A good knife does not need to look good. All cold steel hunting knives need is the steel which would help it become more sharp, lustrous, durable, and efficient. A good blade is usually relatively easy to resharpen and can be used for a variety of purposes. The multiple uses include cutting rope, whittling sticks, cleaning fish or small game, etc. The blade seems unbreakable even when operated in the toughest of the tasks. Good blades do not require a lot of care and attention. They are usually pretty sharp when bought and retain the sharpness for an extended amount of time.
To find the correct steel, we performed many tests. We bought the knives of the various reputed companies and put them to the test. They were used for multiple purposes. We even deliberately dull the knife to know if it was easy or tough to resharpen them. The knives were further given to some of the boy scouts who used them for fire-making. The different purposes for which they were included are wood carving, meat cutting, kitchen use, etc.
One of my favorite small game knives is the PUMA stockman pocket knife. Now let us get you familiar with it. The steel used in the knife is imposing. In 440C steel, about 1% carbon is added for an excellent edge and about 17% chromium to maintain the temper but inhibit rust, according to PUMA. In addition, trace elements such as manganese, phosphorus, sulfur, and molybdenum are added to increase the ability of the steel to form an edge and hold it once started. These trace elements cause the molecules to align more evenly when cooling to give better structural strength and consistency.
The Buck folder can be used as an everyday knife. It has high durability, which contributes to the exquisite quality of the knife. According to the Buck Company, Buck’s standard blade material is 420HC because it combines “excellent wear resistance of high carbon alloys with the corrosion resistance of chromium stainless steels.” 420HC Steel is a High Carbon (HC) version of standard 420 martensitic stainless steel sheets, Buck says, which means they can be hardened to a Rockwell hardness.
The SRK shows can be used for an extended amount of time, at least 20 years. It has the power to field three deer without resharpening it. It was used by us extensively for hunting. The significant part is that we did not have to resharpen it even once. Now let’s dive into the different steels or alloys and what they are made of. This will prove to be of great help in choosing the right one.
Composition of cold steel hunting knives
- 154 CM: Manganese 0.5%; Carbon 1.05 %; Chromium 14%. Used for the first time in 1972, the alloy was made of high carbon and tough steel. Many companies like Gerber and Bench made used it for combat knives.
- 420: Carbon 0.15%-0.6%; 12-14% Chromium and 1% Manganese. The steel is inexpensive but hard.
- 420HC: Carbon 0.5-0.7%; Chromium 13.5%. Popular, hard steel. Companies like Gerber and Buck knives use them.
- 440A: Carbon 0.60-0.75%; Manganese 1.0%; Manganese 0.35-0.9%; Chromium 16.0-18.0%.
- 440B: Carbon 0.75-0.95%; Chromium 16-18% and Manganese 1.0%. It was utilized by Randall Knives.
- 440C: Manganese 0.40%; Carbon 0.95 – 1.20%; Chromium 17.0%; Molybdenum 0.50% and Vanadium 0.50%. This stand out as a popular knife steels till date as it is durable, hard and easy to work with.
- ATS34: Manganese 0.4%; Carbon 1.05%; and Chromium 14.0%.
- AUS-8: Manganese 1.0%; Chromium 13.0-14.5%; Carbon 0.7-0.8%; Nickel 0.5%; Molybdenum 0.1 – 0.3% and Vanadium 0.1-0.25%.
- CPM-S30V (Also called S30V): Chromium 14%; Carbon 1.45%; Vanadium 4% and Molybdenum 2%. This one stands out in the crowd for being durable, hard and excellent for knives.
- CPM440V: Manganese 0.4%; Carbon 2.15%; Vanadium 5.5%; Chromium 17%; Molybdenum 0.4%.
Read on best combat knives.