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What's your favorite stainless steel for custom fixed blades and why. I can't really tell the difference from CPM154, 154cm, or S30V, they all 3 work. I don't have much experience with S35VN.

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I think a maker's heat treat makes a lot more difference than the steel when talking about the above steels.

I'm not sure you'd tell a difference between S30v and S35vn when both are heat treated the same. It's my understanding that Chris Reeve worked with crucible to make S35vn. The goal was to make a steel that performs like S30v but was easer for makers to work with.

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I agree on everything you said Dude. Most probably don’t work a knife hard enough to see a difference in edge retention, maybe processing a moose or just never touching up a blade. I’m perfectly happy with Doziers D2, but I do like stainless qualities.

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I grew up without the internet thinking the local hardware store with a basket full of pocket knives at the store's front door was knife heaven. So take anything I have to say with a grain of salt.

Both my grand-dads could sit in a chair on Sunday afternoon and carry on a conversation while sharpening a knife with some hard piece of something. Damn they could get a knife scary sharp. I usually could imitate them well enough to get mine about as sharp as their scythes that hung in the barn.

Years later, thousands of dollars later, and a couple decades of "knife learning" about metals and the perfect shape for this and that, I'm back to where I started. I pick a knife out of my knife stash that I like. Usually because, well, I like the way it looks. Probably because I know what look to look for. But, also because I also like the way a knife looks aesthetically. That's a different kind of look. I have similar tastes with women and knives, pretty ones are favored. At least at first glance. (experience x 10)

I can now compete with my grand-dads skills. I tell my wife my knives will cut you if you look at them the wrong way so don't be messing with them. I inherited my grand-dads' instance with keeping a knife clean and oiled, always, all the time. Which stainless? Seriously? Hell, my old stainless Case trapper from the 60s has cleaned trout, squirrels, birds, and fingernails and still looks great. And don't look at it the wrong way.

I used to fret over which new miracle metal would be best for today's hunt. That was a harder decision than which gun, which caliber, and which layering layer to wear under which coat. Now, they are all so good, just pick what makes you smile and go enjoy your day.

Oh, and if your experience still leaves you fretting and undecided, get a CPM154, pick one that fits your hand for whatever reason you think makes it fit your hand, make sure it's pretty for your relative tastes in good looks, keep it clean and oiled, and count your blessings. It won't be your last knife anyway. (experience x 10)

Last edited by rd7fox; 01/24/23.
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When talking custom,handmade . It will also vary knife to knife on how good a cutter it is . Grind,heat treat etc but hand ground blades ,some will cut better than others . I think when you have a knife ground super thin & it's like a razor thin at the edge ,it's up to the user to know what that blade is good or bad for .

I have hand made blades ground super thin & razor sharp in a few stainless steels ,but would I take that blade an cut garden hoses or tires and wiggle it ? Heck no . It's a flesh tool,trim meats etc .

Once had a guy buy a Dozier elk hunter off me ,two weeks later shows up with it chipped at the blade edge , and proceeds to say ,I was just chopping small sapling branches with it.

AEBL is formulated for razor blades and it does well thin. I've had many ,XHP ,S35VN,etc ,probably mre than most and just like Mully said I'll never use it enough at one time to notice . But I do have knives that cut better than others .

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Good discussion here, which is why I created this post. To get us knife guys talking. Vince is absolutely correct about grinds. I prefer a slicer myself. Watch a good butcher working around joints in a carcass, you don’t need a thick knife you just need to know where to cut.

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Just a perspective, I've made and used knives out of a bunch of different steels both Carbon and stainless. Some of the very "best" stainless steels are extremely hard to sharpen without specialty tools and so forth. There are guys who want knives out of these steels and are willing to invest in the tools/techniques required to sharpen them. They can be great, but the guy who uses them probably needs to be sure they are capable of resharpening them. There are low end stainless steels that work just fine and just need to be resharpened regularly. Those are the ones that used to be sold in the hardware stores (and probably still are) which my grandfather kept razor sharp, but had to resharpen all the time. Then there are steels that fall in sort of the middle area, which will hold an edge for a long time but are still reasonably straightforward to sharpen. CPM 154, S30V, S35V, elmax and a host of others are where I see this middle ground. I like this area of stainless because it lands in the area in between the bottom and the top and is probably where the majority of knife users want their knife to land. After that, as Vince said, it becomes more about the grind, heat treat and purpose.


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I like Helle laminated as well as any stainless I've tried.

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I’ve been pretty happy with the ATS-34 in my every day carry, but it is only a 2” blade folder that fits in that little front pocket of my jeans. I was talking with the Randall knife guy at the Lakeland gun show and I asked him what steel they used in their knives? 440B in their stainless blades. I was expecting to hear something else.


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Dunno. I think heat treat matters a ton. I have handled knives of the same brand and steel and one just "wants" to cut and one seems lifeless and dull.

I like stainless and s30v and bd1n but I can get my 1095 knives sticky sharp with not much effort.

Last edited by mjbgalt; 01/24/23.
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I don’t get wound up in steels.

I trust the maker to use what he thinks is best…

His name / makers mark is on it.

Rick M could say he’s using old t-posts for blades and I’d be happy…


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As a knife maker customers walk in the shop and ask what’s the best steel. I ask them what’s the best truck?? Carbon steels rust! (Stainless) steel is not rust proof leave blood on the blade from season to season and it will pit! Had to regrind a bunch. Vince is correct. Thin grinds out cut thick grinds. But you give up strength. As far as heat treat goes Larrin Thompson’s heat treat bible should take the guess work out for any knife maker. I was lucky to have Larrin visit my shop a few times and he brought his father once. Great men!! Both have a TON of knowledge on steel. I heard about the secret heattreat makers used before I started making knives. LOL. There are a bunch of good steels out today but most would not be able to tell the difference between them. Remember you can’t have enough knives.

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In carbon 1095
SS 440C
Both serve me well.

Last edited by garddogg56; 01/24/23.
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One of the best performing stainless steel knives I have played with is a Spyderco Serrata. It uses cast, not forged 440C
I like 154CM, CPM 154, S30V, S35VN, ATS34..........I like a lot of steels. lol


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In life, moderation seems to be a pretty good idea in most situations. I like the latest and greatest too, but it may be a tell of some import that the knife makers most yakked about here tend to use middle of the road steels. Good edge retention. Good toughness. Good corrosion resistance. Good ease of sharpening.

Personally, I’d rather not have to sharpen a knife for an hour, and a strop in the field ain’t too onerous.

Just read threads discussing the variance of one company / maker’s heat treat to another using the same steel. In fact, there’s one happening now on D2.

Gene Ingram, Bob Dozier, and Dan Crotts’ heat treat seem to yield a hella lot different results than company x making a cheap D2 flipper.

Moderation is a pretty good idea in most situations.

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this ^^^^^^^^


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