So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

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Red
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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby Red » Wed Sep 02, 2020 1:03 pm

My 3 favorites are

S30V, because its the perfect mix of everything combined, at least for me. Easy to sharpen, holds an edge well and robust.

S110V, stays sharp for a very long time. Difficult to sharpen but the key for me has been not letting it get dull, just touching it up. For some reason it just seems sharper than any of my other steels.

H1, I live on an island in the middle of the ocean, its absolutely perfect for my edc and work knives. Corrosion resistance like I could only dream of and easy to sharpen.

Thank you for such an awesome variety of steels. Half the fun of buying a new Spyderco for me is researching the different steels.
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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby Kloeshuman » Wed Sep 02, 2020 5:17 pm

I have only owned 2 spyderco's...one ATS-55, the other VG-10....I just picked up the VG-10 and have not sharpened either yet. So I guess those are my 2 favorite. Maybe as my collection grows my opinion will change

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby Albatross » Thu Sep 03, 2020 8:29 am

Albatross wrote:
Fri Sep 27, 2019 1:53 pm
K390 is a more recent favorite. Edge retention, how it sharpens, and how stable the edge is, has really impressed me. I truly love this steel, it's easy enough to sharpen, and seems to love the strops.
Rex 45(Hap40 when Rex isn't available) takes a phenomenal edge and quite easily. It's very enjoyable to sharpen, has great edge retention, and can take a good amount of abuse(if necessary).
S90V(204P is not far behind) turned out to be a very balanced steel in my opinion. Far from the horror it was made out to be on some other, unnamed forums. The steel sharpens very easily with diamond stones, and for me, takes a super sharp edge, again, despite the stories. The edge retention is good, rust hasn't been a worry, and it's plenty tough for my uses. If I had to pick knife to last the rest of my life, it would have to be a Spyderco Military in S90V. The other 2 steels above are more exciting to use and sharpen, but for me, S90V does it all.

With those 3, I don't need any other steels.

Zdp-189 just barely missed the list. I'll have to revisit this in a year to see if my opinions have changed.
Not much has changed over the last 11 months. My top 3 are still the same, but I'm not sure where I would put M390/20CV/204P anymore. I like those steels a lot, because they are very balanced and often can be purchased when some other premium steels are not available. Tied with 3rd place, or maybe I need a top 4? :D

ZDP-189 is a nice steel, it gives the user a lot of freedom, in regards to edge finish and angle, but it still lives just outside my top 3. It's a steel I use almost daily, for processing cardboard to recycle in the warm months or use as fire starting material for the wood stove in the winter.

K390 and Rex 45 are two steels that I go back and forth on. Today (and 11 months ago) K390 is #1, but ask me next month and Rex 45 could be my #1.

S90V is still a top 3 steel for me. I like it so much that I broke my own rules and purchased a CF Manix 2 S90V a while back. It was a no-brainer, since it's one of the best models, with one of the best steels.

I think my preferences will remain unchanged, unless something revolutionary is developed. Maybe a new nitrogen-based steel will come out some day, that performs in ways that really appeal to me, but until then, I'm happy with the steels I like, and could easily live with them for the rest of my life.
sal wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:01 pm

...But in general, I'm all about high performance, Ergos, safety. That's why I've been accused of "deigning in the dark"...

sal

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby PStone » Thu Sep 03, 2020 10:52 am

PStone wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:23 pm
#1 is Maxamet. Stays sharp forever.
#2 is M4. I really like how sharp I can get it.
#3 is 52100. Same reason as M4, but M4 seems to stay sharper longer.
Not much has changed for me either. Still my favorite 3. I will say that S45vn really impressed me. Along with AEB-L, for how easily they both sharpened, being stainless and all. Both of which I hadn’t yet tried when I made my earlier post last year.
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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby 5-by-5 » Thu Sep 03, 2020 12:40 pm

. 007 CTS-XHP

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby TomAiello » Thu Sep 03, 2020 1:34 pm

I'm still on 4v, Maxamet and m390 (along with their variants under other names).

I really like Rex45, but it hasn't edged either 4v (general purpose) or Maxamet (long term edge holding for EDC, but no hard field use), and I can't really displace my only stainless option with it. s90v is also a good challenger to m390 for me.

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby vivi » Thu Sep 03, 2020 7:57 pm

vivi wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:05 pm
H1 is my favorite. Rust proof, incredibly tough, easy to sharpen and very good edge retention in SE.

LC200N is my second favorite. Seems rust proof for me so far, in the Waterway its been tough enough to hold up to some light batoning, easy to sharpen, and edge retention is acceptable.

BD1. Very corrosion resistant, easy to sharpen, pretty tough for stainless, acceptable edge holding. Gets incredibly sharp for me. It performs a lot like VG10 for me, except it sharpens a bit easier and to finer edges. I can't think of any other stainless with such a nice sharpening response.

I enjoy steels like K390 a lot as well, but I'm limited in how often I can carry them due to the lack of corrosion resistance. If I could get DLC K390 on a model I like (Manix XL, Police 4) it would bump BD1 off this list. I really like the edge holding, ease of sharpening and aggressive edge it takes.

For me corrosion resistance is the most important attribute in a knife steel. Everything else is a lower priority.
I'd like to amend my choices.

In no particular order:


A2 - This is my favorite non-stainless. It is my go to bushcraft steel. Most my non-spyderco fixed blades are A2 with micarta scales. I find it sharpens nearly as easily as 1095 while having at least double the edge retention, which in itself is pretty amazing. It also has much better corrosion resistance. It's very tough, I have never seen any chips or rolls in my A2 fixed blades, period. It's also close to the same price as budget carbon steels like 1085, 1095 and O1. It's very well rounded for anything from a patch knife to a small chopper. I really want to see Spyderco use this steel, even if its just a mule. I have a wealth of A2 knives heat treated by Peters HT in PA run to the 60-61 RC range and they seem to cut forever for the role I use them in. I have a bushcrafter in A2 with contoured micarta scales and kydex sheath I think I paid $85 shipped for from a custom maker based in the US. Tough to beat that! Plan to put a thinner edge on it this fall and push the steel a little more.

Image
(That's all the corrosion this knife has shown in a year of bushcraft & camp food prep, never oiled the blade)

LC200N - While I have not tried this steel in SE yet (Where you at Swick????) it is my favorite steel for PE folders. I'm guessing one day I'll say the same for SE, but we'll have to wait and see. For my uses, it has not shown any draw backs to H1. It performs roughly like rust proof VG10 for me. Compared to H1 it offers the ability to be full flat ground, increased edge retention at least in PE knives, and as far as I know it can be run under 3mm stock while H1 can't. I've really come to appreciate this steel from using my Waterway and Siren, and look forward to testing SE LC200N when the new Swick drops.

The third steel is a tough pick for me. I feel these two cover my bases to be honest. I could choose S7 for ridiculous toughness in choppers and axes. I could choose ZDP189, S110V or K390 for incredible edge retention. I could choose BD1 or even SAK steel for being almost too easy to sharpen. I could pick VG10 for being one of the best jack of all trade steels I've ever tried. I could choose H1 for being rust proof, amazingly tough and showing tremendous SE edge retention....but I feel LC200N has surpassed H1 in my book for PE at least.

If I had to narrow down my third pick to just one of these, knowing the first two cover my bases, I'd have to go with VG10. There isn't anything this steel does poorly. Very corrosion resistant, very easy to sharpen, better edge retention than a lot of steels I enjoy using, and tough enough I'll happily buy fixed blades in VG10.

Obviously I'm a big fan of well rounded steels. My choices reflect that.
Carry rotation:

Pacific Salt 2 SE | Siren | Police 4 LW | Police 4 K390 | C95 Manix foliage green | Manix XL M4 DLC | Street Beat LW | Aqua Salt

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby TomAiello » Thu Sep 03, 2020 8:33 pm

I'd definitely buy an A2 Mule.

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby dj moonbat » Fri Sep 04, 2020 7:02 am

So, is it this thread that led to SPY27?

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby sal » Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:58 am

Hi Dj,

Actually the SPY27 project began at least a year before this thread began. In this thread I was trying to learn what was preferred in blade steels for our own planning.

sal

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby curlyhairedboy » Fri Sep 04, 2020 9:13 am

curlyhairedboy wrote:
Fri Sep 27, 2019 5:53 am
I'd say my current top 3 are:

S30v - This is by far my favorite 'default' steel in production knives right now. Other popular steels may, under the best conditions, offer more edge-holding or stainlessness, but I've personally experienced the variations in hardness and performance across production makers.

By contrast, the consistency in Spyderco's heat treat, the well-understood chemistry and processing requirements, the combination of stainlessness, toughness, and edge-holding make S30v a perennial favorite and an extremely favored choice in new models. Thank you, Sal, for keeping it.

CruWear - Although I don't currently own any knives in this steel (the CruCarta Shaman is the one I'm saving for) I've had them on loan and it's miraculous the levels of stain resistance I'm seeing from it. Coastal living and my summer pockets will gobble M4, start to nibble on XHP, and even spot s30v a bit. CruWear has yet to show any kind of corrosion under the same conditions, so I'll be very eager to put it through its paces as my 'non-stainless tough duty' steel.

H-1 - Living close to salt water, the ability of H-1 to completely ignore salt and chlorine puts it on its own tier. It's unique in terms of its performance profile, but I can't imagine Spyderco without H-1.

Honorable mention: CTS-XHP. For some reason, I just really like the edges and performance of a good XHP knife. I'm super happy it's in the Chap LW, and I hope it'll always have a place in the Spyderco family.
Worth revisiting for a few reasons:

S30v is still one of my favorites for the reasons listed above.

Now that I've owned the CruCarta Shaman for a long time, I can testify that while it took a while my summer pockets did eventually show some (easily removed) marks on it. It's still much better behaved than m4, and I adore the sharpening response. My nonstainless steel of choice, but to say it has miraculous stain resistance is not accurate.

The CQI Caribbean and the Waterway have kicked out the CruCarta Shaman for summer shoreline carry, and that's because they offer pretty great edge performance while shrugging off salt water and pocket sweat. H1 still has a place in my collection and I'd trust it more than Lc200n in some extreme conditions, but I'd say Lc200n has replaced it as my primary go-to corrosion resistant steel.
EDC Rotation: PITS, Shaman, CF S90v Shaman, Ikuchi, Amalgam, CruCarta Shaman, DLC 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
Would like to own again: Currently N/A!
Wishlist: Smallfly 2, Pac Salt 2 LC200n, CQI SpyderEdge Caribbean Sheepsfoot, Shaman Sprints!

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby driftingfir » Fri Sep 04, 2020 10:24 am

1. Cts xhp- sharpens great and holds a fine edge for a good amount of time.
2. S35vn- sharpens good, strops easily, and can take some abuse.
3.154cm- does everything xhp does just not as well as xhp

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby dj moonbat » Sat Sep 05, 2020 8:08 am

curlyhairedboy wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 9:13 am
curlyhairedboy wrote:
Fri Sep 27, 2019 5:53 am
I'd say my current top 3 are:

S30v - This is by far my favorite 'default' steel in production knives right now. Other popular steels may, under the best conditions, offer more edge-holding or stainlessness, but I've personally experienced the variations in hardness and performance across production makers.

By contrast, the consistency in Spyderco's heat treat, the well-understood chemistry and processing requirements, the combination of stainlessness, toughness, and edge-holding make S30v a perennial favorite and an extremely favored choice in new models. Thank you, Sal, for keeping it.

CruWear - Although I don't currently own any knives in this steel (the CruCarta Shaman is the one I'm saving for) I've had them on loan and it's miraculous the levels of stain resistance I'm seeing from it. Coastal living and my summer pockets will gobble M4, start to nibble on XHP, and even spot s30v a bit. CruWear has yet to show any kind of corrosion under the same conditions, so I'll be very eager to put it through its paces as my 'non-stainless tough duty' steel.

H-1 - Living close to salt water, the ability of H-1 to completely ignore salt and chlorine puts it on its own tier. It's unique in terms of its performance profile, but I can't imagine Spyderco without H-1.

Honorable mention: CTS-XHP. For some reason, I just really like the edges and performance of a good XHP knife. I'm super happy it's in the Chap LW, and I hope it'll always have a place in the Spyderco family.
Worth revisiting for a few reasons:

S30v is still one of my favorites for the reasons listed above.

Now that I've owned the CruCarta Shaman for a long time, I can testify that while it took a while my summer pockets did eventually show some (easily removed) marks on it. It's still much better behaved than m4, and I adore the sharpening response. My nonstainless steel of choice, but to say it has miraculous stain resistance is not accurate.

The CQI Caribbean and the Waterway have kicked out the CruCarta Shaman for summer shoreline carry, and that's because they offer pretty great edge performance while shrugging off salt water and pocket sweat. H1 still has a place in my collection and I'd trust it more than Lc200n in some extreme conditions, but I'd say Lc200n has replaced it as my primary go-to corrosion resistant steel.
The miracle is that there aren’t more steels that use a similar chromium content. Pocket conditions rarely cause any marking, and nothing that doesn’t buff right out. But there’s no extra chromium in there, gumming up the works.

But although the chromium content is in the perfect spot (for me, anyway), there’s almost nothing else in the range between 5% and 12.

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby DMgangl » Sat Sep 05, 2020 11:27 am

D2 has a special place in my heart. When I was learning to be a machinist. The first metal I cut, heat treated, and ground was D2. I love tool steels in general. I also know that many tool steels have better performance. But D2 wins out for sentimental reasons.

ZDP-189 is probably the steel I've carried the most. More so because the designs I like came in those steels. The Caly 3, 3.5, Endura, and Dragonfly in ZDP are the knives that I reached for the most. It is an excellent steel that I have learned to get hair whittling sharp quite easily.

S90v would have been my 3rd choice, but now I'm unsure. My S90V mule was my woods/backyard chore knife for many years. It was my go to fixed blade. But now using my PD1 mule, and I have an S110V PM2 on the way. I can't say with confidence that it hasn't been beat out by others.

I will say on a whole. I do prefer blade steels that will show their age. I know these days with LC200N, H1, and the very stain resistant steels are sought-after. But I want something that will patina over time, and show its life and adventures. I'm not the man I was 10 years ago and neither is my Endura.

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby Karl_H » Mon Sep 07, 2020 8:58 am

I will try to keep this relatively generalized and group similar steels into broad categories.

1) Category:
High-strength (64-67 HRC), low chromium (4-6%), low carbide (6-8% hard carbide) PM tool steel clad with softer, low carbide stainless steel (aka san mai construction).

Examples:
HAP40/SUS410

Rationale:
This provides the best combination of edge stability, fracture toughness, and corrosion resistance. It also makes it much easier to grind the primary bevel to thin out the blade.

The main drawback is that it requires an additional manufacturing step and potentially increased cost over an unclad tool steel.


2) Catagory:
High-strength (64-67 HRC), low chromium (4-6%), low carbide (6-8% hard carbide) PM tool steels.

Examples:
REX 45, M4, 4V, Vanadis 4 Extra

Rationale:
This provides the same edge stability as #1. However, it lacks the additional fracture toughness, corrosion resistance, and ease of grinding that cladded tool steels have.

The main drawback in folding knives is the increased care and attention needed to prevent and mitigate corrosion in the pivot area, relative to steels with more chromium in solution.


3) Catagory:
Medium-strength (60-63 HRC), moderate chromium (6-8%), low carbide (3-8% carbide) PM tool steels.

Examples:
Z-Tuff, 3V, Cru-Wear, Z-Wear, PD#1

Rationale:
These tools are generally characterized by having very high toughness, so they are unlikely to chip. The moderate hardness means that they still have very good resistance to edge deformation. They have noticeably better corrosion resistance than the 4-6% Cr steels. I find that this level of corrosion resistance is adequate for all applications that do not involve immersion in salt water. Steels with more chromium generally either have lower strength or toughness and I don't think those compromises are worthwhile, unless the knife will be immersed in salt water.

TL/DR: High-strength, high-toughness tool steels are my favorite. Most applications don't really require than 8% chromium for adequate corrosion resistance. There are drawbacks to having more than 4-5% chromium. Stainless steels are best used for cladding tool steels :)
Last edited by Karl_H on Tue Sep 08, 2020 7:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby Diamondback » Tue Sep 08, 2020 12:01 am

I haven't tried all that Spyderco offers but here are my top 3 :

1) Vg-10...Vivi "nailed it", jack-of-all-trades.

2) D2...ubiquitous, generally less expensive than Cts xhp, and holds a good working edge for a fairly long time. Good price to performance ratio.

3) M390/20CV/204P.."top tier stainless" that hold a very sharp edge for a good long time.

Honorable Mention: HAP40...wonderfully balanced tool steel.

Zdp would be #4...and I'm looking forward to trying K390

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby wrdwrght » Tue Sep 08, 2020 9:30 am

The jockeying continues.

And, now that Larrin has declared the primacy of geometry in any comparison of good steels, the jockeying will probably continue.

Since my earlier post last year I’ve moved on from (but haven’t in any way abandoned):

M4 (in GB1, Air, Manix2, PM2, Shaman)
K390 (in Police4, PM2, Urban)
S90V (in Manix2 XL, Native5, Shaman)

...in favor of:

52100 (in Military Model, PM2)
LC200N (SpydieChef; Caribbean; WaterWay; Siren)
S90V (in Manix2 XL, Native5, Shaman)

These two changes reflect my growing preference for sharpening response and toughness.

Had LC200N not come along, VG10 (rather than H1) would be my choice, especially in light of my new Ulize and Kris sculptures and my older Tatanka one.

And, yet, my tough-as-nails, easily-sharpened SE Pacific Salt is probably my most essential Spydie.

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby Comedie » Fri Sep 11, 2020 1:49 pm

S110V is my edc. Never had a long session sharpening it, because I touch it up a lot. No staining or corrosion ever noted. PM2 with solid copper scales to give it some heft, has been my everyday choice most of the last 2 years.
H1 for the other toys used in the yard and fishing. I don't keep those pieces very pristine, so brainless corrosion resistance is helpful for me on those.

I have a bunch of other steels, but those 2 have been my favorites.
BTW,,,, H1 or LC200N, partial serated, in a cheapish, worldwide travel friendly knife would be nice.

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby tonijedi » Fri Sep 11, 2020 2:55 pm

Comedie wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 1:49 pm
...
BTW,,,, H1 or LC200N, partial serated, in a cheapish, worldwide travel friendly knife would be nice.
BTW... I completely agree.

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby jpm2 » Sat Sep 12, 2020 5:04 pm

No change for me.
jpm2 wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 3:59 pm
Instead of picking specific steels, I'd rather pick families of steel.

1. High speed tool steels. These include but not limited to production M2, M4, HAP40, REX45, Maxamet, and non production M3, M35, M42, T42.
These have performed consistently high for me at work, where my edges frequently contact other metals. Where most other steels become unusable after certain tasks without repair/sharpening, these are mostly still useable. This translates to more use between repair/sharpening. It wouldn't be as big a deal if the company wasn't losing $10-20k per minute waiting on a repair to continue production.
Also good for processing wild game and fish. Wipe down after each use.
I've been using HSS knife blades for just about everything since the mid 80's.

2. A11/10V/K390. Very high wear resistance and do ok at work, but have to be more careful side loading the edge than HSS types. These will field dress, skin, and process wild game and fish all day without sharpening, just be careful cutting through bone, or prying joints apart.
Maxamet might do just as well as these, but haven't confirmed. Wipe down after each use.

3. Low/no alloy 10xx/52100/5160. My preference for chopping or any other swinging type use that might involve impact, where hitting rocks, stone, nails in wood, fence posts, etc are possible. They are more forgiving of knotty woods. Easy to repair with files and simple abrasives in the field. Wipe down after each use.


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