First and foremost, this thread is meant to be a place where forum members can share their experiences and observations comparing these two steels. I have used both steels extensively for hundreds (if not thousands) of hours in harshly corrosive environments but I do not in any way presume that my observations are incontrovertible and I think that the community and Spyderco could benefit from an ongoing discussion of the observed performance differences and similarities of these two steels. So, if you have some real world comparative experience with these two then please share it here.
For my part, I will discuss what I believe to be the main two performance categories of edge performance and corrosion resistance.
I considered H1 a bit of a miracle steel when I first started using it. It was the first time I had encountered a cutlery steel that was 100% rust proof. I was and continue to be a fan of the steel and it remains my most used steel in my saltwater fishing. I do, however, always use H1 in serrated form. This is because I find pe H1 a bit lackluster in performance (edge retention). The biggest problem with plain edge H1 is its lack of strength. The result is that the steel rolls fairly easily. If cutting hard material or material on a hard cutting surface, the edge can degrade due to plastic deformation in just a few cuts. Many times I have gone fishing with a pe H1 knife and come in a few hours later with a knife that would not cut at all. Upon inspecting the edge I would inevitably find that it had rolled at some point in the morning. I have found the knife so prone to this type of rolling in my use that it is difficult to quantify how the edge actually compares to other steels. I think if I was cutting softer media then the strength might be sufficient and I would have a completely different impression of the steels performance. Many users report pe H1 performing well for them and I believe them but I also believe it depends greatly on the type and hardness of material being cut. At any rate, I find the steel a bit too prone to deformation to give me the performance I need for my typical cutting tasks. Then LC200n came along…
When LC200n came along and I learned that it was being run several points harder than H1, I was hopeful. After 2 years of use and testing I can attest that my hope was well placed. I get FAR better performance out of pe lc200n than what I have ever gotten out of H1. I believe that the main reason for this is the difference in hardness that results in greater strength. This means that some of those tasks that leave my H1 edges rolled or deformed have no effect on my lc200n edges. A lot of folks ask for a benchmark when discussing lc200n performance. I am probably not the best guy to ask about that because I tend to resharpen my edges well before they get low into the “working edge” range where the differences in edge performance become more notable. In my uses though I have found it to be comparable to a steel like vg10. Sal has commented that it is not as good as vg10 in catra testing but that testing definitely doesn’t tell the whole story. For example, I believe Sal reported that lc200n performed about 30% better than H1 in Catra testing. In my use though, because of how easily H1 rolls, I find that lc200n can cut double or triple as long as H1…easily. As with so many things in the world of the edge…it depends. It should also be noted that the weakest point of LC200n’s performance is actually the same as H1’s…a lack of strength. I have found that my lc200n edges will also roll under high pressure/hard media. The difference is LC200n is FAR more resistant to this type of deformation than H1. So even though I consider this to be an area where some other modern steels like S30v/S90v/M4 will outperform LC200n, it is still a huge improvement over anything we had before. Regarding strength of edge, if I were rating LC200n somewhere in the (admittedly huge) gap between H1 and S30v, I would rate it closer to s30v than H1…for whatever that’s worth.
Ok, I have plenty more to say about these two but I feel like this is getting too long winded so I will leave it at that for now and hopefully we will get some discussion going about these two. I will be writing up my observations on the difference in corrosion resistance between these two and will add that to the thread soon. For now though, please share your own thoughts on how these two steels have compared in your use.