If done right 52100 will make some eyes pop open. I have no idea what Spyderco will do as far as its heat treatment is concerned. Multiple cycles for grain refinement? Fast quenching? Cryo? Probably not. It'll be a solid performer though, no doubt. I don't know if it will be as impressive as cruwear knives doing the same amount and type of work.
The devil is in the details for all of this.
Here's some well done low chromium steels going head to head with Bark River's 12c27. The low chromium, high hardness steels blew away the 12c27 knife. Again, though, the devil is in the details which aren't stated.
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Ankerson's test of well done, thin CruForgeV (not terribly different than 52100) had it standing toe to toe with an S30V military cutting rope. The military is thicker behind the edge but also has a greater carbide volume that's supposed to increase performance. All other things being equal, the thin 52100 will cut as long as thicker S30V (not that the military is thick). It will also cut easier because it can be made thinner without worrying about gross failure. It can also be made harder because of the increased toughness and the steel can handle it. It will also be much easier to sharpen for two reasons, much thinner edge and lower carbide volume.
I have a feeling that the harder 52100 millie will just about equal the softer cruwear millie in performance while being much easier to sharpen with crappy equipment on the fly. Take cruwear at 62 and 52100 at 62 and make them the same thickness behind the edge with very fine grain structures for both I think cruwear/z-wear/pd1/spectrumwear would outperform 52100 in draw cutting. But 52100 would be much cheaper to obtain and work while being damned good in its own right.
I agree with Joe, this military run should be a standard setting knife. Only time will tell if it will be.
I was hoping that Spyderco would set another industry milestone by doing what hasn't been done before with production run knives: specialized heat treatments not found in any other production companies' toolboxes. This 52100 run would've been the perfect template.
Bluntcut is doing some different heat treatment regimens and is trying some of these different steels and testing the hell out of them. He's saying he's gotten a stable edge (not brittle/weak/chippy or whatever you want to call it) with 52100 at 65+ RC with an 8 dps angle with a 10 dps microbevel. From what I've seen I have no reason to doubt him. He normally grinds his blades very thin. That's a pretty impressive statement.
As with all this, though, you can only do so much with the basic chemistry of steels. Now it seems that it's more about how it's processed from the foundry to the machinist to the heat treater to the consumer buying the right steel for the job. Spyderco has the steel game on lockdown. Some decisions I question but that's not anyone's call other than spyderco, like why put this steel in this knife or whatever.
What'd be cool is if spyderco would up the heat treatment game for production knives and/or work with the foundries to get more niobium or nitrogen (for different reasons) used in knife steels. Microscopic images of the steel used published with the knives. Listing final carbide volumes after hear treatment. Showing detailed images of the edges after testing. Things like that would up the game across the board. Become the basic reference for all things "knife steel." Website traffic, IMO, would explode. The edge-u-cation section of the spyderco catalog is a great start.
Specifically what is martensite, pearlite, retained austenite, and cementite? Exactly what does nickel do? Exactly why is niobium something to be considered? Exactly why does Rockwell hardness matter in some cases while being an unreliable final number? Have these things laid out on the website that anyone can quickly reference at any time. Let people see the differences between S125V and 52100 and explain why this one might be better than that one. Truly inform the buyers. Become a repository of factual, trustworthy information that no other company offers. Explain a TTT graph. Explain what cryo does and does not do. Have different makers, heat treaters, foundries, and metallurgists write up the articles. Not in some obscure technical book written for metallurgists but in an easy to digest format in order to bring the public up to speed.
Instead of having a new (or uncommon) steel come out and no one knows what the benefits are, like the 52100 sprint, people could read and find out what the steel's strengths and weaknesses are and make a truly informed decision.
They who dance are thought mad by those who do not hear the music.