Best hunting knife steel.

Justin W.

Well-Known Member
#1
Hey guys I want to make the best hunting knife that I can. In your personal opinion what is the best steel and why ? I want something that Is really tough
 

J. Doyle

Dealer - Purveyor
#2
Almost any suitable knife steel is capable of making an excellent hunting knife.

You have to decide what attributes are most important to you and/or your customer and prioritize them and go from there.

Often, a key consideration is what steel can YOU personally get the most out of or make your best work from.

Toughness very well might be a consideration but it might not be the first or major one for a dedicated hunting/field dressing knife.
 

Justin W.

Well-Known Member
#3
So i am most comfortable using spring steels just because up until this point ive had access to as many leaf springs as i can sink my teeth into lol .I know that those kinds of steels are tough but i can see where thats not the most important aspect of a hunting knife. I feel a little bit lost as i dive into the barstock world. The most important thing to me is that the blade needs to be able to dress and process game without the edge taking serious damage from running into or along bones and what not. It doesent need to hold an edge forever but at least long enough to make it through skinning out a deer or two .
 

Justin W.

Well-Known Member
#5
I have a coal forge, a propane forge, a quench tank and a toaster oven so I would prefer to do my heat treating myself. As of right now I normalize the blade I'm heat treating, then I quench the knife, then I stick it in the toaster oven for a couple cycles. I heat treated 5-6 knives in this way and I have been very happy with my results
 

opaul

Well-Known Member
#6
I have a coal forge, a propane forge, a quench tank and a toaster oven so I would prefer to do my heat treating myself. As of right now I normalize the blade I'm heat treating, then I quench the knife, then I stick it in the toaster oven for a couple cycles. I heat treated 5-6 knives in this way and I have been very happy with my results
Justin have you done any destructive testing on any of your blades or test steel samples? Every so often I’ll normalize, quench and temper the steel i’m working with to see how the grain structure looks. I’m trying to find a local place that could perform hardness tests.
 

Justin W.

Well-Known Member
#7
No I haven't done anything like that yet. My thinking was that the steel content of one set leaf springs to the next (or one farriers rasp to the next) is going to be inconsistent so i didnt want to do any serious testing before i knew what kind of steel i was working with
 

J. Doyle

Dealer - Purveyor
#8
Ok....so with that kind of equipment and process, I'd recommend 1084/1080 or 1075.

Those will be good tough steels with good edge holding, easy to sharpen and are a little more forgiving so will respond better to heat treating with the equipment you listed.

You would be doing yourself a HUGE favor if you bought Kevin Cashen's DVD on working with 1084.
 

Justin W.

Well-Known Member
#11
I've done a bit of research and I really like the sound of the 1075. I still have more research to do on the technical side of the steels heat treat but I at least have enough information to get my steel ordered
 

DanF

Well-Known Member
#12
Unfortunately, too many look down their noses at 1080/1084, as they do not want to be seen as, "beginners using a beginners steel".
A properly designed, treated and tempered blade made from this "beginner's steel" will make an excellent knife that can hold it's own against other more exotic steels that a newer maker may use because of the stigma he or she perceives comes from using the '80's, when they are not ready both experientially and shop setup-wise (not saying anyone here is doing that, just seems to be a mindset afflicting a majority of new makers).
The best $40 I ever spent on dvd's or books is the money I spent on Cashen's dvd on 1080/1084.
I watch guys start with two or three types of steel when they first start out and within a couple weeks are buying two or three other flavor of the month steels. You can spend months and years with one type of steel learning and perfecting the abilities of it, and be a better smith because of it.
 

Justin W.

Well-Known Member
#16
I will shoot straight with you guys I didn't want to use the "beginners steels" I have made almost 20 knives using leaf springs,rasps, and files and it seems like I was taking a step back using one of those steels but as I started doing research I realized that I desperately need to take a step back! My understanding of heat treating is weak at best lol. So the next chance I get I'm going to order Kevins DVD and I am going to order my 1075 and learn how to do this thing right. Thank you everyone for pointing me in the right direction
 
#17
I will shoot straight with you guys I didn't want to use the "beginners steels" I have made almost 20 knives using leaf springs,rasps, and files and it seems like I was taking a step back using one of those steels but as I started doing research I realized that I desperately need to take a step back! My understanding of heat treating is weak at best lol. So the next chance I get I'm going to order Kevins DVD and I am going to order my 1075 and learn how to do this thing right. Thank you everyone for pointing me in the right direction
You will be happy with the 1075.
 
#18
Do not think of 10-series steels as "beginner" steels; in my opinion only that is a foolish mindset. The reason you should use 10-xx is that you can get the best results out of that steel with your equipment. The other designer steels require very specific heat treat procedures which you do not have the equipment to accomplish. Go check out some of Stormcrow's work and testing (he uses mainly 5160 spring steel) and he is no beginner. I will refer you to Dennis Moreland's picture gallery. Unless I am wrong Dennis uses 10xx and he is no beginner. I chose to use 10xx because I prefer to do a simple heat treat process and I have more experience with the 10xx steels so I can be confident that I am delivering quality blades because I know how it responds to my HT. When my skills exceed the capabilities of 5160 or 10xx I will research a different steel. In short, me and 1084 will be together for a long time. The finest blades of antiquity were not made with super steels, those smiths found what worked and they did it. Pour your energy into perfecting working with the steel you chose and you will have years before you "need" to research other steels. If you are waiting on someone here to recommend you work a designer steel with a simple HT you most likely will be waiting for a while because these guys do not like to give poor advice. You will get further with the 10xx steels. As always, I am no metallurgist this is my opinion only, if someone disagrees that is OK.
 
Last edited:
#19
My mainstay steels are the 10xx series 75, 84 and 95 and with just on 200 knives sold to satisfied customers I see no reason to change when these work so well. Whoever termed them beginner steels has done them a disservice as they might have been better named as traditional heat treat steels as they do not need the commercial HT ovens, with the minute temp (and or complicated) control to get the best from them.
 
#20
My mainstay steels are the 10xx series 75, 84 and 95 and with just on 200 knives sold to satisfied customers I see no reason to change when these work so well. Whoever termed them beginner steels has done them a disservice as they might have been better named as traditional heat treat steels as they do not need the commercial HT ovens, with the minute temp (and or complicated) control to get the best from them.
Amen and Amen
 
Top