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S30V: Is it really 'that' bad?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by sharkattacksw, Jun 16, 2017.

  1. 4mer_FMF

    4mer_FMF Basic Member Basic Member

    Jun 9, 2016
    ^^^So much this!^^^

    I have the burple PM2 (my only PM2). Insanely sharp out of the box but it chipped stupid easy. I put a convex edge on it and it is much better but still chips more easily than any of my other knives. In spite of holding a working edge for a really, really long time, my experience has made S110V my least favorite "premium" steel.

    As long as a knife has something "equivalent to or better" than S30V, I don't worry about it too much.
    Mo2 likes this.
  2. fanucman


    Jan 31, 2016
    S30V is good because it is stainless but also easy to sharpen. Edge holding is actually pretty good. The S110V PM2 is very nice, but S110V is definitely more time consuming to sharpen, and in my experience difficult to bring to a high level of sharpness. If you want a knife that will always be pretty sharp, and don't want to maintain or sharpen the blade, the S110V is for you.

    On the other hand there are the non-stainless steels such as cruwear or M4. These steels are as easy to sharpen as S30V but hold an edge a lot longer. They tend to be easy to bring to high levels of sharpness. Tradeoff is that they aren't stainless. May or may not be an issue.

    As far as chipping, my S110V blade has some very small chips in it. I've also gotten chips in S30V. What isn't chip prone in my experience is the non stainless steels.
  3. rick melear

    rick melear

    Nov 28, 1998
    My favorite knife is my 10 year old Military in S30V, I sharpen it when it needs it. Never noticed it chipping. It works for me
    Mick_1KRR and DeadboxHero like this.
  4. Butch

    Butch Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 25, 2003
    My $.02.
    I'm a commercial/industrial electrician. My work edc lives a hard life. It may cut string, rope, mule tape, wood, sheetrock, plastic, thin sheet metal, strip any number of different types of wire, open boxes, cut cardboard, jimmy door locks, turn screws, and other general abuse.
    At one time, I lost my work knife. I replaced it with a Spyderco Native 3. The Spyderco S30V on that Native holds a usable edge better than any knife I've used in my 30 years at my trade. It lasts six months or so.
    S30V may not be the latest/greatest, but in my experience of real world use/abuse, it's been exemplary.
    Dadpool, Mick_1KRR, Mo2 and 1 other person like this.
  5. mete

    mete Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    I like S35VN just a little better than S30V, a bit easier to sharpen. But when you ask another metallurgist who's done the critical research like Roman Landes he will tell you of the importance of HT, edge shape ,sharpening details . I agree. It's very easy to shape the edge on that neat abrasive belt but the heat generated will change the temper ! For final grind you can't beat 'by hand ' .You don't think so ? Take a look at a fine Japanese sword which has had the entire polishing done by hand .Those very delicate structures you see are not possible if it is done with power tools ! Many factory grinds can be improved by hand sharpening. Those super steels need good diamond sharpeners si itdoesn't take all day.
    HT ? I've always been a proponent of a 300-400 F temper for most of knife use , not the popular 900 F, especially if cryo is used. Proper cryo is something that still needs
    DeadboxHero likes this.
  6. GermanyChris


    Feb 18, 2015
    My s110v PM2 chipped opening a can of cat food the first weekend I had it after I sharpened the chip out it never happened again.
  7. Etna


    Jun 17, 2015
    The softer stainless steels like AUS6, AUS8A, AUS8, 12C27, 5Cr13, 7Cr17, 8C13MoV, 420HC and 440A will like to have a word with you on that.


    Feb 5, 2017
    That's exactly what I think. S30V cannot have gone in a few years from top notch steel to junk. If it was good x years ago it's good now (with proper HT and tempering), even though there may now be more sophisticated alloys.

  9. sharkattacksw


    Aug 4, 2008
    I think this sums it up best. Very wise words. I'd love to see just how many steel gurus would put their reputation on the line. I'm going wth the black/black PM2 when I can get over to GP Knives. Later, I'll add some AWT, cooper or brass scales.

    Thanks again for the replies. I knew I could count on the collective wisdom of you guys.
    4mer_FMF likes this.
  10. Boxer .45

    Boxer .45

    Jan 11, 2015
    Hell I have a bunch in 440C and smile the whole time I'm using them. So S30V is good in my book.
    matt009au likes this.
  11. Jhansenak47

    Jhansenak47 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 27, 2005
    The problem with S30V is it is no longer considered one of the new koolaid steels.

    S30V has been criticized in the past for being difficult to sharpen and lacking edge stability, but it has better edge retention as a result. All S110V does is place more emphasis on the same thing for a larger trade off. It is all about what you want. I personally feel S110V is only marginally better in performance and disproportionately more of a PITA.
    4mer_FMF likes this.
  12. archieblue

    archieblue Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 19, 2001
    I haven't had 110v, but my experience with s90v is that it can't bounce back from the bumps and bruises of edc use as well as S30V. S35vn is even better. As a result, I felt overly cautious with the knife, which was a Spyderco Military. IMO, S30V and S35VN really hit the pocket knife sweet spot.
    4mer_FMF likes this.
  13. brancron


    Dec 14, 2011
    S30V is a perfectly fine steel. But then again, I still like ATS-34 and even 440C. Steel snobs will continue to be revisionists when it comes to steels (in a few years they'll probably be describing M390 as a "middling" steel).
    marcinek and matt009au like this.
  14. LowKey


    May 22, 2014
    In a couple years your coworker will be telling you not to get an S110V blade because its now considered just an average steel. Today's super steel is tomorrow's average steel. From what I understand 440C was pretty much considered a super steel at one time. In my opinion there's a fine line between taking advantage of advances in steel and falling for marketing.
  15. Fanglekai


    Jan 7, 2007
    I doubt many could distinguish good 440C from any of those steels in a blind test. S30V vs S35VN should be nearly impossible to distinguish in use.

    The fact is the steel is far less important than the geometry, and the thinnest geometry at which the blade is stable is determined by heat treatment and how much, if any, damage is caused in grinding at the factory (overheating the edge, etc), among other factors. S30V is a good steel. It didn't go bad in the last 6 or 7 years. In fact it's probably better now than it was when it first got popular due to more knowledge of the heat treatment for it.

    What do you want to use the knife for? How much time are you willing to spend to repair/reprofile an edge if it chips? Do you wait to sharpen until the blade is dull? How dull is dull for you? I picked up one of the recent lefty PM2s in S30V. It's quite sharp, has held its edge just fine with the simple tasks I've used it for. You can't really go wrong with Spyderco's S30V.
    Mick_1KRR and 4mer_FMF like this.
  16. Rhinoknives1

    Rhinoknives1 KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jul 1, 2013
    LOL This^^^^. I've used both S30V & S110 steels in my Custom knives, S30V is more than enough of a steel for a EDC, if HTed Properly, 440C is still an excellent steel for the majority of knife needs and unless you know how to sharpen very well, you won't get much of an edge with S110V
  17. Lapedog


    Dec 7, 2016
    I also prefer s35vn. S30v has chipped on me more and seems to be abit more of a pain in the neck to sharpen.

    That said it is still a great steel, just not my favourite. But if there is a knife I like and it only comes in s30v I would still consider myself lucky that the knife came in such a premium steel.

    I think s30v was touted as the ultimate "knife maker's" steel as a bunch of figures from the knife industry were involved in its formulation.

    Question to the real steel gurus. What is generally tougher s30v or 154cm? I understand that having many carbides can lead tonan instable edge. (This is part of what powdered steels are trying too combat. How to have all those dissolved carbides without them clumping together and making brittle points. )
  18. wensynch


    Apr 30, 2016
    Steel classifications are really only indicative of a given range/parameter in qualities for a set steel mixture which will vary from batch to batch.

    Traditionally, one S30 batch may not feel the same as another and could theoretically feel like another steel like S110. I dunno exactly, something to do with concentration, which lead to processes like powder.

    Point being, the name is just a reference point for the most part. It's all about the baking, or heat treatment. Pointing out the differences in mixture is indeed just being nerdy irrelevant for the most unless science I just want to know.. And marketing. Leave the sciencey stuff to the scientist.

    Anyone ever mention how awesome the tupperware is these days and the category of thermoplastic it is using? Tempered glass type 4? Laminate level 6? Who cares? I guess I do. Heh
  19. fjblair


    Mar 15, 2017
    Seems reasonable to me. I've owned knives since I was a Cub Scout and never had a knife "chip". If I chip a knife, it's my fault, not some shortcoming of the blade steel.
  20. DeadboxHero


    Mar 22, 2014

    154cm is generally tougher.

    The PM process is used for high alloy, big carbide steels to make them more usable (especially for us knife guys)

    Otherwise when the ingot cools during the traditional process the alloy/carbide cools faster and forms large networks that are about impossible to break up with heat treatment.

    This makes a knife that has low toughness and is more difficult to sharpen then the same steel that has the PM process.

    But a PM steel will generally have lower toughness then non PM steels.
    Since the higher carbide volume means more inclusions in the steel matrix, that can absorb less energy before failure.

    It's confusing though because alot of the carbide forming elements do other things that can help promote toughness such as reducing grain growth and preventing softer structures from forming during cooling.

    Many, many factors, so you can't just look at a chart and say for sure since the different times, temperatures and transformations from heat treatment is a huge part of the final out come and determines what goes where and how much and what size.

    There isn't a simple explanation of it all because the more answers you get the more questions it creates.

    Generally though, if you want the toughest steels you want more ductility that comes from lower strength (less carbon) and lower wear resistance (less carbide forming elements)
    It's not just the HRC number
    It's the materials that steel has and the microstructure created

    But the application is super important and can be the biggest factor

    What's tough for a knife isn't tough enough for an axe and vice versa since toughness is actually a blend of strength and ductility.

    While an axe would favor more ductility with a thicker Geometry to hold it's shape, a thin knife would fold and roll in use since there is less steel supporting the edge you would need more strength rather then ductility to make a tough knife that will hold it's edge.

    People often confuse ductility with toughness but toughness is a blend.

    Otherwise unheatreated, soft steel would be considered the toughest steel for all applications.

    What's confusing is that toughness favors ductility but it isn't ductility it's the proper blend of strength and ducilty with plastic failure over brittle failure.

    Generally, 154cm will do that better then S30v in a knife
    Less brittle failure, chipping, more toughness

    CPM 154 will be even better.

    S30V will cut longer, and cut more aggressively though.

    So two different users will experience different amounts of edge holding depending on how the knife is being used and dulled even if the have the same knife and steel.
    If a user blunts the edge from raw abrasive cutting then S30v would be preferable with a thin edge

    If a user experiences more damage from making contact with hard materials that dull the knife then the 154cm is more preferable with a thicker edge.

    So it's not universal, The best knife in the world for me would be destroyed in seconds by someone that uses there knife like a cold chisel.

    The knife that would hold up for them would make me miserable since I couldn't cut anything even with a sharp edge, it would have to be so thick I would experience more wedging then cutting.

    In the end, there are so many factors and combinations that really you just have to try for yourself.

    But we only have so much time and money so it pays to do alot of reading to get an idea of what you really want.

    Thats been my experience

    YMMV and that is fine

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