When looking to purchase your next knife, there’s a number of different features to consider to ensure it’s perfect for the tasks you need. One of the features that are often overlooked is the blade material!
Given that your blade is doing all the work, we think it’s time to put some different blade materials side-by-side to ensure you know the best steel for the job.
Two of the most popular steels for both outdoor carry and culinary uses are the VG10 and S30V, which you’ll find used across a range of models from the likes of Spyderco, Buck and Benchmade. What is the difference between VG10 vs S30V steel? We’ll take a closer look.
We’ll compare both on their usability and specification before picking out some top knife models, to arm you with all the knowledge you need to make your next knife buying decision!
Note – Whilst we’ll focus on outdoor survival use cases, we’ll touch on culinary knives for those looking for a kitchen accompaniment.
Haven’t got time for a full review? Here’s the short version:
- VG10 steel is found in many affordable knives and is great for those that need a good all-rounder that can be sharpened easily.
- If you need steel that’s slightly more durable and will hold a working edge for longer, we’d recommend opting for an S30v model.
Now, let’s get started with the full review.
VG10 vs S30v – Usability
Let’s start with a disclaimer. When comparing VG10 vs S30v steel, both are good quality metals for an everyday carry knife. Whichever steel your next knife uses will see you good for most tasks you come up against!
With that said, let’s start by looking at how each metal performs as part of day-to-day use!
Both steels are hard and will perform well in all tasks across slicing, chopping and batoning. But, when it comes to official hardness, the S30v will, in the main, be stronger depending on the heat treatment applied.
When it comes to reaching a breaking point, VG10 has been known to chip, whereas S30v is more likely to bend under extreme pressure.
Summary – Both steels are hard enough for most tasks, but S30v is ultimately stronger in most cases!
Edge retention is where the VG10 and S30v steels really start to differ.
VG10 is known for losing its hair-splitting ultra-fine edge relatively quickly but does retain a good quality, very workable edge for a long time.
If you need high performance for longer, S30v may be the better choice for you. The steel is known for maintaining good performance for a while and will keep you good for an extended usage period.
Summary – If you need to retain an ultra-sharp edge for longer, opt for the S30v.
Difficulty to Sharpen
When it comes to sharpening difficult, the comparison between VG10 vs S30v steel is interesting. Where VG10 makes up for that low edge retention is its simplicity to sharpen back to perfect performance. Many novice knife users comment on how easy it is to bring VG10 back to great sharpness with fairly basic sharpening tools.
On the other hand, sharpening S30v is a much more difficult task. Those inexperienced with knife sharpening may struggle to keep their blades ultra-sharp without investing a lot of time and effort into perfecting the art.
Summary – VG10 is far easier to sharpen for knife users at all levels. This makes up for its lack of edge retention given how easy it is to bring back to top performance.
VG10 vs S30v – Usability Summary
Both steels will give you the performance you need to handle most tasks you’ll be faced with day-to-day.
In the end, it comes down to the relative ability to hold an edge and then re-sharpen the steel. As the slightly more premium composition, the S30v will hold an edge for slightly longer but requires more skill to re-sharpen.
On the other hand, the VG10 will lose its ultra-sharp performance faster, but it will be easy for even the most amateur knife users to bring it back to its best.
Side-By-Side Specs – VG10 vs S30v
Both steels have slightly different compositions to deliver their fantastic performance. We’ve put the steels side-by-side with some extra information to help you understand the specification of the two.
|Steel Compositions||1% Carbon, 15% Chromium, 1% Molybdenum, 0.2% Vanadium, and 1.5% Cobalt||Carbon 1.45%, Chromium 14.00%, Vanadium 4.00%, Molybdenum 2.00%.|
|Example Brands||Spyderco, Yoshihiro, Camillus, Fox.||Benchmade, Buck, Mercworx, Hogue.|
|Best For||Good quality steel at a bargain price.||High quality steel for egreta edge retention.|
VG10 vs S30v – Top Picks
Having looked at both the VG10 and S30v steels, we’ll pick out a couple of knives which utilize each steel to help you get a feel for what’s available.
No outdoorsman is complete without a hardy range of fixed blade knives, and the 6″ A1 from Fallkniven is an awesome tool to have on your belt!
Fallkniven guarantees the laminated VG10 steel will withstand the stress of hard use, making it perfect for any slicing, chopping or batoning needs. The package comes complete with a Zytel sheath that’s perfect for belt or pack mounting.
At around $175, this isn’t a cheap knife, but with the premium quality, VG10 steel, this is a knife that can handle everything you throw at it!
This look at VG10 steel wouldn’t be complete without jumping back to the chef’s knives. VG10 steel is perhaps best known for its use in the kitchen, and one of the leading brands are Yoshihiro.
The 7″/8.25″/9.5″ options all provide superior cutting quality thanks to their high-performance VG10 core construction and lightweight and durable feel in hand.
Starting at $169.99, these Yoshihiro knives are perfect for professional chefs who need the edge in the kitchen or as a premium gift from an amateur culinary expert!
Here at Knives Advisor, we’re big fans of Buck and have pulled out their 294 assisted folding knife as a great example of an S30v knife!
That high-quality steel is matched with a Cerakote Graphite Coated aluminium handle and Buck’s ‘ASAP’ technology to give a folding knife that’s packed full of high performance!
This is a premium knife so expect to pay at least $150 for this 3″ model. But, as always with Buck, the high-quality guarantee means it’s well worth the price for a knife that will never let you down!
Everyone needs a good folding knife on their belt for day-to-day tasks. The Shaman from Spyderco is a great choice and notably utilises an S30v stainless steel blade to deliver great performance.
At over $200, there’s not much to dislike with a high-quality grip, convenient thumbhole and the quality assurance from a brand like Spyderco. This is a premium folding knife for those that need something high quality and durable on their belt!
Read More >>> How to Sharpen Japanese Knives
When it comes to VG10 vs S30v steel, both are great choices for your next knife purchase. In the end it will come down to two key components – edge retention and ease of sharpening.
If you need a knife that’s easy to sharpen go for a knife with VG10, although you will need to sharpen more often. If you need real premium steel with great edge rentention, go for the S30v. But, expect to need some premium sharpening skills and tools to keep the S30v at maximum performance.