Question of the Day: AUS8. Worthwhile or Worthless?

Image courtesy of David C. Andersen

Recently in a Facebook group (be sure to like us!) I saw this bit of drama play out. On one side, detractors of AUS8 steel saying it is not worth any serious knife person’s time, and on the other, defenders claiming that it gets a bad rap and is actually pretty good. Where do you stand?

I am on record as saying that AUS8 is my favorite entry level steel. Despite the fact that the raw material costs roughly four times as much as something like 420HC, the fact that you can get AUS8 in a good knife like the Ontario RAT-1 for around $25 does little to bolster the idea that it is a high end product.

The idea that AUS8 is nothing but cheap junk probably had something to do with Cold Steel recently upgrading a significant portion of their lineup. Long known for having lots of AUS8 blades, the company was singled out more often than any other in the Facebook thread I witnessed, with some chiming in that they couldn’t care less about Cold Steel’s knives mostly because of the steel.

Despite liking the steel, even I am not immune to the notion that AUS8 is low-rent. It is still the main reason that I do not own an Al-Mar Eagle despite the appealing design. I have not been able to get my head around paying over $100 for an AUS8 folder, even though by all accounts the Al-Mar is an excellent knife. I’ve dinged some less-than-cheap knives in the past for using the steel, but I admit that my views have softened a bit since that review.

I think AUS8 really is a fine user steel. Coming back to the 420HC comparison, I have found AUS8 simultaneously holds an edge longer and is easier to sharpen. No, it won’t hold an edge like S30V, or even VG10, but it will hold it a respectable amount. I think it balances performance versus cost quite well.

What say you? Chime in below!

comments

  1. Chrispy says:

    I’ve been carrying a CS mini Recon 1, the 3″ version with the AUS8 steel for over 2 years now and it’s been a solid performer. It does require a bit of edge maintenance but it’s okay.

  2. Sam L. says:

    I’m more of a carrier than a user, so it’s all right with me. For my purposes, it’s fine.

  3. Robert H. says:

    Aus8 is good if the heat treat is spot on.

  4. stuartb says:

    I’d put it one up from 420c and 8Cr13moV, on par with 440c, but really all of these hold up well considering the cost. The only downside being more regular maintenance, and who doesn’t like tinkering with knives? Unless of course you’re in a really bad place, then I would hope not to be stuck with just a budget folder!

  5. Wayne says:

    I’ve a Taiwanese Benchmade folder that I paid $80 for some 8 or 10 years ago that has an AUS8 blade and I love it!! I don’t care what is popular with others, all I care about is performance and AUS8 is fine steel. Period!

  6. MD says:

    I like AUS-8 just fine. I think my Cold Steel knives with AUS-8 are superior in keenness and edge retention to my Benchmades with 154 CM. And AUS-8 is much easier to sharpen than stuff like D2 and s30V.

    Knife folks who crap on anything that doesn’t have designer steel remind of shooters who think they “need” an expensive Wilson Combat 1911 for home defense or range plinking. Whether we’re talking guns or knives, it’s just a tool. Once you reach a certain level of function you’re chasing diminishing returns, and just fetishizing the tool.

  7. sagebrushracer says:

    AUS 8 is like the Hi-Point of the knife steels. Lots of people bag on it and there are plenty of nicer options. However its low price point, ease of sharpening are as good of a introduction you will get to the world of blades with any steel.

    my cousin has a cold steel knife (ak 47) in aus 8 and he is a mechanic. Prying, cutting hoses off that wont budge, scraping gunk, you name it. It gets regular abuse and regular sharpening sessions. it has nicks in the edge, the finish is rubbed off in places and the G10 scales have marks on it from abuse. keeps on taking it tho.

  8. CJ says:

    Carry a Recon 1 (old style lock) and a Ontario RAT folder every day. Use them every day too. Once a month they get sharpened on a stone even if they don’t need it (and usually they don’t). Much easier to sharpen than my D2 Ontario and much more likely that i can simply grind out a nick in the edge. Something harder may take more abuse, but i like that i can always just buff the dings out. I think that there is definately something to be said for a steel that is easy to home repair.

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Question of the Day: AUS8. Worthwhile or Worthless?

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