What are your favorite blade steels? Why?


Well-Known Member
Seems like a lot of folks have a strong preference for one steel over another. My take on this is relatively simple. If it works it works no worries about what it is. Honestly I worry more about geometry since I've had so many so called great steels that didn't perform very great at all being that they were so obtuse they just prevented themselves from really cutting loose. No pun intended. On the other side of the coin I've had some so called weaker steels that basically outperformed the super steels all because they were just flat out done better.

So I guess I'm kind of unique in that I like 420HC steel as much by Buck in my 110 as I do so called super steels done by others and all because Buck utilizes it so well in how they apply it and how they grind it. Bos heat treat probably doesn't hurt. ;)

I like and use 1095 a lot still for my own knives and like and use AUS6, 12C27 and ATS34 a lot too. I seem to drift toward these more these days than I do many of the super steels and have less problems messing with them. Being that I'm the type that keeps my edge fairly well tuned up all the time anyways its no big deal that these steels don't hang on to that edge quite as tenaciously as other steels. When I really need a edge keeper I tend to grab something in D2 steel and find it meets my needs quite well though.

What about you guys?

I have come to really appreciate O1. All around great steel. Not too much work to prevent rust etc (not patina, I want that).
I have an 01 blade model from Mike England ( a folder) and that blade is a coated one although I am not sure how he coated it. Mike is an Oklahoma maker but that blade really performs well. I've not used it a lot because its a liner lock but one made with no detent ball so its basically a gravity knife. No pocket clip and kind of a skeletonized frame but what a cutter!

I have a big list on this one.

1090 and 10xx steels for hunter/user type knives
5160/9260 for heavy use chopper type

In my slip-joints I like CPM 154cm, ats34, 154cm in that order as well as D2 and BG42.
So far for me I like O1 It easy for me to work with and it holds a great edge. but i'am a new maker and want to try all the steels for my self and see the differance for my self..I want to work with stainless of some kind. 154cm is one that i like.
O1 has proven to be an excellent blade steel. Great edge holding ability. I haven't tried them all though...
5160 takes my vote for choppers.
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W2 is my most favoritist ;) then the high carbon end of the 10XX steels ........ 2thumbs

Oh, 5160 is right up there too :D

For air cool its CPM154 & CPM3V. A2 & D2 is really good stuff too

D*MN, there's just so many good ones....................... :confused:

Do I have to pick just one unsure ;)

I guess We've tried all of the super steels and they are very good at holding an edge. I did miss the ease at bringing an edge back of the old steels I started out with. Yes I used 01 and 1095.
I like:
CPM154 for stainless hands down. It takes a really sharp edge and holds it pretty well. It polishes up like liquid mercury.

01 I think for carbon although haven't had a chance to try any Cru-forge yet. 01 is just easy enough to work and heat treat. It won't rust too fast and takes a nice keen edge.
CPM154 ALSO.Made up a folder for personel carry and have yet to sharpen it after inital work. Stays supersharp. I also like any damascus. Patterns are what sets it apart. I cryo it also and thinks that helps to keep a slick edge.
Favorite Steels

Cable, 1095 : Forge, heat treat, hold an edge, visual drama. Cable cuts like nothing else. All of my sheath blades are forged, cable and 1095 rule in my forge. Doing more damascus and combo of 1095/1050 in high layers ( 1 million). Interesting edge and cutting.

440C: Air Treat, polish and cut. I use this for folders,Ti: Liners.

Jim Allen

I can't say that I have a lot of experience with any particular steel but I will say that the more I work with 1095, the more I like it.

I also like 5160 for choppers, a couple swipes with a stone and it'll be shaving sharp every time you use it.
Based on all the 01 talk I may have to try that one more in some of my own folders but I do have at least one in that steel and I agree the stuff gets biting sharp quick and easy.

5160 is a great steel for choppers but I've actually cut out a folder blade some time back and already had it heat treated. I was going to try that in one of my BUSSTR folders when I get a round to doing it. I thought it'd make a darn tough harder use folder.

Only used the carbons mainly so far as I dont have an oven for the stainless levels., 1084,1095,L6,AND 5160 ,.. used 01 as well, liked all of them and will keep using them even if the stainless 154cm I have in storage works out for me later on..
Forged 52100 has to be my favorite cutting steel for a folder (my blades are also Black-T coated and cryo treated). It sharpens easily, holds an edge forever, and slices through most anything with ease not found with any of my production stainless steels. I've even cut small steel wire bundles and could not dull the ege to the touch. Amazing steel! CPM 154 from the Alsdorf peanut I purchased, has still yet to be sharpened, and keeps a hair shaving edge. I haven't abused that knife, but am really impressed with it so far. S30V from Spyderco has had problems chipping on the edge when cutting tough stuff like hard plastic. I'm not opposed to that steel from other makers, but will probably stay away from the Sypderco version in the future.
1075 is my favorite and the only steel i use for making my knives.