Question of the Day & A good online guide to blade steels…


A friend sent me this from BestPocketKnifeToday and it is one of the better guides I have seen.

Will Woods has brought us The Truth About Blade Steels, but his article focuses more on what goes into various steels from a metallurgical and production point of view. I personally use the Zvisoft Knife Steel Database on my phone, but I am more likely than most to look up a specific example of the “alphabet soup” on a regular basis. I can’t recommend that app highly enough though if you are serious about steel.

For those of you who just want an easy reference for the most common steel types, my friend sent me this guide from BestPocketKnifeToday. It categorizes the various steels that are most likely to end up in a knife. Worth bookmarking if you want a quick reference.

I had little experience with different steels prior to coming to work for TTAK. I had to learn in a hurry. I have also learned that different people have different favorite steels, and those they dislike.

Nathan has waxed eloquently on the virtues of VG10. I don’t know David’s favorite, but I do know he hates D-2. Personally, I have been very impressed with D-2 and don’t find it as much of a pain to sharpen as David does. Will Woods seems to enjoy working with CPM3v.

If pressed, I would probably list S30V as my favorite steel for EDC knives. I have long carried a Spyderco Native and have reviewed the Benchmade Steep Country in this steel. It wan’t that long ago that S30V was considered premium steel, but with the steel arms-race continuing, it has become more of a mid-range offering. What that means for the consumer is many companies have a wide selection of knives in an affordable price point without going steel-crazy. The law of diminishing returns kicks in rapidly as you climb the scale. I think that S30V hits that sweet spot in price and performance.

I have been really impressed with Elmax in the First Edge 5050 I have been testing, but a huge portion of the knife’s overall price is tied up in one large slab of premium steel.

What is your favorite steel? Do you have any you dislike?




  1. The more knives and steel types I’ve used the more I like regular old 1095. Easy to sharpen, keeps a nice edge and a great price.

  2. cmeat says:

    i carry a fixed and a folding in d2. but knives have seldom made me any money, so crs6013 then.
    and whatever they make wheel and tapered roller bearings out of.

  3. Wood says:

    I like good old boring 154cm for a daily abuser. Easy to sharpen and repair, reasonable edge holding. D2 is pretty good the way Bob Dozier does it. And I still love my Benchmade 710HSSR!

  4. Enuz says:

    1095 is hard to argue with. Sure, there are all kinds of super-steels out there, VG-10, CPM 3-v, etc, but 1095, or even 1085 will hold an edge through pretty much anything you can throw at it and for a low enough price that you don’t much care if you abuse it. Throw on some mineral oil and you’re set.

  5. Robert H says:

    I used to like my VG-10 blades but over time they have demonstrated a tendency to chip. I do like 1095 as long as you do your part.

  6. knightofbob says:

    I’ve noticed a lot of my favorite EDC folders are 440C. As I get more practice with my Worksharp, ease of sharpening is less of a concern, so I’ll probably migrate to something more exotic. I’m currently walking around with 154CM, and I’m planning a move to S35VN. The steel matters less than how it’s treated, I think.

    VG-10 rules the kitchen, but, as someone who carried a ceramic Boker for a couple years, edge chipping is a major concern.

  7. RossA says:

    I have always been a fan of 440C and 154CM. To me, they are like a Chevy pickup truck. Not fancy, but earn an honest living doing their work well.

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Question of the Day & A good online guide to blade steels…

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