Knife-Steel Question

With all the talk on the other thread about knives for carrying on your PFD, I found myself with a renwed interest in trying to find a general-purpose knife made from good old high-carbon steel. I looked at the Buck website, and their huge selection dwindles to a paltry few if you don’t like stainless steel. Go ahead and flame me, but wait until you’ve actually owned a good carbon steel blade for a few years (and know how to sharpen it) before rushing to judgement. Carbon steel is a whole different animal from stainless, much slower to sharpen, but capable of maintaining a finer edge than stainless and holding that edge much longer. I grew up with carbon steel, then accidentally bought a couple of ‘very good’ stainless knives along the way and was sorely dissappointed. I’ll never buy another stainless steel knife.

With that explanation out of the way, and since Buck clearly can’t offer me anything in carbon steel (not interested in the few Buck models that have it), who else should I check out?

I’d look at Benchmade.

Carbon steel knives…
Eric, Grohmann Knives has some carbon steel knives. You didn’t say what style you are looking for, so I don’t know if they have any you would be interested in. I don’t own one. I have seen that Cliff Jacobson recommends them.


High Carbon Stainless = 420HC …

– Last Updated: Nov-17-08 11:30 PM EST –

...... Buck's standard, has Rc of 58

see blade steels ...

you want super high bearing grade, check out BG-42, has Rc of 61-62 . Simular is 154-CM , another exremely hard custom steel .

how about S30V , the best blade steel there is ...

Go to the Cabelas website, they have
more information on knifes than you will ever want to know.

If buck says it’s the best steel…
…there is, why won’t offer it as an option? They offer ONE hunting knife of a style I don’t care for that uses that material, and NO general-purpose knives. And here I thought their high-carbon steel selection was poor.

Go to one of the knife vendor websites and check out the offerings. There are a lot of options available. Some of the vendors I have dealt with and would recommend are:

You could also check out the knife maker’s for sale section on and the Bark River subforum on

I presume you know the difference between the different carbon steels. If you need to refresh your memory, the A.G. Russell website has a chart that shows quite a few of them.

Buck has several S30V knives …

– Last Updated: Nov-18-08 12:05 AM EST –

..... quite a few 154CM grade blades also .

420HC holds it's edge extremely well , not as well as the say 154CM but you have to keep both maintained to a razor anyway or what's it matter what type steel you have .

If you don't hone regular under frequent use , might as well just get any junk steel cause the outcome will be the same sooner or later .

Sorry Buck hasn't got what you like . Are you sure you checked all their offerings out ??

Buck is Buck for a reason , not just the name ya know ..

yeah, I went to their website and…
… did the advanced search according to blade material.


– Last Updated: Nov-18-08 12:14 AM EST –

I'm not that knowlegable about different carbon steels. I only know that the carbon steel knives I grew up with are much harder than any of the stainless steel blades I've used so far. I'll check that stuff out. Also, every knife site I've looked at says stainless, even so-called high-carbon stainless, is not as hard as high-carbon.

Thanks Pat.
Those look good so far. Furthermore, they actually offer you a choice in blade material for each of the knives I’ve looked at so far.

420 is horrible, horrible stuff
420 is a steel they use for low end knives, it’s garbage.

And Buck is the Confluence of the knife world. Mass produced crap.

The only Stainless I’d even consider carrying is CPM S30V.

I have a 30 year old Opinel. Simply the best knife I have ever owned for taking and holding an edge.

Not necesarily
The cheap stainess steal used in some knives is really junk,BUT good expensive stainless (like ATS-34)is great,but real expensive.Even cheap (1095) carbon steel knives are good and more expensive properly heat treated ones are also great(and not nearly as expensive as good stainless).Heat treat also can be a big factor. The best steeled cheap knives I have found are Mora Knives of Sweeden.A stainless one is what I carry on my PFD. It cost 10$ with an indestructable plastic sheath.My opinion is that you can get a better edge holding knife in carbon steel for less money,IF rust resistance isn’t a factor.


Love high carbon steel. Got some Opinel paring knives that are great. Cheap too. I think a lot of folks go stainless because it’s “stainless”. My high carbon steel knives can look a little rough, but that doesn’t bother me.

Re: Grohmann knives
I have one of the design that CJ liked. Sweet little knife, well balanced, takes a good edge easily. Is on my belt for most open canoeing trips.

The only downside of teh carbon steel is that you must be somewhat anal in protecting it from corrosion. Even the moisture absorbed by a well-oiled sheath seems to discolor it, and I had rust spots appear after it was left for a week in a waterproof container with a source of moisture. Nothing that wet-sanding cannot cure though. I am just no sufficiently anal about knives.


Woodcarving knives
Woodcarvers demand high carbon steel knives that hold extremely sharp edges for a long time, so almost all good wood carving knives are made of carbon steel. However very few of these knives have blades longer than 2", but there are some. Google on woodcarving knives to see if there is something out there that catches your eye. Start with Denny knives. I know that Denny knives have larger 2.25" and a 3" straight bladed knives and that there are a couple carbon steel folding pocket knives offered by various woodcarver supply companies. Just a thought.

D2 Tool Steel

– Last Updated: Nov-18-08 9:06 AM EST –

Research the use of D2 in Knives......

Carbon Steel
Two steel that I have (not stainless) is D2 and M2 by Benchmade. M2 was the one that I got when I just started looking in to that. Both are such a great steel. M2 no longer in production by them but D2 is.

this one looks good to me,1401Y_Boker-Slim-Hunter-Knife-8-Damascus-Steel.html

I’m tempted, even though I don’t need another knife.

you might want to do a little browsing on