EverydayCommentary: Trust and Steel Designations

Nothing in the knife market is taken more as an article of faith than steel designations. Those little laser marked numbers and letters mean so much to knife buyers that they will buy the exact same knife with different laser marked designations, sometimes for lots more money. But for the vast majority of people, there is no way to verify if these designations are correct. It is even harder then to ferret out if the designation means what it says. Other than one person in the community, no one has the technical knowledge, machine proficiency, and independent platform to determine if a steel designation means what it says. Fortunately, we have Larrin, or as marketing people say with a palpable amount of fear in their voice, “Dr. Larrin Thomas.”

While not as old nor as ostentatious in his glasses choices, Larrin is a beloved figure in the Internet Knife Community in much the same way that baseball loved Harry Carey. He gave us Knife Steel Nerds, required reading in my opinion. He has authored two amazing books on steel. And recently, he pulled back the curtain on a controversial steel, Artisan’s AR RPM9 steel. Here is the article, in case you missed it. Larrin’s point is that this name is highly misleading because “PM” in steel designations has a well-known and standardized meaning: powder metallurgy. As it turns out, AR RPM9 is not a powder steel, but basically a spray form version of 9Cr. Artisan and CJRB have made quite a bit of marketing hay claiming that they had a “budget” powder steel. I have referred to it as such on this blog. But as Larrin demonstrated, it is not powder steel.

A good breakdown of the situation. As a general rule, most reputable Chinese knives do actually test as advertised when it comes to the steel. Mark did a test a while back.

Read the whole thing at EverydayCommentary.com