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I just don’t understand!

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by vwb563, Nov 27, 2020.

  1. Mitchell Knives

    Mitchell Knives Knifemaker Moderator

    May 21, 2000
    The average person doesn't know what a quality knife is. They also don't know anything about steel and don't care to learn. They typically see knives as disposable and will not invest heavily in them. These are the buyers who make up most knife sales. Knife companies realize this and make their products accordingly. The buyer ends up with a usable knife, but something that is far from ideal.
    Lee D and 000Robert like this.
  2. dirc


    Jan 31, 2018
    kershaw is a brand I like... since my edc is the leek, in excellent 14c28n

    I like a lot of their designs, but 3cr13 is just something I can't get behind, it's the exact same steel used in the lowest common denominator... (brands like shrade, gerber, remington, and dozens of other low end brands, not to mention 'knock off' brands)

    it's probably the most common steel in dollar store knives

    at least kershaw sells many 8cr13 for about the same price as these 'starter' 3cr/4cr models
    if people really have a hard time sharpening 8cr13, then maybe a better answer is to teach them?
    Lee D likes this.
  3. Old Biker

    Old Biker

    Sep 25, 2016
    Should it?
    When I do a google search on 8CR13MOV, I find it is similar to AUS8. When I search AUS8, find it basically the same as 440B. So if 4CR is about the same as 420 to 420HC, and 8CR is about the same as AUS8 or 440B. Is there really that much difference? Seems to me it will come down to blade geometry and heat treatment.

    willc likes this.
  4. Chronovore

    Chronovore Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 29, 2019
    The common "equivalents" can be equivalent in different ways. For instance, 420HC and 4Cr14 have similar amounts of carbon but 4Cr14 has a little more chromium. Here is a graph comparing the compositions of a few Chinese steels and 420HC.


    Heat treatment and blade geometry matter a lot. For instance, compare Buck's 420HC to your average 420HC or to Kershaw's 4Cr14. Of course, the steel composition matters too. For instance, the best 8Cr13Mov I've ever had is notably worse than the worst S35VN or M390 I've had.

    Generally, I've found 3Cr13, 4Cr14, and 5Cr15 to be junk. I've found 7Cr17 and 8Cr13 to be marginal EDC steels that can be okay for a really cheap throwaway beater, starter knife, or gift for a non-enthusiast. Usually, I just see those steels as wasters of cool designs and I'd love to see companies moving past them. In my experience, AUS-8 ranges from a little to a lot better than 8Cr13Mov. The Sandvik steels (12C27 and 14C28N) are much better. The standout Chinese steel is 9Cr18Mov. Especially from brands like Civivi, 9Cr18Mov can outperform Chinese D2.
    dirc likes this.
  5. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999
    Ideal? Ideal for what?

    Knives come in all shapes and sizes and I can appreciate them all. There are circumstances that call for better build and materials, just as there is plenty of room at the bottom. We use disposable utility knives because they work and are more practical than cutting Sheetrock with a $2k folder. We also need knives for basic use; it is far better to have people carry cheap knives than no knife at all, and how much knife does anyone need to cut a loose thread or open the mail?

    I find it hard to take myself seriously when I have thousands of dollars in premium knives and still cut my steaks with a knife that I probably purchased for a dollar some 40 years ago. Sometimes the value option
    just plain works.

  6. midnight flyer

    midnight flyer Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 12, 2009
    But isn't it that way in just about all aspects of our lives? If something is important to us, we will learn about it and invest (time, money, research), then get more involved, and purchase well out of our actual needs.

    As a professional tradesman, I work on folk's houses using tools that astonish them when they find out what they cost. My circular saw: $179 on sale. Theirs, $49 all day long. My miter saw, $450. Their miter saw, $90. Same price difference with their routers, sanders, nail guns, compressors, etc. They have a bit of pride in ownership, but they have other priorities, either by choice or necessity. Those tools do exactly what is needed and perform the tasks for which they were designed.

    I don't get why people can't easily accept without judgement that some folks don't want to spend a fortune on knives. I have given knives that were promptly lost or broken, or just left at home because dropping one in the pocket on the way out in the morning just isn't a priority.

    Those guys aren't our inferiors. And to be sure, they don't understand why I would pay $100 - $200 for a work knife when they seem them at the discount stores for under $20. They literally have no idea that there are folks that gladly pay $400 for a fidgety gadget (with a blade on it) to play with while watching TV or talking on the phone. They can't imagine someone buying several versions of the same model because one has peacock Ti, another burnished bronze, another has a less seen color of G10, and on and on. To them, a knife has basic utility value and they have no idea what it is to baby/collect a knife.

    I think the knife companies might known more about the global knife market than the folks here (don't worry, NOMEX pants on) as they are tasked with successfully running companies worth many millions of dollars day in and day out. If they make a few less expensive knives, starter knives, or are using a marketing strategy that they didn't get approved on BF before implementation, so be it. I would bet they will still be here many years down the road.

    Last edited: Nov 30, 2020
  7. Chronovore

    Chronovore Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 29, 2019
    The key here is relativity. There was a time when Kershaw's assisted knives in FRN/GFN and 8Cr13Mov were a pretty sweet deal for the price. Now that kind of money can buy good manual actions on bearings, G10, and and higher-performance steels like AUS-8, Acuto 440, Chinese D2, 12C27, 14C28N, 9Cr18Mov, or its new PM version: AR-RPM9.

    Sure, we've got the argument that 8Cr13Mov and lesser steels can still cut things. That's clearly true. It's just that these other steels can do it better for longer. That's a clear advantage. So when price and access are similar, the question becomes "why not". Loving a particular design can be the reason. For me, having 8Cr13Mov or worse just wastes a good design in that case. In general, those other steels will outperform 8Cr13Mov by more than 8Cr13Mov will outperform 4Cr14. Those other steels start becoming available somewhere in the $20-range. To put it another way, at any price where I'd consider 8Cr13Mov (or less) to be competitive, you can radically improve performance for the price of a fast food lunch.
  8. dandan


    Mar 10, 2006
    I have been reading this link. I agree its the dumbing down of the steel in some brands.

    Same applies with performance clothes . Yes, you pay a good price for good stuff , but if Joe or Jane Average only wants fashion items , then they dont want to buy a quality item, for a quality price. We are in a throw away world . Cheap stuff is imported from the East. And we (some of us ) buy it.

    Same with all products - cars , trucks , guns , tools , tires , cell phone etc.

    Take comfort in what you have got. Not everyone can afford a Chris Reeves , or Medford blades. As has been said earlier , some folks are content with a gas station knife. Others dont care.

    Check out your items at home. Have you got top quality in all your Boys Toys?

    Manufacturers are after profit (mainly) , and in getting there , they will reduce quality. They respond to demand.

    Next time you are in the supermarket , check out prices and quality of what you like .
    If you want better quality , then you will have to part with a few more dollars.

    Stay safe USA !!
  9. Ulf Krogstad

    Ulf Krogstad

    Nov 19, 2013
    Very glad you posted this. Just bought 2. Thanks.

    Also think bad move downgrading steel even worse than 8cr.
    unwisefool likes this.
  10. vwb563

    vwb563 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 2007
    These are my thoughts exactly. I mean how much difference could there be in the cost to produce a knife in 4Cr and 8Cr? A few cents? If I were a manufacturer I would be concerned about my reputation. As a lot of people have said here the average “Joe” doesn’t know about high quality knives and blade steels. He just buys himself a knife at say Wally World and starts using it. Imagine what he’s gonna think when he buys that Kershaw in 4Cr and it goes dull from opening one small cardboard box. He’s gonna think “These Kershaw knives are junk. I won’t be buying anymore of that brand.” In my opinion a company can hurt their reputation by “stooping” too low in cutting production cost. I certainly remember back when Gerber came out with their Paraframe line of knives. Everyone I know, (Police officers, EMT, and Firefighters) who bought and used one talked what a piece of junk it was and how they were very disappointed in Gerber for selling such junk. And this was way back when Gerber had a decent reputation for building quality knives. Most had no idea the Paraframes were China made. I just think a companies reputation can be hurt by selling low quality knives and once the damage is done it’s hard to fix.
    sabre cat and Chronovore like this.
  11. spoonrobot


    May 1, 2004
    Once upon a time, not very long ago, you could buy more than one knife in S30V at Walmart for $50 or less.

    The average knife buyer isn't an idiot and can tell when they've been given a knife that doesn't perform as well as they're used to. Lots of users carried carbon steel their entire lives because they tried early stainless and found it was crap compared to what they were using previously. In the same vein, lots of users are going to find out how much composition named steels from China suck and are going to go back to what they were used to. There's a price and quality floor and I think right now many companies are teasing the bottom. I took the following picture around this time in 2016 - a G10, mystery steel, flipper for $3.87. At the time this was one of the expected outcomes of a Chinese knife manufacturing takeover. Four years hence it's now pretty clear that many, if not most, Chinese companies are more interested in an adaptation of the Walmart model - drive prices low enough to run competitors out of business and then raise prices while reducing quality as manufacturing competition decreases. There are 8cr13 folders with titanium handles and ceramic bearings on the market already...

    gazz98 likes this.

    POCEH KOCEB Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 21, 2013
    $20 for this Airlock... I wouldn't expect any fancy steel from it.
    It's not a bad deal for design you like especially if they did decent job with the heat treatment.
  13. Monofletch

    Monofletch Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 14, 2010
    Who else can put 3 knives in a Holiday gift set for $19.99!!
  14. dirc


    Jan 31, 2018
    instead of junk steel, for $19 you can have the 'asteroid' in 8cr13mov
    Lee D likes this.
  15. craytab

    craytab Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 26, 2012
    Seems like a lot of people get overly concerned about a company they like making money selling low end steel, budget knives. Have to wonder why that is :confused:

    You do realize that 5cr and its equivalents are what is used in a huge amount of kitchen cutlery in top brands, right?
    Lee D likes this.
  16. craytab

    craytab Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 26, 2012
    So why do you think they do it? Spite? Laziness?
    Eli Chaps likes this.
  17. Insipid Moniker

    Insipid Moniker

    Feb 28, 2011
    Genuinely curious what knives you've used in those steels and what your testing process was.
    craytab likes this.

    POCEH KOCEB Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 21, 2013
    Steel is steel... I wouldn't buy it even if I like the design simply because to me the steel isn't what I like to have on a knife that I can probably use ( because of the design). But I wouldn't call it "Junk steel" either, they are people that don't care at all about the steel, they have different priorities when picking up knives and there is nothing wrong with this.
  19. spoonrobot


    May 1, 2004
    Company X gets a price sheet from the OEM that has the 8Cr knife at $4.35/unit and the 4Cr knife at $0.70/unit because the OEM has a ton of 4Cr steel ready to go, the mill dumped it at less than cost because they got a huge subsidy from the government. The same OEM also realized it can run it's stamping dies for an additional 18 months as long as it says at or below 8Cr, or can save on heat treating cost by running the elements -X hours a month - this concept moves all through the production chain. Anything to do with international steel is rife with national-level gamesmanship, bending/breaking rules, and in many cases fraud and other corruption.

    The knife market end user often has no idea what the product is made of and does not have the ability to make a real determination. There are plenty of tests out there where a seemingly well experienced and knowledgeable user cannot tell the difference in 8cr13Mov and S35VN, due to a multitude of potential issues.

    I also do not think there is much point comparing efficacy as a kitchen cutlery steel to a pocket knife steel. Outside of very high-sharpness demanding areas that also maintain the requisite maintenance schedule, something like VG10 is a terrible cutlery steel, but an excellent pocket knife steel. Similar can be said for kitchen steels used in pocket knives.
    Lee D and dirc like this.
  20. dirc


    Jan 31, 2018
    @Poceh, you are free to call 3cr13 'not-junk', but I think the majority of people on BF would call 3cr13 'junk' when used in a blade... (we are all free to our opinions)

    for example, I think it might be a good choice for structural steel, corrosion resistant and quite inexpensive

    just to bring this point home, 440a ... which has often been called the 'lowest' acceptable knife steel has a range of 0.65%-0.75% carbon...
    if you translated 440a into the alphabet naming convention, it would be something like 6cr17 or 7cr17

    3cr13 is so low in edge retention that I haven't even seen actual catra tests for it

    but some youtubers have tested it vs 440a:

    3cr13 = 26 feet
    440a = 34 feet
    (he sharpens both to a 30 degree inclusive edge)
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2020

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