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What are the main factors we need to check before choosing a knife steel blade?
The purpose for which the knife is used, and the environment it will be used in.

Example: 1085 High carbon steel isnt the best choice for a knife if it is used in a wet/salt water environment.
A more corrosion resistant steel would be a better choice.
 
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I suppose we all have different expectations, and our material of choice will be dependent upon the tasks we plan to perform with the knife. I think the three main qualities to look at are edge retention, toughness, and corrosion resistance. As with all things in life, you're going to have to compromise. You can't have it all.

My latest knife blade is K390. It has great edge retention, I haven't banged it up yet, but suspect the toughness is pretty good. The metal discolors pretty easily, but that's expected in a tool steel. I think it's kinda cool.

The knife I've carried most over the past year is CPM-REX45. It has good edge retention, but gets microscopic chips through regular use. It will discolor through extended use if you don't keep it clean.

If stainless is your thing, recently I've played around with CPM-SPY27. It's a really nice. It holds an edge, is fairly durable, and doesn't discolor easily. I wouldn't hesitate to go this route if corrosion resistance was a main concern.

What exactly do you want to do with your knife? Slice sushi? Skin a water buffalo? Carve love beads?

Here's a quick three page primer on knife steel properties:

Here's a list of knife steel composition:
 

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What are the main factors we need to check before choosing a knife steel blade?
I am the first to admit I'm not in the aficionado league. I have been known to have use for a blade while engaging in numerous outdoor activities though. I'll suggest that the design of the knife can be more critical than the carbon content of the blade. The shape and size of an inexpensive knife/blade may make it more practical than a high dollar less ergonomically appropriate option? They're tools and like they say "there's one fore every job". I personally prefer simple more proletarian options. Generally speaking the quality of even lower end brand name offerings is pretty good.
Then there's that dropping a $30.00 Kershaw in the Gulf of Mexico is way less of a heartbreaker than losing a $200.00 Benchmade thing too...
JMO
 

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With knives you dont always get more for your money.
I like simple carbon steels, but I'm meticulous about care and feeding.
Today's supersteels make it easier for people who tend to spend less time oiling and sharpening their blades.
The 2 folders I carry most often are on opposite ends of the spectrum:
Either a 25 year old case stockman with simple carbon blades, or a ZT350 in S30V.
 

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The question you ask has many factors, such as edge retention, durability, corrosion resistance and others. The page Rusty posted is a good steel content (recipe) site. Here are a couple of others: You will find everyone has their favorites, in my case M390 (many steel producers have a variant of this one), and as Ninja mentioned, S30V comes up quite often and the K390 Rusty mentioned is getting more recent press.

Wikipedia site that is regularly update. (List of blade materials - Wikipedia)

and Knife Steel Nerds, (Knife Steel Nerds - Metallurgy and Testing of Knives and Steel) who spends a great deal of time with Spyderco and others, testing the various steels knifemakers are using.

I'm sure there is many others sources, but I think these references, with Rusty's, should give you some good insight.
 

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What are the main factors we need to check before choosing a knife steel blade?
IMO...

Simplest way I can put it... Blade shape, grind, thickness, and heat treat relative to the cutting tasks you perform will often be more of a factor on performance.

Also, generally speaking, the super steels should stay sharper longer than the older steels, but usually take longer to sharpen... especially if you don't have good sharpening equipment or technique.

Last, as others have mentioned, if you are in salty areas, or cutting things like food, salt bags, or the blade will be seeing a lot of sweat or even humidity (especially if left outside), I would generally go for stainless. Some light oiling and controlled patina might help reduce issues on the last two if you go for a non-stainless.
 

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For me, ease of sharpening. I would say the best budget steel is the 14c28n. Great for edc folders and kitchen knives.
Toughness goes, maybe m4 steel would be a good choice.
A lot of companies use s30v. Not too hard to sharpen not too easy either. Edge retention is good, and it's stainless.
Spyderco and benchmade uses s30v a lot.
 

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For me, ease of sharpening. I would say the best budget steel is the 14c28n. Great for edc folders and kitchen knives.
Toughness goes, maybe m4 steel would be a good choice.
A lot of companies use s30v. Not too hard to sharpen not too easy either. Edge retention is good, and it's stainless.
Spyderco and benchmade uses s30v a lot.
My ZT350 is s30v and it has been great.
Excellent edge retention, and easy to sharpen.
I have put that knife through hell.
Cut everything from rolls of linoleum to sheet metal.
Still sharp enough to shave a baby.
 

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I might baby my knives too much to do that kind of work with a folder. My usual task are fruit cutting, opening packages, and breaking down cardboard. I’m too worried to risk chipping or breaking my knife if I paid over 100$ For. My wife would kill me if I told her I chipped it or broke it and I need a new one. To each is their own. I’m glad you can use your ZT and it gets the job done. That is a testament of their quality products they offer. I don’t own any ZTs but I do own a benchmade bugout, spyderco native 5 and sage 5. Love all three of em. Too much to do any hard work with it. I got a crkt m16 that I use for landscaping and gardening work. That thing is a beast. It’s a chisel grid and I got it at a 25 degree edge. Used the worksharp precision sharpener.
 

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I have a few well-made autos and assisted knives that are nice but I always carry a Benchmade Bugout. It's S30V (stainless). It's not pocket jewelry - strictly functional. It has stood up to all sorts of punishment on the sand and water. The bright blue scales didn't thrill me when I first got it but the knife performs so well I got over it. Like any good knife, it stays sharp and I don't baby it. I've had it for about six years now.

My second go-to that I call my "going to church" knife is a CRKT CEO. The blade is D2 stainless. Not built for rough duty but it's a very good quality knife for the money. It's long and thin. Being a flipper it's ready to go instantly when you need it. Mine has the satin brass handle vs. synthetic or wood scales.
 

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I have a few well-made autos and assisted knives that are nice but I always carry a Benchmade Bugout. It's S30V (stainless). It's not pocket jewelry - strictly functional. It has stood up to all sorts of punishment on the sand and water. The bright blue scales didn't thrill me when I first got it but the knife performs so well I got over it. Like any good knife, it stays sharp and I don't baby it. I've had it for about six years now.

My second go-to that I call my "going to church" knife is a CRKT CEO. The blade is D2 stainless. Not built for rough duty but it's a very good quality knife for the money. It's long and thin. Being a flipper it's ready to go instantly when you need it. Mine has the satin brass handle vs. synthetic or wood scales.
Pictures please...or they don't exist.
 

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Pictures please...or they don't exist.
OMG. Did I somehow accidentally log into Facebook? :)

I'll snap a few pics tomorrow. In the meantime, I do like this little blade. Off-brand called Kalashnikov. It's automatic. When all you are wearing is a banana hammock, this is concealable.
Wood Blade Knife Metal Fashion accessory

Wood Blade Knife Metal Fashion accessory
 

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Pictures please...or they don't exist.
Vertebrate Wood Knife Rectangle Tree


Just remembered I hadn't posted these pics. The thread motivated me to give them a bath in my ultrasonic and sharpen them, which was overdue.

I use the Lansky kit to sharpen my knives. Takes some getting used to but it works great.
 

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View attachment 131271

Just remembered I hadn't posted these pics. The thread motivated me to give them a bath in my ultrasonic and sharpen them, which was overdue.

I use the Lansky kit to sharpen my knives. Takes some getting used to but it works great.
Nice.
I was contemplating buying a D2 CEO but with the brass scales.
 

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Just remembered I hadn't posted these pics. The thread motivated me to give them a bath in my ultrasonic and sharpen them, which was overdue.

I use the Lansky kit to sharpen my knives. Takes some getting used to but it works great.
Nice looking knifes. I use a Smith to sharpen mine.
 
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