In the world of knife steel, there is a multitude of opinions on just about every aspect of each metal. Some claim one is easier to sharpen in the field, another says one keeps an edge better, while another swears by the toughness. For everyone to agree on one certain steel is very rare, even more so when talking about carbon steel. Visit any knife forum and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Most discussions are very informative, but many times they veer off track so much that you don’t even remember the type of steel being discussed in the first place. Not so with CRU-WEAR. With this particular type of steel, one message keeps popping up over and over again; buy it! The hardness, toughness, sharpening ability, edge retention, corrosion resistance, and workability are simply off the charts. The availability of CRU-WEAR is good, but the knives using it are generally on the higher tiers when comparing prices, however, don’t let this stop you from purchasing an exceptional blade.
Crucible’s CRU-WEAR steel is essentially an upgrade of D2 tool steel. It offers better wear resistance, greater toughness, and higher attainable hardness. Put all of these factors together in a blade and you have the makings for a truly remarkable material for knifemaking. CRU-WEAR’s chemical composition is as follows:
The typical industrial applications of CRU-WEAR include: punches, blanking dies, thread rolling dies, shear blades, roll forming blades, planer blades, gauges, coining dies, trim dies, and laminating dies. It has more wear-resistance than D2, higher toughness than M2 high-speed steel, and more compressive strength than both. CRU-WEAR tempers at a higher range than D2. Because of that, it takes surface treatments very well, including nitriding, steam tempering, and titanium nitride coating. The Rockwell hardness is HRC 60-65. The reason for this high level of hardness lies in the fact that it contains sufficient tungsten and molybdenum to cause a secondary hardening response, which does not occur in D2 tool steel. Both D2 and CRU-WEAR contain carbides for wear resistance, but CRU-WEAR has more vanadium carbides than D2. Vanadium carbides are harder than chromium carbides and are much more effective in providing wear resistance.
Because CRU-WEAR contains less carbon than D2, its overall carbide volume is lower, making it tougher than D2. After Austentitization at 1950 degrees to an HRC of 62, the impact toughness comes in at 30 ft.-lbs.(40J) and a wear resistance adhesive of 5-6. The machinability of CRU-WEAR in the annealed condition is similar to D2, but grindability will be slightly better. The recommended heat treatment is to Austenitize at 1950 degrees, then temper at 1000 degrees three times. Interestingly, there is a CPM (Crucible Powdered Metallurgy) variation of CRU-WEAR that distributes the carbides in a more homogenous way, increasing its machinability and resistance to chipping. The powdered variety also attains a higher hardness factor through greater percentages of tungsten and molybdenum.
Weighing in as the most expensive of our recommendations anywhere on this site is the Hoback/Alphahunter Black Stallion WarHorse heavy-duty folder. Knife designer Jake Hoback collaborated with Alphahunter Tactical Design to give birth to one of the more unique-looking knives on the market. It’s a very tough and stout little folder that offers potential buyers a battleworn grey-ish finish. The frame lock handle is Titanium and it features a reversible pocket clip for ambidextrous use.
The Black Stallion WarHorse folder is a heavy-duty knife collaboration between Jake Hoback Knives and Alphahunter Tactical Design. This hefty little folder comes built with a Cru-Wear steel flipper blade with a Battleworn Gray finish and features pivot thrust bearings for smooth-gliding deployment. Its thick titanium frame lock handle has a matching Battleworn Gray finish. Includes a reversible pocket clip for ambidextrous tip-up carry.
The overall blade-open length is 7.625 inches and the blade is 3.0 inches in length. For those of you who obsess over every detail, the blade thickness is 0.19 inches. The Cru-Wear blade is a clip point flat grind, and for those with think sausage hands, you’ll be delighted to know the handle length is over 4.6 inches.
The Alpha-Hunter Black Stallion is a new and improved re-design of the original WarHorse which was a really big knife with a 4-inch blade and thick Titanium construction. The Alpha-Hunter has been given a once over to check for weak spots and is re-engineered to bring the weight way down. There’s a unique Bio/Organic 3D machined semi-floating backspacer and a customized Hoback Roller Detent. Excellent smoothness of the blade movement is achieved with hardened bearing races.
Crucible Industries CRU-WEAR steel is truly a marvel of modern metallurgy and manufacturing. Crucible prides itself in researching and bringing to market new types of steel to fit any situation. They really hit the mark with CRU-WEAR. The toughness, edge retention, hardenability, machinability, and sharpening ability of this steel is just simply off the charts. It is rare to find one material that excels in so many categories, but CRU-WEAR delivers in spades. Though this is a carbon steel and not a stainless steel, the corrosion resistance is remarkable. The most you really need to do to maintain a knife using CRU-WEAR is to wipe it down after you use it each time. Of course, as with any knife, periodically oiling and cleaning it can go a long way in keeping it ready for use. You can find knives of every style using CRU-WEAR and its modified form of CPM CRU-WEAR in their blades. As it’s popularity is already high, and its workability also very good, you will see many more knives coming into the market utilizing this steel. Spyderco and Bark River Knives seem to be using it the most at the present time, though many small knifemakers are also offering products in CRU-WEAR. If you are always on the lookout for a new knife, or in the business of making knives yourself, go ahead and give Crucible’s CRU-WEAR or CPM CRU-WEAR a try. You won’t be disappointed!
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