Your EDC knife will only be as good as its steel. Good steel knives will last a lifetime and be razor sharp. Low-carbon knives made from dubious edge-holding metal are not reliable and can even be dangerous. They can quickly dull, chipping or breaking down when you need them the most. There are many high-quality blades steels available, each with its own advantages for EDC. This guide will help you to identify the key features of knife steels before purchasing your next blade.
What you should look for in a good everyday carry blade steel?
Durability and hardness: A knife should be strong enough to withstand any abuse. However, you shouldn’t make steel too hard to cause it to crack and chip over time. The best combination of both these qualities is preferred. Hardness can be measured in Rockwell (HRC), units. Higher values are generally better than lower ones. The best knife steels use high-quality edge geometry and powder metallurgy to achieve the best performance.
The maximum sharpness of a blade’s edge is determined by its hardness. You can sharpen knives with more hardened steels for a more precise edge. However, this comes at a price. Sharpening blades made of the most difficult steels requires more work and sometimes special equipment.
Toughness refers to the blade’s ability resist abuse and hard use. Accidents and emergencies can happen, and the blade must be able to withstand everyday scratches and nicks.
Sharpness and edge retention are important. It is also a good idea to have a blade that is simple to sharpen and maintain. A knife with better edge retention will keep it sharp, even after prolonged use. The hardness of a blade steel also influences how sharp it can cut. The amount of carbon in the steel determines how sharp it can get. You can also have other elements that can affect the durability of a blade’s edge.
Corrosion resistance is what determines whether your knife has stainless steel or not. For non-stainless knives to rust free, you will need oil and regular maintenance. Although stainless steel knives are more forgiving than non-stainless steel knives, they can still rust if left untreated. This is due to the high content of elements like vanadium and chromium in the steel alloy. Knives with low carbon counts have high corrosion resistance but are less susceptible to deformation or blunting.
Easy to sharpen: Knives eventually become dull. The only way to restore their shape is to sharpen them. You will be able to see that not all blades require the same amount of effort to maintain a sharp edge. Premium steel can be more difficult to sharpen than standard steel. This is because it requires more effort and specialized tools. However, blade shape is also important. It takes practice to sharpen a blade with an angled edge. Additional difficulty can be caused by serrations.
Manufacturers of knives have developed a complete list of names for each type of blade steel. You can usually find out the specific cutlery alloy used to make a knife. This allows you to judge its quality. Avoid knives with low-quality blades. If you are looking to purchase a knife, be aware of any low-carbon steel that is not known.
Main types of steel
Because it determines the maximum hardness, carbon is the main element in a steel’s structure. Pure carbon steels have a high concentration of carbon. This results in a blade that is extremely sharp and high-performance. These carbon steels can rust easily if left to dry, especially in saltwater regions. They can stain or tarnish if they are exposed to acidic fruits and vegetables.
Special alloys are used to make tool steels. Tool steel knives are the most durable on the market when used to make blades. They aren’t as single-minded than pure carbon steel blades but they are still as corrosion-resistant as stainless. However, they are heat treated to provide excellent edge-holding capabilities. They are also relatively affordable compared to the super steels listed on this list, making them an excellent starting point for EDC beginners.
The most widely-used knives are stainless steel blades. There are many types of high-quality stainless metal, each with its own unique properties. There are a variety of high-quality stainless steels, from budget cutlery to premium powdered steels. A knife that claims to be “stainless steel”, but does not specify the type, is a red flag. This is a warning sign for unsuitable, cheaply made pocket knives.