Lets talk about 1095 and KA-BARs

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Evil D
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Lets talk about 1095 and KA-BARs

Postby Evil D » Tue Oct 09, 2012 5:42 pm

I have an older friend i work with, he's a retired police officer. We've talked shop about knives and guns and i've sharpened a few folders for him. Today he brought me some old fixed blades to fix up. One of them is an old KA-BAR, another is an even older looking Camillus that's the same basic design as the USMC KA-BAR, and another random cheapo. The last time i worked with 1095, i didn't even know what 1095 was or meant, though i know i've sharpened it in the past. For the sake of argument we'll just say this is my first experience with it.

For starters, it was dull. Like, edge of a spoon dull, and it didn't look like it had ever been sharpened though it has seen quite a bit of use and looks rather old. My first impression was how amazingly easy this steel is to reprofile (despite the fact that it DESTROYED my 120 Edge Pro stone...it's dished beyond repair). I didn't put a lot of effort into polishing the edge because IMO it would be wasted on the user, so i stopped at 600 grit and then used my 1000 grit very lightly to just tough up the very edge a bit and it's plenty sharp enough to slice phone book paper, which will be light years ahead of what he's used to.

So what's the big deal about this steel? I don't think i've ever heard a bad thing about 1095 except that it will rust if left raw. Ironically, the black coating is worn off from most of this blade, and there isn't a hint of rust anywhere on it and the blade doesn't feel oiled. He keeps it in what looks like the original sheath, wrapped with lime green duct tape. Anyway...i don't own any ESEE knives but it's my understanding that they're also 1095. What's everyone's opinion on how the edge holds up compared to the typical folder steels like VG10/S30V etc? I've been wanting an Izulu for a long time and after seeing how crazy simple this steel is to sharpen i think i might have to get one.
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jzmtl
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Postby jzmtl » Tue Oct 09, 2012 6:22 pm

As far as cutting goes there is no way 1095 can hold up to the modern stainless, and in kabar they are left pretty soft, 56ish hrc. However there are carbon steel fanatics that will have you believe 1095 is the best there is, so take some of the claims out there with grain of salt.

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Monocrom
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Postby Monocrom » Tue Oct 09, 2012 6:34 pm

1095

Holds an edge for a good amount of use. Easy to sharpen in the field for the average soldier. Rusts away a bit too easily. Cheap to make and sell to the average person or soldier. That last one is why it has remained so incredibly popular over the years.
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Stuart Ackerman
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Postby Stuart Ackerman » Tue Oct 09, 2012 7:03 pm

Softer also means tougher...
Soldiers are not gentle on their gear...

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Blerv
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Postby Blerv » Tue Oct 09, 2012 8:55 pm

Like most carbons 1095 has been cast aside for SS. Makes sense as modern tool users are less empathetic to corrosion and picky with edge dynamics.
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Postby bdblue » Tue Oct 09, 2012 10:01 pm

1095 is much tougher than most good stainless steels and very inexpensive. (There will always be a tradeoff of sorts between toughness and hardness, some alloys move this transition point one way or the other but the tradeoff is still there.)

If you want a knife that you can beat on, pry with, etc. then you want 1095 or other carbon steel, if you want rust resistance or better edge holding then you want a high tech stainless. There are better carbon steels that improve on the edge holding but they will be more expensive. I have read about steels such as 52100 and 3V but I'm not real knowledgeable about them.

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Postby Jemmy.D » Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:02 am

bdblue wrote:1095 is much tougher than most good stainless steels and very inexpensive. (There will always be a tradeoff of sorts between toughness and hardness, some alloys move this transition point one way or the other but the tradeoff is still there.)

If you want a knife that you can beat on, pry with, etc. then you want 1095 or other carbon steel, if you want rust resistance or better edge holding then you want a high tech stainless. There are better carbon steels that improve on the edge holding but they will be more expensive. I have read about steels such as 52100 and 3V but I'm not real knowledgeable about them.
/
if the the knife is not long as 25cm or longer I think toughness is useless, and hardness gona be the most important, so v3n could the best one ever

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Postby rodloos » Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:39 am

I'd guess that when you have an unconditional warranty like ESEE's, you would favor toughness over edge-holding :) . I think they also have the philosophy that it shouldn't be too hard for the user to touch up the edge in the field.

They do have plans to bring out at least of couple of their models in stainless, whenever they get them actually produced. Their 1095 knives are made my Rowen, and Rowen does the heat treating also, but I think they mentioned the stainless would have to be sent to someone else for heat treat, different process, but Rowen does a good job on the heat treat on their 1095. I have quite a few ESEE's, and for their intended purpose I really like them. Sure they may lose that hair-popping sharpness quickly (but so does S30V) but they keep a pretty good working edge (I don't reprofile mine to a silly-thin edge or anything).

I don't think 1095 is a miracle steel, but it is very functional, while keeping a low enough price-point they can afford to replace any blades that do get broken.
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Evil D
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Postby Evil D » Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:49 am

Thanks guys this pretty much summed up what i had in my head. The toughness is what i'm after, although i am/have considered looking for a cheap 3V knife in the same general size. My idea was to get something so small that it isn't cumbersome to carry (i can't stand sheaths) so i would actually want to carry it, and then use it for those jobs that are just too harsh/abusive to use my folder for....like if i need to baton the crap out of something, or if something needs scraped/gouged/stabbed etc. The whole idea has me considering finding a piece of 1095 and just making my own to my own standards and then making a kydex sheath my own way.
How you carry yourself is just as important as what you carry.
~David

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Blerv
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Postby Blerv » Wed Oct 10, 2012 12:02 pm

It's an easy to work with steel, heat treating and grinding. At production hardness 1095 is quite tough, especially since the bulk lot of 1095 blades are ground pretty thick. No knock against ESEE but in this case a warranty is a way to raise the price a bit, the ESEE 4 is $125. I truly hope their warranty and repair dept is fairly busy at that cost.

Cliff (and I think Joe) said that in the mid 60's it's a completely different beast. I'm sure it loses a bunch of toughness but still pretty impressive. At that point it's kinda like a 800hp Dodge Cummins pickup with slicks at the track...not exactly the same truck that rolled off the floor.

It's obviously not the same knife as an ESEE but Condor Knife & Tool makes their products in El Salvador and many use 1075 which is even tougher.
:spyder: Blake :spyder:


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