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Edged Weapons

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Most knives are made of tool steel. Tool steel is simply hardened steel that has a balance of properties such as strength, flexibility, ability to hold an edge, and other such qualities. As with everything, the various steels out there represent a compromise. Steel that is overly flexible might not hold an edge very well. Steel that is very hard might also be next to impossible to sharpen. And, steel that has great corrosion resistance might be brittle. You get the idea. Here is a sampling on some common knife steels:

420 Stainless: A common blade making material, 420 stainless is hard, strong, and cheap, while offering a decent ability to hold an edge. It’s relatively easy for a novice to resharpen, and is a good compromise of alloy mixtures.

420 HC: The HC stands for high carbon, which is added to the normal 420 stainless mixture to increase the hardness of the metal, improve its corrosion resistance, and better hold an edge. The trade off is that this metal is harder to resharpen.

440A: A high carbon stainless steel that’s pretty common in blades. Much harder than 420 stainless, 440A holds an edge and won’t corrode.

1095: 1095 makes a wicked sharp blade that’s easy to resharpen for the novice. On the upside, it’s cheap -on the downside, it’s corrosion prone. Some manufacturers, such as KA-BAR have mixed Chromium and Vanadium into 1095 calling it 1095 CroVan, which makes it more corrosion resistant.

CPM-S30V®: This alloy was created especially for use in cutlery. It’s tough, holds a sharp edge under the worst conditions, and is corrosion resistant. Found in some of the more expensive knives out there, but worth it.

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