Why so many makers use AUS-8 instead of 440C?


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doublebarrel
April 8, 2006, 02:41 AM
From what I read, 440C is the best value right now, for hardness, toughness, and antirust capability, on a per dollar basis. It should be used by all those value-oriented makers widely as I expected. AUS-8, on the other hand, is equivalent to 440B on the hardness. For blade steel, hardness seems to be the most important criterion. The knife would hold the edge better, at some expense of brittleness. So why would people like CRKT, Cold Steel, SOG, etc., got so many folders made with AUS-8, but none(I couldn't find one) using 440C?...

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Valkman
April 8, 2006, 03:44 AM
It's probably cheaper. I've had the same issues with Case knives as their ATS-34 Seahorse is expensive but I buy ATS-34 pretty cheap. I'm told they have to buy it in big chunks or bars or something and they actually shear pieces off. I don't know man, 440C and ATS-34 are fine steels and great deals for the money and I have both in the shop. :)

Rupestris
April 8, 2006, 08:24 AM
Looks like you'll be getting a Benchmade, huh? :p

owenbright
April 8, 2006, 09:12 AM
It's cheaper and I don't think the market they're aiming at would
"care" too much if they used AUS 8 over 440C... even AUS 6 or lower.

AJ Dual
April 10, 2006, 12:54 PM
I have a simpler explanation.

People who aren't knife knutz or metalurgists, (the target consumer for many of these knives) have probably heard of "440" steel, and "know" it's a "common steel". Or perhaps they've seen the "440" stamped on the tangs of junk mass-market cutlery. They don't understand the "C" designation means it's a pretty darn good steel, and a very different animal than "plain 440".

AUS-8 sounds exotic, even if it's actualy a cheaper steel than 440C.

Boats
April 10, 2006, 02:01 PM
BINGO!

Most knife buyers in the ~$50.00 and below mass market won't even know what their knife blade's steel alloy is, and care only that it is stainless and the knife looks cool and does what they want at their price point.

440C or AUS-8? In my world, that is a who cares dilemma because I am going to buy something better anyways. Those steels are generally too common and "too stainless" to draw or hold my interest unless the blade design itself merits the attention.

For around or below $50.00--

Spyderco makes the Atlantic and Pacific Salt out of H-1 Steel, which no one seems to be able to get to rust, a claim that 440C or AUS-8 could never make. H-1 still holds a decent edge, is relatively easy to sharpen, and work hardens the edge up, which was an unexpected edge holding bonus.

Spyderco also makes a version of its Native in S30V that it sells through Wal-Mart for about $40.00. That is a tough combo to beat.

Now I understand that Spydercos are not everyone's cup of tea, but with some judicious shopping, one can do much better than 440C or AUS-8 and have a really good knife.

Heck, I'd buy a Buck 110 and send it away to the factory for an upgrade to BG-42 stainless before settling for a knife with a lesser stainless steel.

A base Buck 110 is about 30.00 almost anywhere if you look around. Round trip shipping and $19.00 gets you a blade upgrade to BG-42 inside of a month that will outperform just about every off-shore produced piece currently made.

It is not necessary to be a steel snob to wind up with a great knife, but it certainly helps, especially when you find you might not have to pay much, if any, more dollars for the performance benefits if you know what you are getting for your money.

doublebarrel
April 10, 2006, 10:21 PM
I have a simpler explanation.

People who aren't knife knutz or metalurgists, (the target consumer for many of these knives) have probably heard of "440" steel, and "know" it's a "common steel". Or perhaps they've seen the "440" stamped on the tangs of junk mass-market cutlery. They don't understand the "C" designation means it's a pretty darn good steel, and a very different animal than "plain 440".

AUS-8 sounds exotic, even if it's actualy a cheaper steel than 440C.

Hmm..., maybe. But I thought bargain hunters, like me, are all looking for most bang for the buck kinda things. Couple days ago I didn't know anything about knives, only heard of Buck brand. Now I've learned S30V, BG-42, ATS-34/154CM, and VG-10 are good, premium steels, so whoever sellings knives with these steels for cheap(like Boats mentioning the Spyderco Native) is an eye-opener for me...

I went to Spyderco's site, and found that they sell an AUS-10 version(the Native Stainless Steel model), which is equivalent to 440C I think, for more money than the other S30V models. No clue how their pricing structure was set up...

Rupestris
April 10, 2006, 10:55 PM
Heck, I'd buy a Buck 110 and send it away to the factory for an upgrade to BG-42 stainless before settling for a knife with a lesser stainless steel.

I'm obviously not a steel snob but theres more to an EDC than the steel. A Buck 110 is a dang nice knife but there are other features that make a folder appealing.

While 440C is my bottom line I have no problem with it or AUS-8 (Spydey DragonFly).

unless the blade design itself merits the attention.


Thats all I'm getting at. I've yet to find a EDC as user friendly as the Mini Griptilian and will have one in D2 one day. For now the 440C is performing very well. Rust has never been an issue and it gets put in the pocket wet often.

Headless Thompson Gunner
April 10, 2006, 11:19 PM
I've never seen any practical difference between a knife made of AUS-8 and one made of 440C. Both are good good enough (generally), and neither is spectacular. If AUS-8 isn't good enough for some particular task, then 440C won't be good enough for that task either. You need to step up to something like VG-10 or S30V to see an improvement.
For blade steel, hardness seems to be the most important criterion.Not true. Blade shape and heat-treatment are both far more important than the final hardness of the steel. It's also somewhat common for manufacturers to make a blade too hard, which makes the edges prone to chipping and the tips prone to snapping off. Better to have a softer blade, properly made, using a mediocre steel.

Flashpoint
April 12, 2006, 10:34 AM
Spyderco also makes a version of its Native in S30V that it sells through Wal-Mart for about $40.00. That is a tough combo to beat.


Are you sure about that? I thought I read on one of the knife forums that they were using a cheaper steel for the Wal-Mart Natives.

Hmm..., maybe. But I thought bargain hunters, like me, are all looking for most bang for the buck kinda things.

doublebarrel
You sound like me. I'm alway looking for the sleeper product. They one very few people know about, that is made very well, and doesn't require you to pay for the name.

I would suggest you check out the Browning Ice Storm. CDNN sell them for $40 and they use VG10 steel. The one I got was wicked sharp, and a couple of drops of Pro-lube and it opened as fast as my assisted opening knife.

http://cdnninvestments.com/bricestlilok5.html

Gordon
April 12, 2006, 10:46 AM
I only own Swiss Victornox made of anything except 0-1,0-2, or D-2. Even DIVE knives! Rust has never been a problem with Martensite steels, wax or oil them! These knifes have teeth and are easy to sharpen and hold their edge!:)

Joe Talmadge
April 18, 2006, 05:03 PM
Another very important reason for the use of one steel or the other -- probably more important than any performance disparity between the two steels -- is that a knife manufactured in (say) Japan has a big economic advantage in using Japanese-made 8A versus American-made 440C.

doublebarrel
April 18, 2006, 06:40 PM
Another very important reason for the use of one steel or the other -- probably more important than any performance disparity between the two steels -- is that a knife manufactured in (say) Japan has a big economic advantage in using Japanese-made 8A versus American-made 440C.

I'm honored to have Joe Talmadge reply to my thread. I learned most of my knife knowledge from your articles, in the last couple of months. Steel FAQ, Blade Geometry FAQ, Sharpening FAQ, I got a copy of each saved on my hard drive. The only thing is, I got them from three different places. Sharping FAQ from the sticky post here; Steel FAQ from Blade forum; and Blade Geometry FAQ from A.G. Russell. I wish there were a central repository where I can find all the latest version of these basic learning stuff. Thanks for the reply, and for the free lessons...:)

Joe Talmadge
April 19, 2006, 11:26 PM
Glad you found them useful!

MKultra
July 16, 2009, 02:53 AM
440 makes a good dive knife because its hard, but its a bad land knife because it's too hard and is difficult to sharpen

JohnKSa
July 16, 2009, 03:25 AM
Sorry to digress...I would suggest you check out the Browning Ice Storm. CDNN sell them for $40 and they use VG10 steel. The one I got was wicked sharp, and a couple of drops of Pro-lube and it opened as fast as my assisted opening knife.I got one too, just to check it out. No complaints about the blade, but the lock on mine can be easily overcome. I've never had a locking blade knife that would unintentionally unlock anywhere near as easily as this one.

I was concerned because the liner lock was just barely engaging the blade so I turned it over, held it so my fingers were clear of the blade and tapped the back edge against the workbench. It unlocked. Thought that might be related to the vibration from being struck, but I found was able to unlock it by applying steady pressure to the back of the blade.

Could be that mine's defective but in case it's not, be careful and keep your fingers out of the way of the blade if you're doing anything that could cause it to fold up. It's still a nice knife if you pretend it's just a regular folder without a lock.

The only other gripe I had with the knife is that a strongly sprung pocket clip combined with a non-skid knife handle means that the clip is pretty hard to use and that if you do use it, it tears up your pocket in a hurry.

Valkman
July 16, 2009, 03:34 AM
440 makes a good dive knife because its hard, but its a bad land knife because it's too hard and is difficult to sharpen

Hardness depends on the heat treatment it gets. They can make a "softer" blade.

bikerdoc
July 16, 2009, 06:19 AM
The steel, the geometry, and the heat treament of any knife lead to discusions I find fascinating.
I to have studied all Joe's work, good stuff, and thank you

Carl Levitian
July 16, 2009, 08:44 AM
Actually, when you get right down to it, most people won't know the difference. In fact, most people, who are not knife knuts and obsess over their cult worship item, don't care. All the averige Joe wants to do is cut something. He does not care if it's 440a, 440b, 440c, or AUS-8. This is why companies like Schrade, Camillis, and now maybe Case, went out of business. Most people buy a knife on price, not quality and steel. Companies know this and use lower price steel to make a proffit and stay in business. Most people see a knife like a screwdriver, or can opener. They may need one, but its a disposable tool to them. Most people will not spend over a few dollars on a knife.

Look at the millions of knives used world wide by working people. Most of the time its plain old carbon steel. Sometimes its Chinese stainless. People on knife forums are the only ones to really care what the knife is made out of. The guys I worked with had cheap lockblades from 'other' countries, and used them hard, to the point of abuse. If it broke, they went out that night and bought another 4.99 special. When it got dull, they put a saw toothed working edge on it with a mill file or rough cororundum stone. In one case, I saw a guy go over to a cement curb and strop it. It cut open the bag of mulch just fine. I saw a guy in Spain butchering a goat, and his knife was a little dull. He went over to the stone steps of a cafe, and sharpened his nife in a few minutes and finished butchering the goat while smiling and muttering in Spanish, Ah, that's better."

Any of the modern steels are better than what our grandfathers had to work with. Just some are a bit better, and have different qualities. Some will have better edge holding, but some will be harder to sharpen. Some of the chealer steels that knife steel snobs look down thier nose at will take abuse that will will chip or even break a "better" knife.

It's all in what you want.

hso
July 16, 2009, 09:52 AM
This is why companies like Schrade, Camillis, and now maybe Case, went out of business. Most people buy a knife on price, not quality and steel.

Bingo!

The facts are that a company that wants to offer high quality products must also offer mass market bottom price products as well. You can't survive any more just making knives that perform beyond 80% of what your customers will put them through. Without a nearly disposable product line to go along with your top product line you can't survive.

As to the resurrected thread question, AUS steels are Asian products that are cheaper in Asian markets. That means that knives manufactured in Japan or Taiwan use what is most readily available at the best price for the performance they want. That means AUS-6 and AUS-8. In China it is the 9Cr13CoMoV produced there.

Madcap_Magician
July 16, 2009, 10:30 AM
AUS-8 is more like 440B. The Japanese equivalent of 440C is AUS-10.

The Highlander
July 16, 2009, 03:42 PM
I've been carrying an 8Cr13MoV steel blade for a couple months now and it has been able to take a real fine edge. I'm pretty sure it slots in around AUS-6/8, but is Chinese rather than Japanese.

KenWP
July 16, 2009, 10:21 PM
I personally hate SS on a lot of knives. I rather have carbon and look after it then SS and try and sharpen it. CourseIi am alwasy in a hurry to sharpen a knife it seems. I have one knife that looks good and all that good stuff but you need a angle grinder to sharpen it. Course its made in China.

TimboKhan
July 16, 2009, 11:08 PM
Spyderco also makes a version of its Native in S30V that it sells through Wal-Mart for about $40.00. That is a tough combo to beat.

I don't carry my Native as much as I thought I would on account of carrying a different Spyderco and Benchmade, but it is a darn fine knife and I think one of the best values going.

Actually, when you get right down to it, most people won't know the difference. In fact, most people, who are not knife knuts and obsess over their cult worship item, don't care. All the averige Joe wants to do is cut something. He does not care if it's 440a, 440b, 440c, or AUS-8. This is why companies like Schrade, Camillis, and now maybe Case, went out of business. Most people buy a knife on price, not quality and steel. Companies know this and use lower price steel to make a proffit and stay in business. Most people see a knife like a screwdriver, or can opener. They may need one, but its a disposable tool to them. Most people will not spend over a few dollars on a knife.

I agree with this. I have developed into something of a knife knut, and for the most part my buddies don't understand my willingness to buy a $100.00 knife. I really don't know the different steels that well, but a knife to me is more than just a implement, although it is that as well. At the same time, I appreciate the cheaper product lines. I am doing better now than I ever have in my life financially, but even just a year ago it was a major sacrifice to plop down money for a good, quality knife. In fact, I had to save to get the $40.00 for the Native. I am glad I did, because I enjoy a well-made product (and, for that matter, a Colorado made product). I personally would rather put my trust in a knife like that, but I know enough about knives to desire that extra quality. Believe me, when I first was in the USMC, I went through a passle of crappy knives before I discovered Spyderco. It was more money, but in the long run it was a much better deal and it taught me to look for quality AND value.

I would also add that for a long time, "good knife" simply meant "Buck Knife", and steel be damned. If you build a good product at a fair price, people will buy it. It's brand recognition, dudes.

Hans Esker
September 2, 2009, 11:06 AM
Also keep in mind that AUS 8 is easier on tooling and grinder wheels than 440C.

ArfinGreebly
September 2, 2009, 01:41 PM
I have one knife that uses both 440C and AUS-8, Benchmade's Steigerwalt 12700 - NRA Outdoors.

It seems to me that if there were no practical difference, they wouldn't use one steel for the main blade and a different steel for the others.

HoosierQ
September 2, 2009, 05:07 PM
So what are the Mora Trifelx blades made of? And the laminated no 1? I am under the impression the Mora is using good steel (Mora brand, Frosts, etc).

ArfinGreebly
September 2, 2009, 05:23 PM
I've never seen a breakdown of the Triflex steel makeup.

My understanding is that Triflex is a layered and differentially heat-treated carbon steel.

I have some "Laminated" Mora knives, but the steel has always seemed like stainless to me.

Kind of on a par with "Sandvik" steel, I would guess.

I've never had any issue with the Scandinavian steels. Everything I have in those steels gets sharp, holds an edge, resharpens easily.

Still, I don't know the formulation and don't have an intelligent guess.

HoosierQ
September 3, 2009, 09:10 AM
Thanks A.G.

I am completely ignorant of steel and hope to learn. I am on a Mora kick right now and they seem to take a much better edge than many of my Gerbers or other knives for that matter. I don't own any expensive knives like Randalls or anything like that.

I have the big LMF and a number of Gerber items...my pervious "brand" kick. I assume that the Chinese Gerbers are those that do not say Portland OR on them? Or is there another way to tell?

Carl Levitian
September 3, 2009, 10:04 AM
"I am completely ignorant of steel and hope to learn. I am on a Mora kick right now and they seem to take a much better edge than many of my Gerbers or other knives for that matter. I don't own any expensive knives like Randalls or anything like that.

I have the big LMF and a number of Gerber items...my pervious "brand" kick. I assume that the Chinese Gerbers are those that do not say Portland OR on them? Or is there another way to tell? "



Many years ago, I was on the custom knife kick. I was a knife snob. I had two Randallls, a model 14, and a model 15. They were two of the most over rated knives I ever had. When I finally got over the knife thing and sold off the high end stuff, I took to using a number 1 laminated Mora. Best darn sheath knife I ever had. I sold off my Randalls, Hedrickson's, Ralph Bone's, Ruanna's, Fowler's, Bagwell's, and all the rest of the high end customs. For 20 years now I've used a Frost's Mora number 1 and a 12 inch Ontario machete as my heavy duty outdoor knives, and they have done everything my edc pocket knife wasn't up to. I know the Ontario is simple 1095 carbon steel. The Mora is soft carbon steel sandwiching a harder tempered carbon steel. I've used the living heck out of it, and it's great.

I used a Gerber LST for close to 20 years in a machine shop as my edc at work. I finally wore it out. Some months ago I bought another one, and it's still marked Portland Or. on the tang. So far it's proven to be just as tough and reliable as my original LST. The Gator series is still marked Portland Or. from what I can see in stores. I have a Gator clip point, and it's a good knife. I just don't carry it a lot because of the size. But it does go fishing, and camping, and used for camp chores and cleaning fish and small game. It holds a very nice edge for a good reasonable amount of time. Most of all, it sharpens up fairly easy with the cut down Eze-lap model L I keep in my wallet. It's easily as good a blade that was on my Randall that I used for much the same work. Did I mention I really love my LST? I use the LST and the Gator as my dirty deeds knife. Something I'm not afraid to get grungy and clean it by swishing it around in the creek. Or lake, or ocean. Since I live in Chesapeake bay country, and do spend time on the water in a variety of boats, I do like a stainless steel in my edc pocket knife.

I think people make too much noise over steel. I've used knives costing hundreds of dollars, (1970's and 80's dollars) and knives costing 10 dollars like Mora's and Victorinox bantam model SAKs. To be honest, I like the lower end knives better. Sooner or later your going to have to sharpen that knife. Think about it. I know I'd rather have a knife that when I finish field dressing that buck I have to take a few minutes, and touch up my knife on the little diamond hone in my wallet vs a knife that will do 5 deer, but is a b---h to sharpen. I like that in just a few minutes, I can have my pocket knife razor sharp again. I had a D2 Queen sodbuster, and it was a bear to sharpen when it did finally go dull. I gave it away. Just got tired of messing with it. I have done an entire deer with my LST, and it was still pretty good at the end. It touched right up in a couple of minutes when I was done.

The obsessive knife nut is too far out there. Just remember one thing; once upon a time, mountain men blazed a trail through the howling wilderness with Russell's Green river knives that were basically a large carbon steel kitchen butcher knife. I doubt they were as good as what is being produced today in large factories with computer controlled tempering ovens and other high tech manufacturing that was not available back then. Not to mention that even the common steels like 440B and AUS8, are probably better than many people had in the 1800's, when a knife really was used for keeping you alive.

Knife nuts don't really NEED the highest end super steel. Most of the time they are opening mail at the office, slicing open a plastic blister pack that defies tooth and nail, or maybe slicing an apple. Few people are skinning a buffalo, fighting hostile 'injuns, engaging in clandestine Jack Bauer operations. They just want the super steels. Like an automobile enthusiast really does not NEED that Porsche for commuting to the office. He has the Porsche because he likes and wants the Porsche. In the real light of day, a Toyota Corolla would get him to the office just as good, if not maybe even better in the long run. It just would not have the prestige and where-with-all.

Heck, man got by very well for a very long time with flaked obsidian and later, bronze. Steel, even middle of the road stuff, is gravy on the potatoes. :D

Black Toe Knives
September 3, 2009, 12:53 PM
Knives are about passion. So forget trying to figuring it out. Now about steels. The difference in knives has less to do with the cost and material. It has everything to do with the bladesmith or knifemaker. Randall Knives has used 440C for years, with great Success. While Rat Cutlery make a incredible knife out of 1095. I would any day trust my life to either knife.

auschip
September 3, 2009, 02:31 PM
I have 4 of the Spyderco mules. All of them in different steels, and you can tell a difference in how they cut, sharpen, and hold an edge.

My current preference is:

M4
ZDP189
52100
S90V

JVoutilainen
September 3, 2009, 04:31 PM
This is a guess, but might it be that AUS-8 having a lower carbon content is more forgiving a material, and thus, less expensive to use in production?

I have no personal experience with stainless materials, but in carbon steels higher carbon content usually means the material is more sensitive about the way it is being handled. For example, 0.8% carbon steel is good material for a beginner because it is not that sensitive to being over heated, or being beaten when it is cold. On the other hand carbon steels with carbon content of 1%+ often develop fractures if they are being molded in wrong temperatures.

Carl Levitian

You said:
I doubt they were as good as what is being produced today in large factories with computer controlled tempering ovens and other high tech manufacturing that was not available back then. Not to mention that even the common steels like 440B and AUS8, are probably better than many people had in the 1800's, when a knife really was used for keeping you alive.

This is actually not correct. I have no doubt modern technology could potentially produce absolutely stunning stuff, but too often they have to make compromises to lower the production time/cost.

Take it from a person who uses various cutting implements every day professionally - the old ones are typically much much better. That is why most carpenters are always rummaging through flea markets and such, to find old Sheffield blades, for example.

Also, keep in mind that when a blade smith beats the blade into the required form, he also changes the structure of the steel in a beneficial way. This is something you do not usually get on a blade that is mass produced. They have been cut into a basic shape and forged with a single blow.

Furthermore, when I order a "custom" blade, of any type, I specify what kind of properties I want, and that includes heat treatment. If I do not get what I want, I ask the blade smith to correct the situation.

a1bigtuna
April 9, 2010, 01:52 AM
I have just seen this part of forum for the first time (meaning knives) while trying to find a folder knife. Have been on a few other forums, never thought that there would be a knife forum area, even though now it makes sense. I just bought two different folders, and will ask what is thought about them even though I am going to catch hell and a lot of laughs on what I just did buy, but still want to know what you in the know can tell me about what I did right (if anything) and what is wrong (after reading a bit of this forum will be volumes for me), but still want to know what the real deal is. And thanks in advance for any information, laughing, busting me, or just general advice on what I have done. One thing, I wanted a pocket clip knife that would work in the LA county and a tanto knife for camping that might be longer than the LA laws allow. One that I bought is Kershaw Knife Storm 1470ST Ken Onion 1470 ST and the other is Winchester 22-41437 Ranger Enclose Tanto Knife, Serrated Edge. I am not thinking to use either one as a duty knife, just a handy item. Thanks.

Black Toe Knives
April 9, 2010, 11:11 PM
It all boils down to one thing, Money.

hso
April 10, 2010, 12:11 AM
Jim's right in that it is about the money.

But instead of "cheaper", it's all about the profit.

Cheaper doesn't always equate to more profit because sometimes the marketing of a knife using a more expensive steel makes for even more profit.

Humpherykynaston
June 23, 2011, 01:10 PM
I know this thread is old but here's the skinny. 440c is overproduced and easily obtainable. AUS-8 is indeed a softer metal but the machining cost has nothing to do with it's use. AUS-8 is produced for the end user. Being a softer metal it is excellent for people who are extra hard on knives. If you break the tip or notch the edge you can reshape the blade with nothing more than a sharpener. It is incredibly easy to return an AUS-8 edge to razor sharpness even after gross abuse. Try that with 440c and you'll understand what the term "exercise in futility" means. As far as value and "bang for buck" learn to ID metals and use a grinder. I can't tell you how many of my best knives I made on a grinder out of "scrap". As faras 440c goes I've handled a lot of metal types, I don't care for 440c so much. I once heard a very wise knifesmith say "there are no bad metals, just bad uses". 440c will indeed hold an edge longer than AUS-8, but once it's dead that's the end of your knife. Also, blade geometery counts for a lot.

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