jstn

    jstn Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 27, 2012
    Well said, and full of wisdom, but I wish you had saved this for your 30,000 post! Holy cow!
    Mecha and Rykjeklut like this.
  20. David Mary

    David Mary KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jul 23, 2015
    Haha, very knifes, @Jeremy D Bittler , very knife, I mean very nice.
    Currawong likes this.

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