Steel Knife Blades

  • A-2 and 0-1 - Are tool steels with very high carbon content. They offer excellent edge holding and these alloys must have frequent maintenance to prevent rust.
  • D-2 - is a high carbon tool steel that has a high chromium content. It has better stain and rust resistance than A-2 and 0-1. One of the finest steels made for edge retention.
  • Damascus Steel - Is simply a high carbon steel that takes on a layered appearance, because of certain methods used during the manufacturing process. It is attractive, tough, flexible and holds an edge well.

Non-Steel Knife Blades

  • Titanium - Is extremely rust resistant and is non-magnetic. Popular as expensive used as dive knives with the Navy Seals.
  • Ceramics - Numerous knives have been offered with ceramic blades. Usually, those blades are very brittle, and can not be sharpened by the user. They do hold an edge well and Boker and Kyocera make some knives with this material.

Stainless Steels:

  • 420 - Lower carbon content than the 440 series makes this steel very soft, and it doesn't hold an edge well. Normally used for cheaper knives.
  • 440A - 440B - 440C - All three resist rust well, with 440A being the most resistant and 440C the least. If your knife is marked with just 440, it is probably the less expensive 440A. In general the 440A is just good enough for everyday use, 440B is a solid performer and 440C being excellent.
  • 425M and 12C27 - Both of these are very similar to 440A. 425M is used by Buck Knives. 12C27 is a Scandanavian steel.
  • AUS-6 - Japanese stainless steel, roughly compared to 440A.
  • AUS-8 - Japanese stainless steel, roughly compared to 440B.
  • AUS-10 - JapaSimilarnese stainless steel, roughly compared to 440C.
  • GIN-1 - A steel with slightly less carbon, a little more chromium, and alot less moly than ATS-34. Used by Spyderco, a very good stainless steel.
  • ATS-34 - Very high carbon content, giving it a very good edge retention.
  • ATS-55 - Similar to ATS-34, but without the moly and some other elements added. Looks like the attempt to get the ATS-34 edge with increased toughness. Spyderco is using this steel also.
  • BG-42 - Similar to the ATS-34, with two major differences. It has twice the amount of manganese and has vanadium added. These additives make an even better edge holding.
  • CPM T440V and CPM T420V - Two steels that hold an edge better than ATS-34, but difficult to get the edge there. Don't expect the toughness of ATS-34.