VG-10, ATS-34, & BG-42

Sep 21, 1999

Before anyone says do a search, I have done that already. I am thinking about getting my first stainless production fixed blade in quite a while. I find myself gravitating to the Fallkniven line because I have yet to see a bad comment about these knives from anyone.

My question has to do with the steel. What is VG-10? How does it compare performance-wise with ATS-34 and BG-42? I have some inkling from Cliff Stamp's review of the A1, but like anyone, I enjoy diverse opinion if it is out there.

Anyone have comparative opinions of these stainless formulations? I would also appreciate any comments on the merits/logic of coatings on stainless blades.

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of the tyrant; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt, 1783

I haven't had the opertunity to check out any VG-10, but I would say ATS34 is bottom of the pecking order then BG-42 then CPM420V. Of course all of these are better than 440a or AUS4 or AUS6 and the like. The pecking order came about for me just from experience with knives made from these, of course I could have gotten a bad heat treat on one and didn't like it.

~ JerryO ~
VG-10 is very good stainless with around 1% carbon, 1% molybdenom, and .2% vanadium. It is tough, takes a very sharp edge, and is reasonably easy to sharpen. You can get it up to the 59-60 rockwell hardness. I've got a Fallkniven F1 and I like the steel. To see a nice comparison of knife alloy compositions see the Linder Solingen "Knife Blade Steel Table" at:
pecking order came about for me just from experience with knives made from these, of course I could have gotten a bad heat treat on one and didn't like it.
Heat treat is the most important aspect in the usefulness of a knife. Any of the knife steels will preform poorly, if heat treated poorly. I have used ATS-34 for quite sometime, and have fantastic results with it. But there again, I would say that is a result of the heat treat, and also edge geometry. In other words, don't throw out the dozen, because of one bad egg.


Lynn Griffith-Tactical Knifemaker
Winner of "Best Tactical Knife" at 1999 PKA show
My website
See my award winning "Spec Ops Tanto" in Gallery 3 of my website
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ATS is odd. Sometimes it can be really good, other times it seems to be brittle, or dull or whatever. Guess it depends how ya heat it...
Oregon Duck -- first, congrats to your boys for dropping USC big time. I'm happy R Jay Soward had a big day, but I'm even happier that the Ducks put Carson Palmer on the sidelines for a long time...

Back to topic -- what size/type of knife are you looking for? I imagine that might factor into determining its "best metal, etc. Presumably you want to compare factory/production models only?

Sorry to answer your Q w/more Q's -- I can't give input here but am interested in what others think, too.


"What's so funny 'bout peace, love, and understanding?" -Elvis Costello
Thanks for the kind words about the USC game, but boy did we get banged up! Hardest fought college game I have seen in years. Not everyone goes to triple OT. . . .

Anyway, right now I am toying with the idea of getting either a Fallkniven F1 or A1 before my winter hiking season gears up. I am looking for a general utility blade that will perform without corrosion that is still inexpensive enough to lose in the snows in the Mt. Hood National Forest when I go winter camping. A Ka-Bar has been filling the role, but the stainless Fallknivens are catching my eye in advertisements and catching my ear with their good word of mouth.

So consider the parameters to be 4-7" fixed. Corrosion resistance has to be great, toughness in extreme cold to perhaps being stuck in a fire or burner very high on the list, edge holding and ease of resharpening a plus.

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of the tyrant; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt, 1783

I agree with Lynn, the heat treat matters much more than the steel. Especially in this case, where the 3 steels in question are not terribly different. VG10 might have slightly higher theoritical performance. But heat treat skill can vary so widely that the difference between the steels is a moot point.

Also, and this is not about Oregon Duck (I don't know your needs), I think people pay too much attention to stain resistance. Unless you operate in really corrosive environments, the trade-off you get in stainless steels just isn't worth it IMHO. A little rust will not turn a knife into a write-off. It will turn a little ugly on the surface, but it's not like the blade will fall apart. Yeah, nobody wants a rusty folder. But for a fixed blade, maintanance is easy. And a little will go a long way.

Remember, people have been using simple carbon steels for centuries in all sorts of climates.

[This message has been edited by tallwingedgoat (edited 28 September 1999).]
All 3 steels are very good and should surve you well. Putting a knife of any steel in a fire is most likly the best way to wreck the heat treatment, and really should not be done.
Oregon Duck
If I undestand correctly you are going to use your fixed blade to be in subzero ( below 32F) temperetures. I don't think corrosion resistance is a problem unless you are at Barents Sea or in other salty wet enviroment. All of these stain resistant steels should work well.

I live in Finland (cold place in winters) and had never had any problems with my carbon steelers not even to mention stainless blades. My blades (carbon steel) corrode only in autumns and springs(if they are not oiled every now and then). My grandfather winterfished and used the same puukko for 15 years and the only places that got rust in were the engravings. He had to gut his catch outdoors(becuse of my grandmom). Fishing temperetures waried from -40C to +5C. Frosty weather is pretty dry.

I think that if you clean your blade with snow and wipe it dry you dont see any problems in winter use.

Reading forums I have often wondered where people live coz they are so fanatic about corrosion. People have had knives that didn't rust away in a flash in the over 3500 years long history of iron.
Well I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression about me, but I am only looking at the Fallknivens as knives I don't even have to remember to maintain. If you will look at my previous postings I think it is fairly clear I own quite a few 1095 Ka-Bars and others that I like just fine. I even scuba dived with a Camillus Navy MK-III until I recently lost it. I now have a Warthog in that role.

The real reasons I want a Fallkniven are:

1) it is full tang rather than a stick tang so it is a theoretically laterally stronger than a Ka-Bar if need be.

2) When the conditions consantly change, I am beginning to appreciate at least one virtue in having a virtually maintenance free knife. I have bigger problems than taking care of my blade in the depths of winter. I know that a mountaineer just found British Mt. Everest expeditioneer George Mallory's body who died on the mountain in the 1920s. His carbon steel folding knife was recovered and still looks usable. I know cold weather is usually dry everywhere else I have encountered it, but not here in very coastal, very wet snow receiving Oregon. Even in the winter we get the Pacific onshore flow from Hawaii called the "Pineapple Express". It is the elevation that helps make it cold in the mountains here, not the latitude, especially in an eastern wind. However a Pacific wind from the west can be as much as twenty degrees warmer than the surrounding air temperature. The air and winds at elevation here are more often than not "layered" and can vary greatly in both temperature and relative humidity. The only time the edge of one of my Ka-Bars rusted was after snowmelt thawing off of my gear entered the sheath while all was in the relatively warm vestibule of my tent. It was only a minor concern, but why have it at all if it gives me an excuse to buy a "winter" knife after convincing the frau?

3) I want this knife for Christmas.

4) I may dive with it next year if the handle is tightly enough affixed to the blade.

So I wanted some input as to the big differences in the upmarket stainlesses. I am getting that answer of sorts. I appreciate the comments on carbon steel but it is sort of wasted on me as I am already a fan. I am just broadening my base of knives I like and am asking how VG-10 stacks up to the better known stainlesses.

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of the tyrant; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt, 1783

[This message has been edited by Oregon Duck (edited 28 September 1999).]
I own and use three Fallkniven's here in Florida. I have no corrsion problems thus far. As you might suspect, it is quite humid here a lot of the time and we have quite a bit of rain and then there is the salty air. Still, you guys are wet a lot of the time up there too. So, our climates are similar in the moisture dept.
VG10 is an outstanding stainless and I think it handily outperforms ATS34. I get corrosion on my ATS34 blades. I've yet to "spot" any rust on my Fallknivens. I can get a very fine edge on the VG10, more so than the ATS34. My experience with BG42 is limited so I'm not really qualified to comment on it. Sorry.
I am quite enamored with VG10 because of the performance I'm getting from it thus far. Don't get me wrong, I like ATS34 too, I just think VG10 is the better of the two.

If it's stupid but works, then it isn't stupid.

I wouldn't put a good knife into a fire since you will anneal the blade. You can get it up to 300-400 degrees briefly, but I wouldn't plan on doing it. If you really think you're going to do much of this, go for an alloy with a lot of Molybdenum. I generally avoid moly since it makes knives hard to sharpen, but its primary purpose in a steel is to improve its high temperature performance. BG-42 would be a better choice in that case. Good luck finding an affordable knife made from BG-42, though.

You could look for a Buck Master Series from the AG Russell website. They cost twice what a Fallkniven would cost and are out of production. I got mine at:
Thanks for the info about fires and heat treating. I was only thinking that on one occassion I had to retrieve a pot out of a fire while I was using "woodcraft" and the knife I had was the only thing with enough reach and stiffness after I killed the fire somewhat, (I didn't want to extinguish it). I wasn't aware that knives would take any significant damage from a brief poke into a fire. My stove burners and cookware all take time to significantly heat up. Clearing a jet on the burner was another instance I could think of that might see a knife tip in a fire. I was only wondering if the more complex steels would be damaged in any significant way by a brief poke into a 500 degree camp fire or a sputtering burner.

I am definitely not comptemplating roasting meat using my knife as a spit or something. Only emergency retrievals are envisioned as it usually hard to find stray deadwood sticks in the snow and green boughs are impractically flexible to rescue a pot or something like that.
I read once that the Japanese developed VG-10 as a steel for horticulturists who needed an extremely sharp, fine edge.
I see corrosion resistance as a very important part of maintaining a sharp edge, especially for a knife which does not see much use, and therefore, not much maintenance.

My A-2 blade stays sharper when I use it than when I put it away for awhile.

My Buck knives stay sharp over long storages.

I have chosen BG-42 for a custom knife, but I would feel well served by any of the listed steels.

Luke 22:36, John 18:6-11
As a kid I ruined many kitchen knives making them glow over the gas range flames. A propane camp stove would probably be hotter since propane has more energy than natural gas. The thin cutting edge of a knife can be heated up to a very high temperature while the body of the blade is not very hot. That is one of the reasons you need to be real careful about using a grinder to sharpen a knife.

You're not likely to get in trouble with your campfire, but I'd try and keep my edge out of the blue flames of my Coleman stove.

[This message has been edited by Jeff Clark (edited 28 September 1999).]
Which knives are we talking about? Fallkniven for VG-10, but what for ATS-34 and BG-42?

The reason I ask is that I don't know of any custom makers who use VG-10, and I don't know many manufacturers that use ATS-34 or BG-42. If we are really comparing a Fallkniven VG-10 blade to a custom ATS-34 or BG-42 blade then I would think it would fall out something like this:

I don't know a whole heck of a lot about VG-10 but I do know that Fallkniven is getting really good performance from it. I also believe that properly heat treated ATS-34 would be equally tough, and hold an edge a little better. BG-42, if run slightly harder should hold an edge incrementally better than ATS-34. BG-42 is finer grained than ATS-34 in my experience, and is a little easier to put a super fine edge on. VG-10 has the reputation of being fine grained also.

If I were considering whether a custom ATS-34 or BG-42 fixed blade was worth the extra cost over a Fallkniven model, I would ask myself how much I was willing to pay for just a hair more edge holding and a nice micarta handle. If I remember right, the Fallknivens are under $100. It would cost $100 to $200 more to get an ATS-34 or BG-42 custom, but it would be a better knife in my opinion.

Oh, and don't forget about modified INFI. The Busse Basic 5 should be available in the not too distant future.

[This message has been edited by Steve Harvey (edited 28 September 1999).]
Sounds like Oregon Duck is pretty nearly set on Fallkniven. Maybe the best Q’s right now would be:

1) what are the possible limits, shortcomings, or problems of the Fallknivens?

2) are there other hi-quality stainless fixed blades which rival them? I guess this is really a roundabout way of asking if Fallkniven is now the standard-setter for the quality stainless fixed...?

"What's so funny 'bout peace, love, and understanding?" -Elvis Costello
Outstanding questions Storyville!
I'm racking my brain on this one.
The only thing I see wrong about the A1 is that Cordura sheath.
Well... the blade is a little thick at the edge, but it hasn't been a bother.
I can't think of anything else detrimental to say about them. They're hell-for-stout, nearly perfect knives.
I'm most interested in other's responses to this Q! Maybe I'm not seeing something someone else will.

Best Regards,

If it's stupid but works, then it isn't stupid.

Yeah, I am starting to see the Fallkniven line as the new standard for production fixed blades for less than $100. If their Achilles heel is the sheath, a call to Chiro75 or Tactical holsters or someone is a fairly inexpensive fix. It is getting more and more difficult for me to see a better buy at the ridiculously low prices they are demanding for these fantastic knives.

Anyone have a choice for me below $130 (Fallkniven A1 at near retail + aftermarket sheath + S&H, be honest and include the S&H and any turn around or wait longer than a week) that will turn in an equal or better performance considering what Fred Perrin and Cliff Stamp did to these knives?

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of the tyrant; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt, 1783

[This message has been edited by Oregon Duck (edited 30 September 1999).]