Becker and ESEE knife steel

Discussion in 'Becker Knife & Tool' started by upnorth, Jan 12, 2016.

  1. upnorth


    Nov 25, 2006
    Not that you guys and gals are biased or anything :D, but isn't the steel in Ka-Bar Beckers a bit superior to that in ESEE blades for tough outdoor use ? There is all the aura around ESEE knives, and to my casual observation, I thought that the Cro-Van additions make the Beckers a bit of a tougher knife. I doubt that the ESEE folk will get their knickers in a knot over this question, as their primary focus appears to be on outdoor skills, as opposed to tool choice. Finally, do these alloy additions really make much of a difference ?
  2. NCSlice

    NCSlice Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 22, 2015
    I'm by far no expert on steel along with probably 90% of each manufacturer customer base.
    Being a layman on that front, I could go a lifetime and never notice a difference in the two.

    I have the BK12 so its basically an ESEE in terms of steel, and while I absolutely love it, I cant say it's any better or worse than Ka-Bar. Same for my Camillus Beckers.

    That's just an opinion from a regular guy. I'm sure some experts will chime in with some sciency blah blah to make their case one way or another. I'll also predict some sort of "my dads heat treat can beat up your dad's heat treat" blah blah as well...
  3. daizee

    daizee KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 30, 2009
    This has been discussed before, somewhere.
    I believe Ka-bar's alloy should be a bit more corrosion and wear resistant at the same hardness, based on the chemistry. However they are heat-treated in different shops, so that alone could produce enough variation to make minor variations hard to compare directly. I'll say this: I would bet that each company has optimized it's process for it's particular steel and market segment, so in both cases you'll get a very fine product. I think Ka-bar does much higher volume, so there may be slightly higher consistency in the ESEE product (commensurate with the price).
  4. crimsonfalcon07


    Dec 27, 2010
    I was going to say more or less what daizee said. The measure of a knife isn't really in the chemical composition of the steel. It's in the quality of the heat treat, and more, the quality of the heat treat relative to the vision of the maker about how the blade is supposed to be used. Ka-bar and ESEE both do a very good job on that regard. IIRC, and I am very much unsure about this, ESEE may take their HT a hair harder than Ka-bar. But I figure you get a good product either way. Besides, if I really wanted something for tough use, on a metallurgical level I'd go for 3V instead.
  5. ocnLogan


    Jul 31, 2011
    I will say that my Kabar/Becker knives "seem" to have better corrosion resistance than my only plain 1095 blades (Moras), which while anecdotal, is still the only data I have one way or the other. As for toughness/edge holding, I personally have no idea. However, Ethan has mentioned more than once that he feels that 1095 CV is closer to O1 in performance, than it is to normal 1095. Myself, I doubt I could tell the difference, but I trust Ethans experience.

    One thing I have seen the "ESEE" guys say, is that their HT is better. I haven't owned an ESEE, but my Beckers have been flawless so far (4 for 4). I think the reality is much closer to what has been said. Beckers are a higher volume line of knives. EVEN IF the percentage of missed HT's make it through the line for both ESEE and Becker, the Becker will have a higher number of total knives with "issues" (because percentages...). While I have no idea on actual volumes, or percentages, I suspect a large part of what people perceive as a HT quality difference could be this fact alone.

    And personally, I'd like to think around here we're equally worried about skills :p. All I know is with the Becker knives I have, none have had problems, all seem to hold an edge just fine, they have decent corrosian resistance, the designs are excellently thought out, and the price is something I can afford.
  6. DavidCAndersen


    Nov 11, 2013
    The differences between the two are mostly academic. They do exist, but you'll be unlikely to see that much difference in actual use. Both companies do a good job! :)
  7. DDDWho


    Aug 21, 2015
    My Nephew brought an ESEE 5 to my house last summer. I thought the 1/4" blade was about the neatest thing I ever say. During my research to buy one I came across the Becker BK2 for about 1/2 the price of the ESEE. Minimal research between the steels told me they were about equal both being slight variations of 1095. I bought the Becker, the grip being much more comfortable than the ESEE.
  8. d-wade

    d-wade Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 28, 2015
    I have owned both Esee and Becker and I'll throw in the Ontario Rat series as well. Hands down I can get the 1095 cro van sharper than the regular 1095 any day of the week. With the Chromiun added to Beckers it makes them a little bit more rust resistant. I sold all my Esee knives and kept my Beckers and my Ontario Rat 3s ( I like the shorter handles ).
  9. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    I think the main big deal everyone was making about heat treat was when the production of the RATs moved from Ontario to Rowen, and that the heat-treat would be better than it had been. Part of that whole thing was that Rowen did a very good job with 1095, so that was all part of the process. A maker of the right size, quality product, and a competitive price at that time. The Becker stuff being made by Kabar, makes sense to use what they know best. I would say that Rowen probably gets better results from 1095 than kabar would, and Kabar gets better results from Cro-van were it reversed. Apart from a few knives, the Beckers and the ESEEs hit slightly different markets, so a heads up comparison is tougher.

    All things being equal, I think most would find it hard to argue that those two makers are near the top when it comes to those steels.
  10. granitestateofmind

    granitestateofmind Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 20, 2013
    I like 'em both - and anything else made by Rowen, as NCSlice has pointed out the BK12. I have a couple DPx knives made by Rowen, also excellent. The one ESEE I have some experience with is the Junglas; it still has the Venom Green coating (mostly) on, but it seems to require a lot more attention after use than many of my Beckers. The most corrosion resistant Beckers I have are a Brute (not stripped) and a BK2 (stripped) from Camillus. The Cam BK&T's have a different finish to the steel under the coating (almost looks like it was rolled/hot pressed) and the Rowens do as well, with a kind of almost bead blast finish under the coating. The Junglas has great ergos, but I haven't been as enamored of the few smaller ESEEs I've handled. So....I really don't have anything to add to what's already been said - but I guess that didn't stop me from adding it anyway.
  11. upnorth


    Nov 25, 2006
    I appreciate and thank all of you for a rational discussion and answers. I was initially leery of posing these honest questions, as I have had eye bulging, spittle foam flecked rabid replies previously on other forums. Thanks Becker Heads. :thumbup:
  12. Chris Larrikin

    Chris Larrikin

    Jul 19, 2012
    From what I have seen there seems to be a lot of mutual respect between Becker and Esee owners. Often enough people have both and preferences seem to openly be just that - preferences. It's one of the reasons I like reading threads about both. A good discussion is pretty common :)
  13. Creaky Bones

    Creaky Bones Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 28, 2012
    I have a couple/few of both. Once the coating is stripped, in my experience my Beckers tend require a little less TLC to stay rust free. I'm a big fan of both companies and their products. Maybe I'm just lazy, but lower maintenance makes me happy.
  14. JDMiller


    Jul 3, 2015
    I just ordered a 6 so I can compare the steel to Becker steel :D
  15. JGorman


    Feb 2, 2014
    My rb3 seems to be forming a natural patina much faster than my stripped 15. Not sure I've noticed a huge difference in edge retention yet.
  16. Survivormind


    Dec 18, 2012
    In my limited experience, it seems the 1095cv is a little more corrosion resistant and slightly harder. It seems there is more consistency with the ESEE steel in my experience although others have stated their Ka-bar's have been very consistent. ESEE's 1095 doesn't seem to hold an edge as long as the Ka-bars do but takes an edge faster and takes a very sharp edge quickly and easily. My two cents.

  17. DDDWho


    Aug 21, 2015
    My thoughts are I don't think the steel is a deal maker or breaker on either brand. What is is the handle shape. The Becker beats the ESEE on handle shape.
  18. zakjak221


    Apr 3, 2010
    Can't go wrong with either companies products...Both run by great guy's.
    Buy most of us have.
  19. CM_Rick


    Jan 10, 2011
    To me the difference is simply how well 1095CV sparkles/shines when compared to 1095. I see no differences in edge retention, toughness, or ease of sharpening. Both with corrode equally. Kabar's edges sparkle a lot more attractively than ESEE's, when sharpened by belt. Hard to tell the difference after both are stropped to a mirror, but Kabars shine better. Cosmetic, in my opinion.
  20. bigbadboom


    Jan 4, 2007
    What I haven't seen mentioned in this thread is that reputedly the Esee knives are differentially heat treated , so the edge is harder and the rest of the knife softer , or tougher. This would make sense , as I understand Rowen used to supply Tops knives with some production , and they have a similar differential heat treat.

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