When writers cover blade materials, there’s a tendency to focus on premium steels. While the potential attributes of certain steels may be well worth the cost, the end-user may not need or even have the opportunity to utilize such performance. In that case, the added cost of premium steel isn’t necessarily warranted. What these folks need is performance equal to the assignment at hand.

Since I spend the bulk of my recreational time outdoors, my cutlery needs tend to center on fish and game care, camping chores and general utility needs. However, I have friends who never venture farther outdoors than the nearest golf course, and their requirements for an edged tool are less demanding. A knife that holds a reasonable edge and demands minimal care is all either of us really needs.

Chinese 8Cr13MoV is blade steel that’s widely used in the production cutlery industry for two reasons: cost and performance. Since the steel is produced in Asia, where labor and material cost much less, this lowers the material expense for the manufacturer. And with adequate heat treatment and appropriate edge geometry, such steel provides satisfactory performance under most conditions.

To be sure, Chinese-made steel gives rise to serious concerns in some quarters. While there are those who would decry Chinese blade steel as an inferior product whose use impacts the U.S. job market, they are the same folks who have no problem with the “Made in China” label on a host of other products. Not too many years ago, the same sentiment was expressed about products made in other Asian countries, many of which are now recognized as both leaders and innovators in electronics, optics, firearms and even fine cutlery.

Read more in the November 2013 issue of Tactical Knives

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