How do S110V and ZDP-189 Compare?

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kennethsime
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How do S110V and ZDP-189 Compare?

Postby kennethsime » Tue Jun 02, 2020 9:45 pm

I've stayed away from S110V for two big reasons. First off, Blurple just isn't my color. Second, I've heard the rumors that the steel is just very difficult to sharpen, and honestly S30V holds an edge just fine. Now I know there are after-market scales available, and the CBN rods seem to solve the sharpening problem, but those are both further investments that I'd likely want to make at the same time as the knife.

Lately I've been hearing people extoll S110V's high corrosion resistance, almost more than its wear resistance & edge stability. It got me thinking that S110V sounded almost like ZDP-189, which is a steel I know and like well. So I went ahead and pulled the numbers from Knife Informer's Knife Steel Comparison Chart.

CPM-S110V
  • Carbon: 2.9
  • Chromium: 14
  • Molybdenum: 2.25
  • Vanadium: 9.1
  • Cobalt: 2.5
  • Nickel: -
  • Manganese: 0.4
  • Silicon: 0.6
  • Hardness: 60-62
ZPD-189
  • Carbon: 3
  • Chromium: 20
  • Molybdenum: 1.3
  • Vanadium: 0.1
  • Cobalt: -
  • Nickel: -
  • Manganese: -
  • Silicon: -
  • Hardness: 64-66
They both have 2-3x the carbon of most stainless steels, and a healthy does of chromium. S110V has almost 9% Vanadium, which is probably why it's such a pain to sharpen. ZDP-189 is quite a bit harder, which is probably the largest contributing factor to its wear resistance. According to Larrin's recent testing, they both do quite well in the CATRA test, though S110V did take the lead (718 vs. 738 pieces of cardstock).

I guess what I'm looking for is a real-world comparison. Have you noticed any similarities? Is S110V a superior steel for knives than ZDP-189? It seem the lower hardness might make it tougher, and the vanadium definitely leads to higher wear resistance. Which is more corrosion resistant?

All thoughts welcome.
Lost to the Ages: C90GRE Stretch 1 ZDP-189 British Racing Green | C28GRE2 Dragonfly 2 ZDP-189 British Racing Green
C12BK2W Matriarch 2 VG-10 Emerson Open | C81G2 Para Military 2 S30V

Currently Rotating: C81GPRGR2 Para Military 2 K390 Ranger Green | C223GPRGR Para 3 K390 Ranger Green
C90FPIV2 Stretch 2 Straight Spine, VG-10 Rit Dye'd Dark Apple Green | C223GP Para 3 S30V Green Canvas Micarta
C41BORE5 Native 5 Lightweight REX 45 Burnt Orange | C223BORE Para 3 Lightweight REX 45 Burnt Orange
C101GY2 Manix 2 Lightweight Maxamet Gray | C28GFG Dragonfly VG-10 Foliage Green
MT27 Mule Team 27 Micro-Melt PD#1 Ranger Green | C36GPGR Military 204p Dark Green

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Re: How do S110V and ZDP-189 Compare?

Postby I_like_knives » Tue Jun 02, 2020 10:22 pm

Sorry, I dont have any comparison for you, as I too do not own any s110v blades, but do have some zdp189.

In my experience it is not terribly rust resistant. Out of all the various "stainless" steels I've laid my hands on, only two of them ever have showed signs of corrosion. XHP and zdp189. Both were pretty minor. After a time in storage I found a spinkling of rust spots on the blades. Not a big deal really. Cleaned up easy enough, and now I just make sure to oil them before storage.

I cant comment much on s110v, but from what I hear, I'd imagine it's significantly more corrosion resistant.

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Re: How do S110V and ZDP-189 Compare?

Postby kennethsime » Tue Jun 02, 2020 10:48 pm

I_like_knives wrote:
Tue Jun 02, 2020 10:22 pm
Sorry, I dont have any comparison for you, as I too do not own any s110v blades, but do have some zdp189.

In my experience it is not terribly rust resistant. Out of all the various "stainless" steels I've laid my hands on, only two of them ever have showed signs of corrosion. XHP and zdp189. Both were pretty minor. After a time in storage I found a spinkling of rust spots on the blades. Not a big deal really. Cleaned up easy enough, and now I just make sure to oil them before storage.

I cant comment much on s110v, but from what I hear, I'd imagine it's significantly more corrosion resistant.
What's interesting is that ZDP-189 has significantly more chromium in it than S110V, and to my (albeit limited) knowledge chromium is the chief contributor to corrosion resistance. I wonder what's going on in the chemistry of either steel to lead to this disparity.
Lost to the Ages: C90GRE Stretch 1 ZDP-189 British Racing Green | C28GRE2 Dragonfly 2 ZDP-189 British Racing Green
C12BK2W Matriarch 2 VG-10 Emerson Open | C81G2 Para Military 2 S30V

Currently Rotating: C81GPRGR2 Para Military 2 K390 Ranger Green | C223GPRGR Para 3 K390 Ranger Green
C90FPIV2 Stretch 2 Straight Spine, VG-10 Rit Dye'd Dark Apple Green | C223GP Para 3 S30V Green Canvas Micarta
C41BORE5 Native 5 Lightweight REX 45 Burnt Orange | C223BORE Para 3 Lightweight REX 45 Burnt Orange
C101GY2 Manix 2 Lightweight Maxamet Gray | C28GFG Dragonfly VG-10 Foliage Green
MT27 Mule Team 27 Micro-Melt PD#1 Ranger Green | C36GPGR Military 204p Dark Green

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Re: How do S110V and ZDP-189 Compare?

Postby Accutron » Tue Jun 02, 2020 11:47 pm

Chromium can either bond into chromium carbide or remain free. Free chromium is what contributes to corrosion resistance. How much chromium remains free is dependent on the steel's carbon content versus the other available carbide formers. S110V has a similar carbon content to ZDP-189 but has far more non-chromium carbide formers, and consequently more free chromium.

Also, some of those Knife Informer numbers are wrong.

http://www.zknives.com/knives/steels/cpm_s110v.shtml
http://www.zknives.com/knives/steels/zdp-189.shtml

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Re: How do S110V and ZDP-189 Compare?

Postby wade7575 » Wed Jun 03, 2020 1:35 am

I have a lot of Spyderco knives in S110V and I find the Vanadium Carbide that's in the steel gives it great edge retention.

If you want the best result's from sharpening it look at gritomatic and get the 120 240 400 Poltava Metallic CBN stones and also the Venev 400 800 and 1200 stones in 100% concentration.

I find if I use the 120 240 and 400 poltava stones then the venev 400 800 and 1200 you can get a nice edge that has tooth and also push cut's really well with S110V,I have also been playing around with just using the poltava stones from 120 240 400 1K 4K 8K 15K and I have gotten really great working edge's that way.

I really like S110V and I also have a Sukenari 240mm Gyuto in ZDP-189 and they push their heat treat's pretty high to around 65 to 67 from what I have heard and all I can say is that the ZDP-189 that I own is much harder to sharpen.

I wouldn't be scared off by S110V just get better sharpening supplies you won't regret buying S110V once you learn to sharpen it properly.

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Re: How do S110V and ZDP-189 Compare?

Postby wade7575 » Wed Jun 03, 2020 1:36 am

I have a lot of Spyderco knives in S110V and I find the Vanadium Carbide that's in the steel gives it great edge retention.

If you want the best result's from sharpening it look at gritomatic and get the 120 240 400 Poltava Metallic CBN stones and also the Venev 400 800 and 1200 stones in 100% concentration.

I find if I use the 120 240 and 400 poltava stones then the venev 400 800 and 1200 you can get a nice edge that has tooth and also push cut's really well with S110V,I have also been playing around with just using the poltava stones from 120 240 400 1K 4K 8K 15K and I have gotten really great working edge's that way.

I really like S110V and I also have a Sukenari 240mm Gyuto in ZDP-189 and they push their heat treat's pretty high to around 65 to 67 from what I have heard and all I can say is that the ZDP-189 that I own is much harder to sharpen.

I wouldn't be scared off by S110V just get better sharpening supplies you won't regret buying S110V once you learn to sharpen it properly.

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Re: How do S110V and ZDP-189 Compare?

Postby GarageBoy » Wed Jun 03, 2020 7:25 am

I forgot if zdp has a higher carbide volume lowering toughness - chromium carbides mean you can get away with non diamond/cbn stones - does zdp hold front end sharpness better than s110v

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Re: How do S110V and ZDP-189 Compare?

Postby Cambertree » Wed Jun 03, 2020 10:27 am

Interesting that you bring up this comparison, Kennethsime. I was just thinking about starting a thread asking for comments and comparisons on ‘real world’ use between CPM S90V and ZDP189.

I have both steels: ZDP189 in the Dragonfly, Caly 3.5 and Manbug and CPM S110V in the UKPK.

I’ve used and sharpened S110V a fair amount, but nowhere near as much as ZDP189, which I often use in my daily work, and have for years.

I don’t really think of the two steels as being that similar, despite both being high wear resistance stainlesses.

Well, ZDP189 is nominally stainless, although Larrin’s testing and analysis has demonstrated that for practical purposes it comes in below a true stainless steel, regarding corrosion resistance.

I have had orange surface rust form on ZDP189 from orange juice left on the blade and from being carried in lightweight shorts while cycling for hours on a hot day. The oxidisation in both cases either wiped or stropped off the blade, leaving no pitting.

CPM S110V is definitely more rust resistant.

With a modicum of care, ZDP189 doesn’t rust. One of the other advantages of ZDP189 is it takes a high polish, which helps somewhat with corrosion resistance.

As mentioned, sharpening S110V is a matter of starting with the right abrasives, like diamonds, CBN or SiC.

ZDP189 will take a really nice edge using standard alumina stones.

ZDP189 has a higher carbide volume at around 30% chromium carbide compared to S110V at around 27% of mainly vanadium enriched chromium carbides, vanadium carbide and niobium carbide.

ZDP189 has a higher attainable hardness, and performs well with both highly refined and coarse edges. CPM S110V seems to perform well in a 400-600 grit type edge, and can be hardened to around 61-62 Rc. Although ZDP189 can be hardened to around 67 Rc, I believe most of the Spydies in that steel are around 62-65 Rc.

I’d guess that CPM S110V is a bit tougher, but neither are really what you’d call tough steels.

As always, which steel is ‘superior’ for knives, really depends on what you are using it for.

I cut a lot of abrasive material like heavy industrial cardboards at work as well as heavy duty pallet strapping. I also need a fine edge for cutting plastic wrap etc. I don’t really need stainlessness, and I don’t mind sharpening or doing touch up refinement to keep a very sharp edge.

So ZDP189 is really my gold standard of high wear resistance stainlesses. For my uses it’s stainless enough, in that blades I’ve used for years don’t show any patina or rusting or pitting.

I prefer the way ZDP189 keeps an extremely sharp edge for quite a while. If I need more toughness I generally go to HAP40.

S110V is certainly an interesting steel, but that’s my opinion and personal preference on the two steels.

Larrin’s micrograph from Knife Steel Nerds, of ZDP189 austenitized at 1850 F:

Image

And CPM S110V austenitized at 2050 F:

Image
Last edited by Cambertree on Wed Jun 03, 2020 8:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: How do S110V and ZDP-189 Compare?

Postby jdw » Wed Jun 03, 2020 10:41 am

That's extremely well said and I am not sure what to add. In my experience ZDP will hold a very fine edge for a long time but drops a working edge quickly. I haven't tried S110V against enough abrasive materials but it survived a dunk in the gulf and then a quick rinse off and wipe down without losing its edge to corrosion. As for sharpening, most high hardness steels are equally difficult to sharpen to me but you can get it done.
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Re: How do S110V and ZDP-189 Compare?

Postby kwakster » Wed Jun 03, 2020 1:09 pm

Mr.Hanada from Rockstead told me several years ago that ZDP-189 was originally developed as a mould or matrix steel.

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Re: How do S110V and ZDP-189 Compare?

Postby Sharp Guy » Wed Jun 03, 2020 1:39 pm

About all I can add is I find ZDP to be much easier to touch up than S110V.
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Re: How do S110V and ZDP-189 Compare?

Postby kerrcobra » Wed Jun 03, 2020 1:42 pm

I want a Delica in S110V (and one in Maxamet). As for the OP's question, I think S110V is significantly more corrosion-resistant than ZDP-189.

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Re: How do S110V and ZDP-189 Compare?

Postby kennethsime » Wed Jun 03, 2020 2:50 pm

Cambertree wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 10:27 am
Interesting that you bring up this comparison, Kennethsime. I was just thinking about starting a thread asking for comments and comparisons on ‘real world’ use between CPM S90V and ZDP189.
Cambertree, thanks much for the very detailed response. This is just what I was looking for!

I too enjoy ZDP-189 quite a bit and I'd love to hear your thoughts about how it stacks up against S90V as well.
Lost to the Ages: C90GRE Stretch 1 ZDP-189 British Racing Green | C28GRE2 Dragonfly 2 ZDP-189 British Racing Green
C12BK2W Matriarch 2 VG-10 Emerson Open | C81G2 Para Military 2 S30V

Currently Rotating: C81GPRGR2 Para Military 2 K390 Ranger Green | C223GPRGR Para 3 K390 Ranger Green
C90FPIV2 Stretch 2 Straight Spine, VG-10 Rit Dye'd Dark Apple Green | C223GP Para 3 S30V Green Canvas Micarta
C41BORE5 Native 5 Lightweight REX 45 Burnt Orange | C223BORE Para 3 Lightweight REX 45 Burnt Orange
C101GY2 Manix 2 Lightweight Maxamet Gray | C28GFG Dragonfly VG-10 Foliage Green
MT27 Mule Team 27 Micro-Melt PD#1 Ranger Green | C36GPGR Military 204p Dark Green

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Re: How do S110V and ZDP-189 Compare?

Postby JohnDoe99 » Thu Jun 04, 2020 7:11 am

kennethsime wrote:
Tue Jun 02, 2020 9:45 pm
I've stayed away from S110V for two big reasons. First off, Blurple just isn't my color. Second, I've heard the rumors that the steel is just very difficult to sharpen, and honestly S30V holds an edge just fine. Now I know there are after-market scales available, and the CBN rods seem to solve the sharpening problem, but those are both further investments that I'd likely want to make at the same time as the knife.

Lately I've been hearing people extoll S110V's high corrosion resistance, almost more than its wear resistance & edge stability. It got me thinking that S110V sounded almost like ZDP-189, which is a steel I know and like well. So I went ahead and pulled the numbers from Knife Informer's Knife Steel Comparison Chart.

CPM-S110V
  • Carbon: 2.9
  • Chromium: 14
  • Molybdenum: 2.25
  • Vanadium: 9.1
  • Cobalt: 2.5
  • Nickel: -
  • Manganese: 0.4
  • Silicon: 0.6
  • Hardness: 60-62
ZPD-189
  • Carbon: 3
  • Chromium: 20
  • Molybdenum: 1.3
  • Vanadium: 0.1
  • Cobalt: -
  • Nickel: -
  • Manganese: -
  • Silicon: -
  • Hardness: 64-66
They both have 2-3x the carbon of most stainless steels, and a healthy does of chromium. S110V has almost 9% Vanadium, which is probably why it's such a pain to sharpen. ZDP-189 is quite a bit harder, which is probably the largest contributing factor to its wear resistance. According to Larrin's recent testing, they both do quite well in the CATRA test, though S110V did take the lead (718 vs. 738 pieces of cardstock).

I guess what I'm looking for is a real-world comparison. Have you noticed any similarities? Is S110V a superior steel for knives than ZDP-189? It seem the lower hardness might make it tougher, and the vanadium definitely leads to higher wear resistance. Which is more corrosion resistant?

All thoughts welcome.
The rumors are true, I can attest. S110v is extremely difficult to sharpen. S110v is in no way "tough," it is hyper brittle, which makes "apexing" it tricky because the edge is always on the verge of chipping apparently with hard bonded abrasives like with what I've been using, india, ceramic, and diamond. The gigantic amount of vanadium means even ceramics have a hard time cutting it. Problem is that in a way diamond over cuts it like other steels, and because the steel is so brittle, the jagged gouging of the diamond kind of sets up the chipping by further destabilizing the edge. So, you have to use extremely light pressure with the diamond, and modify the hold on your passes, not the angle but the position of the knife on the plate during a pass. Even after that, I still use a medium ceramic at the end now to try and flush some of the diamond gouging out.

ZDP-189 doesnt have this problem because there is no vanadium. At this point, I'd take ZDP-189 any day.

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Re: How do S110V and ZDP-189 Compare?

Postby The Meat man » Thu Jun 04, 2020 7:29 am

JohnDoe99 wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 7:11 am
kennethsime wrote:
Tue Jun 02, 2020 9:45 pm
I've stayed away from S110V for two big reasons. First off, Blurple just isn't my color. Second, I've heard the rumors that the steel is just very difficult to sharpen, and honestly S30V holds an edge just fine. Now I know there are after-market scales available, and the CBN rods seem to solve the sharpening problem, but those are both further investments that I'd likely want to make at the same time as the knife.

Lately I've been hearing people extoll S110V's high corrosion resistance, almost more than its wear resistance & edge stability. It got me thinking that S110V sounded almost like ZDP-189, which is a steel I know and like well. So I went ahead and pulled the numbers from Knife Informer's Knife Steel Comparison Chart.

CPM-S110V
  • Carbon: 2.9
  • Chromium: 14
  • Molybdenum: 2.25
  • Vanadium: 9.1
  • Cobalt: 2.5
  • Nickel: -
  • Manganese: 0.4
  • Silicon: 0.6
  • Hardness: 60-62
ZPD-189
  • Carbon: 3
  • Chromium: 20
  • Molybdenum: 1.3
  • Vanadium: 0.1
  • Cobalt: -
  • Nickel: -
  • Manganese: -
  • Silicon: -
  • Hardness: 64-66
They both have 2-3x the carbon of most stainless steels, and a healthy does of chromium. S110V has almost 9% Vanadium, which is probably why it's such a pain to sharpen. ZDP-189 is quite a bit harder, which is probably the largest contributing factor to its wear resistance. According to Larrin's recent testing, they both do quite well in the CATRA test, though S110V did take the lead (718 vs. 738 pieces of cardstock).

I guess what I'm looking for is a real-world comparison. Have you noticed any similarities? Is S110V a superior steel for knives than ZDP-189? It seem the lower hardness might make it tougher, and the vanadium definitely leads to higher wear resistance. Which is more corrosion resistant?

All thoughts welcome.
The rumors are true, I can attest. S110v is extremely difficult to sharpen. S110v is in no way "tough," it is hyper brittle, which makes "apexing" it tricky because the edge is always on the verge of chipping apparently with hard bonded abrasives like with what I've been using, india, ceramic, and diamond. The gigantic amount of vanadium means even ceramics have a hard time cutting it. Problem is that in a way diamond over cuts it like other steels, and because the steel is so brittle, the jagged gouging of the diamond kind of sets up the chipping by further destabilizing the edge. So, you have to use extremely light pressure with the diamond, and modify the hold on your passes, not the angle but the position of the knife on the plate during a pass. Even after that, I still use a medium ceramic at the end now to try and flush some of the diamond gouging out.

ZDP-189 doesnt have this problem because there is no vanadium. At this point, I'd take ZDP-189 any day.
Hey John, I find the more I practice the better it goes. CPM S110V is difficult but it's not that bad. You'll master it eventually as you improve your sharpening skills. ;)
- Connor

"What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

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Re: How do S110V and ZDP-189 Compare?

Postby TomAiello » Thu Jun 04, 2020 10:17 am

It's interesting to read different people's experiences.

For me, s110v is _extremely_ stainless (more so than s90v, m390 (et al), or s30v). But it's also more fragile than any of those other stainless blades. It holds a working edge pretty much forever, and seems to respond better with a "toothier" (low grit) sharpening process.

ZDP-189, on the other hand, seems to like really fine, polished edges, and takes a really nice razor-sharp edge, which it holds remarkably long for such an edge--I can't get anything else to hold that sort of edge for as long.

ZDP-189 has been tougher in my experience, than s110v. I'll admit that's not apples to apples--my largest ZDP-189 knife that I've used much is a Delica, and by far my most commonly used ZDP blade is a Dragonfly 2 (I have multiples and touch one almost every day), and my most common s110v carry is a Manix 2, so the s110v is definitely getting torqued on harder than the ZDP-189.

I think they both have their place. I should probably use ZDP-189 in a larger platform (I've got both an Endura and an Al Mar Eagle), but I just have so many wonderful knives that I have trouble making myself do that.

For long term EDC with minimal maintenance, I guess I'd go with s110v? But truth be told, I have a ZDP-189 blade with me most days, and almost never carry s110v these days.

I guess it depends on who you are. I'd say that a non-knife person might be better off with s110v for corrosion resistance, but then again my dad (who I've given two ZDP-189 Dragonflies to) carries ZDP-189 constantly and really abuses it, and he's not a knife person at all. I clean up his knives when I visit (about once a year) and they are working really, really well for him. He does sharpen them (he does a lot of woodwork and gardening in his retirement) quite often, but I can't tell you how much dirt and sawdust I pull out of those knives, and they don't seem to have any real rust issues.

I guess the verdict is "all good, just different". Both steels are really good, and both should definitely stay in the Spyderco line up, in my opinion (and I say that as a huge fan of K390).

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Re: How do S110V and ZDP-189 Compare?

Postby Cambertree » Fri Jun 05, 2020 12:39 pm

jdw wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 10:41 am
That's extremely well said and I am not sure what to add. In my experience ZDP will hold a very fine edge for a long time but drops a working edge quickly. I haven't tried S110V against enough abrasive materials but it survived a dunk in the gulf and then a quick rinse off and wipe down without losing its edge to corrosion. As for sharpening, most high hardness steels are equally difficult to sharpen to me but you can get it done.
Thanks Jdw. :)

Yes, I try to not let ZDP189 drop past below that working edge keenness. Sometimes when cutting a lot of cardboard and plastic, I'll touch up the knife once a day to keep that high level sharpness. Other times it will be a week or more between touch up sharpenings.

I find that diamond and CBN stropping compounds help elevate edges in these high carbide steels to just that extra little level of sharpness.
kwakster wrote: Mr.Hanada from Rockstead told me several years ago that ZDP-189 was originally developed as a mould or matrix steel.
Thanks for the info Kwakster. I've edited out my reference to ZDP189 being a cutlery steel.

It's curious that for a mould steel, Hitachi didn't design in more corrosion resistance, but just went for ultra hardness.
kennethsime wrote: Cambertree, thanks much for the very detailed response. This is just what I was looking for!

I too enjoy ZDP-189 quite a bit and I'd love to hear your thoughts about how it stacks up against S90V as well.
No worries Kenneth. :)

Yes, I'd be keen to hear any other comparisons of ZDP189 and S90V too, if it doesn't divert too much from the intent of your thread.

I don't really have an apples to apples type comparison with the Southfork in S90V being my only knife in that steel, and generally I like to use a knife for different things, while going through multiple resharpenings before I form an opinion on it. So far I like the edge S90V takes off the diamond stones and light stropping. It seems to maintain that sticky, aggressive, bite to it for quite a while. I've mainly been using it for peeling and slicing vegetables, and doing food prep tasks in the kitchen.

One of the differences with S90V is I believe it's run in the 59-61Rc range, more in line with S30V and VG10, but has the 9% vanadium contribution to its carbide structure. Whereas ZDP189 goes for very high matrix hardness, but has the relatively softer chromium carbide predominating.


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