Steel Chart

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by ccg85, Nov 14, 2006.

  1. ccg85


    Nov 5, 2006
    Hello everyone,

    I just have a quick question and would like someone to please confirm/clarify something for me. I have been using this chart to determine an overall rating for the best steel. Following this chart, it looks like I should be aiming for BG-42, 440A, 440C etc?

    Thanks everyone
  2. Fonly


    Sep 24, 2006
    sorry ccg85, thats not a very good chart, 440a, 440c,... wow that charts off.
  3. ccg85


    Nov 5, 2006

    thank you for the heads up. do you have or know of a good, but relatively easy to read chart in regards to steel quality. Basically, what steel types should I be looking at when purchasing a blade?
  4. Fonly


    Sep 24, 2006
  5. vikingextreme93


    Nov 2, 2006
    that is a odd chart, I am still grasping the whole steel qualities subject but some of the ratings certainly leave me questioning that chart because a good portion of those ratings seem to contradict the stuff I have read on the forum hear and other custom knife makers charts....maybe a little propaganda to peddle some of the blades on the site?
  6. ccg85


    Nov 5, 2006
    vikingextreme93, that's what I am wondering now, if they are just trying to sell some of the cheaper knives by using this chart. Anyhow, I am shopping around for my first quailty knife. However I have very limited funds.

    I have just about ordered a couple of crkt a.g. russell sting knives, model (CR-2020). From what I have read within these forums most are satisfied with this knife, yet hate the sheath. The site sates the steel as “Steel: 1050, HRC 54-55”, is this any good?
  7. Fonly


    Sep 24, 2006
    1050, I wouldn't say its bad, but 1095 would have been a better choice. Again its like comparing, Bucks 420hc to 440a or something, its going to depend on heat treating. and I dont know how well crkt heat treats things.

    1050 will certainly sharpen faster, but then it will dull faster.
  8. Esav Benyamin

    Esav Benyamin MidniteSuperMod

    Apr 6, 2000
    Welcome to the world of empty wallets!
    How many new knives did YOU buy this month? :p

    Steel. VERY complex subject. The steel itself is a good place to start learning, but heat treat and blade geometry will tell you more about how well the knife will work for you.

    Here's a lot of reliable information on steel.
    Joe Talmadge is extensive, but the most accessible.

    A.G.Russell Steel Guide

    Blade Steels, Steel Analysis, and Heat Treating Methods

    EDC Knives - Steel

    Joe Talmadge Steel FAQ

    Spyderco Steel Chart

    Spyderco Steel Element Information

    Oso Grande steel chart

    Rockwell Hardness Test
  9. ccg85


    Nov 5, 2006
    Esav Benyamin,

    I appreciate all of the links, I have booked marked everyone of them and will give them all a read. Thank you everyone for the help, it is greatly appreciated!
  10. Esav Benyamin

    Esav Benyamin MidniteSuperMod

    Apr 6, 2000
  11. Cliff Stamp

    Cliff Stamp Banned BANNED

    Oct 5, 1998
    That is mainly nonsense.

    It depends on what you want performance wise. All steels are designed for a specific purpose so you choose accordingly.

    For stainless steels there are two main groups :

    1) high carbide : 440C, VG-10, ZDP-189

    2) low carbide : 420HC, 12C27M, AEB-L

    The high carbide versions have a high wear resistance but low toughness and are hard to grind and more suitable for coarse/thick edges. The low carbide versions generally have a higher corrosion resistance, are tougher, easier to grind, cheaper and work better in acute edges with a high polish. In both groups there are steels over a range of hardness.

  12. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
  13. Jeff Clark

    Jeff Clark

    Apr 27, 1999
    Let's talk about a specific knife, the CRKT/AG Russell Sting. This is sort of the opposite of the currently popular overly hard stainless steel knives. This is the tough sort of knife to take into bad places when you can't afford for the knife to break. Some unsophisticated people would say that the 1050 alloy is a cheap generic carbon steel with only 1/2% of carbon to harden it. They would say that 54-55 RC is way too soft for a knife blade. For example their combat knife is made from 1095 alloy and is hardened to 58 RC. The difference is that if you had to pry your way out of trouble with a knife you are much likelier to break the tip off of a 58 RC blade. That 1050 alloy is what you would use to make a sword or a plow blade. It is tougher than 1095 and monumentally tougher than any of the stainless steels in your original chart.

    In general you'll find that there are a lot of tradeoffs with blade alloys. Generally the simpler the alloy (fewer alloying elements other than carbon) and the softer that it is hardened the tougher it is. In this case "toughness" means resistance to chipping or breaking. It does not mean resistance to bending. These blades may bend in use, but you can often just bend them back to straight. If you overstress the edge by sort of hammering it into something too tough the edge is likely to bend or ripple rather than chip. To reduce blade bending you want it somewhere above 54 RC.

    Toughness commonly has to be traded off for hardness. Hardness is resistance to bending and denting. A hard blade can be sharpened thinner can cut harder material without the edge folding over or getting dings, but if you push it past its limits the harder blade will chip. A higher carbon steel blade like 1085 or 1095 or one of the non-stainless tool steels may give you a reasonable balance of hardness and toughness when you refrain from using your blade as a crowbar. Or you can use it as a crowbar if you make it extra thick.

    Premium stainless steels can get as hard as the high carbon steels, but they are not as tough. Because the edge doesn't rust they may actually stay sharp longer than the carbon steels out in the field where things get damp. Softer stainless steel is commonly tougher stainless steel. In contradiction to your table 420J2 is likely to be tougher than 440C since 420J2 will be a lot softer.

    There is also the issue of carbide size in the edge. Some stainless alloys don't sharpen well at accute angles since the carbides in the edge get in the way. They may resist edge wear, but they never get impressively sharp in the first place.

    Your original table doesn't seem to have a coherent point of view as to which characteristics are the most important. I place highest value on hunting knives that can stay sharp through the skinning of a whole elk without sharpening and are tough enough to split some bones. My number one choice on your list would be BG42. That aligns with your table, but I would put VG10 second on the list rather than in 9th place. I would put AUS10 in 3rd place. Part of how I am ranking is skewed for sharpness, but I also need some hardness and toughness.

    Ask yourself what your primary applications require and then we can talk about what might work best for you.
  14. hardheart


    Sep 19, 2001
    For a 3" double-edged blade, this doesn't seem like a great steel choice, but that's just me. I feel the same about the D2 Kershaw Outcast.
  15. Jeff Clark

    Jeff Clark

    Apr 27, 1999
    Dagger points are notorious for breaking off. That is the commonest complaint about the Brittish FS Commando Daggers. I have broken plenty of dagger tips myself. 1050 is a good choice if you are taking a Sting into combat. For an around town blade I might go for 5160 or L6.
  16. leon.pugh


    Sep 21, 2006
    I think the only chart to use is one that you design for you personel purpose. Each catagory needs to be weighted to importenance to fit how you will use the knife. For instance for me ease of sharping is not even a factor, I do not have any trouble getting anything sharp, however some people feel this is very importent. It is complex and will requre you do some research and ask some questions. Their were some very good steels missing from that list such as D2 and CPM3V.
    Leon Pugh
  17. huugh


    Jul 16, 2005
    Some steel charts: 1 2 3 4 5
  18. ccg85


    Nov 5, 2006
    Excellent huugh, thank you for those.

    I'll do my research and report back with all the questions I'm sure i'll have.

    thanks again everyone
  19. MontanaVet


    Sep 10, 2006
  20. Larrin

    Larrin Gold Member Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    It's best to shop for knives rather than steel. There are many reviews on this website, and others. Still, it can help to know what a "good" steel is, I suppose.

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