Zapp Tuff vs CPM 3V in heavy duty survival knives

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Greevil Alcatraz, Aug 16, 2019.

  1. Greevil Alcatraz

    Greevil Alcatraz

    Apr 3, 2016
    Looking forward to your input.

    After reading several DS, 3V has better wear resistance and Tuff has better toughness.

    I personally prefer high toughness steel on survival tools. Therefore, some body suggested 5160 or S7 are good choices for supreme toughness.

    Yes, 5160 and S7 have great toughness, but they are not stainless. DBK youtube channel claims "a survival knife is a knife you dont need to care very much" or something like that (link A, begin from 16:00) and i agree. I love kinves and i would still clean them in the field, at least keeping them dry. Therefore, a stainless steel is not a must to me and i think 7.5% chromium is pretty enough for semi-stainless. (Zapp, 2019)

    Back to the topic i would pick Tuff over 3V because it offers toughness very close to S7 (Zapo, 2019) yet have the semi-stainless ability as 3V dose. Also, Tuff contain slightly less carbon (Zapp, 2019) than 3V and it makes Tuff less prone to rust too, theoretically. (i know their C content have only 0.15% difference, thats not significant in rust resistance and i know pointing it out is kinda stupid)

    Here is the counter argue, 3V has better wear resistance but still has a good amount of toughness.

    In a long run, every knives has to be resharpened. It is no exception s to 3V knives too. Also, haveing very basic sharpening equipments in the field, 3v could be very difficult to work with (link A, begin from 14:00). On the otherhand, Tuff has toughness very close to S7 yet have a wear resistance equal to A2 (Zapp, 2109), which i think it has enough wear resistance because A2's wear resistance is not bad actually.

    In conclusion, CPM 3V used to be my favourite and i still love 3V. But... Zapp Tuff seems better to me!

    Link A
    DBK - Bushcraft vs Survival | Knife Talk #5

    Zapp News
  2. Revolverrodger

    Revolverrodger KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jul 23, 2007
    In the real world 5160, SK5, A2 would be just fine
    They don’t just transform in a pile of rust overnight lol
  3. dirc


    Jan 31, 2018
    hugofeynman likes this.
  4. craytab

    craytab Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 26, 2012
    Get delta 3v from carothers and use the thing. Steel analysis and YouTube videos can only tell you so much.
  5. evilgreg

    evilgreg Why so serious? Gold Member

    Dec 25, 2012
    What no magical INFI? It's like A8mod, but with unicorn dust and shaman blessings and the spirit of the ninja mixed in too.
  6. craytab

    craytab Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 26, 2012
    True. I heard it on the interwebs and the Youtubes.
    evilgreg likes this.
  7. Larrin

    Larrin Gold Member Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    With a pure chopping knife it does seem like more wear resistance would be more a hindrance than anything since sharpenability is a significant factor with so much edge to sharpen. At the same time there aren't many knives available in Z-Tuff, with a few more options in 3V.
  8. rodriguez7

    rodriguez7 Gila wilderness knife works

    Feb 1, 2009
    Ztuff is an awesome steel, I’ll necro this thread back up. But it depends on heat treat for the rust resistance. In testing it’s much tougher than 3v, with exceptional wear resistance and edge retention! I’ve built skinners and choppers from this steel, and it’s my favorite steel hands down at the moment. In extreme tests, it’s tougher than A8 mod!
  9. NapalmCheese

    NapalmCheese Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Pick the style knife you like in whatever steel it is available in that you fancy and learn to use the knife within its design parameters.

    In other words don't sweat and nitpick the choosing between ZomgTUFF and Crew36amet steels, instead choosing the knife design that lets you get the most work done.

    All that being said I'd rather have a knife that rolls rather than chips and is easier rather than harder to sharpen if I'm given the choice.
  10. superpog

    superpog Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 9, 2019
    For machete I probably go with carbon for price as I don't think I will really need it to cut anything, mostly just chop. Survival knives are interesting as it seems 1095 and A2 already satisfying most people and they have lower toughness than 3V/Z-tuff. I wonder how much toughness we really need in the field and what kind of activity requires that high toughness.
    rodriguez7 likes this.
  11. ace

    ace Gold Member Gold Member

    May 3, 2000
    For stainless, something like AEB-L would be an excellent choice. Close in toughness to 3V at 60-61 HRC, stainless and very easy to sharpen. Not as wear resistant as 3V of course, but more than 5160, S7 or 1095 and if you are looking for a chopper, more than good enough. Another factor is cost, much cheaper to produce a large chopper from AEB-L than 3V class steels, not because of the material cost, but just much easier to work with. Same goes for 52100 if for whatever reason stainless is not desirable. Seems like for larger, "survival" blades AEB-L/52100 class steels would be at the top of the list. For a chopper durability, geometry is probably more important than the steel, once the steel is good enough.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2020
  12. rodriguez7

    rodriguez7 Gila wilderness knife works

    Feb 1, 2009
    I’m building a test machete out of mod A8, I’ll probably do a review on it some time!
    hugofeynman and superpog like this.
  13. Larrin

    Larrin Gold Member Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    It's all about the chosen edge geometry. With sufficient beefiness to the edge you can use literally any steel.
  14. hugofeynman

    hugofeynman Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 18, 2011
    Can’t wait for those results!:thumbsup:

    No doubt Z-Tuff is a great steel, but my last comission was a knife in 8670 with the exact same heat treatment Larrin sugested, for max toughness. If S7 scores higher in Larrins tests, I’ll probably also comission a knife in that steel, in 5/16”. Fortunately, Groundflatstock will have this thing in that thickness soon.
    Obviously, more important than the steel is who makes the knife, must be a knowledgeable person and, as Larrin said, the geometry of the damn thing.
    rodriguez7 likes this.
  15. jstn

    jstn Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 27, 2012
    3V (and probably Z Tuff) is more difficult to sharpen in the field, and may require diamonds. Thus, I find simpler carbon steels to be better for survival. In addition, for survival knives I don't imagine caring for my knife rusting would be a concern. More keeping it sharp and not breaking it.
    PNWhovian and hugofeynman like this.
  16. hugofeynman

    hugofeynman Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 18, 2011
    In the past, in my knife collecting phase, I was all about exotic steels. Now, that I actually use knives in the outside, I also prefer low alloy steels. And so many things can go wrong when heat treating high alloy steels! So low alloy give me “peace of mind”. A knife made from a low alloy tough steel (well heat treated) will take a lot of abuse and still last a lifetime. A high alloyed one may fail when you least expect, even if it seems tough for some time. Those microfractures from years of abuse one day will leave you with a broken blade. Can’t remember the maker who once told here he was using a k890 steel blade as his main chopper and after some years of use the blade suffered a large chip. I’m sure a 8670 steel big chopper will never fail like that.
    Revolverrodger, jstn and rodriguez7 like this.
  17. ShannonSteelLabs

    ShannonSteelLabs KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Sep 9, 2015
    I'd say that I prefer 3V over Ztuff.
    From my experience it's a bit less expensive and I like the increased wear resistance and edge stability. You can grind it thinner. It also has increased corrosion resistance when using a low temper Heat treat cycle.

    But Z-Tuff is noticeably tougher and its easier to grind. Much easier. But to be fair all knives I have made out of Z-Tuff have been 0.250 or thicker.

    A few others mentioned 8670. Having tested that myself it's also an incredibly tough steel. I really love it for large blades. Eay to work with super easy to sharpen and get back to razor sharp. And has respectable edge holding. It's also an inexpensive steel.
  18. ace

    ace Gold Member Gold Member

    May 3, 2000
    People that use their knives little or in civilized conditions often forget how important ease of sharpening can be. All knives no matter what steel is used get dull and need to be resharpened. It is one thing to sharpen a 5" 3V blade at home using nice stones. It is very different when you need to do it to 18" machete made out of 3V with a tiny stone you brought with you or worse yet using whatever rock you found. 3V edge might last a lot longer than a simpler steel, but for a chopper, geometry rules so properly designed chopper made out of tough, simple steel will be very hard to beat. Survival knife doesn't have to be large though, so with smaller blades not used for chopping some fancier steel can be used, but you better bring some sort of a sharpening aid with you since some of the highly wear resistant steels can't be sharpened effectively on just any stone.
    ShannonSteelLabs and hugofeynman like this.

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