"Schrade +"?


Basic Member
Oct 21, 2014
1) Did the "Schrade +" ever include 440C?
If so, what year(s)** and what pattern(s)?

2) When** did "Schrade +" change from 440A to 420HC?

3) Did any of the Imperial RI or Imperial Ireland or England have "Schrade +" blades?
(Excuse for asking (3): Just because I've never seen one, don't mean Dudley squished squash.)

EDIT: **Yeah .. Yeah ... I know ... With Schrade, no dates are carved in stone.

Modoc ED

Gold Member
Mar 28, 2010
afishhunter afishhunter - This should be helpful to you. Copy and print or save. Good info here.

Schrade Blade Steel

One question that arises time after time is regarding which blade steels Schrade used. For many years, those of us who grew up owning and using Schrade Old Timer and Uncle Henry knives had a pat answer. Or at least we thought we did. That answer, dating back to 1967 with the introduction of the earliest Uncle Henry knife, the 897UH Premium Signature Stockman, was “Old Timers use high carbon steel in their blades, and Uncle Henry knives use Schrade+ stainless steel.” Research and communications with Schrade employees here in this forum since 2000 have revealed a slightly different answer, not nearly as cut and dried as we are used to.

I am reminded of an old Volkswagen ad campaign where they showed a Beetle in water. The tag line was “A VW will definitely float, but it will not float indefinitely”. While all Schrade knives marked “SCHRADE+” are stainless steel, not all Old Timers and Uncle Henry knives not so marked are carbon steel.

Originally Posted by Tim Faust, Schrade Product Manager 9/19/01
The...trapper..285UH...started out in 1969 with high carbon blades. The catalogs don’t list it with stainless until around 1977, but we probably started using it earlier than that (maybe around 1973 or 1974)....All records that we can find on the 897(UH), even from the first year of production in 1967, indicate that it was made from stainless steel, but it was the only small Uncle Henry stockman that we made in the very beginning.

The Uncle Henry line started out when our knives were stamped “Schrade-Walden”, and it wasn’t until a couple of years into production (probably around 1974) before we started using the “Schrade+” stamp, so even though a knife isn’t stamped “Schrade+”, it may still be stainless.

We did make a few other Uncle Henry’s with high carbon steel, but they were all rigid blades (165UH, 153UH, 171UH, and 172UH).
Originally Posted by SchradeWebGuy 6/21/04
About the carbon steel. We are cutting back some for now...Financial reasons... Most of the knives that have always had the high carbon are now being produced with Schrade+. It’s unlikely that it will stay that way, but for now we have to take some unpleasant steps to weather the storm.
Originally Posted by Debbie Chase, Schrade CSR 11/25/04
Actually, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it is very possible that the blade of your 152OT could actually be stainless. Because of difficulty with their steel suppliers in supplies and soaring prices, and the demand by stores like Wal-mart to keep prices down, Schrade did (I believe around 1997, if I remember correctly) begin to do a running transformation from carbon to stainless. Unfortunately, they did this hoping that if the tang stamps were not changed, no one would notice. Being in direct contact with knife enthusiasts on a daily basis, I did advise them that people would definitely know...and I was left “holding the bag”, when people would return their “high carbon steel” knives because they were stainless.....Quite honestly though, I knew they had switched over a lot of folders, but I was not aware that they had begun doing it with rigid blades.”Apparently, Schrade did perform a test marketing of sorts to check the validity of Ms. Chase’s assertions and her feedback from disgruntled customers.

Originally Posted by lrv 10/21/05
You won’t see too many of these around. This 19OT was made the same year that the 512OT surfaced.
Originally Posted by Codger 10/21/05
The original owner of the 512OT declared it to have been purchased in late ‘89, and it came to him in the standard tan 152OT marked box. The right box for the knife, acquired later from a friend, had a 1991 copyright date. So that gives us a timeframe.....

Yes, Schrade did mark this pair Schrade+ on both tangstamps and boxes. And the catalogs eventually dropped the references to what steel the Old Timers were made from (late in the game).Now that I have thoroughly confused you, and blown long time dearly held ideals of absolute truths, we will look at the steels themselves.

“High Carbon Cutlery Steel”, at least in the case of Imperial Schrade Old Timers and Uncle Henry knives so blessed, refers to AISI 1095HC. It has a carbon content of between .95% and 1.05%, Magnesium 0.30-0.50%, Phosphorus (max.) 0.040%, sulphur (max.) 0.050% according to ladle samples. “Famous for both it’s edge hold ability and resharpening ease. One of the charactoristics of this steel is that it will darken or discolor with use, especially if used on meats or fruits. Care must be taken with a carbon steel knife to prevent rust. The blades should be kept dry and lightly oiled occasionally.”

Originally Posted by Debbie Chase, Schrade CSR 12/06/04
The feeling by many knife users that the rust and discoloration of high carbon steel was an inconvenience was most definitely the reason for the introduction of stainless steel. While most avid users preferred the high carbon steel and honestly felt that the steel wasn’t a good steel until it was seasoned (darkened and discolored) properly, there was always quite a number of people writing in to complain that the steel must be a very poor steel, because they couldn’t slice their apples without it rusting....“Schrade+” steel was actually a trademarked name used for at least two different stainless steel alloys. First was 440A. Then a change was made to 420HC. As of this time, there is conflicting information about when this change took place, but it seems to have been sometime after the 2000 production year. The 440A has a carbon content of 0.60-0.75%, Chromium 16.0-18.0%, Manganese 1.00%, Molybdenum 0.75%, Phosphorus 0.04%, Silicon 1%, and Sulphur 0.03% according to ladle sample maximums. Stainless steel is just as it’s name implies... it “stains less”, but will still discolor or rust to some extent if not properly cared for. Both carbon and stainless blades were heat treated to 56-59 Rockwell.

Every knife enthusiast/user has their own opinion as to which blade steel is best, and which characteristics are most important to them. I’ll not delve into that can of worms here, but to say that my preference is carbon steel. Whatever your preferences, you should be able to find a carbon bladed Old Timer, or a stainless one, if that is what you like. It just takes some searching. Best clues for a carbon steel Old Timer is to try to get one new in an older package, pre 1997 or so. Or buy one with the beginnings of patina, easily removed if you like shiny blades.

A few later knives were made of exotic metals like true forged stainless (BTO1), ATS34 (Spitfire), CM154 (Original Loveless design), and if I remember correctly, the D’holders were of a custom steel/process.

This is my best effort to flesh out the answer to the question of Schrade steels, borrowing liberally from forum resources. Build on this guys.

EDIT: Recently acquired evidence suggests that 420HC SS was introduced, at least partially, in 1998 when they began using fine blanking on the LB7 production. If it was like most other changes in production, it was not like turning off one faucet and turning on another, the change was most likely gradual, what is called a "running change". And of course there is almost always a lag between when production began and shipping began.