So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

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So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby sal » Thu Sep 26, 2019 8:52 pm

Hi all.

Topic says it all. I'm just curious. We've built a lot of models with a lot of steels and we're still doing that as it is one of our passions. I know there will always be new steels and we're surely be working with them. But I find that myself as well as other knife afi's do have their favorites. Like you, I love them all and they are all different, but top 3 only.


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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby Redman5006 » Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:00 pm

Very tough choice but I’ll say m4, hap40 and Cruwear.

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby Sharp Guy » Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:02 pm

It's always tough for me decide on things like this. Especially knife steel. I haven't had one I didn't like yet. If I had to list 3 it's probably S35VN, HAP40, and Cruwear. Can't give much of a reason other than I like how they sharpen. M4's right up there as well. Tomorrow it might be VG10, S30V, and REX45

Thanks for doing what you do Sal and giving us such a wide variety of models and steels to choose from
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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby T_MAC686 » Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:16 pm

Interesting question.. I guess I would say VG10 for an all around steel, Cruwear for a tougher steel, and H1 (in SE) because, well it’s H1!

Or I could substitute CTS-XHP for VG10, M4 for Cruwear, and LC200N for H1... ugh why do you make his so hard Sal?!

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby PStone » Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:23 pm

#1 is Maxamet. Stays sharp forever.
#2 is M4. I really like how sharp I can get it.
#3 is 52100. Same reason as M4, but M4 seems to stay sharper longer.

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby The Meat man » Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:29 pm

Tough question. There are so many and all are special in some way or another.

Currently, I'd say my top 3 favorite steels (of the ones I've tried) are:

H-1 - rust proof, tough, easy to sharpen
CPM M4 - good balance of strength and wear resistance, and easy to sharpen
Maxamet - Not too hard to sharpen, super hard while still retaining some toughness

Honorable mention:

Super Blue
CPM Cru-Wear

Sal, you didn't mention your top 3. ;)
And thank you for giving us so many awesome steels to play with! The steel variety is what first drew me to Spyderco.
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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby zuludelta » Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:33 pm

I prefer low-maintenance, well-balanced steels that are relatively inexpensive. And for my purposes, I also place a premium on corrosion resistance. My current favourites are VG10, CPM-S30V, and H1. That said, I can see VG10 and H1 possibly being supplanted by CTS-BD1N and LC200N, respectively, although I have significantly less experience with those latter two.

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby Stuart Ackerman » Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:37 pm

AEB-L, VG10, serrated H1

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby anycal » Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:53 pm

Tougher question to answer than 'what are your top three favorite knives', at least for me.

My exposure to all these different knife steels is relatively recent, and all because of :spyder: . With use and sharpening, I can appreciate their, many times subtle, differences.

Here is my non-steel expert way of answering,

- M4 - most represented in my collection, and I am most familiar with it.
- 20CV - on my dedicated beater knife. Good amount of stainless for my uses. Takes the abuse, many times with tasks around house and yard. Sharpened the most of all my knives.
- Cruwear - great steel and just happens to be on my favorite knife - model, color, action, the whole package


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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby vivi » Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:05 pm

H1 is my favorite. Rust proof, incredibly tough, easy to sharpen and very good edge retention in SE.

LC200N is my second favorite. Seems rust proof for me so far, in the Waterway its been tough enough to hold up to some light batoning, easy to sharpen, and edge retention is acceptable.

BD1. Very corrosion resistant, easy to sharpen, pretty tough for stainless, acceptable edge holding. Gets incredibly sharp for me. It performs a lot like VG10 for me, except it sharpens a bit easier and to finer edges. I can't think of any other stainless with such a nice sharpening response.

I enjoy steels like K390 a lot as well, but I'm limited in how often I can carry them due to the lack of corrosion resistance. If I could get DLC K390 on a model I like (Manix XL, Police 4) it would bump BD1 off this list. I really like the edge holding, ease of sharpening and aggressive edge it takes.

For me corrosion resistance is the most important attribute in a knife steel. Everything else is a lower priority.
Last edited by vivi on Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby knivesandbooks » Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:12 pm

Top three.
1. CPM 154 has become my number one. Easy to work with, tough, edge retention, polishes nice. I love the stuff.
2. A2. Old school steel but still awesome imo. My favorite for fixed blades. I'm sure 3v or cru wear are better, though. Not much experience with those.
3. M4. Spyderco does it amazing. I just love it.

Runners up are LC200n, S30v/S35vn, and XHP.
My taste is middling lol
Last edited by knivesandbooks on Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby Doeswhateveraspidercan » Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:12 pm

Hi Sal thanks for posting this.

#1. All Around great Steel with the best of all worlds, It is not new, It is often overlooked and not given the credit it has coming, drum roll please..... VG-10. Super easy to sharpen acts like it was made just for the sharpmaker, can get a truly sharp edge and hold it nicely with great ability to resist corrosion, is equally great in plain edge or serrated and rocks the house in a combo edge.

#2. Fantastic I want to be sharp please you do not even need great Sharpening skills Steel.... Drum Roll Please.... Cruwear. Takes a very sharp edge easily, holds it a long time and despite the figure on paper is far more corrosion resistant than it has any right to be. Truly magical.

#3. Favorite all time Super Steel that effectively exceeds the first two yet likes to get sharp as well as hold a truly sharp blade for a long time and is extremely corrosion resistant as in I can't believe it has not rusted after that abuse.... Drum Roll Please.... S90V only thing you need to know is you will be happier bringing the best out of this steel using diamonds otherwise it will not go as easy or produce as good a blade as it could.

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby Enactive » Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:22 pm

I am bad at favorites, but now my favorite steels on my Spydercos are LC200n, Cruwear and V-Toku 2. The caveat is that geometry and other factors may be more important than blade steel.

LC is great for it's sharpening response, toughness, corrosion-resistance and wear resistance. My first-love Spyderco and one of my favorites is the SpydieChef and I also really like the Native Salt.

Cruwear has incredible sharpening response and good strength, toughness and edge- holding. Wear-resistance is plenty good for me. This steel is also an agressive slicer, taking a refined but toothy edge.

V-Toku takes an amazingly fine edge very easily. My V-Toku 2 Stretch is easily my favorite folder for making push cuts in wood. I also like laminate steel and irrationally like that it's made with Swedish ore processed by a Japanese foundry.

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby SF Native » Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:44 pm

this is so hard.
K390, S110v, and lc200n for different reasons.

Seems wrong to not have xhp, m4, 4v, rex45, or s30v on my list. And maybe I don’t know zdp well enough. Hap40 is great too.

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby foofie » Thu Sep 26, 2019 11:02 pm

No easy answer for me. I love the variety.

Most carried/favorite #1- s110v. Haven't seen this listed much, but is has great corrosion resistance and just cuts forever.
2) maxamet. This is a favorite for rational and irrational reasons. Love the high hardness, love the edge, love the lack of any discernable wear.
3) ZDP-189. Just holds that crazy sharp edge the longest of my knives. Only problem is I currently have none.

Honorable mention - rex45 (can you tell I like the high hardness steels?)

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby JuPaul » Thu Sep 26, 2019 11:23 pm

I have different favorites for different applications, but if I was forced to pick only 3 steels to keep at this very moment: s30v/s35vn (either will do), cruwear, lc200n. Combined they meet any need I have in edc or outdoor folders, and they're all easy and fun to maintain.
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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby dlum1 » Thu Sep 26, 2019 11:35 pm

I rarely post, but couldn't resist. This proved far more difficult than I anticipated. Like most people, I value the steel for the task and environment it'll be subjected to. Naturally, this means I value more than just 3, but here goes nothing.

Incredible edge retention while being easy to sharpen and not particularly chippy. An excellent everyday option as long as corrosives are not encountered while cutting. My nicer folders are M4.

My favorite outdoor steel that recently displaced s110v, s90v, and M390. Can sit in my waistband during hikes and swimming without worry. Serrated edge has excellent edge retention. Easy to sharpen and surprisingly high toughness. Only wish this steel could be found in a Military sprint.

Easy to touch up with diamonds, haven't had any problems with rust (likely bc of the stonewash finish?), and rarely ever needs to be sharpened. Seems to hold a razor edge longer than any other steel -- possibly due to the high hardness. Unfortunately, the tips of my paramilitary 2 and para 3 seems to have snapped off without me dropping or abusing the knife. I ground them to be slight drop-points after that. Problem solved. Nonetheless, no chipping has occurred anywhere else on the blade. I'd like to give k390 more pocket time to see if it's more resilient, but my P4 is a little too large to carry every day.

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby ZrowsN1s » Fri Sep 27, 2019 12:10 am

Hard to only pick 3 but here goes....

LC200N - Rust proof steel is something I find very useful and use daily for food. LC200N wins out over H-1 for being full flat grind and having what I would describe as a slightly more aggressive edge. If LC200N or H1 weren't available S110V would be the next stainless on my list.

K390 - Pure performance, it's a very hard and strong steel that just cuts and cuts, and stays unbelievably sharp. For straight cutting it's king. If I couldn't get K390, I'd use Maxamet.

CPM-4V - 4V has high hardness and wear resistance but also has toughness. If I was outdoors, chopping, or going for a 'hard use' activity beyond just straight cutting, I'd use 4V. If 4V wasn't available 154CM or H-1 would be my choice.
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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby pR13S7 » Fri Sep 27, 2019 12:21 am

- HAP40
- S110V
- M4

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Re: So what's your top 3 favorite steels? and why?

Postby Wartstein » Fri Sep 27, 2019 12:30 am

My list is not of too much worth tbh, since I have real experience (use, sharpening,..) with just a few steels, so not much to choose from and compare to.
That being said:

- VG10:
Still amazing stuff. I just can´t imagine that any person, who has a VG 10 Spydie, a Sharpmaker and reads its instructions, won´t be able to not only sharpen that knife to a satisfying degree, but also do that quick and with real joy (and I say this as not a sharpening Pro at all).
Furthermore, in MY personal use (though it contains sweaty pockets, wet conditions (but never ocean-climate!) VG 10 is practically rust proof.
Holds an edge reasonable long, never chipped on me... Amazing, as I said

(Cladded!) HAP40:
Had an Endura in ZDP 189 once. For my skills (and probably also equipment) it was just too hard to sharpen, or I am just not patient enough to take the time for doing so.
Sold it, got an Endura and a Stretch 1 in HAP 40 instead, and, voila: Their edge retention seems not to be below ZDP by a lot, but I can keep them sharp on my basic sharpmaker quite easily (sure, not like I can with VG10, but still).
I also totally love the cladding with SUS410. By it´s looks, by it´s concept, by the Japanese blade-smith tradition behind the approach, and also that each blade gets a very personal and individual pattern of scratches on the SUS410 and Patina on the HAP40 edge
So, this is my steel when I want extended edge retention (lets say multi day mountaineering, and I don´t want to carry a sharpening tool)

I have only one knife in this steel, and that is the Chap FRN. I can´t exactly tell, what amount of the properties of XHP I perceive are due to the - even for Spyderco - exeptionally thin blade and its geometry, and what amount to the steel itself.
That being said: For me, total layman, it just feels like a slightly better S30V (and I really LIKE S30V!). A tad quicker to touch up, a tad better edge retention. No chipping, despite I do NOT use the Chap just as a "gents knife" at all. No rust problems so far, despite I carry the Chap IWB a lot when trail running...
Last edited by Wartstein on Fri Sep 27, 2019 2:00 am, edited 2 times in total.
Top three going by pocket-time: Endura 4 in VG 10/Micarta-scales; Stretch 1 in VG 10; Endura 4 in HAP 40

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