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Question:

Best steel for a all purpose knife?

This question gets beat to death from what ive seen online but im going to ask it since im searching for a few new knives. The question is as the titles states what is the best steel for a general purpose knife? I plan on buying several different types of knives, Folders, fixed blades, ect. I will carry them around with me all the time for basically anything i can think of to use it for. The reason i ask this question here is because looking online everyone has a differnt veiw. Some say stainless is too soft while others say carbon will chip and is more brittle. Even looking at just a single type of steel, carbon fort instance everyone has a different opinion as to whats best leaving me kind of lost for what i should get. Maybe the better word would be What is a good general purpose steel?. Any advice is much appreciated!!!!

Answer:

There is no right one answer, because the term all purpose knife covers a very broad spectrum. The same knife that would be good for wood carving will not be the same for food prep, and will not be the same for general utility purposes. I'll just give you my humble opinion. For fixed blade, hard use blades. Where you will be doing bush tasks like chopping, carving etc... 1095 carbon is generally the standard. Now, 1095 is a great steel, it isn't the BEST steel. There are other steels that can outperform it. But for the price and availability its hard to beat. For folders, I prefer a decent stainless, like aus 8. It holds a good edge, and will hold up to any tasks you need a folding knife to do. Contrary to what you will read on the internet, stainless steel is not all crap. Its just that cheap stainless is just that, cheap. Stainless steel is only as good as its tempering process, some companies such as boker do amazing things with the steel and make for an impressive blade. Just stay away from crap stainless. So to sum up. 1095 for fixed blades. aus 8 for folders. These are both common steels used by different companies. If you get caught up on finding the perfect steel, you may overlook more important aspects of the knife itself. Unless your fixed blade is mostly going to be a food processing, and skinning knife, then I would suggest a QUALITY stainless as well. Remember that all high carbon blades need to be kept oiled or they will start to rust very fast. Btw, I suggest anyone looking into knives to check out mora fixed blades. Incredibly cheap, sharp and durable. They are the rockstars of bushcraft.
Sep 27, 2017
Do you want apples or oranges? It's that kind of question. Here's my opinion. For large blades (over 6) 5160 or L-6 done properly makes a nearly unbreakable knife. I once pulled my 65lb vice out of the work bench with an 8 L-6 blade. As carbon content goes up edge holding increases but at the cost of overall strength. For smaller blades I prefer O-1 and 52100, these steels have about twice the edge holding as 5160 but cannot pass the 90deg bend test without breaking. 1095 is a fine steel, I prefer to make damascus from it, but when I do make a blade I want to show a temper line as this steel will do it well. Then we get into high alloy, D-2 is about as balanced as they come and for a smaller blade is second to none save the CPM steels. The CPM steels are very expensive and like the homogonous steel come in many alloys. As far as a chipping edge, that's more an indication of improper heat treating than anything. Carbon steel has more strength and edge holding potential than stainless. D-2 has enough chromium to be somewhat stainless but not beyond the threshold that grain growth becomes an issue. One last thing, the grind is important. The popular hollow grind cuts easily but is weak at the edge because it is thin. A flat grind has more mass and done properly cuts as well as the hollow. The convex is the strongest and is best suited for chopping or a polished edge to push through the material.
Sep 27, 2017
Besides the composition of the steel, the tempering is VERY important. I would buy a knife from a company with a good reputation and not worry about what material their metallurgist chose to make a high quality knife. You definitely do not have the knowledge of someone with a degree in metals and many years of experience.
Sep 27, 2017
Fixed Blades: Folding Blades: CPM 3V CPM S35-VN 1095 CPM S30-V 5160 AUS-8 (when it's heat treated right)
Sep 27, 2017

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