While I was rummaging around in some drawers last week I realized I had a lot of knives that don’t get used a lot. And I found a handful of knives that have truly become a few of my favorite things. After going through the ‘discards’ and the knives that have stayed in rotation over the years, it made me understand that I think I’ve become somewhat of a steel ‘snob’.
This wasn’t a sudden transition but a gradual move to better steels in patterns that I really liked and some I didn’t. In a couple of cases, the steel caught my attention before the pattern.
Starting on the left, the Bark River Northstar with A2 steel was my first exposure to something other then the more common carbon steels such as 1095. I’ve always been fond of the Loveless drop point and the A2 was truly a step up from some of my other fixed blades. Tough stuff and relatively easy to sharpen
Front and center is a Trestle Pine Buddy with 1095. I settled on this pattern/steel because of the ease of maintaining the edge around camp. Smaller then any of the others pictured, it fills the slot between a fixed blade and a folder.
The Cold Steel SRK lying behind the other knives was an Ebay purchase and the old Carbon V steel was another interesting blade that held an edge and held up well. It was one of my early hard use, all around camp knives.
The the Fallkniven A1 (extreme right) really got my attention. The laminated VG10 took an edge like a razor and held it incredibly well through some really rough usage. This was probably the first premium steel blade that really got me interested in the higher end steels. I’ve used it for everything from splitting wood to slicing tomatoes for supper all on the same day.
The Spyderco ‘Mule’ (middle center) with a 4V blade was a gift and the blade steel is incredible. I’ve never been a huge fan of the Spyderco blade profiles, but this one has grown on me reeeal fast. It takes a razor edge and I’ve never (so far) seen a steel take such a fine edge….and hold it with no chipping or rollover. It hasn’t seen near the field use of the others, but it’s cut a mountain of cardboard, wire cutting as well as doing some notching in hardwood on a couple of maintenance projects.
But these are the gems that get used on a daily basis. There are others I like, but these are the main EDC’s I prefer.
On the right is one of the Queen Copperheads with a D2 blade. Truly some tough carbon steel that will hold an edge like there’s no tomorrow. Actually, one of my favorite D2’s was a Queen 48 Whittler that I gave away.
Next to it is the Fallkniven U2 with a Laminated SGPS (powdered steel) blade. It’s light, takes a superfine edge and will cut, and cut and cut and…
To the left of the U2 is a Fallkniven Gentleman’s knife with a laminated Cobalt Steel blade. Probably the largest pocket knife I carry with any frequency, the steel performance is outstanding.
On the extreme left is a Trestle Pine Superior and center front is a Trestle Pine Portage. Both have 154CM blades. The 154 Series of steels are top notch blade steels and perform incredibly well. So many of the current production knives are stuck in the 1095 mold, it was time to break away from the pack and I’m glad I did. In fact the next Trestle Pine knife called the Grand Portage, takes it up another notch and will have a CPM154 blade.
While I still respect and like 1095 on some knives, the advantages of the ‘newer’ steels and powder steels in particular can’t be overstated. I know a lot of guys that actually use their knives are afraid of D2 due to it’s reputation of being hard to sharpen. Maybe it’s the sharpener, but I use the EdgePro and don’t find D2 all that much harder to sharpen then a good quality hardened 440C. Personally, I think the 154CM is relatively easy to sharpen considering the edge retention. Harder to sharpen then 1095? Yup. Worth the effort? Absolutely.
So I don’t know, maybe I have gotten preoccupied with blade steels but it’s been an innocent transition. My eyes tend to glaze over and my mind starts to wander listening to the wonders of blade centering and the disgrace of spun pins. But talk to me about your latest experience with CowryX or 4V and you’ve got my attention. Tell me about shredding a thousand cardboard boxes, cutting a mile of fiber tape and then using the blade to shave with…. I hear ya!!!