Your top 3 steels and why?

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gra_farmer

Forager
Mar 29, 2016
183
42
Kent
In light of the huge range of steels out there (thanks in a big part to spyderco), steel snobbery has hit a number of forums. But as users of tools, what are your top 3 knife steels of choice and why?

For example, for me (in no order), are the following:

VG10 - sharpens so easily, and screaming edge that just bites - examples are most spydercos and fallkniven

01 - same reason as above, sharpens very easily, and tough. So although it rusts, edge holding is low and old school steel, it still has a place - examples are woodlore, moras (i know the Steel is labelled different, but they are pretty much 01), and most custom bushcraft knives out there

S30v - this steel is a bit harder to sharpen, but really does stand out for a good reason, the perfect folder steel with great balance between needs. M390 and S90V is better, but my experience is limited with this steel. Examples are most spydercos, benchmade bushcrafter, etc

Honourable mentions (but lack of user experience, as time passes I will get to know the below better, and list will change)

M390
CPM CruWear
Elmax
3V
M2
M4
REX45
S90V
D2
52100
ZDP189
 
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Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,251
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Hitachi Super Blue carbon steel.
Sandviken carbon steel 12C27
SG2 powder steel

All ( even the SG2 weirdly enough) are easy to sharpen and hold the edge well. The Sandviken steel is very forgiving when using unorthodox sharpening.
Much depends on the hardening though.

Edited for more info.
 
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chimpy leon

Full Member
Jul 29, 2013
352
20
staffordshire
There is lots of high end steel out there I’ve not used but...

Mora carbon? My most commonly used steel is whatever it is Mora use in their carbon knives (1095 equivalent).
Takes a fine edge and keeps it and is easy to get back to sharp. Cheap.

80crv2 - At hrc 59 its very tough and forgiving in the knives I’ve used.

S90V - Excellent retention and surprisingly not difficult to maintain an edge on it, not really tested the toughness so much but seems good so far.


Bonus steel:
BD1N - limited experience with this steel hence bonus steel but from all accounts it’s a slight upgrade from VG10 in most areas and equal in rust repellency. I like VG10 so looking forward to using this one more often. Fairly cheap too.
 

Craig-SM

Member
Nov 27, 2019
14
2
49
Leeds
In no particular order

D2 - it’s tough and easy to sharpen. Rust is supposed to be an issue but I’ve never had a problem with just a wipe down afterwards. It’s great to see it on some lower price knives but can’t justify it on high end ones regardless of how much wrk has been put into it.

S30v - it is harder to get an edge on it but also not something you need to do so often either. My favourite knives are all S30v too.

M390 - I don’t actually own any blades made from M390 but to been around for a long time and still treated as the ultimate blade standard which makes me want one and Lion Steel seem to be a big fan of it so my next knife may well be a Best Man.
 

Billy-o

Native
Apr 19, 2018
1,118
428
Canada
1075 on a folder. Kind of behaves a bit like 12C27 but isn't stainless. I have a couple of fixed blades in it too. Easy to use, no chips. :)

Otherwise VG10. I also like ATS34 though that might just be because of the particular knives I have.

19C27 is the steel used on a Perceval. I like that knife a lot, but it is the only one I have that uses the steel.

Similarly, I have a knife in M4 which is totally terrific, but it is the only bit of M4 I have and have nothing to compare it to. Wouldn't mind something like a Gayle Bradley fixie in M4. You can get M4 knives on BCUSA ... but I'd like something that really takes advantage of steel's capacity to be thin :)

Oh ... the Vanadis on my Rasul ... ver' naahsssssce :)
 
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Laurentius

Native
Aug 13, 2009
1,830
142
Knowhere
The steel in my hand that gets the job done. I consider all this steel rivalry to be more of an engineering geek thing than anything to do with bushcraft. What steel do you use to butter your toast? Are your shoelaces titanium tipped? Do you have a pair of pattern welded tongs to add sugar to your tea? I am a lover of vintage tools, and if they have survived 80 or more years then I guess the steel is good enough.
 

gra_farmer

Forager
Mar 29, 2016
183
42
Kent
The actual steel used is low down on the list for me.

Blade design, edge geometry, heat treat, handle comfort are all more important to me.
Completely agree, but if all were the same, with optimal heat treatment, what would be of interest?
 

Mr Wolf

Full Member
Jun 30, 2013
492
95
Nottinghamshire
5160 or 1060 - very little difference in truth. Best for an axe imo.

4v or vanadis 4e - very similar. takes a fine edge and holds it longer than the fabled 3v.

S110v - holds a working edge on an edc for a long time and reasonable pricing.
 

C_Claycomb

Mod
Mod
Oct 6, 2003
5,520
601
Bedfordshire
Sharp?
Why? You can use the popular battening technique!

A couple of sharp raps, and the blunt knife separates the stick into small pieces with ease!
:)
For the same reason you use a sharp drill, even when you have a powered drill (I expect you use sharp drills, despite driving them quite fast ;)), or a sharp saw, even when driven by a petrol motor. :D

I have three folders in M390, one, the Ritter Griptilian, I also have in S30V. My experience has been that S30V takes a mediocre edge and holds it a long time. I know that is said of D2, and I only have one knife in that, a Swamp Rat Bog Dog, but I liked how that cut much better than my Benchmade, Spyderco and Wilson S30V. By comparison, M390 takes a much better fine edge and then keeps it. Do like it.

Very fond of RWL34, have it on four fixed blades and two folders, all my own making, so geometry is comparable with stuff I have made in 12C27 and O-1.

While I don't much agree with the hype for perpetually more abrasion resistant steels, there is no question that engineers being enthusiastic about continuous improvement of steel and process has moved things forward. I think it is better for folk to be interested in the metallurgy and alloys than what used to be the case, where smiths describing how they achieved superiority through aligning their anvils with magnetic north, using their hammers to compress the steel atoms at the cutting edge, and quenching the edge in the blood of a cockerel at a full moon.
 

C_Claycomb

Mod
Mod
Oct 6, 2003
5,520
601
Bedfordshire
Much easier for me to list steels I do not like, based on multiple blades, treated by different makers:
O-1: yes, cuts really well, sharp, tough enough, don't like it rusting on expeditions. Not a problem for days out, but multiple day trips, using for food prep, cleaning fish and game, wet weather.
S30V: I want a fine edge and every knife have had in this has practically lost that fine edge just sitting on the shelf
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,251
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
I joked!

Off topic, kind of:
My priorities for a blade steel are:
possible to get sharp with basic stones
easy to get sharp ( not too hard)
Soft enough not to chip easily, a kink/ bend is ok
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,251
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Interested. Will look into it.

I have a couple of blades I did decades ago, for experiments/ fun.
Used old barely hoops, just like the Saame people did back in the days when they were poor.

Hardened and tempered myself a few.

The ones I kept were fully usable. Just had to sharpen them before each use.

I think that is what people had to do before the invention of modern steel production.