The Steel Behind the Blades

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The Steel Behind the Blades

Understanding the steel will help you choose the best blade for the job

Blade steel is an important factor to keep in mind when choosing the right knife. When in the field, performance qualities such as edge retention, corrosion resistance and ductility are very critical. As a general rule, the harder the knife the better it will hold an edge, but it will also be more brittle (less ductile). Therefore, it is more liable to break or shatter if impacted sharply. The steels that have the best hardness with ductility are high carbon steels, but they also tend to rust the worst. Sometimes a softer, but more corrosion-resistant steel will stand up better to the harsh conditions in the field. If you are the kind of person who cleans and oils his tools every night, then a high carbon steel is a fantastic choice. Otherwise we would suggest a better balance between edge retention and corrosion resistance.

Buck Knives is a market leader in edge retention thanks to our steel selections and heat treat process pioneered by industry famous, Paul Bos, whose heat treating system has proven to be the best in the business. Each blade is put through a rigorous heat treat process and quality performance test. It is then tempered to the appropriate Rockwell Hardness through a heating, freezing and reheating system. It is important that the steel is properly heat-treated to the appropriate Rockwell Hardness for maximum results. RC numbers are the degrees of hardness according to the Rockwell “C” scale. The Rockwell scale provides a measurable numeric value that allows us to compare the hardness of different steels. The higher the rating number, the harder the steel. We know how the different steels underperform if they are too hard or too soft, so we track hardness numbers very consistently. This process, along with attention to detail through grinding and hand edging, are the foundation of our Edge2X™ technology. This gives you longer edge life, ease of resharpening and a blade that will not fail you.

Please refer to the steel chart below to better understand what Buck Knives does to its steel for maximum performance, and also for a breakdown of our recommended steels to help you make a decision.

Buck Preferred Steel

S35VN -This martensitic stainless steel provides supreme edge retention with a combination of ductility, hardness, toughness, and corrosion resistance. For optimal performance, we harden to Rc 59-61.

S30V – Contains carbon as well as high amounts of Chromium, Molybdenum and Vanadium. This steel combines fantastic edge retention and high ductility combined with corrosion resistance. Double-tempered – it can be hardened to a Rockwell hardness of Rc 59.5-61. However, it is difficult to resharpen yourself, but we do offer sharpening services for a nominal fee.

154CM – Offers excellent edge retention, great corrosion resistance and used for heavy cutting applications. For best performance, we harden to a standard Rc 59-61.

420HC – This is Buck’s standard blade material because it approaches the wear resistance of high carbon alloys while delivering the corrosion resistance of chromium stainless steels. Add our exclusive heat-treat process and you have a very user-friendly combination of superior corrosion resistance with excellent strength for wear resistance and durability. You also have a blade that is easy to resharpen. For best performance we harden to a Rockwell hardness of Rc 58.