What steel do you prefer for hunting knives?

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

  1. Willie71

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

    Feb 23, 2013
    Do they make sure the grain orientation is correct?
     
  2. Storm W

    Storm W KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    521
    Feb 19, 2019
    I had a Spyderco Gayle Bradly 2 that was hands down the best folder I ever lost. It was 63-64 Rc and felt noticeably harder than my benchmades on the stones. I used it hard in construction work that is probably harder on a blade than any hunting situation. It was a hollow grind and was down to .009 behind the edge and the hollow must have been half of that tops, it was deep. I don't think the knife so much as chipped even with a fine edge.i carried it every day for 4 years without any issues. Competition choppers run it a bit softer but not soft. Unlike my S110V blade M4 can still be run with a thin edge as far as I know it is the most wear resistant of the steels like Z-Wear and 4V that can be run extremely hard and have enough toughness to be run thin as well. As tough as 3V is from what I have heard it can't be run as thin in competition cutters because you can get permanent deformation when it flexes in the cut. For a hunting knife do you need more toughness than a competition cutter. I can see a argument for bushcraft knives that might be batoned through crazy twisted wood and knots but not a sub 4" hunter.
     
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  3. Justin Schmidt

    Justin Schmidt Schmidt Forge

    Feb 18, 2016
    Heard some great stuff about m4 as well. Decisions decisions lol
     
  4. Willie71

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

    Feb 23, 2013
    the 3v,4v,v4e,z-wear,m4 group will all perform quite similarly, except 3v can’t be run as hard for those super fine edges. As long as you are confident in the geometry your heat treat can support, any make great knives. The stainless options like s45vn, and Elmax are great too, but do best with geometry at 0.010” or thicker. You can use 0.005” with the non stainless options, with 3v splitting the difference. It just loses too much when run hard enough for such fine geometry.

    I like Z-wear, not because it is better than the others, but I have made more knives out of it than the other steels. I just know it better.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
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  5. Storm W

    Storm W KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    521
    Feb 19, 2019
    @Willie71 is the man to ask about how thin and hard you can run those steels. I will tell you that his Z-wear is a mother to grind at 66Rc though. Be prepared to use a pile of belts if you are going to do it hard. Also I I lost about 1.5" off of a chef out of M4 when doing it soft because instead of flexing or taking a mild set from to much pressure it just suddenly folded over so get enough to get used to grinding it.
     
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  6. Secret_77

    Secret_77 Gold Member Gold Member

    470
    Feb 11, 2008
    80CRV2
     
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  7. Willie71

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

    Feb 23, 2013

    Great steel, but not in the same category as the options we are talking about.
     
  8. Horsewright

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

    Oct 4, 2011

    I agree with the best steel thought that Stacy expressed here. A good friend of mine writes for a lot of different outdoor/hunting/gun magazines. He'd been after me for some years to broaden out of my cowboy knife deal and design and make some more sporting type knives. I roped him and made him help me design both my Sonoran Skinner, Sonoran Hunter and the Sonoran Belt knife (caper, edc, bird and trout). I made 2 sets of these knives and they were identical except for the the bolster on one set being nickel silver and the other being brass. He was going to a large TX game ranch where he was test driving a new Weatherby rifle. This place was also a working cattle ranch, so I knew the Belt Knife would fit right in as it was originally designed as a branding knife. My buddy set up a blind test with the manager and gave the guides each a set of these knives. The manager knew they were different steels the guides did not. One set was in A2 @62RC the other in the latest and greatest with the latest whizbang HT. First week the guides alternated switching between the sets each day. By the end of the week the manager told me they were arm wrestling over the who got to take the A2. In the second week they just broke up the A2 set and each took one, leaving the other set at the lodge. By the end of the season each guide as well as the manager had purchased more of these knives, with their own money, not the ranches. These guys process more game in a day, then many hunters do in a year and more in a week than lots do in a lifetime. This test took place many years ago. I just recently finished 3 more Sonoran Hunters in my last batch of knives. One of the guides ordered three, one for each of his sons.

    [​IMG]

    Must be something there in that A2 at 62RC, seems to work.
     
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  9. nsm

    nsm Niagara Specialty Metals Dealer / Materials Provider

    157
    Jun 15, 2009
    All of our cutlery steel is roll to yield a sheet that will make a 24" wide by 72" long sheet. It is cut into two 36" long sheets immediately after we roll it. The 36" dimension is the rolled length of the sheet if that's what you're asking.
     
  10. J-T-K

    J-T-K

    72
    May 11, 2020
    Surely a 80CRV2 wide Lapp blade is a tried and tested tool?
     
  11. Storm W

    Storm W KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    521
    Feb 19, 2019
    Sure it's a great tool and there are a lot of good knives made out of it but for what is being discussed for starters it is not even a little bit resistant to rusting. Second the thread is about hunting knives and in my mind at least we are not talking about much more than a 4" blade so there is no chopping and they are not designed to baton. All of the steels being talked about are stainless or highly resistant to rusting though they may stain and second most of them between 7 to 15 times the edge retention depending on how everything is heat treated and most are tougher allowing higher hardness and thinner bevels allowing better performance and edge retention. Simple steels have a reputation for being very tough but looking at Larrins testing has shown that even though they are somewhat tough they can't hang with some of the steels being discussed and that PM does make a difference as well as the added alloying can add toughness as well as edge retention.
     
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  12. J-T-K

    J-T-K

    72
    May 11, 2020
    Sorry - I don't mean a leuku, but one of the shorter companion Lapp knives. Typically 3-4'' long and about a half wider than a puukko. A bit like a short leuku, with a similar overall blade profile, and often a bit of a groove around the bolster rather than going straight into the blade. 2.5-3.5mm thickness.

    I completely get the modern SS improving on it but there's something to be said for the design.
     
  13. Willie71

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

    Feb 23, 2013
    if toughness was the primary consideration, depending on budget, and whether stainless was a priority, AEB-l, z-fiNit, z-tuff, 8670, 3v, and a8mod are all great choices.
     

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