What about 420J2 stainless steel?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Zeasor, Feb 19, 2008.

  1. Zeasor


    May 29, 2007
    What are the characteristics of 420J2 stainless steel? Edge retention? Hardness? Any facts or comments would be appreciated.
  2. mr.trooper


    Dec 5, 2005
    420J2 was never intended as a blade steel. Its used primarily because its very inexpensive.

    * Edge retention is on the low end of mediocre, but there are worse steels. none of those worse steels are blade steels though, and 420J2 has the worst edge retention of all steels commonly seen in blades.

    * I think its MAXIMUM achievable hardness is like 54 Rc. most 420J2 blades are 52 Rc or less; why would the company pay good money to harden a steel they only purchased because of its cheapness? The up side of this is that it is easy to sharpen....but unless the company actualy spent the cash to harden a "junk" steel, then you will likely only be able to get a toothy working edge.

    * It is VERY VERY corrosion resistant. It almost impossible to make it rust unless you let it soak in harsh chemicals for a long period of time.

    * It is very durable. Its low hardness makes it unlikely that a 420J2 blade will break, unless its design is structurally unsound.

    In short, it is a poor overall blade steel, that has little business being used for knives, outside of a dive knife. MOST, but not all, knives made from it are of inferior quality.
    PoorUserName likes this.
  3. Zeasor


    May 29, 2007
    Thanks for the quick and detailed info. I have concluded this steel is no longer worth discussing.
  4. huugh


    Jul 16, 2005
    420J2 has it's pros - very corrosion resistant, inexpensive and quite tough (especially for stainless steel) - those are the reasons it's widely used in many knives (mostly as handle material (and liners)).
  5. biogon


    Jan 2, 2002
    I find it odd that some companies (one of whom has a name whose 4 letter acronym name rhymes with snickit) use a steel that most people would only use for liners as a blade steel.

    Note, 420J2 is not to be confused with Buck's 420HC, which is actually a surprisingly good steel for the price point. In ordinary use, I'd say on par with 440C/AUS-8 for edge holding and a ton better than AUS-6/440A.

  6. buckabee


    Oct 10, 2007
    I'm wondering if the there is any noticeable difference in toughness between the use of 420J2 and other 400-series steels as liner/frame materials.
    Some frame locks have 420J2 listed as the used frame material(for example on my buck/mayo hilo), but many other that are made of for example 410-steel only write stainless steel liners/frame on their site, without being specific.

    So is 420J2 really stronger than other 410/420 steels, or has it got other significant advantages? Or is this only because 420J2 has a relatively cool sounding name for a frame material (at least IMHO)?
  7. Squeezymo


    Feb 4, 2008
    What are your opinions on 440A steel? I know it's not great but I've never heard a review on it
  8. shecky


    May 3, 2006
    Oddly enough, I left a Meyerco machete in 420J2 outdoors for a few weeks, next to a chemically etched stainless Mora. Both stuck in a tree stump, left to the elements, and a nightly spritz of sprinklers. The 420J2 blade rusted all about the exposed surface. Who knows what kind of voodoo this thing was under.

    That said, I have no problem with 420J2 as a blade. I have a Cheap Boker Magnum, and a knockoff of it. The Boker is spec'd as 420J2. With a good profile, it cuts fine, and seems about as hard as a low end carbon steel blade, such as my Douk Douk, Okapi, and Opinel. The bigger problem isn't that the steel can't perform. It's that it's used almost exclusively on junky knives. VG-10 on a junky knife still makes a junky knife.
  9. biogon


    Jan 2, 2002
    My experience has really only been with CRKT and Spyerco's AUS-6, which the consensus seems to say is no different than 440A.

    It's terrible. I honestly hate it. I imagine with a better heat treat it isn't too bad, but whenever I use it, it's as soft as, if not softer than, cheap kitchen-knife steel.

    I remember (trying to) break down moving boxes with a CRKT AUS-6 knife once... held a usable edge for no more than three boxes (for those keeping track at home, that's 12 cuts at about 2 feet each) After that, it wouldn't even tear through the cardboard much less slice paper.

    I've had better luck with the $4.99 Walmart paring knife, but that also could have been due to edge/grind geometry (i.e. very thin).

    440C becomes useful... and then in every day use I don't really feel much difference between ATS-34/154CM/CPM154/S30V.

    But I don't whittle, chop wood, skin animals... my use is primarily on cardboard and paper, sometimes drywall... YMMV.

    I imagine on soft material like meat or veggies, AUS-6/440A probably does reasonably well for a longer period of time.

    Hope this helps.

  10. Squeezymo


    Feb 4, 2008
    It does, thanks!:)
  11. brewthunda


    Apr 20, 2004
    The standard Kershaw Leek is 440A and I've never had any complaints with mine. Gets sharp pretty easy and stays sharp through normal use.
  12. biogon


    Jan 2, 2002

    Yeah, I'm not surprised -- I think HT has a lot to do with it. I know Buck makes a big deal about their special HT method being the magic to their 420HC, and I guess it's because Paul Bos was in charge at the time.

  13. rebeltf


    Jan 29, 2005
    The only 420j2 bladed knife I have is a CRKT fixed Falcon and as hard as it may be to believe , it not only takes a nearly scary sharp egde but holds it a lot longer than I thought it would.
    Perfect little , low cost box cutter , even used it to cut up some old indoor/outdoor carpet here at work.

    That said , I agree that this is the lowest acceptable tier in blade steels , any lower and CRKT can kiss this customer goodbye.
  14. Ben Dover

    Ben Dover Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 2, 2006
    I don't think that comparing 440C with 420HC or AUS 8A is a valid comparison. I've had a couple of blades of 440C, and they served me well. Very good knives.

    OTOH, the knives I've had from 420HC and AUS8A were considerably less able to hold an edge. Even Buck's 420 HC with it's supposed "magical, mystical" heat treat won't hold an edge like 440C.

    Of course, 420HC and AUS 8A are far easier to sharpen. But then,. they need it much more often.
  15. averageguy

    averageguy Banned BANNED

    Jun 10, 1999
    I agree 420J2 can get plenty sharp. Cliff Stamp conducted a review of 420J2 in a large fixed blade and it held up well.
  16. enderwiggin


    Nov 18, 2006
    Oh boy. Here we go again. :rolleyes:
  17. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    420J is used for liners.
    420J2 is used for some blades.

    420J has 0.17% Carbon and 13% Chromium
    420J2 has 0.3% Carbon and 13% Carbon.

    420J hits a max of ~50.
    420J2 hits a max Rockwell of ~55.

    That's still not enough carbon or a high enough Rockwell that I would ever buy a knife with a 420J2 blade. But it is more than is used in liners.
  18. Keith Montgomery

    Keith Montgomery

    May 9, 2000
    From what I have read, 420J2 has a carbon content of .15%. The only site that I have seen it rated with more carbon than that is on the CRKT website. The Spyderco site and this one, both give the carbon content as .15%.

    It works best on unsharpened knives that are not meant to be used such as the Hibben knives by United Cutlery. There may well be worse steel used on the knives in those Frost 200 knives for $200.00 packages, but 420J2 is about as low quality a steel as is used to make knife blades.
  19. Keith Montgomery

    Keith Montgomery

    May 9, 2000
    After doing an extensive internet search I have found that 420J2 is classified as having anywhere from .15% to .4% carbon. If it actually does get close to the upper end of that range then it could get reasonably hard.
  20. Squeezymo


    Feb 4, 2008
    That is true. They did change it to Sandvik 13C26 though.

    And once again, what are opinions on 13C26? I have never heard a review on this either.

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