Your EDC knife is only as good as the steel in its blade. A knife made of good steel will be sharp, stay sharp, and resists chipping. On the other hand, low-carbon knives made of dubious edge-holding steel are unreliable and downright unsafe. They tend to dull quickly, chipping and breaking when you need them most. There are a lot of high-quality blade steels to pick from, and each has its own set of advantages to consider for your EDC. This guide will cover what to look out for in knife steel before buying your next blade. To make things even easier for beginners, we’ll give a few examples of our favorite knives made of each type of steel.
What to Look for in a Good Everyday Carry Blade Steel
- Hardness and durability: You want a durable knife that won’t bend because its steel is too soft. But the tradeoff is that you don’t want steel so hard that it becomes brittle and chips over time. A good mixture of these two qualities is best. Hardness is measured in terms of Rockwell (HRC) units, with higher values being generally better than lower values. Some of the most high-quality knife steel options use powder metallurgy and superior edge geometry to get the best performance out of a good edge.
The hardness of a knife’s steel dictates the maximum sharpness of the blade. While you can sharpen knives with harder steels to a more refined edge, it does come at a cost. It takes more effort and sometimes specialized equipment to sharpen blades with the most challenging steels.
- Toughness: Toughness relates to a blade’s ability to stand up to hard use (and even abuse). Beyond standing up to everyday nicks and scratches, accidents and emergencies happen.
- Sharpness and edge retention: You want a knife that can get sharp and stay sharp through repeated use. A blade that is easy to sharpen and maintain is also good. Better edge retention means your new knife can cut sharp even during extended use. How hard a blade steel is also affects how sharp it can get. That’s determined by the amount of carbon in the steel. Other elements can also affect how well a blade can hold that edge through repeated rugged use.
- Corrosion resistance: This determines whether your knife is stainless or not. Non-stainless steel knives need oil and maintenance to keep the rust away. Stainless steel knives are forgiving, but they can still rust if neglected. The number of elements such as chromium content and vanadium in the steel alloy helps this out. Additionally, knives with a low carbon count have a high level of corrosion resistance, but the tradeoff is less prone to deformation and blunting.
- Ease of sharpening: All knives eventually get dull, and the only way to get them back into shape is to sharpen them. But you will notice that some blades take less effort to take on a keen edge than others. The first reason is hardness, as it can take more work and specialized tools to hone the edge of premium steel. But blade shape also plays a role. For example, sharpening a blade with a recurve edge takes some practice. Serrations can also pose added difficulty.
Knife manufacturers have a comprehensive set of names for each blade steel. The specific cutlery steel alloy used in making a knife is usually disclosed, letting you judge the quality. Generally, beware of dubious knives that do not advertise their blade steel. Unknown low-carbon steel should raise a red flag in your mind when you’re trying to buy a knife.
Decent value-added info before it turns into a link farm more at the link. Not new to our regular readers.View Linked Article