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Which steel? (carbon and stainless options)

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by readyme, Mar 8, 2008.

  1. readyme


    Oct 4, 2004
    I am going to have a new knife made, and I can't decide which steel to use. I think carbon is going to be the "family" I want to go with...I don't really see the advantage of stainless.
    It is going to be a 5" blade fixed knife for primarily camping. I want durable (not going to snap in half or chip) and be able to hold a good sharp edge.
    Here are my options...please weigh in and give your reasons please:

    Obviously there are major cost differences, so is the cost of M2 worth it compared to 1095?
    Am I missing any other steels I should consider?
    Thanks for your help:D
  2. Diamond Dog

    Diamond Dog

    Jun 25, 2007
    Welcome aboard to Bladeforums. This is an excellent place to learn about all aspects of knives.

    If carbon is what your going after I can lend you my experience with 2 of the mentioned carbon steels you list-nothing technical but just my observations.

    I have knives in 1095 and a custom in 01. 1095 is reasonably priced and a solid performer with a proven track record in the field. However, I am very fond of 01 and I think that it is less corosive than the 1095. I do not mean that it is not prone to rust but in my usage of both types of steel I think the 01 holds up better in edge retention and overall durability. Plus, if your getting a custom I would suggest to go with the 01.
    But generally the 1095 is a very good option as well. I am not well informed on M2 steel. Remember a good heat treat will make a difference on a well made knife as well.

    I don't know why but for an outdoors knife I just do not care for D2--this is nothing more than personal preference of my handling of D2. Most will say it is hard to sharpen and may chip. But again it depends on the heat treat. A good D2 maker Bob Dozier comes to mind.

    I also think there is something called S7 and A2-but I do not know specifics.
    Good luck and post again on what you decide!
  3. fastcamo


    Nov 26, 2006
    of those choices, I would go with 01. for what you said or need, if A2 is a possibility i would pick that, if not 01 would be excellent.
  4. bennett


    Sep 22, 2005
    I'd second the 1095 or O-1 suggestions, and probably lean toward O-1 myself. As a knifemaker, I tend to prefer working in 5160 and O-1. They are both excellent steels. I feel that 5160 offers a lot in the way of edge-retention and toughness. However, the 1095 is also a very good steel. Diamond Dog had a good point though - whatever you get, good heat treating is very important (critical). Post some pics of your knife when you get it:D
  5. The Mastiff

    The Mastiff

    Apr 21, 2006
    I'd say A2 steel for it's compromise of toughness, edge taking and holding, and the excellent all around performance.

    It's not as tough as infi or L6, nor as wear resistant as 10V, but it's an excellent compromise and takes one of the best edges I've seen. I like all the other steels you mentioned too BTW. I would really decide what charachteristics are most important and use that to pick. A2 certainly makes great all around camp knives.

    2nd choices would be 1095 or 1085, or O-1. 3V is a great one if you plan on chopping and other such things. Joe
  6. readyme


    Oct 4, 2004
    Thanks for all the input.
    I too am leaning towards the 01 or 1095...if nothing else the other two are twice the cost!!!

    Can y'all give a comparison of 01 and 1095?
    My new knife will be one of the two...made by Chax Knives
  7. Larrin

    Larrin Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    1095 and O1 are fairly similar. O1 has alloy added for greater hardenability (easier to get it hard in the quench) and greater wear resistance. 1095 will be somewhat tougher, but the difference should not come up in the use that you describe. O1 would be my personal choice out of all those listed for the knife you describe, though if the maker is more familiar with one of the others, they may be a better choice. The steel a maker is most familiar with is usually the best choice.
  8. The Mastiff

    The Mastiff

    Apr 21, 2006
    Larrin did explain that well as usual. Joe
  9. readyme


    Oct 4, 2004
    Great thought...looks like 1095 it is.
    After looking around, 1095 is used by a lot of knife makers (just a side note).
  10. cdf


    Nov 12, 2004
    Of the ones you mention , D2 .

  11. Hawkings


    Mar 31, 2006
    Its a hole lot more forgiving when forgetting to take the knife out of your pocket and putting it in the washing machine.

    When you find the knife after 2 days hanging out to dry on a string in the backyard all of a sudden you see the advantage of stainless.:cool:

    It happens for me from time to time:rolleyes:
  12. elkins45


    Jun 17, 2006
    1095 is great stuff, but I'm beginning to see the advantage of full-hard M2. I'm in the process of making a replica Loveless dropped point hunter from a never-used full hardness power hacksaw blade. I can tell you that it is certainly wear resistant! A file just skates across the surface! It will be very interesting to see how it performs once I put an edge on it and put it to work---as soon as it warms up enough that I can get back out to the shop and finish grinding it.
  13. wutitiz


    Mar 5, 2008
    If you could get the maker to use the relatively new CPM D2, that's what I'd go with, of the steels you listed. I am biased against regular D2 since I heard the spiel from the Crucible people a couple years ago. They said that the carbides in D2 tend to be erractically distributed, so when people say that D2 has a 'toothy' edge, it's really an uneven edge, and that generally isn't good (could even be chip-prone). With any powder metall (like CPMD2) the carbides are very evenly distributed. I am no expert, but they convinced me. D2 also contains about 10 or 11% chromium, which helps wear resistence and also makes it close to being stainless.

    I agree with the others that heat treat & edge geometry are probably more important, and any of the steels you listed are good.
  14. Dog of War

    Dog of War

    Sep 4, 2004
    Others have mentioned A2 ... if the maker you choose can make reasonable assurance of a good heat treat with cryo, and a final hardness of 61-62 HRC, then IMO you'd have something really special. Otherwise, I'd say go for O-1.

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