As a rule of thumb, I’d give any blade of any steel composition a good mineral oil rubdown from time to time to be safe as technically, all steel based blades are prone to corrosion eventually. How the steel is treated and what manufacturing process it undergoes will have a huge impact on corrosion resistance. We won’t go deep into the science here, but a big factor in how a specific steel will perform in a specific blade configuration comes down to how the steel is heat and/or cryogenically treated. Those little numbers and letters are actually the primary driving force behind the price and performance you can expect out of that particular knife and, as with everything, not all knives and their blades are made the same! Sharpening Difficulty: Very easy 9/10 Knives with moving parts, that is any type of hinge, folder, utility, or multi-tool, should be oiled to ensure the moving parts are easy to move and that the metal on metal contact isn’t causing excessive wear and tear. Edge Retention: Decent 4/10 This means you can’t take a specific steel type and just harden it as much as possible or make it super flexible as it’s other properties may severely limit its ability to perform outside of its specified range. We feel these are the most important criteria when scoring the utility of a knife. No, it doesn’t, because those are Benchmades lowest tier knives and nowhere near the performance of higher-grade steels but it is something to say for AUS-8 and is pretty cool they’re being used with a premium brand. I won’t go too far in-depth, but keep in mind that special steels like H1, the especially corrosion resistance saltwater steel, cannot hold a flat grind due to a flat grind being too thin and brittle for H1 to hold an edge. When this steel first hit the market, Spyderco was the only company using it, however, many other reputable knife companies started to use it such as Cold Steel. If you live somewhere relatively dry and you don’t plan on using your knife in water or, even worse, saltwater, then corrosion resistance is one of the lowest tier characteristics you should be looking for and honestly, I wouldn’t worry about this much at all if that were the case. Any steel with a content of 10.5% of chromium or more is considered to be stainless steel. ATS 34 Steel: This steel is very similar to 154 CM (listed below) and is generally considered one of the best steels you can buy. Bohler uses the vanadium and molybdenum carbides to stabilize the steel so that the chromium can do its job most effectively and block any rust from forming up. It’s affordable for any price point and can fit any lifestyle. It has a finger guard to protect against slippage during rigorous use. However, an S30V will have better edge retention and won’t dull as quickly. On the flip side, adding more carbon itself will increase the hardness and edge retention. This best protection against your hand slipping would be a grip with finger grooves, which function as the best impingement to slippage. Okay, fine, they didn’t design it to be hard to sharpen but it certainly feels that way if you give it a go. The angle of the tip of this knife is also the strongest shape known to man: a triangle. That means it may cut holes in your jeans pocket and might snag on clothing. This makes it the largest knife we’ve featured. This blade is incredibly durable and strong, but also beautiful and flashy. The handle is made of 6061-T6 aluminum, which is made up of silicone and magnesium. Toughness: Good 7/10. Toughness: 9/10. For example, the heat and curing treatment steel undergoes will change the resistance to corrosion even with chromium mixed in, so not all stainless steel with the same chromium content will have the same level of resistance to rust. The sheath is durable and simple and gets the job done. This knife comes in 31 grip color and blade combinations from a basic flat black to an American Flag grip with a Damascus blade (which obviously falls under the pricier end of this style). Some steel types, notably soft steels, may wear extremely quickly when not oiled properly. Ceramic knives absolutely cannot rust and thus have superior corrosion resistance to pretty much everything on this list. The handle is made of G-10, a composite material of high-pressure fiberglass laminate, as in the Spyderco knife. Steel type: Swedish Sandvik 12C27 / 13C26 / 14C28N (Kershaw special request but not exclusive), Common Use Case: Many Kershaw knives but also other inexpensive knives like Morakniv, Sharpening Difficulty: Fairly easy 7/10 When shopping around, taking note of the amount of carbon in the steel used for the blade is very important. It also features the Spidey Hole on the base of the blade. High carbon steel is commonly used because it’s durable and holds a razor sharp edge for a long time. As with the previous titanium knives, consider the climate of where you’ll be using your knife the most: if it’s relatively cold, your handle will feel like ice in your hand. Corrosion Resistance: Medium 5/10 S90V and S110V are extremely similar, however, S110V is simply a bit harder and a bit better in each category. Nickel: In small amounts, nickel can aid in the manufacturing process by making the steel easier to weld and form while also increasing the final product’s durability of the blade during abuse. SOG makes some okay AUS-6 knives but other than that, no notable brands I’d really recommend carries AUS-6 blades. Chromium: The first line of defense against corrosion and a requirement to be in the stainless steel club. 440B steel is not a very popular material for the top knife brands due to having relatively the same price as 440C but without as good as edge retention. With prices ranging from $100-$1000, you can find a simple flat black tactical version of this knife, or a marble inlaid handle with an orange peel texture and a Damascus blade to really show off your aesthetic. Common Use Case: Excellent middle ground between H1 steel and 154CM steel, Sharpening Difficulty: Medium 5/10 While most of the other knives have their strengths subtly and elegantly, this knife is unapologetically meant for an outdoor, tactical environment. I must also note that companies like Benchmade and Spyderco have much higher quality heat treatment processes for these types of steels than most other companies and as I mentioned in the guide, their blades will perform significantly higher than other brands with the same stamps so please keep that in mind. This knife is average length, at 7.375″ and a blade of 3.25″. The thin and narrowness of this grip makes it easy to hold in your hand and incredibly convenient to fit into a pocket, boot, purse, or backpack. The Zero Tolerance 0450 is incredibly easy to use. Corrosion Resistance: Medium 5/10 13C26 is essentially a special version of 440A that simply has higher levels of carbon in place of chromium and as such, sacrifices a little corrosion resistance for strength, however, the difference is very small and the two are almost identical in practical use. Toughness: Good 7/10. It adds a higher level of control to the tool. The grip is made of anodized aluminum, which means the metal has been electrically converted into a non-corrosive, decorative surface. The reason it’s used there is for its low cost of manufacturing to a relatively high level of durability compared to the cheaper solutions. This knife is meant to be out in the woods, chopping down branches and hacking away at foliage. It’s stainless steel that is even tougher than CPM S30V (which, if you remember, is pretty dang tough). However, each offers unique features that will suit every user differently. This knife isn’t meant for a back pocket or EDC; this knife is meant to be used for a specific purpose, and it surely looks the part. A last little tidbit here is that creating excellent resistance to corrosion will oftentimes sacrifice a bit in the category of edge retention. Edge Retention: Very good 8/10 It has a total length of 14-inches with a 9-inch blade that is 4.7 mm thick. Bohler N690 is widely known as VG-10 on steroids, simply having extremely similar performance and characteristics but encompassing slightly better edge retention and being a tad bit more difficult to sharpen when need be. Some popular tool steels in this group include D2, O1 and Crucible’s CPM series (i.e. Steel type: More expensive CPM Family (20CV, S90V, and CPM S110V), Common Use Case: The ultimate all-around tough and sharp blade, Sharpening Difficulty: Extremely difficult 1/10 This could not be further from the truth. Most Common Ingredients Used to Create Steel Blades. This is why we included looks and style into our grading scheme as well. Edge Retention: Low 3/10 Edge Retention: Good 7/10 Corrosion Resistance: Low 2/10 One of the Marine Approved top recommendations for a knife encompassing 440A steel is the Gerber Hinderer found here. While it isn’t quite as strong as CPM-S30V and will dull quicker, it is easier to sharpen and is less expensive. With 130 different color combinations and materials, you’re sure to find a knife that suits you. At a total length of 11.85″, this is a substantial and sizable knife. The reverse tanto tip is made to pierce into tough materials and chisel its way into the center. Review: D2 is the steel you buy if you really enjoy the finer details and time-consuming nature of blade sharpening. A low level of chromium means D2 doesn’t do well with corrosion whatsoever but so long as you keep it dry and clean, it should be alright. Both are excellent steel materials but I’d opt for the 154CM if given the choice. As far as cuttability, this knife primarily focuses on versatility for an EDC knife, with a sharper tip and thicker base. It’s tougher, harder, more resistant to corrosion, and has better resistance to breakage and edge chipping. The blade is .13″ thin with a stonewash finish, meaning you won’t have to worry about any coatings wearing off with use. One of the Marine Approved top recommendations for a knife encompassing 8Cr13MoV steel is the CRKT M21-04G found here. Corrosion Resistance: 7/10 Except for M4 which is 3/10 at best For more information on the Crucible Particle Metallurgy process, you can follow the link here to the Crucible info page. It’s not overly fancy or ostentatious. One such offing is the Sage 5 carbon fiber knife you see here. A tactical knife will not usually use the same kind of steel as a hunting knife. For quick use, the sheath can be stored conveniently (like in a car side-door pocket), or strapped to your leg. It is now, arguably, more practical than ever, with the ability to open with the push of one button. You should stay away from these knives unless you plan on using them once and disposing of them as they are not of high quality and do not provide durability or peace of mind. This knife is incredibly hefty, durable, reliable, and easy to use. This knife is your classic work knife: built to last and look good while doing it. We also paid special attention to the grip. More carbon sounds like a good thing, I mean it’s more expensive, right? Corrosion Resistance: Good 6/10 For those who have a bit more to spend on an EDC knife and want something that will last a long time and keep up with ever-changing styles, The 940 Auto is the perfect knife. Common Use Case: When you want the quality of 154CM steel but need a little more corrosion resistance, Sharpening Difficulty: Medium 5/10 For some of the heavier duty knives, we even chopped wood with them to see how well they held up. It can be a bit trickier to sharpen, but with the right tools, this blade will sharpen better than other steel materials. One of the Marine Approved top recommendations for a knife encompassing CTS-BD1 steel is the Spyderco Manix 2 found here. Each knife has a narrow rectangular grip that sits nicely in your hand’s groove, between your palm and fingers. Toughness: Very good 7/10. We won’t be able to cover each and every single steel ever used in the manufacturing process of knife blades but we will cover the most prominent and important steel types! Chromium is not the only factor in how resistant a type of steel is to corrosion. The real problem with surgical steel stamps is that there is little to no formal accountability for the results and attributes of surgical steel. Blades constructed of CTS-BD1 encompass great value for the price you pay since they are decently well-rounded and perform better in terms of resistance to rust than AUS-8 and MoV. With a 100% leather handle, the grip is comfortable, durable, and aesthetically pleasing. After learning about knife steels, consider checking out our favorite fixed blade knives here and EDC knives here. One of the Marine Approved top recommendations for a knife encompassing 1095 steel is the ESEE Knives Izula II found here. Review: Anything with a 420 stamped on it is probably of relatively low quality and on the budget end of the spectrum. In a nutshell, they took the properties of AUS-8, added a tad bit of chromium to increase its corrosion resistance, and then heat-treated it inside a vacuum to achieve larger chromium carbide particles that aid in resistance to corrosion better than something else with similar chromium levels but not vacuum treated. Not all AUS-8 or MoV steel blades are the same and some of them are relatively cheap, meaning they’re also fairly low quality in most cases. With premium-grade steel that will last ages and a tough, durable, neutral-colored handle that will withstand the hardest jobs, you’re sure to get your money’s worth out of this knife. If a knife is ultra-hard, it will have little to no flex which can actually be counter-intuitive towards durability. Edge retention is often reliant on other attributes such as blade hardness and steel composition. Compare two blades of the exact same steel composition and you’ll have two totally different blades, despite them consisting of the same materials. 1095 cro-van has a higher composition of vanadium, nickel, chromium, and molybdenum. A blade’s ability to be ground will determine its behavior as it moves through whatever it is that you’re cutting. One of the Marine Approved top recommendations for a knife encompassing VG-10 steel is the Boker Plus Urban Trapper found here. Type of Steel - Most bushcraft knives have stainless steel blades of one sort or another. While this function well as an EDC knife, its talents would be wasted on such casual usage. This blade’s hardness is rated as 59RC. 5 Cold Steel 39LSWB Marauder Knife – Best Japanese Steel Bowie Knife. The people who love it will love its simple, streamlined design, coupled with its EDC functionality. Whoever is carrying this knife gives off the air of someone who knows what they’re doing. Not all metals are made same for knives, so read the line bellow carefully to see what’s the best steel for knife making. It can do both big jobs and small – the ergonomics of the knife make it feel compact and easy to use while completing all the jobs of a bigger knife. The edges of the grip are smooth and rounded for a comfortable hold. These are some of the easiest blades to sharpen, though, so like I said, they’re good as a starter blade material. 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