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!