What is a "proper heat treat," you ask? I sure couldn't tell you. At best, it seems most of us knife geeks (with some notable exceptions, of course) can equate "proper heat treat" with having a really high Rockwell rating. This ignorance, ironically, doesn't stop us from declaring that SliceCo definitely has the best heat treats, whereas DiceCo definitely has no idea what they're doing, and should probably just stop producing knives. Who cares if they did 100 Million dollars in revenue last year?
I realize the crux of the issue here - I think. When Spyderco put 440V in the Military, it was the only knife on the market using CPM steel. When I was getting to knives, there were only a handful of companies using S30V. If you could get a knife with that steel, you knew you had something really good on your hands.
Nowadays, not only is everybody and their Mom putting out knives in S30V, but Chinese companies like CJRB are even developing their own powdered steels. Bohler is making a proprietary batch of M390 just for Microtech. When everybody looks just like you do, you try to find ways to stand out - whether that's by actually innovating, or by throwing out red herrings left + right.
I would posit that while some companies like Spyderco are undoubtedly pushing the envelope, the majority of reputable knife companies are doing just fine with their heat treats. Heck, I bet most of them are sent out to third parties anyway.
Sure, mistakes happen - sometimes even the best of us miss the mark. But if you believe the pundits, there are a ton of people working in the knife industry who know less about heat treating their knives than some anonymous internet troll who read the first three paragraphs of an article on knifesteelnerds.com. No shade to Larrin, btw.
So, what do you think?
- Are the pundits really on to something?
- Are there companies you stay away from because you know their heat treats to be milquetoast?
- Did you read a few paragraphs on KnifeSteelNerds and suddenly find yourself qualified to write technical documentation for a steel foundry?