In regard to heat treat, spyderco is behind Buck in terms of s30v and behind Cold Steel in terms of XHP. Kizer offers great s35vn under $100, and there are many other examples.elduderino04 wrote: ↑Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:08 pmOne thing to add to Vivi's and others' observations is heat treat. With these value-focused companies (which are often but not exclusively Chinese) not only do you not know for sure what steel you're getting, you also have no idea whether the steel is properly heat treated, which is perhaps even more important than the actual steel that's used. Of course, industry wide no one knows whether their knives have been properly heat treated. Aside from expensive hardness testing or extensive use, there is no way to check the quality of a steel's heat treat. We have to trust that the manufacturer did everything properly, in the same way that you have to trust that the company will be around in the future to honor any warranty (if there even is one). This trust is why there's a value to buying from legitimate, established brands, regardless of the company of origin. A value that is not accounted for in the handle material and steel used in making the knife.
And don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Chinese knives specifically (aside from the fact that China does not enforce any requirements that the steel type cannot be mislabeled, in the same way that the US, Canada, the EU, and other countries do). I own several knives from We, Kizer, and Rike. They seem to be good knives. I have no reason to believe that the materials have been misrepresented, nor that they have been improperly heat treated. However, I know that they aren't pushing the boundaries of what the steel is capable of through their heat treat, certainly not in the same way that we know Spyderco and Buck do with their heat treatments. I also know that these brands (and others that continually are pushing for the lowest price possible, relying on the average consumer's ignorance) are not changing the heat treat based upon the intended use of the knife (certain applications need softer, tougher treatments while others require the opposite). This is what gets so easily lost by conflating knives with their materials. Just because I can get all the same ingredients as a Michelin chef, even if I follow a recipe for making the dish my end result likely won't be the same.
Spyderco offers much more than heat treat though. I'm a spyderco fan because of how many steels they offer (among other things).