What is the M390 steel folding knife
Which type of knife steel is the best?
The discussion about what is “the best steel” for a knife has been going on since the first steel knife was around. There is actually no such thing as “the best knife steel”. There are many different good grades of steel, each with their strengths and weaknesses.
The question: “Which steel is best?” Makes about as much sense as the question of which car is best. A Ferrari is a great car. But if you have to go to the airport with four large suitcases, it is not the most practical solution. Not to mention a ride over a bumpy dirt road. On the other hand, an off-road vehicle won't do you much good in Formula 1. It is similar with types of steel.
Which factors are important in a steel grade?
A steel is always an alloy of different elements. Because of these different elements, certain properties can be improved, but there is always a compromise.
The various properties that you should look out for in a type of steel are: Sharpness Resistance, Resilience, Rust resistance and how the steel can be grinded. There is actually no steel grade that achieves the best results in all four of the areas mentioned.
What will you use the knife for?
The first question you should ask yourself is, "What do I want to use the knife for?" Also think about what the most important property of a steel grade is for you. You can then take a look at the different types of steel available. We have listed a few types of steel for each area of application below.
Steel grades for EDC
For “everyday carry” the steel should be rust-free, easy to grind and maintain its sharpness. Resilience does not really play a major role when opening packaging or peeling an apple. A few popular steel grades for this category are CPM S35VN, VG10, CPM S30V, Böhler M390, Böhler N690 and many more. A popular inexpensive option is 8Cr13MoV steel. This steel is rustproof, very easy to grind and at the same time is quite robust. However, you have to make a few compromises in terms of sharpness resistance.
Of course there are also more exclusive steels. We have summarized these for you on the EDC knife with super steel page.
Survival and bushcraft knives
A robust survival or bushcraft knife is expected not to break, but to be tough. In addition, it should be easy to grind on the go and maintain its sharpness as long as possible. The rust resistance is less important in this case, the right care and / or a good coating help a lot. Therefore, one often chooses a carbon or tool steel, for example D2, 1095, CPM 3V, Sleipner, A2 or another carbon steel. These steels are usually very resistant and can be easily ground on the go, even with limited resources.
Very plain carbon steel is generally used for machetes. The steel is even simpler than that used for fixed knives. Examples are 1055 carbon steel or 65Mn. With a machete, it's more important that it doesn't break. The sharpness resistance is not that important.
The heat treatment of steel
It's not just the type of steel that is important. The heat treatment is actually much more important. The steel may be the heart of the blade, but the heat treatment is the soul.
Finish and cut
Let's get to the finish and the polish. A knife with a stonewashed finish is inherently more resistant to rust than a knife that has been sandblasted. A thin blade offers less resistance when cutting. So it is less stressed and stays sharp longer. At the same time, a thin blade is more sensitive than a thick one and therefore less resistant to breakage.
These are a few examples and perspectives that can help you make your decision. Please note that we have assumed the average application of the steels. There can always be brands or manufacturers who treat a steel grade differently.
You also have to decide for yourself what is most important to you. With outdoor knives, for example, rust is not a problem for many people. But if you live by the sea, it can be quite frustrating when your knife rusts under your eyes. Also, today's types of steel are so much better than those from 20-30 years ago. Steel grade A may stay sharp longer than steel grade B, but how big is the difference really? So think carefully about what you want to do with your knife and what is most important to you personally. Visit our knife steel page for more information.
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