Production M390 - Expectation vs Reality?

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


    BITEME Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 14, 2007
    I have a m390 Steel Will Modus ,she's a cardboard cutting beast,the prod.# wasn't that far from Pete's sample (that did extremely poorly )on YouTube so I was really nervous about the outcome,in the end it cut a large cardboard box abou 4x the size I usually use ,and the thing was still shaving arm hair- I totally love this knife,thanks g2
    cwsmith17 likes this.

    BITEME Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 14, 2007
    I have the dividend in m390 I'm on the 2nd or 3rd sharpening and it really has been kind of a letdown ,I really wanted to love this knife would have been a heck of a bargain
  3. Mrs_Esterhouse


    Apr 9, 2019
    From what I gather about heat-treat problems, it's a matter of oven temperature regulation and proper timing. Once dialed in, it shouldn't cost a manufacturer extra money to do a proper heat-treat. I'm guessing what might be happening is the HRC batch tests are too large or virtually non existent, and low HRC product is getting released to the market as a result.
    redw0lf, Pomsbz and Alsharif like this.
  4. Banter 247

    Banter 247

    Feb 22, 2019
    Re: cost—

    There are kind of two things which could impact cost.

    1. Increased hardness
    2. Tighter range

    There are a few ways to get things done. I’m not sure exactly how much everything will effect pricing. Should be interesting to see.

    Also... keeping eyes on Reate right now. /whistle
    Mo2 likes this.
  5. Banter 247

    Banter 247

    Feb 22, 2019
    I might do that, at some point. I had been intending to work into videos on specific steels. At this stage, I’ve mostly been touching on it a little in reviews with each steel.
  6. urbantrapper


    Dec 13, 2018
    Surprised this thread isnt getting more attention. Im a little disappointed to find out a knife brand that ive been really digging and recommending is reported at ~52. I have one that I havent put through anything harder than a piece of fruit, though I had planned on it living up to some serious work should the need arise. I think this asessment will raise some makers eyebrows and perhaps they can settle or confirm our suspicions. In the meantime ill keep using my knife and hope it lives up to my personal standards.
    cistercian and xylum like this.
  7. stabman

    stabman Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 17, 2007
    If I'm buying a knife, and they say what hardness it's supposed to be, then that's what it should be.
    Good that some people are out there testing for that.
    cwsmith17, willc and jux t like this.
  8. FiveToes

    FiveToes Gold Member Gold Member

    May 22, 2019
  9. halden.doerge

    halden.doerge I'll Sharpen Your Knife Gold Member

    Aug 17, 2014
    Uhh, because achieving that level of consistency and precision in heat treating on a mass production level, especially of steels like M390 is a complex and labor intensive process and therefore costs, you know, money?
    DeadboxHero and marrenmiller like this.
  10. Banter 247

    Banter 247

    Feb 22, 2019
    Short version: some steels are pretty easy to get right on a production scale. As we’re seeing, pretty much everyone gets XHP right, for example. CPM-154, RWL-34, 154CM, also pretty consistent across makers (note: in terms of delivering where they want— Emerson runs it soft on purpose, etc).

    Other steels, most notably M390/20CV/204P are outliers in that companies who do so much right, still hit low with these on a regular basis. Bos 20CV at 58. Spyderco 58-59. Benchmade 58. These kinds of numbers are common. A big part of the challenge here is the rate at which these steels lose end hardness during the time between heating and quench. So, you have two problems, hand-in-hand: bringing the range up requires faster travel times, and getting every sample in the batch moved fast enough to deliver accuracy with your target range is tricky in production scale.

    To reiterate, it’s not all steels that are so tricky. That family, Elmax (very similar composition), and a few others.

    Companies are churning out a bunch of steels which work well (relative to their potential) at 58-59. Getting a process intolerant steel up to 61-62 consistently across production batches is a different animal.
  11. Mo2


    Apr 8, 2016
    If that's what it should be, then so be it.
  12. halden.doerge

    halden.doerge I'll Sharpen Your Knife Gold Member

    Aug 17, 2014
    I agree entirely.
    Banter 247, Mo2 and marrenmiller like this.
  13. Cosmodragoon


    Jan 1, 2019
    I'm still stuck on an earlier question so let me ask it another way.

    Should people who have some of the M390 knives that tested at 58 or 59 HRC be worried? Someone here already speculated that the M390 Dividend at 59 HRC would be "smoked" in terms of performance by a similar knife running 12C27 at similar hardness. Is this a case of a super steel falling short of its potential or under-performing relative to other steels at this hardness level?
  14. FiveToes

    FiveToes Gold Member Gold Member

    May 22, 2019
    I could not agree less. If your heat treat process is not able to hit the goals put forth, fix your heat treat process. If your airbags only deploy half the time they're supposed to, you figure out why and fix it. If that comes at a cost increase, so be it. It will not be a cost increase of "$500 to $800 for knives that used to cost $150 to $400".

    It appears that some manufacturers are having issues, and are taking steps to fix it. I refuse to believe that EVERYONE is having "batch to batch heat treat issues due to required complexity". There is WAY too much soft steel out there for this to be an accident that slipped through QA. If it is, QA is terrible and needs to be addressed as well.

    I say this as someone who's about to build some test mules, have them treated (and test confirmed) from 58HRC - 64HRC, for testers here to perform cut test and evaluations to put to bed any notions of what a proper heat treat is and what this steel is capable of.
    willc, 353 and Mo2 like this.
  15. halden.doerge

    halden.doerge I'll Sharpen Your Knife Gold Member

    Aug 17, 2014
    You don’t understand the nature of mass production, especially with regard to the issues that these particular steels present. @Banter 247 has accurately stated the challenges that this poses at a production level scale. On a smaller custom maker, or limited production scale, that’s a different story.

    Also, the data set we have from people doing this testing is way, way, to small to say with any certainty the overall quantity of under hardened steel that is out in the wild. There’s nowhere near enough of a sample size to justify that kind of assertion. That’s a conclusion that you, and many others are just assuming.
    DeadboxHero and marrenmiller like this.
  16. halden.doerge

    halden.doerge I'll Sharpen Your Knife Gold Member

    Aug 17, 2014
    And one more point to this statement in particular. The vast majority of the results that are being returned are within the goals that the companies have put forth. A few of have come in low, but most are coming in within the specifications that they state.

    The complaint from knife enthusiasts has really turned (rightly) more towards the fact that their specifications don’t rise to the true potential of the steel. That’s a very different complaint though than saying that manufactures aren’t doing what they claim. In a few cases on a few examples that seems to be the case, but the bigger issue that is being identified, is that the standard needs to be higher than it is overall.
  17. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    It's gonna be OK. A new super steel will soon eclipse M390 and this will all be moot.
    ScooterG and halden.doerge like this.
  18. FiveToes

    FiveToes Gold Member Gold Member

    May 22, 2019
    That's a mighty big assumption.

    These steels certainly have differing requirements than a majority of other steels and/or easy to work with steels. If I saw as much out of spec work in my day job as we're hearing about from manufacturers, I'd already be in litigation. If your process doesn't work, fix your process. "Sorry Boeing, you just don't understand the nature of mass production. That's why your planes are falling out of the sky." is not an acceptable answer. You either can complete a task (hold heat treat within spec) or you cannot. QA should be catching these by definition.

    I don't think anyone is arguing that it's not easier to control variables on small batch production.

    There's enough to cause concern and for at least one manufacturer to plan to replace an entire batch of product.

    Very true, and there are people that defend the 58HRC spec saying it's not important. Wouldn't it be nice to see what the difference is between a 58 and a 62? If it doesn't make a difference the testing will show it and everyone can stop speculating on whether or not we're getting screwed to save abrasive belts and RMAs for chipped blades.

    I agree but it won't stop me from testing.
    bikerector, willc, 353 and 1 other person like this.
  19. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    You will definitely be laughed off Instagram if your pocket dump has a knife with this steel not heat treated to the ultimate apogee of hardness.

    I don't care if these companies are making knives that match their published spec's. They're wrong, I"m right and I deserve more. I'm entitled to it.

    The customer is always right. That's what people like about us.
    DRLyman and halden.doerge like this.
  20. halden.doerge

    halden.doerge I'll Sharpen Your Knife Gold Member

    Aug 17, 2014
    My bad. Let me amend: Your comments, as stated do not evidence any significant understanding of the process of mass producing these steels.
    ScooterG, marrenmiller and palonej like this.

Share This Page