What Steel Are You Carrying?
Blade steel is a major factor when it comes to choosing a knife. And while there’s a wealth of options, one thing’s for sure: You want the very best steel you can manage for your EDC. We’re talking about a knife that you could use for any number of situations—from opening a package to making kindling, from stripping wire to filleting a fish.
Using an EDC blade made of subpar steel can lead to fast dulling, corrosion, chipping, breaking, and more. Not only is such a knife unreliable, but it can even prove unsafe. Save yourself the trouble by learning about the steel you’re carrying. Ridgerunner Blades offers a wide selection of top-tier knives that will stay sharp and resist wear and breakage. Check out some of our favorite steels for EDC:
Manufactured by Böhler-Uddeholm, M390 steel utilizes third-generation powder metal technology. Blades made of this steel are known for their excellent sharpness and edge retention, thanks in no small part to the added chromium, tungsten, vanadium, and molybdenum.
M390 steel also provides exceptional corrosion resistance, and its hardness prevents blades from wearing quickly. The manufacturer refers to this steel as “Microclean.” When polished, it produces a reflection as clear as a mirror. M390 isn’t the easiest steel to sharpen, but this isn’t necessarily a problem, given that it holds its sharpness for so long. Plus, we know that the more you sharpen a blade, the quicker it wears down.
M4 is high-performance steel used for a variety of tools. It is widely considered to be the ideal carbon steel for toughness and edge retention. Created with Crucible’s patented Crucible Particle Metallurgy process, this steel contains high doses of molybdenum, tungsten, and vanadium to go with a considerable amount of carbon. The result is well-balanced levels of toughness and resistance to abrasion, as well as superb cutting. However, it’s important to note that you’ll need to properly care for this steel over time.
There has long been a misnomer that M4 is stainless steel. But this simply isn’t true, as it has a relatively tiny amount of chromium.
This is another steel made by Crucible, and like the M4, it offers excellent edge retention. S30V is also one of the best steels you can buy for resisting rust. Along with high-end kitchen cutlery, S30V is primarily used for premium EDC knives, and many enthusiasts consider it to be among the best overall blade steels for the money.
The steel alloy matrix of this material is complemented by vanadium carbides, which are responsible for the blade’s hardness. The steel formula all comes together for a beautiful balance of hardness, edge retention, and toughness. In other words, there’s a reason S30V is so popular.
D2 has been around for a long time, and as trends come and go, it remains a stalwart in the knife steel game. It’s not quite stainless steel; 12% chromium is required for a steel to be classified stainless, and D2 has 11.5%.
Still yet, whatever it lacks in corrosion resistance, D2 makes up for with excellent wear resistance and edge retention. It also happens to be one of the more budget-friendly options for quality blade steel. Given its affordable price and tendency to hold an edge for a long time, it’s easy to see why D2 is such a common choice for knifemakers and customers alike.
Yet another product of US-based Crucible, Cru-Wear is an air-quenched carbon alloy used for a wide array of manufacturing tools—from punches to thread rolling dies, from gauges to planer blades. But this steel is also prevalent in the knife industry. It’s even more wear-resistant than D2; this is accomplished by lowering the carbon and chromium levels while raising the tungsten and vanadium levels.
Cru-Wear offers considerable edge retention, and it matches the heat resistance and toughness that comes with M2 high-speed steels. There are blade steels that will hold an edge a little longer and some that are a bit tougher. But in most steels, one quality is sacrificed for the other. Cru-Wear’s charm lies in the unique balance of wear resistance and toughness it provides.
Your EDC should be something you can count on. The blade should be tough, durable, and wear-resistant. You should be able to get it sharp and keep it sharp. Every steel on this list will give you that; you just have to decide which steel provides the ideal balance for your needs. If you would like to browse our selection of EDCs or pick our brains about knife steels, head on over to RidgerunnerBlades.com!