S30V Steel opinions


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Sl2squeeze
January 25, 2008, 01:51 PM
What are everyone's thoughts on this steel? I've been hearing a lot of good things on bladeforums.com but I wonder if it is mostly hype or not.

What's a good knife with S30V?

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sm
January 25, 2008, 02:17 PM
I personally do not like it.
Then again I admit being biased against stainless steels period and biased toward proven tool steels, carbon steels and Chrome Vanadium.

Heat treat is critical it seems and the window for error is really small, and the characteristics of the S30V , well... a whole bunch of folks share the same problems with the edge being brittle.

Different "brittle" that M2, heated treated right and with a thinner edge that cuts better and retains edge better.

Custom, and someone that really knows heat treat, probably okay.
Does Phil Wilson do S30V?


Just me, I think folks would really do well to stick to carbon steel or CV, as these are proven, and most folks for what they do with a knife, do not need these new steels, and for sure not the steels designed to be easier on equipment, less expensive, come rolled in blanks - reasons for the mfg, not for the consumer.

Like I said, I am a bit biased...

cracked butt
January 25, 2008, 03:15 PM
Most of my knives are made from VG-10 which I like. I have 2 knives made from S30V- a Spyderco Yojimbo and a Gerber Freeman Skinning knife, both hold an edge better than anything I've ever used.

sixgunner455
January 25, 2008, 04:58 PM
I have one S30V knife, a Spyderco. It works well, takes a good edge. Just another good tool steel that, when heat treated properly for the application, does what it is supposed to do.

I am not worried about what steel is what anymore. I declare my own independence from it. Unless I am making the knife and doing the heat treating (have many times), I just don't care anymore. It's trivia, and sometimes interesting, but that's all I care for it anymore.

Otony
January 25, 2008, 08:03 PM
I have two Benchmade Griptillians, a Doug Ritter with S30V and an older standard model with 440-C (I do not believe Benchmade makes the Griptillian in 440-C any longer by the way. Mores the pity).

Of the two, the 440-C holds a better edge, seems to be easier to sharpen, AND seems to be "sharper" when both are freshly honed. All this is subjective of course, as I have no sophisticated measuring equipment other than my MKI eyeball and issue thumbnails. However, insofar as these two knives are concerned, the 440-C is the better blade. Other knives may vary, who knows what occurred in the heat treat of these two blades.

I will say this, while I prefer the 440-C, the S30V is no slouch. Still a good knife. Just not as good as the 440-C. YMMV!

JTW Jr.
January 26, 2008, 01:25 AM
S30v works if the HT is right , dont let it get super dull as it sucks to sharpen.
However properly HT'd and sharpened it will hold an edge better than most steels , least in my use it has held up better.
All S30v I have used has been HT'd by Paul Bos.

Is S30v needed ? maybe...maybe not. Nothing wrong with good ol 1095 , however in this day and age , why limit yourself to a non-stainless steel ?

You may not need it , but it sure is nice not having to care for it with kid gloves in everyday use like a high carbon. :)

mdao
January 26, 2008, 01:26 AM
Both of the S30V blades that I own, (Benchmade Skirmish and Rukus), had initial edge chipping issues. After the first sharpening, I haven't had an issue with either. I've found it to be better than CPM154, worse than ZDP-189 when it comes to usable edge retention. It's not as sharp as either when freshly sharpened and loses the "scary sharp" edge faster than either, but I still prefer it to CPM154 as I really don't sharpen my knives very often.

Of those two, I favor the Skirmish.

Stainz
January 26, 2008, 05:28 AM
After eight months of EDC, my $40 Wally World Spyderco Native S30V purchase is still sharp enough to shave forearm hair. This one has had some abuse - everything but baton/chop use. I guess that's tape glue on it... I haven't cut food in a while with it! I also have a Buck 'Alaskan Guide' 110 Folding Hunter and 192 Vanguard, as well as a 408 Fixed Kalinga Pro and #419 Folding Kalinga Pro - all in S30V. Under an 8X loupe, the Buck edges are finer ground. None of mine show chipping. The Paul Bos heat treating at Buck is legendary - their 420HC steel rivals newer hi-tech particle steels for edge retention.

I guess the Spydie S30V Native for $40 at Wally World is a great entry to S30V steel. Better yet, the Cabela's only S30V 'Alaskan Guide' Buck 110 was only $65 - and what a bargain - almost too pretty to use, too!

Stainz

Long
January 26, 2008, 02:27 PM
I carry a sebenza (small for the office and a large for free time) and use it. It stands up to everything I through at it. CR is known for good steel, you get what you pay for.

JTW Jr.
January 26, 2008, 03:27 PM
truth be told , most folks wouldn't know the difference between S30v , 440C , CPM154 , 154CM or 1095 just in using it... be honest , if you were handed a blade that was unmarked could you tell the difference ? assume each are finished to the same level.
Not so sure I could , but I can sure tell the difference grinding it making knives.

I would rather completely grind a blade of Bos HT'd 154CM after heat treat than S30v before HT... however once you get the S30v finished and sharp , it holds an edge a long time. It's just a bizotch to resharpen if you let it get really dull.

Stainz
January 26, 2008, 06:44 PM
I have repeatedly heard the adage 'S30V is for folks who don't know how to sharpen their regular blades!'. Great indictment of it's ability, with proper HT, I suppose... but true!! And, I am guilty... some of my knives sat for years before I bought my Spydie Sharpmaker and rescued them from the butter knife drawer.

Stainz

sm
January 26, 2008, 07:39 PM
I can feel the difference in Carbon 1095, Chrome Vanadium versus the other steels.
Then again I worked with hand tools and sharpened these free hand.
One gets a "feel" for what they are around and do.

Stainless has a different feel , "stringy" or "slick" or "chirpy" - hard to explain.
Still I can feel it when I sharpen freehand with stone in weak hand, knife in the other.

Sharpening a pencil, or whittling a twig, I can feel.

Again, everyone is in "tune" with what they are in tune with.
Fabric and thread for someone that sews, scissors too for example.

PaladinX13
January 26, 2008, 08:07 PM
As people have mentioned, it's a steel with its own benefits and trade-offs... but I definitely feel there is a hype factor that is putting an unreasonable price premium on what you get from the steel... it's more fashion or fad than a functional features pricing. Doesn't mean it's not worth getting if that's what you need or want, I just don't think it scales.

Don Gwinn
January 26, 2008, 09:54 PM
Don't know, but I just got a Kershaw Spec Bump made with it today. I guess time will tell.

GunTech
January 26, 2008, 10:12 PM
Like any of the new wonder steels, it's fashionable, but after using a knife made from it last year, I don't see any advantage over D2. Year after year we get wonder steels. The first big ones were 154CM and ATS34.

As others have noted, it's really hard to beat a good carbon steel knife. They are much harder to mess up during heat treat and you can do things like differential hardening. Heat treat with many of the new steels is critical, and they certainly do have trade offs. Anyone remember Vascoware?

If you need a rust resistant blade, there's nothing wrong with S30V. It is a great steel when properly heat treated. But as others have noted, most people can't tell the difference.

Bo Randall made his reputation as a knife maker with nothing more than O-1 tool steel.

duckjihad
January 27, 2008, 05:30 PM
Much more impressed with D2, 440HC by Buck and whatever Puma put in their knives 20 years ago, which I think is one of the 440s. Have a buck Alaskan guide series with S30v and really don't find it retains an edge or takes an edge as well as thier 440HC.

JTW Jr.
January 28, 2008, 03:22 AM
Sm , you dont count ;) , you aint most people , and I was suspecting you could tell the difference.


They are much harder to mess up during heat treat and you can do things like differential hardening.Heat treat with many of the new steels is critical I wouldnt say they are harder to mess up but do require more sophisticated equipment , which is why all my air quench steels go to Paul Bos. 1095 isn't as easy to get right as most think. All HT is critical.

S30v sucks to finish after HT , that I have learned , and am quickly switching to D2 , 154CM , CPM154 and ATS34. Though 1095 and O1 will always have a place in my meager knife shop , some days I just need to do a knife start to finish with no outside sources. :)

s e a
September 6, 2009, 07:45 AM
Sorry for resurrecting an old thread. I've been a reader of this excellent forum for a little while, and have learned a lot, but when doing a google search on s30v, this thread pops up, after I read it I had to register and add my $.02 because I was a little frustrated by some of the comments, seems as if personal bias has trumped science and physics in some cases. Also, I'm sure you guys who have kept up with it have changed some of your opinions, but since I haven't seen any thread like that, I'll pick on a few posts here, but nothing personal :D. Sorry in advance, this post is going to be wicked long. :D

I personally do not like it.
Then again I admit being biased against stainless steels period and biased toward proven tool steels, carbon steels and Chrome Vanadium.S30V has one of the highest carbon and vanadium contents of all knife steels @ 1.45% and 4% respectively. Any steel with > 0.5% carbon is classified as high carbon. What makes it typically classified "stainless" is 13% or more chromium--chromium is also added to steel for wear resistance and hardenabilty. S30V has 14% chromium. Needless to say; corrosion and micro-oxidation at the edge causes pitting and rapid loss of sharpness. I prefer not to have to worry about it all the time, I quite enjoy stainless properties. Btw, D2 has 12% chromium.

Heat treat is critical it seems and the window for error is really small, and the characteristics of the S30V , well... a whole bunch of folks share the same problems with the edge being brittle."a whole bunch of folks"...:scrutiny:... Anyways...any knife/any steel not properly heat treated will be brittle. A cheap company may mass produce some s30v blanks in order to capitalize on the name, but then send some guy out with a blow torch and bucket of water to do the HT. Some of the first blades in s30v may have had issues before a proper HT method was found, but s30v is among the least brittle. It has the same or slightly higher longitudinal toughness than D2, 440c and 154 cm, but it has roughly 4 times the transverse toughness of 440c or 154cm (not sure about d2), making it far less likely to chip or break when side loaded.

Custom, and someone that really knows heat treat, probably okay.
Does Phil Wilson do S30V?better than OK, it is superior as measured by objective standards, and is in production runs--like the Alaskan guides at Cabellas which are all HT'ed by BOS.

Phil Wilson does use s30v, I've read about him that he's one of the few who has the experience and the will to work with exotic steels. On his website he says that he has discontinued working with some of his old favorites (ATS 34, 154CM, 420HC) and his current production is made up of six cold work tool steel grades: CPM 154,CPM S90V,CPM S30V,CPM 10V, CPM S125V and AEB-L. He says: "I use more CPM 154 for fillet knives than any other steel. It is very stain resistant, has very good edge holding, and very good ductility. The majority of my hunting knives the last couple of years have been made with CPM S-90V, CPM S-30V or CPM 10V. I use CPM 154, AEB-L and CPM S-30V for kitchen knives."

I think it speaks highly that s30v is the only steel he uses for both hunting and the kitchen. s90v, btw, is way more hard to work with, the only non-custom I know of is a Spyderco military for around $200. Spyderco also uses s60v and reduced hardness to 55-56 hrc in order to keep toughness acceptable, thereby trading off in strength, but these have supreme wear resistance.

Just me, I think folks would really do well to stick to carbon steel or CV, as these are proven, Not really sure what you mean by carbon steel or CV. All steels have carbon in them. Are you looking for the steel with the highest carbon content? I have some solid carbide drill bits, they range from 77 to 81 HRC, making them quite brittle. VG-10 (probably Japan's current best knife steel) has 1% carbon, 440c has 1%, s30v has 1.45%, D2 has 1.55%. The only CV I know is Carbon V ...don't want to drag you guys through that again...whatever steel Carbon V used(uses), it's a good chrome-vanadium steel, rusts easily, nothing extra special.

edit: I do know what you mean by carbon steel, I guess I was just being stubborn there to make the point that even though it's classified as stainless rather than falling under the generic carbon steel classification, it still has as much carbon as many of the carbon steels.

and most folks for what they do with a knife, do not need these new steels, Most people didn't need to upgrade from their Mossberg 500 either :scrutiny:. As some other people have said, it depends what you want to use your knife for. Some people don't notice, don't care, just like some people don't focus much on the gun they're shooting, as long as it kills the deer they're pointing at. Different steels have different characteristics, choose the one that works best for you. My planes are A2 tool steel, drill bits solid carbide, cobalt, or a basic HSS depending on application, table saw blades are tungsten carbide tipped, and my hunting knife is s30v (because I like the steel, the features, ergonomics and Buck is 20 minutes away and right next to Cabellas, so their lifetime warranty/ resharpening service is a win for me). But offer me a prettier, more functional hunting knife in D2 and I'll take it too. But, being a knife lover, I enjoy knowing my knife and what it's capabilities are, and that the steel is technologically advanced. :cool:

Most of my knives are made from VG-10 which I like. I have 2 knives made from S30V- a Spyderco Yojimbo and a Gerber Freeman Skinning knife, both hold an edge better than anything I've ever used.Vg-10 is a superlative Japanese steel, that has surpassed a previous Japanese kingpin (ats-34). Your cost will include Japanese import restrictions. All things being equal (quality HT, blade geometry); s30v holds an edge a little better, and is a little tougher, harder to sharpen and has 1% less chromium giving the vg-10 less stainability.

However, insofar as these two knives are concerned, the 440-C is the better blade. Other knives may vary, who knows what occurred in the heat treat of these two blades.

I will say this, while I prefer the 440-C, the S30V is no slouch. Still a good knife. Just not as good as the 440-C. YMMV! exactly true, mileage varies depending on Heat treatment quality. And the s30v is harder to sharpen, but given proper HT, will also retain its edge better and be tougher. http://www.dougritter.com/pop_up_cpms30v.htm

As most of you guys know, heat treatment is way more complex than the Japanese dude, dunking the samurai sword in a water trough. I think Paul Bos' formula for s30v is: 1975F hardening, cold nitrogen into an evacuated retort for quenching to below 1000F, cool to room temp, snap temper (donno temp), cryofreeze over night (donno temp), followed by two 600F tempers for two hours each bringing the steel to HRC59/60. There are even more steps for ats-34.

I have repeatedly heard the adage 'S30V is for folks who don't know how to sharpen their regular blades!'. Great indictment of it's ability, with proper HT, I suppose... but true!! Sounds like you've been reading some cooking forums. When I hear someone make a put down on something new for something old (when it's baseless), its usually because they are biased. Guys who work in a kitchen all day will have an easier and quicker time re-honing softer metals, more forgiving metals (although they have to do it way more often). Although Phil Wilson does include it in his kitchen steel.

Like any of the new wonder steels, it's fashionable, but after using a knife made from it last year, I don't see any advantage over D2. Year after year we get wonder steels. The first big ones were 154CM and ATS34.Those are all great steels. And you're right, unless you're doing objective tests, its hard to notice any difference, and if you end up with one that hasn't been properly HT'd you'll think it sucks. D2 has excellent wear resistance (I think around CATRA 110%)and due to it's coarse carbide structures (up to 50 microns) has a very toothy edge, which will cut through hides and meat very nicely, but not as good for push cutting through harder materials. (this is why supposedly some knifemaker has been re-quoted 1000 times as saying d2 takes a lousy edge and holds it forever), but it's only lousy if you are looking for a mirror polished edge, as D2's polished edge has an orange peel characteristic.

The CATRA (Cutlery & Allied Trades Research Association) test machine does a standard cutting operation and measures the number of silica impregnated cards which are cut (TCC = total cards cut). It is considered a measure of relative wear resistance. In this test s30v rated 145%, 440c is the standard at 100%, 154cm rated 120%. But if you're cutting through a couple elk hides, when are you going to notice the knife start to lose it's edge? Really hard to quantify right? But...it is what it is.

As others have noted, it's really hard to beat a good carbon steel knife. They are much harder to mess up during heat treat and you can do things like differential hardening. Any steel can be differentially hardened. Are we talking about customs? Because it's just not practical for commercial knives. With a super high quality steel I don't know why you'd want it differentially hardened. Definitely on my samurai sword where breakage is a real issue:rolleyes:, but who cares on my knife. And, if you're really concerned about breakage....I hear s30v is a really tough, really good steel that resists breakage:eek:

Tokugawa
October 15, 2009, 09:49 PM
Had a finishing (lacquer) problem up at the paint shop, needed to strip a 2" wide beechwood rail 7' long- one coat sealer, two coats lacquer- no problem, I will run it by the local wood shop and have them sand it off because I do not want to go back to my shop thirty minutes away. No dice, their sander is tied up. So I scraped it, using my Kershaw ken onion S30V blade- as in scrape like a cabinet scraper, perpendicular to the edge of the knife. took about 15 min to get it all off- I was AMAZED the knife had any kind of edge left at all, it was still sharp. Most every tool I have ever used would have been either dull from wear, or had a turned edge from softness, or would have chipped. When I bought this knife I had no idea about the steel, just liked the light wieght of it. What a tool!

Madcap_Magician
October 16, 2009, 10:05 AM
It keeps a good edge for a long time. It's a bit toothy, and it's a fine knife steel, but I prefer VG-10.

Demitrios
October 16, 2009, 10:21 AM
S30V has been good to me. I bought a Spyderco Native for $40 at Wal-Mart (and they're still very much available for that price) and it was scary sharp out of the box. I use it a lot, it carries a great edge and when I need to re-sharpen it it takes to the new edge very well. VG-10 may very well be better than S30V but I really like S30V personally.

gga357
October 18, 2009, 01:33 AM
SM,

I feel that way too. SS has a "higher pitch" to it. Not sure I can really explain it.

nativecajun
May 19, 2010, 07:33 PM
I personally do not like it.
Then again I admit being biased against stainless steels period and biased toward proven tool steels, carbon steels and Chrome Vanadium.

Heat treat is critical it seems and the window for error is really small, and the characteristics of the S30V , well... a whole bunch of folks share the same problems with the edge being brittle.

Different "brittle" that M2, heated treated right and with a thinner edge that cuts better and retains edge better.

Custom, and someone that really knows heat treat, probably okay.
Does Phil Wilson do S30V?


Just me, I think folks would really do well to stick to carbon steel or CV, as these are proven, and most folks for what they do with a knife, do not need these new steels, and for sure not the steels designed to be easier on equipment, less expensive, come rolled in blanks - reasons for the mfg, not for the consumer.

Like I said, I am a bit biased...
That is not what he asked. He asked "WHAT IS A GOOD KNIFE IN S30V" Seems your bias has blinded you to the question at hand.

Correction: He asked both questions and you only answered one. Not to bad but still has a biased scent to it.

Cajun

JTW Jr.
May 19, 2010, 08:04 PM
SM: Contrary to what most believe , 1095 is not a simple steel to HT , nor is CV. Sure it can be home heat treated , but unless you know what you are doing in depth and are sure the steel being HT'd is from the same batch , each time it is different.

The OP asked:
What's a good knife with S30V?
Any of the Striders , Sebenza's , Benchmades , Bradley , Kershaw has the Avalanche and Blue in S30v ,Spyderco has the Military & Sage , also Zero Tolerance has offerings, etc. In most case's if someone is going to the extra expense of using S30v , they more than likely had the heat treat done correctly.

To the OP I would ask : A good knife at what price point ?

hso
May 19, 2010, 08:10 PM
Ya'll realize the OP asked the question over 27 months ago so I doubt he's interested in the question any more.

Yo Mama
May 19, 2010, 08:11 PM
S30V has been good to me. I bought a Spyderco Native for $40 at Wal-Mart (and they're still very much available for that price) and it was scary sharp out of the box. I use it a lot, it carries a great edge and when I need to re-sharpen it it takes to the new edge very well. VG-10 may very well be better than S30V but I really like S30V personally.


Same here, served me just fine with my Native, but the VG-10 is made in China and I couldn't bring myself to buy it unless it was the s30v made here in the USA.

Stainz
May 19, 2010, 08:47 PM
S30V has become my favorite blade metal. I have Benchmades, Bucks, Kershaws, and even a Gerber Freeman made of it. I finally chipped one - that original Spydie Native - near the tip - deburring a rough hole in steel - and I had a 'real' deburring tool just a few feet away. Almost erased by the Sharpmaker.

If the OP is still around, the Buck 347 Vantage Pro - in S30V - is a great EDC - and a bargain even at $95 MSRP.

Stainz

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