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Production M390 - Expectation vs Reality?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Cosmodragoon, Jun 11, 2019.

  1. 4mer_FMF

    4mer_FMF Basic Member Basic Member

    Jun 9, 2016
    I don’t mean to be a contrarian, but this is the best comment so far.

    Hope you have a speedy recovery @Fixall! My shoulder surgery sucked.
  2. Fixall

    Fixall Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2018
    Haha! My day has definitely improved since she's brought the meds.

    So far this one (distal clavicle resection) seems to be a bit better than the one last year (bicep tenodesis).

    Thanks for the well wishes!
    cistercian likes this.
  3. cistercian


    Apr 22, 2015
    Enjoy the meds and I hope you recover speedily! I had some fun when I got my Amateur Extra
    license with a fractured hand and lots of Oxycontin. Apparently I used pretty foul language
    on the air...I had no idea I was doing it. OOPS!
    I hope you feel better soon. My hand still hurts when fronts come through.
  4. Mo2


    Apr 8, 2016
    cwsmith17, skyhorse and Cosmodragoon like this.
  5. Pomsbz


    Jul 31, 2015
    I had a lionsteel in M390 which just wouldn't hold it's fine edge. I could never work out why. Had it professionally reground 3 times with different edge combinations but it made no difference. The information from this thread goes a long way to explaining it. I have already learned from experience that geometry trumps steel choice, now I've learnt that steel choice without appropriate HT is similarly crippled. Good lessons!
  6. palonej

    palonej Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Aug 5, 2015
    Not to preach, BUT be very careful with that poison brother!! It has one extreeeeeemly nasty bitch of a side effect.........it likes to grab your balls and refuse to let go.
    Ask me how I found out that fun fact!
    Heal up fast!!!
    danbot, Murphjd25, marcus52AR and 2 others like this.
  7. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    Unrelated. Maybe.
    I worked as a wanna-be mechanic at a quick lube when the ULS diesel changeover happened in Canada and the big three rolled out their new trucks. Serviced many fleet F-350s, and privately owned Ram-3500s and Sierra 3500s. As some might recall this was not long after Ford firesaled a very large number of F-350s from the older gen, so there were a lot of those trucks rolling around southern Alberta.
    Each driver would either bitch that his company wouldn't spend the money on a good truck (if he was driving a fleet Ford) or say that they couldn't believe the value they had gotten, and how could anyone ever buy a Dodge or Chevy given how good the new Powerstroke was. Each die hard would do the same for his brand (though few drove fleet GM or Dodge, but many were still "company" trucks)
    As we learned quickly each had their quirks. Many were found when we discovered guys plugging old ECM program chips into the new trucks, lots of plugged particulate filters, damaged transmissions or at least burnt oil. Fried fuel injectors or plugged filters. Some could handle certain mods more than others, some had simple flaws that would disable the trucks if not remedied quickly, More torque, more efficiency, better handling, better offroad, better highway, better lift, better passing, everything good came at the cost of something else, not the least of which was the cost of emission regs came at the cost of bigger displacement and a redesigned engine due to the down-tuning. No owner ever wanted to acknowledge what he had given up. Even the guys with no skin in the game, always seemed to have either all good, or all bad to say about it. You can always tell when a toyota driver has been forced to drive a ford.

    The thing is each company needs to make a choice not only on what a thing is capable of (you can pull a lot of ponies out of a 6.6 cummins, how long it lasts in another story) And they also need to consider both the production tolerance window (we inadvertently killed a dozen trucks company wide before someone realized that Ford had made a new oil spec that wasn't just marketing, and a lot of customers were pissed that all we could get was Shell. That killed another dozen.) We had guys swear up, down and sideways that they had to have it their way, even though reality would seem to indicate otherwise.

    So are some of these steels being run soft? Sure seems that way, but is that because there just isn't the tolerance room to run them higher without unacceptable QC losses? I know I've said this before. I don't know what the tolerances we are looking at are, but if they are sub 1 degree F, and quench rates are in the seconds, or then maybe its just too hard to do on large scales, or maybe there is too much range between the edge of the oven and the center. Every industry runs on marketing first, performance second. Its not going to change just because the top 1% of a hobby wants it to be different. Maybe some of these "super steels" are only ever going to be good at small batch quantity, and maybe those who want that performance are going to have to pony up for it. I think my analogy before was something like, just because Honda can pull 600 hp out of 1.6 liters doesn't mean your Jazz gets that power output.
    Should companies be held accountable for their claims, hell yeah they should, and we can do that as a community. But saying that every company needs to provide top of the heap product no matter the price point is a little over the top. The thing is, the steel is the least interesting factor in most knives. Its all the other things that make it. 3V is pretty good, Delta 3V does stuff that not long ago was just not realistic. Rowen 1095, or Kabar CroVan, Bos 420HC, all these steels have a position of reputation that has been earned. Is each going to be the best for all situations? Of course not, nothing is ever all things to all people. But again, saying that there is untapped potential with soft m390 without saying what compromises are going to be made at the desired hardness (HT time, annealing, grinding, strength, micro-structure, cost, etc) is again, complaining that x engine doesn't put out as much horsepower as it could, while also ignoring the fact that it wouldn't make a quarter mile, let alone 200k miles.
    I'm not an expert, and by now I should know, from the number of these threads out there, what the general consensus (right or not) is about what compromises are being made in regards to these steels. I know that some steels are hard but brittle, some are tough but corrode, some are easy to sharpen but are "soft" deform, and some are easy to sharpen but abrade more easily. But the thing is, for many of these super steels I'm not seeing what the big deal is, because I'm not knowing what the compromise is. For 3V it was my understanding that high hardness made it brittle, and until Carothers did what they did, a chopper was out of the question. I only have to presume that m390 is the same, and that pushing it to those high hardness numbers would ratchet up the price and make them delicate blades. Of course you can add thickness..... The circle never ends.
    There is still a lot of dark art in metallurgy and heat treating, and so far I've not heard someone with compelling evidence to suggest that these companies are producing an inferior product out of malice when they could be producing it better without a compromise. But maybe I'm not lurking the right sub. Seriously, if someone has evidence beyond "company A did it once" then repeat it until everyone knows. But so far all I see is production decisions (possibly death by committee, sunk cost recovery, or regression to the mean) and just because there is juice left in the lemon, that doesn't always mean its worth squeezing.
  8. David Richardson

    David Richardson Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 30, 2018
    That is better than expected. Where did you see this? Kershaw M390 isn't in the BladeBanter spreadsheet. My M390 Dividend was disappointing when I cut tested it. I'm surprised it's ~59 HRC.
    Mo2 likes this.
  9. Swoop03


    Dec 1, 2012
    THIS. I completely agree. Yea the steels that this whole group of guys have been testing aren't the best of the best. At the same time theyre from major manufacturers and not custom makers in theyre shop. They have tolerances and allowances. Could they do better? Yea they could. My 2014 mitsubishi mirage 3 cylinder makes 74hp and gets 40mpg. Could they have gave it 350whp? Yes. Could they have put carbon fiber disc brakes, roll cage, body panels, wheels and slapped a turbo on it? Yup. Then at that point its not a $10,000 economic small hatchback. You now go and mass produce a car like that and you'll run into issues. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

    Do I think these knives should have better heat treat? Yes I do. I also understand that comes at a cost. You take everything to the max and now you have problems with customers not understanding or misusing your items. There has to be a safety margin so that there can still be profit.

    Now its a problem if its out of what they specify it is. If they claim 59-60 HRC and you get 51, or you get 8cr instead of s30v. Thats a problem. Contact the company and have them resolve it. Spread the info like it has been and you'll see how big the problem is.

    If the knife is in spec, its the steel they told you in the ranges and tolerances they have listed. I feel you have no right to be upset. I saw a video recently where a guy bought a knife with a plastic handle and minimal liners. He then complained and moaned about the fact that its so light weight and weak. It wont hold up to this abuse or that. To me that is akin to buying a candy bar then griping about sweet it is. Well yea, its a CANDY bar. Get a knife thats labled 55-58 for example and it does poorly against a 62hrc properly done blade. That just makes sense. Theres merit to both sides, company and people alike. Things could be better and more transparent but that raises price and lowers demand in turn. Lower the quality a little for a more affordable (comparatively) price, more people want it and buy it. Less chipping and breaking. Us knife knuts are but a percentage of knife owners. Some joe or random randy out there isnt going to care what hrc it is or what the steels composition it. He or she wants it to cut things. Its sole purpose. I feel companies are doing a decent job at satisfying both ends of the spectrum. Making high quality products that satisfy both the hobbyist and the person looking for a sharpened piece of metal to beat on.

    All that mumbled garbage i spit out aside. I am following most of the people involved in this situation. I am curious to see where it goes or what happens.
    Dean51 and Danke42 like this.
  10. David Richardson

    David Richardson Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 30, 2018
    I don't think anybody is saying M390 (and 20CV and 204P) aren't good steels. The value us just not there when the HT is low. Why are we paying to get M390 that performs like average S30V, or even good VG-10? There's nothing wrong with your 3-cyl Mitsubishi. But you wouldn't by a Porsche Boxster and expect the performance of your car.

    I have to say that reviews are a big part of the problem. They're the ones hyping these steels. Not sure why.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019
    Banter 247 likes this.
  11. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Basic Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    With all due respect, there's some flaws in there. First, when you're shopping for an economy car, it's because you're shopping for an economy car. You know what you're after and what to expect. That includes price, amenities, quality, etc. There is no reason for a manufacturer to produce a knife in a certain steel, say M390, if they are trying to provide an economy-class offering. There's plenty of decent steels that can accomplish that and people in that market range will be okay with.

    Second, this isn't so much about them stating one hardness and then not delivering. To my knowledge, a whooooole lot of manufacturers don't even provide those figures. It's more about having an expectation that if a steel is being offered, it's being offered at or close to it's ideal condition. In other words, the whole reason for using that steel. Not doing so, is essentially just trying to cash in on hype. Even if a person doesn't know what the company is treating their steel to, they are going to have an expectation that it will at the very least, bring unique and desirable attributes.

    But to me, these discussions are always about helping develop an educated consumer base. People need to be armed with good information to make informed choices. For example, I've been lusting after a Lionsteel Shuffler or new Best Man. One of the primary reasons for that has been the M390 offering. But if they are running it soft and I'm not going to get the most out of it, then the other reasons I was interested no longer carry enough weight to convince me to make the purchase. I'm now making a more informed decision.

    If the knife buying and, oh my gosh forgive me, knife reviewers would get more educated and not simply rely on a steel's alpha-numeric nomenclature, then perhaps we might see manufacturer's pushing for the more ideal conditions. Or perhaps we would see less desire for them and a resurgence of respect for what are so often dismissed as passe steels these days.

    If a manufacturer provides a less-than-optimum product and the consumer is aware of that and stills buys it, then no problem. The thing these folks are trying to do is fill the information gap created by manufacturers.

    And in no way is that meant derogatory and confrontational. Just discussion and debate based. :)
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019
  12. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    The car analogy is actually an excellent one. I"m on a truck forum and there is post after post from new members who have bought new trucks and are upset to find that the more expensive models have options that the less expensive models don't have. And not some sort of Easter egg options that you need to be in the know to find out about. Stuff like a CD player, or heated seats, or LED headlights, or a sliding rear window. They become incensed that their less expensive truck doesn't have these more expensive features. And then the rarer ones complain that the truck that they bought doesn't have some weird feature that none of the vehicles have.
  13. ScooterG

    ScooterG You mean Ireland? Yeah, it’s mine. Gold Member

    Mar 15, 2016
    Can we nominate this for Thread of the Year? Great read.
  14. halden.doerge

    halden.doerge I'll Sharpen Your Knife Gold Member

    Aug 17, 2014
    I dunno, there's a lot of year left, and the outrage meter of us knife enthusiasts has not yet reached its full measure. No one even knows if that's even possible.
    Pomsbz, ArchVV and Murphjd25 like this.
  15. ScooterG

    ScooterG You mean Ireland? Yeah, it’s mine. Gold Member

    Mar 15, 2016
    Ok ok, Mid-Year TotY. I do enjoy a good outrage meter overheat. Seriously though, great read and great info that’s been coming out and evolving over the past several months (at least to us regular knife nuts).
    ArchVV, Murphjd25 and halden.doerge like this.
  16. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    From the world of computers. If the manufacturer doesn't give you the spec, presume its the current lowest on the market.
    So if a maker is slapping a steel number on a blade, and not telling me what their heat treat is supposed to be hitting, then I'm going to have to presume they'd rather I didn't know, and they are relying on marketing. This is the norm in pretty much every other industry. Why would I rely on a company pushing a product to its max potential and then conveniently forgetting to mention it? Now I seem to recall that a couple years ago when the market started to be flooded with really cheap pocket jewelry folders with super-steel numbers stamped on blades there were two camps. One crowing about how good of value the knives were and why couldn't spyderco compete on price, and the other camp wondering what corner had been cut. Now we see which one it was, and suddenly there is drama that the manufacturers are wrong to respond to the market. Gee-wiz batman, only the worlds greatest detective could have seen that coming.
    Should we hold them accountable, yes. Should we complain that they are "doing things wrong" when they are being honest, No.
    Does anyone have the data on where S30V, 3V and M390 sit for tensile strength, flexibility/elastic range when given comparably priced heat treats and all at 56-58 Hrc? Sorry for asking the internet to do my research but I'm not sure I'd know good data even if I found it in this case.
    steff27 and Julian Williams like this.
  17. Banter 247

    Banter 247

    Feb 22, 2019
    Beautifully stated.

    Also, I’m a reviewer, and am not offended. Quite the opposite, in fact.
    tomhosang and Eli Chaps like this.
  18. bobobama

    bobobama Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 15, 2017
    I'll add that if you don't take precautionary measures, it'll be quite a few days before you need to visit the bathroom. :poop: just won't happen!
    palonej likes this.
  19. DeadboxHero

    DeadboxHero Triple B Handmade Knives, Big Brown Bear

    Mar 22, 2014
  20. djdawg


    Mar 11, 2007
    So whats the heat treat of Hinderers M-390 ?
    Are all company cheating on the heat treat ?

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