Most of us carry some sort of knife, especially those who find ourselves outdoors for our hobbies. Even if you don't consider yourself to be an outdoor enthusiast, some still carry a knife to take care of simple daily tasks such as opening boxes or mail. From hunting blades to pocket knives and even kitchen knives, not all blades are created equal.
There are many things to consider when buying a knife, but one of the most important is the blade. Of course, blades come in many shapes and sizes for different tasks but they also come in different materials to accomplish those tasks. There are a lot of steels to choose from, especially considering almost every knife maker makes their own special steel, but today I will only be talking a little about the most common blade steels that you will find.
D-2 Steel, also known as tool steel, is not that common and is more of a higher end steel and is difficult to produce. It is also one of the only non-stainless steels frequently offered for pocket knives. This steel is not the easiest to sharpen, so don't expect to easily put back on a factory fresh edge. What D-2 lacks in ease to make and sharpen it makes up for with being extremely durable and makes a good blade to pry and other tasks where softer knives might bend or chip.
There aren't many companies producing blades with D-2 steel, but the ones that do are very high quality, such as the Benchmade Adamas shown below.
420HC steel is one of the most common stainless steels and has been around for a long time. On the toughness scale 420HC is on the lower side, so for holding an edge it is not the best. Being a softer steel however makes this steel fantastically easy to sharpen making it popular for hunting and filet knives because you can get it back to a razor sharp edge very easily, especially while in the field.
Almost all knife manufacturers use 420HC, and it can be found in many mid-range knives. One of the most iconic knives of all time, the Buck 110, uses this steel.
154CM is one of the best all around stainless steels that you can find in pocket knives. It offers a fantastic ability to hold an edge and yet is not incredibly difficult to sharpen. It is also a very durable steel and isn't as easy to break or crack. The downside of this steel is that it is not easy to make and is a bit more on the pricey side, but for someone who needs a high quality tool that holds an edge very well this steel is more than worth the money.
This steel can be found in many mid to high end knives, such as the Benchmade Griptilian series.
S30V is considered to be a super steel because it utilizes newer technology to produce the steel. This makes it pricey and a little more rare. The durability and edge retention on this steel is some of the best available, but once again that makes it difficult to sharpen.
S30V is usually reserved for higher end knives, but there are a few budget friendly options, such as the Buck Paradigm Avid.
Again, these are just a few of the many knife steels available, but they are some of the most prevalent in your every day carry and hunting knives. Obviously, there are going to be other features to consider when purchasing a knife such as a opening mechanisms and locking designs, but when it all comes down to it, the blade is still the business end.
There is a wealth of information available on the internet to guide you in your purchasing decisions, these are just a few of the great resources to consider: