Thirty plus years ago I had a B&M sporting goods store. Hunting and fishing were the main lines and pocket, hunting and fishing knives were also a part of the inventory. The fishing fillet knives were almost exclusively limited to the tried and true Rapala line. Hunters and pocket knives were primarily a mix of #1 Buck, #2 Schrade #3 Case.
My personal carry choice was a Buck 110 that was used for everything including opening mail, boxes, dressing game including fish and deer. Whatever needed cutting, this is the knife that did it. It was an all around EDC knife that saw a ton of use over the years.
I checked the tang stamp this morning and it was built sometime between 1974-1980. As I recall, I picked it up around ’78.
As a side note, today, this knife probably would have been returned as ‘defective’ by some. The blade isn’t perfectly centered and you can actually move it between the liners when it’s closed. Lock up is solid but the blade is slightly off center with the spring. But ya know, I didn’t know any different at the time and it’s worked out just fine.
This was the first knife I had that I really started to understand the difference in blade steels. There were blades much easier to sharpen but the Bos heat treated 420HC was one tough steel. It took an edge and held it.
The 110 wasn’t the cheapest option in a folding hunter at the time but if someone started using the 110, they usually appreciated the steel and didn’t complain about the cost. The biggest problem I encountered was if you didn’t have some sharpening skills, it could be a bear to maintain the edge. This was in the days when the Crock Sticks were all the rage. Stay on top of things and you were fine, but let it get dull and you had a project on your hands that went beyond a touch up with Crock Sticks.
Over the next 20+ years I rotated through a variety of smaller Buck folders until I started carrying the GEC line. I’d used 1095 steel before and had an appreciation how easy it was to put an edge on the GEC’s even if you had to touch it up more frequently then my old 110. The GEC’s were a constant companion until I started carrying a Queen with a D2 blade. The D2 made me sit up and start paying attention to blade steels. That stuff is tough!
The D2 started my flirtation with the Fallknivens and their laminated, cobalt and powdered steels. I broke out of that $65 price limit and found out there was a whole ‘nother world of knives out there. A friend introduced me to the 154 series of steels. My knife carrying habits would never be the same.
When I originally started working out the details of what I wanted to do with the Trestle Pine Knives, my concern was that I’d be limited to the standard 1095, 440C and maybe a D2 blade. The Old Growth Wood was a central part of the equation, but I wanted something…more. After numerous conversations with Ken Daniels, I was thrilled to find out there were all kinds of blade options I previously, hadn’t even hoped for (both profile and steel type). When I found out the 154 series of steels were possible it was a go. No looking back, absolutely no regrets.
In the last few years I’ve become more interested in the high tech powdered steels and the 154 series caught my attention. There are newer steels that have been developed, but the 154’s are just incredibly good, reasonably priced blade steels. High stain resistance, good chip resistance, takes a fine edge and holds it AND relatively easy to sharpen or reprofile. I’ll guarantee that if you don’t let the 154’s get dull, it’ doesn’t take much maintenance to keep them sharp. I’m not saying it’s as easy to work as 1095 but it will hold a fine edge waaaay longer.
There are a number of really good articles on line about the powdered steel process and the 154 steels in particular. Spyderco has probably one of the best reference libraries regarding different all kinds of blade steels and it’s easy to understand: Spyderco Edge U Cation
The Trestle Pine Superior, Portage and Grand Portage carried either 154CM or CPM 154 blades. My personal experience with the blades has been excellent and the face to face feedback I’ve had is the same. It would have been less expensive to go with 1095, but the price differential is well worth it in my estimation which leads me to the blade choice on the upcoming Trestle Pine “Topper“.
As I said in an earlier post, the Topper will be based on the Gunstock pattern with a traditional Clip and Screwdriver/Cap lifter blades. I opted to go with an S30V Clip blade in the Topper. S30V steel is heralded as one of the best blade steels offered developed by Crucible Industries and Chris Reeves. It contains higher amounts of Carbon and Vanadium which means while you still retain good stain resistance, you realize increased resistance to wear and abrasion resistance (better edge retention). The more I read about the steel the more excited I get about actually getting a Topper in my hands. I’ve not used a smaller pocket knife with S30V but it sure seems to make sense to me.
I’m anxious to see what the response is the the Topper not only because of the blade steel, but the screwdriver is something I don’t think has ever been put in a Gunstock frame. What’s the point of just building another Gunstock and expecting it to be something unique? There are just so many really great knife patterns out there that can be expanded upon.
I had to laugh when the first of the Superiors came through with the high standing Wharncliffe sitting in the Copperhead frame. Someone was bemoaning the fact it didn’t look like a ‘traditional’ Copperhead. Mission accomplished. None of the Trestle Pines are meant to strictly follow the rules of a traditional folder. I like to think of them as “Neo-Traditional” folders.
Thanks Al, couldn’t have said it better myself!!!