Updated: Jan 19, 2020
The new CRKT RipSnort is now made from D2 Steel. What's the difference?
D2 Steel - This steel This is not technically Stainless, but Tool Steel. However, it Because of this it has good rust resistance. It is much tougher than most stainless steels, but not as tough as most of the other tool steel. This steel does have excellent wear resistance. It has great edge retention but can be very difficult to sharpen. This is also a tough material to mirror polish, so it you will almost never see it that way. Its carbon content is 1.50-1.60%.has a high chromium content, just less than what might classify it as stainless steel.
8Cr13MoV Steel - This steel is a popular budget brand of knife steel, which is made in China. It's considered Stainless Steel. In its composition this steel is close to the Japanese steel of AUS-8 grade. 8Cr13MoV steel at its low cost demonstrates very worthy characteristics of cutting. At suitable heat treatment of steel the products made of 8Cr13MoV steel retain for a long time the sharpness of the cutting edge and have a very good corrosion resistance. The range of steel hardness is indicated int eh chart below.
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Here is a breakdown of elements that compose many knife steels:
Contributes: Hardness, Edge Retention. You’ll find carbon in every form of steel. Essentially, it’s the element that turns the basic metal iron into steel and plays a huge part in the hardening process. Generally with increased levels of carbon you get a harder steel, improved tensile strength, edge retention and overall resistance to wear. Knife steels are typically described as “high carbon” if they contain more than 0.5% carbon and these generally what you want to look for in a knife steel. However, if manufacturers go over the top with too much carbon it can make the steel brittle and also increases proneness to corrosion.
Contributes: Corrosion Resistance. By adding chromium to the steel it increases the resistance to oxidation and corrosion in general. To be classified as “Stainless Steel” there should be at least 13% chromium (you’ll see others quote 11% or 12% but 13% is a safe bet). Chromium is the key driver for carbide formation which lowers brittleness but also adversely impacts edge retention. In addition to improving the resistance to corrosion, chromium also improves hardenability and tensile strength. Still, every steel is going to corrode if left out in the elements for a prolonged period. Note also that too much chromium can reduce toughness.
Contributes: Toughness. Molybdenum will increase toughness which reduces the liklihood of chipping. It also allows the steel to maintain its strength at high temperatures which helps with how easy a blade is to produce in the factory. Like chromium it is a driver of carbide formation but is used typically in small relative quantities.
Contributes: Toughness. Some manufacturers have chosen to add small quantities of Nickel to increase toughness and strength especially at low temperatures which basically limits distortion and cracking during the quenching phase of heat treatment. Many knife makers claim it also reduces corrosion but that is often disputed.
Contributes: Toughness, Wear Resistance. Vanadium is another element similar to Molybdenum that promotes carbide formation (the hardest of all) and it adds wear resisting properties to steels. Perhaps more importantly, vanadium produces a very fine grain during the steel’s heat treatment process which improves overall toughness. Some of the ultra-premium steels contain relatively high levels of vanadium and allow for a super sharp edge.
Contributes: Hardness. Adding very small amounts of cobalt can allow for quenching (i.e. rapid cooling to achieve hardness) at higher temperatures and tends to boost the effects of other elements in the more complicated steels. It is not a carbide former in itself but certainly does promote the achievement of overall hardness.
Contributes: Hardenability, Strength, Wear Resistance. Another key element which assists with the hot working properties making the knife more stable during quenching. Manganese will contribute to increased hardness as well as tensile strength and resistance to wear and tear. As with anything that increases hardness, too much and the steel will be too brittle.
Contributes: Hardenability, Strength. Silicon adds to overall strength similar to the effects of Manganese, making the manufacture of the steel far more stable. However, the real value of Silicon is in de-oxidation and de-gasifying to remove oxygen. Oxygen is unwelcomed in steel production because it leads to blowholes or pitting.
Contributes: Toughness, Wear Resistance, Corrosion Resistance. Niobium is a grain refiner and powerful carbide former. It is used to aid fine grain structure which helps to improve the wear resistance and prevent chipping. Arguably the best known knife steel that capitalized on Niobium is CPM-S35VN which combined with carbon, introduced niobium carbides to aid wear resistance and edge chipping. The result is formidable edge retention.