Primary steel choice: S30V vs S35VN vs CTS-XHP

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dplafoll
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Primary steel choice: S30V vs S35VN vs CTS-XHP

Postby dplafoll » Mon Feb 26, 2018 1:56 pm

So a LOT of Spyderco knives use CPM S30V, which is a fine steel that used to be the cutting edge (pun intended) of knife steels. It's still one of the best, but a lot of folks seem to think it's been left behind a bit by better steels that are easier to sharpen and less prone to chipping. Now, I personally have no problem buying a knife in S30V, but I also tend to prefer CTS-XHP. It seems easier to sharpen and I haven't had any chipping with it. XHP used to be a very higher-end steel but has come down in price a good deal since it's been out; I could see the Techno and Slysz Bowie to be in a "nicer" steel if they were released now. The best proof of this is Cold Steel switching to XHP in a large number of their knives. As for S35VN, we see it on the Native, but it hasn't supplanted S30V across the line-up. From what I've read, most people tend to prefer S35VN to S30V.

http://knifenews.com/cold-steel-to-tran ... ade-steel/
Now, however, Cold Steel says they can't get enough XHP so they're switching to S35VN, which may tell us why Spyderco hasn't done more in XHP instead of S30V. That leads me to a few questions for Spyderco:
1) Is S30V that much easier to acquire at the right price and volume compared to XHP? If not, what advantage does S30V have over XHP to justify the overwhelming preference for the former?
2) If XHP is now more difficult to acquire, does that change anything about the current (Techno, Chaparral, 100Pacer) and future (Techno 2, Rhino) models using the steel?
3) What advantage does S30V have that precludes replacing it across the board with S35VN? Is it price/volume alone, or is there some other consideration?

Obviously, there are some elements of proprietary business information here that may prevent my getting answers to these questions, but I was curious and there's no harm in asking. And to be clear, I'm not dissatisfied with the overall steel choices by Spyderco at all; if anything, I am continually amazed at the performance and diversity of the steel offerings. Also, the adoption of S30V in some Japanese models is highly encouraging, because I think we can mostly agree that S30V is better than VG-10 in most respects.
Patrick LaFollette
Current: Dragonfly 2 ZDP-189, Chaparral 1, Techno 1, Delica 4 HAP-40, Dragonfly 2 HAP-40, Mantra 1, Ladybug Salt Hawkbill, Nirvana CPM, Endura 4 HAP-40, Sage 4, Para Military 2 CPM Cru-Wear, Sage 5, Caly3 HAP40, Sliverax, Lil' Nilakka, Chaparral Raffir Noble, Zulu, Manbug HAP40, Meerkat HAP40, Sage 1/Sage 2/Sage 3 CF, Introvert, Techno 2

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Xplorer
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Re: Primary steel choice: S30V vs S35VN vs CTS-XHP

Postby Xplorer » Mon Feb 26, 2018 2:34 pm

Of course only Spyderco can answer question #2. But, for the sake of offering you a quick answer, I work with all 3 steels and I can answer #1 & #3 for you.

1. S30V is indeed much easier to acquire than CTS-XHP. And..lower cost.

3. Just Cost. S30V is still less expensive than S35VN. Plus back when S30V was realized to be the ideal "everyday" supersteel, companies like Spyderco and others bought large amounts in order to offer such an amazing steel at reasonable prices. When another version comes along that's a little better, not only might it take quite a while to work through the investment in the first version but it also may not be worth additional cost for an advantage so small that it can't actually be perceived in real life use. S35VN has basically identical edge holding capability and a bit more toughness. The main advantage to S35VN is that it is easier to grind and process when making the knife.

Best regards,
Chad
:spyder: Spyderco fan and collector since 1991. :spyder:
Father of 2, nature explorer, custom knife maker.
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Re: Primary steel choice: S30V vs S35VN vs CTS-XHP

Postby dplafoll » Thu Mar 01, 2018 4:02 pm

Xplorer wrote:
Mon Feb 26, 2018 2:34 pm
Of course only Spyderco can answer question #2. But, for the sake of offering you a quick answer, I work with all 3 steels and I can answer #1 & #3 for you.

1. S30V is indeed much easier to acquire than CTS-XHP. And..lower cost.

3. Just Cost. S30V is still less expensive than S35VN. Plus back when S30V was realized to be the ideal "everyday" supersteel, companies like Spyderco and others bought large amounts in order to offer such an amazing steel at reasonable prices. When another version comes along that's a little better, not only might it take quite a while to work through the investment in the first version but it also may not be worth additional cost for an advantage so small that it can't actually be perceived in real life use. S35VN has basically identical edge holding capability and a bit more toughness. The main advantage to S35VN is that it is easier to grind and process when making the knife.

Best regards,
Chad
So my question regarding the part of your post that I bolded would be this: how much easier is it? Is it "more easier enough" to actually make a difference in net cost (parts up, labor down) compared to S30V given the volume of S30V models?
Patrick LaFollette
Current: Dragonfly 2 ZDP-189, Chaparral 1, Techno 1, Delica 4 HAP-40, Dragonfly 2 HAP-40, Mantra 1, Ladybug Salt Hawkbill, Nirvana CPM, Endura 4 HAP-40, Sage 4, Para Military 2 CPM Cru-Wear, Sage 5, Caly3 HAP40, Sliverax, Lil' Nilakka, Chaparral Raffir Noble, Zulu, Manbug HAP40, Meerkat HAP40, Sage 1/Sage 2/Sage 3 CF, Introvert, Techno 2

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Re: Primary steel choice: S30V vs S35VN vs CTS-XHP

Postby zhyla » Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:00 pm

I’m very amused at people being unimpressed with S30V but all on board when S35VN is an option.

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Re: Primary steel choice: S30V vs S35VN vs CTS-XHP

Postby TomAiello » Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:42 pm

Of the three, I'd pick XHP every time. I do notice a difference when I use them (particularly in sharpening), and my preference would be 1) XHP, 2) S35VN, 3) S30V.

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Re: Primary steel choice: S30V vs S35VN vs CTS-XHP

Postby Evil D » Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:07 pm

zhyla wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:00 pm
I’m very amused at people being unimpressed with S30V but all on board when S35VN is an option.

Dude c'mon it has 5 more V's and an N...what's not to like?


Seriously though I'd be impressed if someone could identify these three steels apart from each other in a blind test.
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Re: Primary steel choice: S30V vs S35VN vs CTS-XHP

Postby DrawBackwards » Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:02 pm

Evil D wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:07 pm
Dude c'mon it has 5 more V's and an N...what's not to like?

Well played, sir. Not the first time I've seen you go there, and it was still a good thing I wasn't drinking anything at the time...

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Re: Primary steel choice: S30V vs S35VN vs CTS-XHP

Postby curlyhairedboy » Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:28 pm

I'm pretty leery of s35vn, given my experiences with other brands. It's pretty unimpressive the way I've seen it HT'd.

I'm very happy with s30v, and even happier with the way spyderco heat treats it.
EDC Rotation: PITS, Shaman, CF S90v Shaman, Ikuchi, Amalgam, CruCarta Shaman, Lil Native, Sage 5 LW, 4V Shaman, Watu, Rex 45 Shaman, Rex 45 Lil Native, Caribbean Sheepsfoot CQI, Waterway, Tanto PM2, CQI Kapara
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Re: Primary steel choice: S30V vs S35VN vs CTS-XHP

Postby zhyla » Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:32 pm

Evil D wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:07 pm
Dude c'mon it has 5 more V's and an N...what's not to like?
“Yeah, this is going to blow that right out of the water. Listen to this: 7... Minute... Abs.”

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Re: Primary steel choice: S30V vs S35VN vs CTS-XHP

Postby 62Mini » Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:49 pm

I fucking love XHP. Thats it. Have a good day :)

jk.



Btw. Spydercos S30v is actually real nice.




I also had a couple ZTs in S35vn asn they were both soft as hell.

I have a Sebenza thats about a week old so Ill see how that S35vn is as I use it

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Re: Primary steel choice: S30V vs S35VN vs CTS-XHP

Postby fanglekai » Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:26 pm

S35VN and S30V should be nearly indistinguishable in use. S35VN is easier to machine than S30V, so the manufacturer benefits from that. S30V and CTS-XHP have been very similar in use for me, so any of the three steels mentioned is fine for me.

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Re: Primary steel choice: S30V vs S35VN vs CTS-XHP

Postby Sharp Guy » Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:32 pm

fanglekai wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:26 pm
S35VN and S30V should be nearly indistinguishable in use. S35VN is easier to machine than S30V, so the manufacturer benefits from that. S30V and CTS-XHP have been very similar in use for me, so any of the three steels mentioned is fine for me.
I feel the same! All three perform very similar for me, which is fine because they all work great for my needs.
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Re: Primary steel choice: S30V vs S35VN vs CTS-XHP

Postby toomzz » Fri Mar 02, 2018 1:31 am

TomAiello wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:42 pm
Of the three, I'd pick XHP every time. I do notice a difference when I use them (particularly in sharpening), and my preference would be 1) XHP, 2) S35VN, 3) S30V.

Me too, I follow Tom here.

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Re: Primary steel choice: S30V vs S35VN vs CTS-XHP

Postby Xplorer » Fri Mar 02, 2018 1:33 am

dplafoll wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 4:02 pm
Xplorer wrote:
Mon Feb 26, 2018 2:34 pm
Of course only Spyderco can answer question #2. But, for the sake of offering you a quick answer, I work with all 3 steels and I can answer #1 & #3 for you.

1. S30V is indeed much easier to acquire than CTS-XHP. And..lower cost.

3. Just Cost. S30V is still less expensive than S35VN. Plus back when S30V was realized to be the ideal "everyday" supersteel, companies like Spyderco and others bought large amounts in order to offer such an amazing steel at reasonable prices. When another version comes along that's a little better, not only might it take quite a while to work through the investment in the first version but it also may not be worth additional cost for an advantage so small that it can't actually be perceived in real life use. S35VN has basically identical edge holding capability and a bit more toughness. The main advantage to S35VN is that it is easier to grind and process when making the knife.

Best regards,
Chad
So my question regarding the part of your post that I bolded would be this: how much easier is it? Is it "more easier enough" to actually make a difference in net cost (parts up, labor down) compared to S30V given the volume of S30V models?

I don't have any idea how to quantify that answer. I make 1 at a time. It's noticeably easier to work with. So for me it's worth paying the extra $$ for the small time savings and less wear on drill bits and grinding belts. How that might translate to production costs in a large volume operation is not a question I can answer. If I had to guess, I'd guess large volume production savings isn't quite worth as much as the current additional material cost... but I'm guessing.
:spyder: Spyderco fan and collector since 1991. :spyder:
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Re: Primary steel choice: S30V vs S35VN vs CTS-XHP

Postby dplafoll » Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:15 pm

Xplorer wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 1:33 am
dplafoll wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 4:02 pm
Xplorer wrote:
Mon Feb 26, 2018 2:34 pm
Of course only Spyderco can answer question #2. But, for the sake of offering you a quick answer, I work with all 3 steels and I can answer #1 & #3 for you.

1. S30V is indeed much easier to acquire than CTS-XHP. And..lower cost.

3. Just Cost. S30V is still less expensive than S35VN. Plus back when S30V was realized to be the ideal "everyday" supersteel, companies like Spyderco and others bought large amounts in order to offer such an amazing steel at reasonable prices. When another version comes along that's a little better, not only might it take quite a while to work through the investment in the first version but it also may not be worth additional cost for an advantage so small that it can't actually be perceived in real life use. S35VN has basically identical edge holding capability and a bit more toughness. The main advantage to S35VN is that it is easier to grind and process when making the knife.

Best regards,
Chad
So my question regarding the part of your post that I bolded would be this: how much easier is it? Is it "more easier enough" to actually make a difference in net cost (parts up, labor down) compared to S30V given the volume of S30V models?

I don't have any idea how to quantify that answer. I make 1 at a time. It's noticeably easier to work with. So for me it's worth paying the extra $$ for the small time savings and less wear on drill bits and grinding belts. How that might translate to production costs in a large volume operation is not a question I can answer. If I had to guess, I'd guess large volume production savings isn't quite worth as much as the current additional material cost... but I'm guessing.
Yeah my question was semi-rhetorical. :p
Patrick LaFollette
Current: Dragonfly 2 ZDP-189, Chaparral 1, Techno 1, Delica 4 HAP-40, Dragonfly 2 HAP-40, Mantra 1, Ladybug Salt Hawkbill, Nirvana CPM, Endura 4 HAP-40, Sage 4, Para Military 2 CPM Cru-Wear, Sage 5, Caly3 HAP40, Sliverax, Lil' Nilakka, Chaparral Raffir Noble, Zulu, Manbug HAP40, Meerkat HAP40, Sage 1/Sage 2/Sage 3 CF, Introvert, Techno 2

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Re: Primary steel choice: S30V vs S35VN vs CTS-XHP

Postby dplafoll » Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:17 pm

zhyla wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:00 pm
I’m very amused at people being unimpressed with S30V but all on board when S35VN is an option.
They're all three more than satisfactory, and I have multiple knives in S30V and XHP and one in S35VN. I prefer XHP because it feels easier to sharpen, but by no means am I trying to denigrate any of them.
Patrick LaFollette
Current: Dragonfly 2 ZDP-189, Chaparral 1, Techno 1, Delica 4 HAP-40, Dragonfly 2 HAP-40, Mantra 1, Ladybug Salt Hawkbill, Nirvana CPM, Endura 4 HAP-40, Sage 4, Para Military 2 CPM Cru-Wear, Sage 5, Caly3 HAP40, Sliverax, Lil' Nilakka, Chaparral Raffir Noble, Zulu, Manbug HAP40, Meerkat HAP40, Sage 1/Sage 2/Sage 3 CF, Introvert, Techno 2

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Re: Primary steel choice: S30V vs S35VN vs CTS-XHP

Postby curlyhairedboy » Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:40 pm

Definitely prefer s30v and XHP to s35vn, but that might just be because most brands keep their s35vn rather soft.
EDC Rotation: PITS, Shaman, CF S90v Shaman, Ikuchi, Amalgam, CruCarta Shaman, Lil Native, Sage 5 LW, 4V Shaman, Watu, Rex 45 Shaman, Rex 45 Lil Native, Caribbean Sheepsfoot CQI, Waterway, Tanto PM2, CQI Kapara
Always in Pocket: Hawkbill Dragonfly 2 H1
Special and Sentimental: Southard, Smallfly G10, Squarehead LW, Ouroboros, Calendar Para 3 LW, 40th Anniversary Native, Calendar Watu
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Wishlist: Smallfly 2, Pac Salt 2 LC200n, CQI SpyderEdge Caribbean Sheepsfoot, Shaman Sprints!

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Re: Primary steel choice: S30V vs S35VN vs CTS-XHP

Postby guywithopinion » Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:23 pm

I'd just point out that most Cold Steel knives are made in Taiwan. It may be that CTS-XHP is simply hard to get in Taiwan. The majority of Spyderco knives that are made in XHP are also Taichung knives. Perhaps there is/was some supplier that put in the effort to get the steel there, and now they don't (maybe Spyderco's from Taiwan will start being made in some alternate steel soon too?) Or maybe just not at a price Cold Steel was willing to pay, but that Spyderco can still afford (my guess is the manufacturing costs are more a factor than the blade steel cost for Taichung knives, as they tend to be the lower volume higher priced stuff with more intricate designs).

This is total speculation, but I'd guess the knife industry is not much of a contributor to companies like Carpenter and Crucible staying in business, but maybe that's not exactly true. I assume that Spyderco mainly uses Crucilble steel in the US, and Carpenter XHP in Taiwan is just due to some distributor in either location making one or the other more available. Maybe in Taiwan some steel distributor who brings in CTS steels also finds the knife business profitable, while some US distributor who wants the knife business happens to mainly deal with Crucible steel?

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Re: Primary steel choice: S30V vs S35VN vs CTS-XHP

Postby Surfingringo » Sat Mar 03, 2018 4:43 am

Personally, I would like to see more s35vn and xhp used. Not because I have any issue with s30v or believe those steels would notably outperform s30v. I would like it just because I have lots of knives in s30v and would rather have more variety of Steel in my collection to play with. If a new design came out tomorrow, I would be slightly more likely to buy it in s35 or xhp simply because I don’t currently have either of those in my collection. I suspect I’m not the only one to feel that way.


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