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Knife Guide - Materials & Finishes

About this Guide

Below is an in-depth look at commonly-used terms with knives and a deeper look at some of the materials, finishes, and styles you may encounter while browsing any one of our knife listings.

Steel Types:
154CM This steel is best-known for its overall qualities, offering great corrosion resistance, good toughness, and good edge quality.
S30V A premium-grade stainless steel created specifically for use as a blade material. It offers excellent corrosion resistance and exceptional edge quality.
CPM-M4 This is a special purpose high-speed steel with excellent wear resistance and toughness.
D2 An air-hardened tool steel that offers good corrosion resistance and excellent wear resistance and toughness.
440C A high-chromium stainless steel with a terrific balance of good hardness and corrosion resistance. 440C steel has great edge retention and is very easy to sharpen.
HYDRALLOY A proprietary steel manufactured by Underwater Kinetics that is specifically designed for diving. HYDRALLOY holds an edge, but remains stiff enough to pry around rocks or debris underwater and is impervious to rust.
M390 A high-performance blade steel with superior cutting ability and wear resistance. M390 is a popular steel for use in surgical instruments and other applications that require a high finish. It offers excellent corrosion resistance as a blade material.
N680 This steel has excellent corrosion resistance properties, especially to salt water. It offers good harden ability and high obtainable hardness as well as high-wear resistance and edge retention.
N690 A stainless steel comparable to 440C in performance and value. It has keen edge qualities and good corrosion resistance.
X15-TN A steel that has the ability to resist rust in the worst conditions while maintaining ample edge retention. The capability behind this steel is due to a complicated and extensive manufacturing process that produces a blade steel that can withstand the harshest environments. Blades made from X15-TN are easy to maintain and boast excellent edge retention.
AUS-8 A medium-carbon, high chromium stainless steel that offers a good balance of toughness, edge retention, and corrosion resistance.
9Cr13CoMov A high-carbon stainless steel with increased levels of Coblat added for greater edge retention. It offers a higher level of corrosion resistance at a great value.
8Cr13CoMov A steel with similar performance characteristics to AUS-8. Excellent price for its performance.
Damascus A custom forged, layered blade material consisting of a variety of steels. Damascus steel has remarkable toughness and edge quality.
14C28N A chromium steel that RUIKE processes, using quenching and subzero treatments, to reach the optimal hardness of 58-60 HRC. 14C28N steel is typically used in professional knives that require the edge of the blade to stay sharp. It's a durable stainless steel which resists corrosion over time.
Blade Coatings:
CerakoteTM CerakoteTM has a unique ceramic structure that out-performs many competitive coatings and improves performance in both laboratory and real-world settings.
BK1 BK1 is a matte black coating that provides excellent corrosion protection that exceeds the ASTM-117 specifications for salt water resistance while providing scratch protection.
BK2 A XylanTM based coating that provides excellent corrosion resistance. BT2 exceeds that ASTM-117 specifications for salt water resistance and increases overall surface lubricity.
BP1 Black Pearl (BP) coating is a PVD (physical vapor disposition) coating that offers top-of-the-line scratch resistance.
Blade Styles:
Tanto The point of a tanto-style blade has a flat grind applied to it that forms a thick and extraordinarily strong blade. Tanto blades are popular in tactical applications.
Drop-Point A convex-curved rop in the point characterizes the drop-point blade. This format lowers the point of the knife for control without sacrificing strength in the tip of the knife. These blades are usually formed with a big belly for quick slicing and are popular with hunters.
Clip-Point A clip-point blade is technically a variant of the drop-point blade, but instead of a slow, convex curve to lower the point, the profile is "clipped" to bring the point down. This is a good all-around blade style and is great for an every day carry knife.
Sheepsfoot A sheepsfoot blade has no point on the tip and very little to no belly. This blade style is used in applications where clicking is the main requirement and apoint is not needed or would get in the way. This is a popular blade style for emergency rescue and sailing knives.
Example of a Tanto blade
Example of a Drop Point blade
Example of a Clip Point blade
Example of a Sheepsfoot blade
Handle/Scale Materials:
Carbon Fiber A contemporary premium composite of thin strands of carbon tightly woven into various weave patterns then set in resin. Carbon fiber handles offer exceptional strength while adding almost no additional weight to the knife itself.
Cocobolo Cocobolo is a tropical hardwood from Central America known for its hardness and density.
Micarta Layers of cloth are soaked in resin and pressed together under immense pressure to form this handle material.
6061-T6 Aluminum A strong metal that offers a solid handle form and functions at a nominal weight.
Kraton Kraton offers excellent flexibility and memory elasticity even under extreme conditions.
Noryl GTX A modern engineered plastic that offers high-strength, minimal flex, and optimally lightweight properties.
G10 Made of compressed fiberglass, G10 is impervious to moisture or liquid and physically stable under climate change.
Kydex Kydex has outstanding impact and chemical resistance and adds very little additional weight to a knife.
Delrin A lightweight and durable engineered polymer with low-wear properties.
Valox A reinforced resin with excellent stiffness, strength, and dimensional stability.
Grivory A plastic with exceptional stability: 50% or greater glass-filled.
Santoprene A thermoplastic that offers excellent flexibility with good strength and fatigue resistance.
GRN Glass reinforced nylon.
Zytel A brand-name thermoplastic compound; tough and practical.
Locking and Release Mechanims:
AXIS The AXIS mechanism uses a torsion bar to lock or unlock the knife blade. The user pulls down on two studs located on either side of the blade to remove the torsion bar and fold the blae back into the handle. This is very easy to open one-handed.
Modified Locking Liner An integral locking bar within the knife springs into position behind the rear tang of the blade while the blade is open. This style of lock generally requires two hands to operate.
Nak-Lok Built from the framework of a locking liner; the lock engages using tensile strength compared to the compression hold of more traditional locking-liners.
Lock Back The user presses a stop bar that releases the blade so it can be rotated open or closed from the handle of the knife. This style of locking mechanism requires two hands to open or close the blade.
Nitrous LIke the AXIS mechanism, this requires the user to propel the blade at least partially out of the knife handle. Once the blade is pushed beyond a 30° angle, two torsion bars propel the blade fully open.
Automatic The blade is deployed out from the knife hand just like a traditional folding knife, but an automatic release propels the blade to a fully open position using a button on the side of th eknife. Extremely easy to open one-handed. Automatic Knives are restricted to active-duty military and law enforcement officials. Always research your state and local laws before purchasing an automatic knife to avoid persecution.
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