When looking for pocket knives or fixed-blade knives, it’s helpful to understand the different metals used in producing these knives. It depends on the materials used to make the knife. The quality of the best Damascus steel knives will be more complex, more rigid, more robust, more wear-resistant, and hold an edge longer. Thus, the higher the quality of steel and the manufacturing process, the more expensive the knife will be.
Additional elements are added to create steel that will work for a particular application.
- Chromium is added to increase durability and hardness and fight corrosion.
- Manganese is used to increase the strength and wear resistance of steel. It also helps with hardening the steel during the manufacturing process.
- Molybdenum will help prevent the steel from becoming brittle and helps keep the steel strong under high temperatures.
- Vanadium will help increase the steel’s durability and help it harden during manufacturing.
- Carbon helps with the hardening of steel while increasing its strength. The carbon content should be more significant than 0.5%, which helps maintain a good edge on your knife.
The following is a list of popular steels used in manufacturing knives. When reviewing this article, note how the different elements affect the quality of a knife. You could check CE Blades for the best selection of online pocket knives.
ATS-34 – 154-CM
Both ATS-34 and 154-CM are practically identical steels, and both are used for pocket knives and fixed-blade knives. Crucible Material Corporation designed 154-CM for the blades in jet turbine engines. Today, manufacturers are still making high-quality 154-CM steel, a trendy steel for knife blades. Both ATS-34 and 154-CM hold a good edge and are very hard. They are not as rust-resistant as other steels, but they are still trendy types of steel for high-end knives.
It is a higher-grade knife steel containing carbon, so it maintains a sharper edge. It is stainless steel with 1.2% carbon content, slightly higher than the carbon in 440A and 440B. 440C performs better than 440B and 440A, but it’s more expensive.
AUS-8 is a knife blade steel that is comparable to 440B steel. It has approximately 0.75% carbon content, a low-carbon to-chromium ratio, and is resistant to corrosion. This is good steel for knife blades, but blades with higher carbon content will hold their edge better. But unlike the 440B, AUS-8 has added vanadium, improving its resistance to wearing out.
It holds an edge better than 440C and ATS-34 because BG-42 has twice the manganese as ATS-34 steel and has 1.2% vanadium.
Damascus steel is a unique type of steel that contain multiple layers. This steel is extremely tough and resistant to shattering. It is also able to hold an extremely sharp edge that is resilient to damage. Layering the steel allows more than one type of steel to be used. By alternating the bands with hard and soft steel, the steel will take on both qualities. Thus a Damascus blade is rigid yet flexible. W. R. Case & Sons Cutlery uses this type of blade in their pocket knives.
D2 steel has 1.5% carbon which helps it hold an edge. However, it is easier than other steels. It has 12% chrome content which does not meet the requirements for stainless steel, which is 13%. So D-2 is considered a “semi-stainless” steel.