Stainless vs. High-Carbon Steel
There are two broad categories of steel: stainless and high-carbon. Stainless steel resists rust very well but it can dull easily. High-Carbon steel keeps an edge really well but it rusts easily. Another comparison would be that stainless would have a tendency for sharp edges to curl, bend or warp under pressure, while high-carbon steel would chip or splinter. Most mass-produced steels are somewhere in between.
However, if you read the marketing on knives, it’ll talk about how the steel used to make a certain knife is very “special” compared to others on the market. Don’t be fooled. Almost all steel used for knives come from a handful of steel suppliers. This rule applies to the US as well as foreign knives. Most knife-makers temper the steel to add additional qualities but it won’t drastically change the steel’s properties.
(See our review of Balisong knives).
What is AUS-8A steel
AUS-8a is almost the same thing as AUS-8. It is often called 8a steel as well. It is a stainless steel with a relatively low carbon content. You’ll appreciate how well it resists rust and how easily is sharpens. What differs AUS-8a from AUS-8 is that it has been heat-treated. They are the same steel with the same makeup of metals, however. Both AUS-8 and AUS-8a are very similar to the 440 line of steels. The 440 line is made by an American company whereas the AUS line is made by a Japanese company. Some AUS steel is made in China.
Strengths and Weaknesses of AUS-8A Steel
AUS-8 Steel is similar to 440 steel. It has Vanadium to give the steel more hardness. AUS-8a steel is very easy to sharpen to a razor edge but it will dull relatively quickly compared to high-carbon. Some reviewers online say that it’ll dull by just being out in oxygen. Others say that they have used it daily at work and only sharpen it once a week. The quality of the blade does depend a lot on use and tempering techniques from the manufacturer. AUS-8a will withstand rust very well. It is similar to 440 steel in this regard as well.
It is REALLY important to understand that even a steel with the same designation (ie. AUS-8 or D2) will have differing qualities depending on how they are forged. The same steel can be harder or softer than another with the same label.
Knives that Commonly Use AUS-8A Steel
The SOG Knife company uses AUS-8 steel regularly. Kabar uses it in their dozer series of knives. Cold Steel uses it in the SRK series. All of Ontario Knife Company’s RAT Model 1’s are made with AUS-8. CRKT uses in their Van Hoy series as well as many other knives. Some Gerber knives use AUS-8a as well.
Our Favorite AUS-8a knife
We like the name and quality of Cold Steel, and this Finn Wolf is nicely within the financial grasp of the average American!
This design was inspired by the classic Puukko Finish hunting knife. The Finn Wolf represents a collaboration with custom knife maker Andrew Demko. The shape of the blade is a highly functional Puukko design, but the Finn Wolf is a heavy duty folding EDC. It utilizes Cold Steel’s Tri-Ad lockback mechanism that adds new levels of safety and security. As we mentioned, the blade is made from Japanese AUS-8A steel with an easy to sharpen zero grind edge. The Finn Wolf offers dependable quality and a classic blade design at a price that is too good to pass up! Seriously, you won’t believe the price! Just click the photo….go ahead, do it!!
Conclusion on AUS-8A Steel
8a steel is great if you are looking for a good quality knife. It won’t perform as well as high-end tool steel and you won’t find it from knife makers like Benchmade. However, this low carbon stainless steel does give you a great bang for your buck. It is very similar to 440 steel and is often used in many mass produced knives. 440 steel is also used in machetes.
Do you have any other questions about steel types? Ask it in the comment box below. One of our knife experts will be glad to assist you.