M390 Steel – History and Properties (and 20CV and 204P)

Discuss Spyderco's products and history.
User avatar
Larrin
Member
Posts: 580
Joined: Thu May 10, 2018 9:27 am
Contact:

M390 Steel – History and Properties (and 20CV and 204P)

Postby Larrin » Mon Jun 01, 2020 6:22 am

New article about M390 steel, which has a surprisingly convoluted history in knives. The steel was released prior to many other powder metallurgy stainless steels, but was never used in knives to any great extent until a couple decades later. I also summarized its properties including microstructure, edge retention, toughness, corrosion resistance, etc. https://knifesteelnerds.com/2020/06/01/ ... -and-204p/
http://www.KnifeSteelNerds.com - Steel Metallurgy topics related to knives

User avatar
jdw
Member
Posts: 1168
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2016 6:10 pm
Location: Red Dirt

Re: M390 Steel – History and Properties (and 20CV and 204P)

Postby jdw » Mon Jun 01, 2020 6:50 am

You have a tremendous gift of taking complex knowledge and making it accessible to a layperson like myself. Many thanks for your hard work and sharing your expertise.
Do right always. It will give you satisfaction in life.
--Wovoka

User avatar
Larrin
Member
Posts: 580
Joined: Thu May 10, 2018 9:27 am
Contact:

Re: M390 Steel – History and Properties (and 20CV and 204P)

Postby Larrin » Mon Jun 01, 2020 7:02 am

jdw wrote:
Mon Jun 01, 2020 6:50 am
You have a tremendous gift of taking complex knowledge and making it accessible to a layperson like myself. Many thanks for your hard work and sharing your expertise.
Thank you!
http://www.KnifeSteelNerds.com - Steel Metallurgy topics related to knives

User avatar
dj moonbat
Member
Posts: 1296
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:58 am
Location: Sunny SoCal

Re: M390 Steel – History and Properties (and 20CV and 204P)

Postby dj moonbat » Mon Jun 01, 2020 9:11 am

Looking at all those rankings in different categories, I realize I need to learn more about Vanax. Have you written on it, Larrin?

I was also reassured to see that I was right in my skepticism of claims that M390 was relatively tough. I am slowly getting better at figuring out what a steel’s chemistry is likely to do. The added variable of heat treat protocol still baffles me, though.

User avatar
Larrin
Member
Posts: 580
Joined: Thu May 10, 2018 9:27 am
Contact:

Re: M390 Steel – History and Properties (and 20CV and 204P)

Postby Larrin » Mon Jun 01, 2020 9:18 am

dj moonbat wrote:
Mon Jun 01, 2020 9:11 am
Looking at all those rankings in different categories, I realize I need to learn more about Vanax. Have you written on it, Larrin?

I was also reassured to see that I was right in my skepticism of claims that M390 was relatively tough. I am slowly getting better at figuring out what a steel’s chemistry is likely to do. The added variable of heat treat protocol still baffles me, though.
I don’t have an article just like this one on Vanax, but I have written about it before:
https://knifesteelnerds.com/2018/09/17/ ... fe-steels/
https://knifesteelnerds.com/2019/03/25/ ... ing-vanax/
http://www.KnifeSteelNerds.com - Steel Metallurgy topics related to knives

User avatar
blues
Member
Posts: 476
Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:49 am
Location: Blue Ridge Mtns

Re: M390 Steel – History and Properties (and 20CV and 204P)

Postby blues » Mon Jun 01, 2020 10:45 am

Good stuff, Larrin, as always. Thanks for the education.
- No FOMO -

BigHonu
Member
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Aug 19, 2018 6:51 pm

Re: M390 Steel – History and Properties (and 20CV and 204P)

Postby BigHonu » Mon Jun 01, 2020 11:48 am

Thank you very much for the article. Subscribed!

AlexRus
Member
Posts: 415
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:42 am
Location: Russia, Earth

Re: M390 Steel – History and Properties (and 20CV and 204P)

Postby AlexRus » Mon Jun 01, 2020 4:18 pm

Thank you Larrin! Awesome article!

User avatar
Larrin
Member
Posts: 580
Joined: Thu May 10, 2018 9:27 am
Contact:

Re: M390 Steel – History and Properties (and 20CV and 204P)

Postby Larrin » Mon Jun 01, 2020 4:40 pm

BigHonu wrote:
Mon Jun 01, 2020 11:48 am
Thank you very much for the article. Subscribed!
Awesome!
http://www.KnifeSteelNerds.com - Steel Metallurgy topics related to knives

User avatar
zuludelta
Member
Posts: 261
Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2019 12:54 pm

Re: M390 Steel – History and Properties (and 20CV and 204P)

Postby zuludelta » Tue Jun 02, 2020 1:11 pm

I learned a lot from reading this latest article, thanks Larrin. M390/20CV is one of those steels that is off my radar, so to speak (primarily because it's mostly found in knives that are at a price point above what I'm accustomed to paying for a work folder), so it was nice to get a detailed look at its properties.

User avatar
Larrin
Member
Posts: 580
Joined: Thu May 10, 2018 9:27 am
Contact:

Re: M390 Steel – History and Properties (and 20CV and 204P)

Postby Larrin » Tue Jun 02, 2020 4:18 pm

zuludelta wrote:
Tue Jun 02, 2020 1:11 pm
I learned a lot from reading this latest article, thanks Larrin. M390/20CV is one of those steels that is off my radar, so to speak (primarily because it's mostly found in knives that are at a price point above what I'm accustomed to paying for a work folder), so it was nice to get a detailed look at its properties.
It’s taken me a while to really get a handle on this steel so it was nice to get it all written down.
http://www.KnifeSteelNerds.com - Steel Metallurgy topics related to knives

Cycletroll
Member
Posts: 359
Joined: Sun Oct 22, 2017 4:12 pm
Location: North Central New Mexico

Re: M390 Steel – History and Properties (and 20CV and 204P)

Postby Cycletroll » Tue Jun 02, 2020 4:19 pm

Thanks Larrin!
This latest article supports something I've always suspected; that m390 and its analogs are not as tough as claimed.

fixall
Member
Posts: 371
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 3:45 am

Re: M390 Steel – History and Properties (and 20CV and 204P)

Postby fixall » Tue Jun 02, 2020 4:43 pm

Corrosion resistance is inconsequential to me most of the time, so it's seeming like ease of sharpening is about the only advantage M390/20CV/204P gives me over S30V. All this testing is really making me appreciate S30V more as a good all around knife steel at a reasonable price... And I think I'm also starting to understand why Spyderco switched from S35VN to S30V.

Good stuff as always Larrin!

User avatar
zuludelta
Member
Posts: 261
Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2019 12:54 pm

Re: M390 Steel – History and Properties (and 20CV and 204P)

Postby zuludelta » Wed Jun 03, 2020 1:44 pm

fixall wrote:
Tue Jun 02, 2020 4:43 pm
All this testing is really making me appreciate S30V more as a good all around knife steel at a reasonable price...

I agree... Larrin's articles have made me appreciate S30V that much more. It really is a great all-around knife steel for its price. You can get a tougher steel, or a more corrosion-resistant steel, or one with more wear-resistance, but there will be a trade-off either in cost or one of the other physical properties and at least for my purposes, that trade-off usually isn't worth it. I mean, if I need a steel that is significantly more corrosion-resistant than S30V (or VG-10 for that matter), that's probably because I'm going to be in or around saltwater for an extended time, and if that's the case, I'm taking a purpose-designed water knife in H1 or LC200N.

Additionally, this article also made me appreciate Spyderco's decision to go with S110V as the long-wearing stainless steel for the company's Golden models.
fixall wrote:
Tue Jun 02, 2020 4:43 pm
And I think I'm also starting to understand why Spyderco switched from S35VN to S30V.
I will admit, when Spyderco announced a few years ago that they were switching the Native 5 and Native 5 Lightweight from S35VN to S30V for performance reasons (right at the time when many other companies were switching to S35VN as their entry-level "prestige steel"), I was a little skeptical—I thought it was probably motivated more by a desire to limit production costs.

But now that I have a better understanding of the properties I find useful in a folding knife and after seeing all this independent testing by Larrin, I get why Spyderco did what it did. The extra toughness & incremental improvement in stainlessness of S35VN doesn't really outweigh S30V's edge-holding and price advantage as far as what I use folding knives for (I still love my S35VN Native 5 Lightweight though).

JD Spydo
Member
Posts: 18829
Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2004 7:53 pm
Location: Blue Springs, Missouri

Re: M390 Steel – History and Properties (and 20CV and 204P)

Postby JD Spydo » Wed Jun 03, 2020 10:25 pm

Thanks again for another chunk of great knowledge you are kind enough to share with us Larrin :) I got my first M390 folder about 4 years ago when I traded one of my Captain models for a slightly used M390 Military model. It now ranks as one of my very best trades of all time. Oh I know that M390 isn't the best blade steel on the planet but I sure like it. But that C-36 Military with M390 blade steel is one great plain edged folder :cool:

I've had many C-36 Military models in about 10 different blade steels over the years but until I got that M390 Military folder I had never had a plain edged blade steel that takes the punishment that I give my EDC folder during the typical week like my M390 Military can endure. If there is a supersteel that can outperform M390 by a wide margin that will be the next Military model I'll purchase.

I hope some day Larrin we can do some tests on different blade steels and how they perform in SE. Thanks again buddy for sharing all this great information with us ;)

User avatar
Tucson Tom
Member
Posts: 1313
Joined: Tue Mar 28, 2017 10:19 pm
Location: Somewhere in Arizona

Re: M390 Steel – History and Properties (and 20CV and 204P)

Postby Tucson Tom » Thu Jun 04, 2020 7:32 pm

Very nice article. Thanks for taking the time to research it all and write it up.
There is no question that there is a lot more work invested than meets the eye.
Thanks.

User avatar
Larrin
Member
Posts: 580
Joined: Thu May 10, 2018 9:27 am
Contact:

Re: M390 Steel – History and Properties (and 20CV and 204P)

Postby Larrin » Fri Jun 05, 2020 5:38 am

Tucson Tom wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 7:32 pm
Very nice article. Thanks for taking the time to research it all and write it up.
There is no question that there is a lot more work invested than meets the eye.
Thanks.
I wasted two days tracking down sources on a defunct steel called MV11K that didn't even make it into the article!
http://www.KnifeSteelNerds.com - Steel Metallurgy topics related to knives


Return to “Spyderco General Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: M Sea, Majestic-12 [Bot], Menipo and 28 guests