What steel do you prefer for hunting knives?

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Justin Schmidt, Jun 18, 2020.

  1. Justin Schmidt

    Justin Schmidt Schmidt Forge

    Feb 18, 2016
    Man sounds like z-wear is the way to go. I was just basing my decision off of larrins edge retention data. But you really cant beat field experience
    rodriguez7 likes this.
  2. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    With identical geometry, s45vn will have better edge retention, but the increased toughness of z-wear allows an edge about 1/2 the thickness as any stainless other than z-finit or AEB-l, but they can’t match z-wear in edge retention.

    The 3v, z-wear, v4e/4v group of steels seems to have the best balance of properties if pure stainless is not required. Unfortunately, there is a gap between stainless tough steels, and stainless wear resistance steels.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2020
  3. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    Oh, most of us just use scotchbrite on these steels. If you do stain them, a couple passes on the scotchbrite cleans them right up.
  4. Justin Schmidt

    Justin Schmidt Schmidt Forge

    Feb 18, 2016
    They definitely sound like almost the perfect balance between edge retention and toughness.
    That's how I finished that AEBL hunter. I really like that finish and it's quite easy to do
  5. DeadboxHero

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

    Mar 22, 2014
    You can't go wrong with any of them, just pick one and run with it.

    One can overthink things to the point of paralysis.

    No matter what you choose you'll have to fine tune the protocol. That is the makers responsibility not the steel maker, etc.

    I tested S45vn 6 months ago at maximum working hardness.

    I was satisfied to see it was an upgrade to Elmax and s35vn with a fine tuned protocol.
    I was able to take more advantage of what the chemistry had to offer over s35vn and Elmax for a knife designed to cut.

    There isn't enough information about S45vn right now for folks to see the advantages to Elmax and S35vn. However, given a few years, it will trickle in.
  6. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    I will caution people reading this thread not to get totally caught up in the BEST steel idea. Every steel we have discussed will make a great knife if HTed properly. They will also make poor knives with improper HT. The difference between the lowest and the highest on the charts we ar referring to is almost inconsequential in most blades for general use. What that means is that a hunting knife properly made from all of these steel will seem nearly identical to a normal user.

    As an experiment in the psychology of marketing hype I had a customer/friend who used a lot of my knives. He read an article on Elmax back when it was an up and coming steel. He wanted a kitchen knife made exactly like one he had recently bought from me, but in Elmax. I made him another in S35VN from the same batch of blades as his first one and gave it to him as a gift for being a good customer. I told him that it was Elmax and I had given it a special heat treatment to make it far superior to the S35VN knife he had bought. He emailed me a week later and said the knife outcut the S35VN knife by a huge margin. After a few weeks of more praise for the Elmax blade I told him he was imagining the improvement, and after he said he could even feel the difference in using them, I told him they were both S35VN from the same batch and HT.
  7. Justin Schmidt

    Justin Schmidt Schmidt Forge

    Feb 18, 2016
    Wow that's very impressive. And elmax has been hailed as the toughest stainless steel for as long as I can remember. Ugh decisions decisions lol
    I'll have to get some of both and tiker with the heat treat. Something I haven't done yet. I basically just HT based off larrins recommendations.
    But man s45vn at 64 that tough!!!! Crazy
    nsm likes this.
  8. Justin Schmidt

    Justin Schmidt Schmidt Forge

    Feb 18, 2016
    Hahaha that's great guess thata what people call the "placebo effect "
    And yeah I should have titled this "what's your preference " we all know that theres no such thing as "the perfect steel" but we always try our damndest to make a "perfect knife"
  9. Kevin Cox

    Kevin Cox

    Nov 23, 2013
    Z wear is a very good steel I use a lot of it in my camp knife lineup . It can take a beating but It wouldn’t hold a edge as long as Elmax or in my testing it didn’t.
    I have done 1 bull moose with 1 knife and never had to touch it up with z wear . That’s field dress and skinned hanging in my meat house. Not so bad.
    As for cpm s45vn I’ve ground 60 hunters so far this year in it. I have a few in the field now being tested and everyone is very happy with it. 1 guy as tested a lot of Elmax blades for me and he says it’s about the same in edge holding .He hunts seals so it’s a great test. Elmax as been my go to steel for years but what I see with s45vn I’ll be switching. Same edge holding and much easier for me to get .
    I’ll be testing it myself this fall moose hunt.
    I find it grinds very nice and a breeze to hand sand. Takes a very nice edge . So s45vn is looking very good to me for my hunting knives.
    nsm and Justin Schmidt like this.
  10. Justin Schmidt

    Justin Schmidt Schmidt Forge

    Feb 18, 2016
    Appreciate the response. Fo you get your s45vn from NSM? do you get it descaled or decarb free?
  11. rodriguez7

    rodriguez7 Gila wilderness knife works

    Feb 1, 2009
    wow, I need to go hunt moose one day!!! I’m very jealous of that. I really want to move up north one of these years!
  12. kdnolin

    kdnolin Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 16, 2017
    9998096E-BA65-4478-8956-3ACC1A56C793.png Are you sure about going north? This was February 2019, just north of Edmonton Alberta.
    Kevin Cox and Justin Schmidt like this.
  13. Justin Schmidt

    Justin Schmidt Schmidt Forge

    Feb 18, 2016
    But the Alberta mountains are some of the most beautiful in the world
    rodriguez7, Kevin Cox and kdnolin like this.
  14. Kevin Cox

    Kevin Cox

    Nov 23, 2013
    Hi I get it Descaled and the great thing about NSM they will cut the width you want so I have no waste. My hunters at 10´´ so my sheet comes 10x36 . Great service.
    Justin Schmidt and nsm like this.
  15. Kevin Cox

    Kevin Cox

    Nov 23, 2013
    That was a warm week. Lol
    kdnolin likes this.
  16. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    The A2 is at 62 RC.
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  17. Cushing H.

    Cushing H. Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 3, 2019
    Thanks Dave. 62 seems to be a really common point/max for a lot of steels. I need to start studying larrins data more closely to understand which steels can be processed to achieve higher hardness (would like to try on kitchen)

    (that was Not a request for info ... I need to study that for myself...)
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
  18. rodriguez7

    rodriguez7 Gila wilderness knife works

    Feb 1, 2009
    I’ve never experienced weather that cold. But I sure am tired of the extreme heat and dry weather here in New Mexico! We’re sitting at 95 right now. Down at my cousins house, they are right at 105! To hot to even go outside!
  19. Cushing H.

    Cushing H. Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 3, 2019
    Well .... I have lived in NM (Gotta love the Gila area!), and a lot of time in Minnesota. Winter here lasts six months! Also, it is flat (no mountains at all) so, unless you like ice fishing, hunting in southern NM and hiking in the mountains might be on balance more comfortable. (I climbed Sandia Crest last Oct - beautiful!)

    Besides - NM has Hatch Chile !!!!! :)
    Busto likes this.
  20. Seedy Lot

    Seedy Lot

    Apr 15, 2019
    While i have used Cruwear blades on a bunch of animals as of the last couple years, 9 deer and an elk, i have been using M4 in the 62-63rc range with excellent results.
    Justin Schmidt likes this.

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