BRK&T and OM

Stainless steel tests


Test Results from Jimbo:


I tested the black and green handled prototypes against:

  1. Sandvik 1227C – Mora Clipper

  2. ATS134 Benchmade 721

  3. Carbon Frost's Laminated blade

  4. M2 Gerber Trout and Bird

  5. O1 Nick Wheeler OSF

  6. VG10 Falkniven WM1


Test

Note 58HRC /10

Note 60HRC /10

Comments

Thinness of the grain: make a fine edge, polish it, check how it shaves different materials.

9

9

See note 1.

Frost's Laminated was easiest to polish. M2 Gerber the hardest. The best tradeoff in getting polish and repolishing to fine edge was OSF.

Edge holding: cut some aggresive material, sand loaded tissue, card board, or leather.

8.5

9

See note 2.

With extensive cutting, I was surprised how little difference there was between blades.

Ductibility : deform (roll) the edge, using lateral pressure, see if it comes back with steeling, or chips.

9

9.5

See Note 3.

In scraping down axe handles of hickory, I'm seeing much better edge retention with both prototypes – both in terms of rolling and chipping out.

Sharpenability : how easy is it to sharpen it, using different grits grades, and even stropping.

9.5

9

See Note 3.

Results apply ONLY to reprofiled blades!

With initial profiling, the black was vastly more work than the green.

Chipping : check if it is prone to chipping.

9.5

9.5

See Note 4.


Stainless : expose to different corrosive conditions

9

9

See Note 5.

In line with ATS 34, Sandvik and VG10 or normal use.

Any other personal test, please describe..

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Notes: 1 to 10 points on 10

Purpose: test the steel, not the profile or overall knife.
A good way to do that is that every tester gives a note, comparing with 2 other knifes of another steel (one carbon, one SS, we need to find something we all have, but I am sure we can sort of say every one has a carbon opinel , a carbon mora or a 12c27 mora).



Note 1.


It took a while to get the profiles into good shape for tests. I found the black far more difficult to both profile and to get the final polished edge. It was still easier than the M2 and ATS34. The green handled sample was in the same range as the Sandvik and VG10.

With polished edges, once they had been used in tests, there wasn't a substantial difference in difficulty of repolishing. While the harder and more wear resistant steels like M2, ATS34 (and in this case O1) were harder to polish back, they hadn't degraded as much and so there was surprisingly little difference in effort required. Naturally if the blades were subjected to abuse, then a person would have a lot of work to do with the M2, ATS 34, black handled samples.


Note 2.


It's sure easy to go wrong with edge holding tests! Despite the fact that the black handled sample was clearly harder steel, it didn't fare well until I had done a lot of work reprofiling it.

Different blades showed huge differences in edge holding with cutting different materials. A blade might show excellent edge holding in slicing paper, but then do more poorly on gritty cardboard – or vice versa. I eventually settled on a measured number of cuts on a whole variety of media – with the blades sharpened with different grits and tests repeated. I rated the knives at the end by examining the edges with a 20X lens and seeing how uniform the remaining edge was in cutting paper.

I'd expected (from experience) for the M2 to be in a class of its own, and the Moras to be at the bottom of the list. That's what a person would see with cutting an abrasive media until the blades wouldn't cut any more (as in cutting old carpet). That simply isn't the way that I operate in the bush, though! I work on a variety of media, and stop using a knife when the edge has degraded to a certain point of sharpness. I also expect the edge to work with a variety of finishes.

At the end of testing, there were significant differences. The Moras had microchipped blades as did the VG10 blade. They would only do a rough job of slicing magazines, but were otherwise usable. The ATS 34 blade had uniformly bluntened, but had more trouble slicing paper. The green handled sample had uniformly bluntened but also had some minor edge damage that caused tearing when slicing paper. The black handled sample, M2, and OSF were in good shape – but also at the point where I'd resharpen.


Note 3.


Shaping wood demands a lot of scraping. This is the strong area for both of the samples. They seem to scrape as long as M2 before they lose their scraping ability, and at that point they are far easier ot resharpen. The edge on both samples will be fine at the point where Moras look like saws. The VG10 and ATS blades have far steeper bevels which leads to them becoming unusable faster, and then being more difficult to reharpen. The OSF hasn't yet been tested this way.


Note 4.

Testing for microchipping can be difficult. Knives like the Falkniven A1 can suffer from microchipping when used on hard wood/bone - but only with factory grind. This is due to coarse grinding marks converging on one part of edge. When properly sharpened polished no microchipping is ever seen again. These blades are in the same category, especially the black. If they are sharpened with an extremely coarse stone for meat cutting then used on bone some microchipping will occur. This still won't be to the level of the A1, since hand honing won't lead to sharpening scratches being so deep.

Basically both protypes properly set up were excellent in comparison to other steels.



Note 5.


I only tested with regular kitchen use. I didn't see anything other than some edge loss which was easily polished back on. Use on salty wood at the beach and in sea water didn't have any effect in the short exposure times. I didn't see any changes due to leaving the blades wet from regular rainwater etc.



Overall:

I'd rate the samples high in overall use for day to day purposes - for the following reasons:

a. We tend to focus on one certain aspect of steel. All steels excel in something, if only cheapness! For bush use we need an adaptable knife. It has to take a variety of edge finishes for jobs ranging from skinning to woodworking. Most specialized steels such as M2 work well for specialized tasks - but it's too darned difficult to put a polished edge back on after using with a coarser edge. I also wouldn't want to do extensive reprofiling of M2 by hand should a chip occur. The samples worked well over a variety of tasks.

b. I'd consider it to be vital to have a very high standard of factory finish with the black handled sample, and that the customer be aware that extensive refinishing by hand is going to be some job. This is also the case with changing the amount of polish of the edge. The green handled sample is more adaptable. That being said, the black proto has become a personal favorite since it excels in the cutting/resharpening tradeoff in the tasks I normally do.


Summary:


1. I was able to induce more variance due to improper and proper profiling/sharpening of blades than between steels. Obviously a poorly reprofiled and sharpened blade isn't going to do too well. The real surprise was in seeing that even with well (for me) profiled blades, changing the bevel angle in the last millimetre made huge differences. to edge holding etc.

I'd be more prone to paying extra for a blade to be ground to an exacting standard than for a super steel.


2. All steels excelled in some type of testing. The strong point of the proto steel is in good overall performance.