Updated on 16 October, 2021
It doesn't matter if your level is advanced or not everyday carry user; choosing a pocket knife can seem overwhelming if you don't know what you want. There are many things to consider, from the shape and size to the materials used in their construction. This is especially true when you have a specific purpose for your knife. The knife you end up carrying might be more valuable than the one you've prepared, like if you got stuck in a survival situation.
The steel that was used to make the knife's blade is something you should pay close attention to when looking for a new knife. It may be crucial to the longevity and utility of your knife. How can one determine which steel is best for an EDC tool? It's not an easy path, but we can confirm it. We've done the legwork for you to help you gain a better understanding of the world of blades in our ultimate guide EDC knife Steel. The following explanation will help you make an informed decision about whether you are looking for a robust, outdoor-ready bowie knife or a budget folder to get through your day.
It is vital that you know the importance of knife steel when purchasing an EDC blade. No system can tell you the quality of steel by simply looking at its name. Steel manufacturers name the material based on their internal systems.
There are still factors that you can look out for to get a better idea of the knife's quality. One of these metrics can be referred to as a standard, meaning it is associated with a specific numerical value. Others are more general to give you an idea of what you will get. Here are the most common and important:
Corrosion Resistance This is determined primarily by how much chromium is in a blade. Most commonly, this refers to how well the knife can resist environmental degradation - such as rust. The primary type of corrosion-resistant steel is stainless steel. A blade's ability to resist rusting is dependent on its content in chromium or other corrosion-resistant alloying elements. Exposure can alter this. A knife that is used in thick fog will resist moisture better than a diving knife that has been exposed to saltwater. Although a percentage of the alloying elements may be listed, environmental factors prevent this metric from having an exact numerical value.
Durability This refers to both the overall durability and resistance against damage. It also determines a blade’s toughness and abrasion or adhesion resistance. The blade’s ability to bend without breaking can be described as toughness. Abrasion resistance describes how much friction a blade can tolerate without losing mass. Adhesion resistance measures how well a blade resists adhering to other materials.
Edge retention: This is a simple concept that describes how well a blade can maintain a cutting edge. Though, many factors can affect the blade’s edge retention value. A softer blade might not hold an edge for long or well but can be easily sharpened to a razor edge. Blades that retain an edge for longer periods of time can be more difficult to sharpen and can also be less resistant to chipping (which can prove harder to fix).
Hardness This is the only metric that can be used to measure knife blades. It has a numerical value. Hardness refers to how resistant a steel is against indentation. This is determined by placing steel in a pneumatic machine that indents it. The depth of the indentation can then be measured. This depth is then given a number that holds a spot on the Rockwell scale (also known as HRC). Harder blade steel has a higher overall strength. High hardness steels are more susceptible to cracking or breaking under excessive pressure.
Empower Your Blade
Iron is the basic metal that makes steel. Iron is the primary element, and it is one of two essential elements for the creation of steel. Carbon is the other. This unique combination creates a substance that is more than the sum of its parts. It has been an integral part of human civilization ever since it was first created in China around the first century. Steel is technically an alloy. It can be made from any combination of at least two elements. An “alloying element” is an element that can be added or removed from steel. But iron and carbon are only two of the elements that can be added to the substance. An “alloying element” is an element that can be added or removed from steel.
Secondary elements are added to steel during the production process to give it certain characteristics. While adding an element to metal might make it stronger or easier to sharpen, this is almost always at the expense of the other elements. It is difficult to determine which steels are best because of this trade-off. We can, however, share the following list of alloying elements with information about their effects on knife steels.
This element is essential in the production of stainless steel and is responsible for its corrosion resistance. A blade must contain at least 10.5% chromium in order to be considered stainless. However, it is more common to have around 14%.
Cobalt can be used to improve the strength of a blade. It is commonly found in high-end stainless steel.
Copper is the most well-known material for its use in construction pennies and piping. It has high anti-corrosive and increased durability.
The brittleness of blades can be increased by using this transition metal, but it also provides a significant increase in hardness.
This brittle metal, which is quite rare, increases overall hardness but decreases durability.
Nickel, like copper, can improve overall durability and resistance to corrosion.
This transition metal is used most often to increase strength or toughness.
It is non-metal and is well-known for its toxicity. However, this element can be imbued in blades to increase strength but also cause brittleness.
This metal is used to create computer chips and adds strength to other steels.
Sulfur, a non-combustible metal, has been used to simplify the process of machining steel, but it also reduces its toughness.
It is used extensively in military applications. This makes tungsten very durable and resistant to scratching.
Vanadium is one of the most sought-after and expensive alloying elements. It increases hardness and durability.