WHAT IS SUPER STEEL?
Super Steels have become a very hot topic in the knife industry over the last few years. Most knife enthusiasts are intimately familiar with names like M390, 20CV, LC200N, S35VN, S90V, and many more.
SUPER STEEL DRAWBACKS
- Sharpening these steels is more difficult, and in some cases they can be more prone to chipping.
- Cost. These steels are more expensive to manufacture and more difficult to machine, which leads to a higher cost to us the end consumer.
QUALITY STEELS THAT WON'T BREAK THE BANK
While many are willing to pay a premium cost for a premium knife steel, there are still many great knives available in more conventional steels that are well designed, will provide years of great service, and won't break that bank.
Let's discuss a few knives in this category that should definitely not be overlooked.
SPYDERCO DELICA 4
CIVIVI ELEMENTUM D2
The Civivi Elementum is a compact folding knife made by CIvivi, a division of WE knives. The knife features a blade just under 3 inches, and an overall length of 6.99 inches.
The knife opens smoothly with a flipper and has an easy to disengage liner lock. There are a number of variations of this knife featuring different handle scales and blade materials, but the most bang for your buck can found in the D2 model.
D2 is a tool steel first used in knives in the mid 1960s, but has become very popular in recent years based on its low cost and high toughness. Though D2 is not a stainless steel, it is far more corrosion resistant than many tool steels at the same price point, such as 1055 and 1095 steel. D2 is also very easy to sharpen, making it a good steel for novice knife sharpeners to learn on, and is easy for experienced knife sharpeners to maintain.
The best part of the D2 Elementum is that, depending on handle material, these can be had for between $50 and $70. Because Civivi is made by WE, you get a knife with excellent fit and finish that feels light-years above its low price point.
The Kershaw Knockout differs from the first two knives on this list in two major ways. It is manufactured in the USA, and it an assisted opening knife.
The Knockout is a larger knife, featuring a 3.25 inch blade, coming in at just under 8 inches overall. It features anodized aluminum handle scales that come in a variety of colors, and a knocked out sub-frame lock that is somewhat of a cross between a frame lock and a liner lock.
The knife opens with an assisted flipper that ensure fast opening and lock up with a slight push on the flipper tab.
The blade steel on the base model is Sandvik 14C28N, which is known for excellent corrosion resistance, good edge retention, and ease of sharpening - the trade-off being a lower toughness rating.
Ultimately this steel is put to good use in the Knockout, taking a razor sharp edge that is easy to maintain and providing corrosion protection for a knife that is carried in all weather situations.
In most cases the Knockout can be had for around $80, which is a phenomenal deal for a well-made U.S. production knife.
ESEE IZULA II
The ESEE Izula II is a small fixed blade knife developed by Randall's Adventure Training, designed for use in outdoor and survival situations but is also well-suited for everyday carry due to its size. The blade on the Izula II is 2.875 inches with an overall length of 6.75 inches.
The handle scales are available in a variety of micarta colors, and the blade is available in multiple coating colors. The blade comes coated due to the use of 1095 carbon steel.
1095 is a true tool steel, with incredible toughness and ease of sharpening at the cost of edge retention and corrosion resistance.
The ease of sharpening is very important in field knives. There is a good chance that after prolonged use, the edge will need maintenance. In the case of 1095, this can be done easily with any sharpening system, or even a flat rock.
Increased toughness will help ensure you won't chip your edge or snap the blade in hard use scenarios.
Thanks the the heavy duty coating ESEE uses you can expect a good level of protection from the elements, despite 1095's lower corrosion resistance. This knife is also very reasonably priced at around $75 and includes a polymer sheath.