One of the most acknowledged and creative knife makers Bob Loveless opts for the BG42 Steel leaving behind ATS-34 steel. This remark is enough to define the speciality of the BG42 steel. Yet some downside of the steel makes a lot of knife makers turn away from it. The BG42 is difficult to manufacture which causes a rise in the cost and also limits the supply.

However, with little innovation, you will get a powder metallurgical version of the BG42 steel available that is known as CTS B75P steel. The only issue with the updated version is you will not find the type available in mass amounts. There are more interesting things that you need to get to know about BG42 steel to come to a verdict if whether the steel is good for knives.

What is BG42 Steel?

The BG42 steel was originally manufactured by a knife making company called Latrobe. Later the formula of the steel was sold off to Carpenter. Currently, Carpenter manufactures the Powder Metallurgy version of the BG42 steel which is not vacuum melted.

Nature wise the BG42 is high-speed stainless steel with a martensitic structure. The main purpose of the BG42 steel is to serve in various fields of the aerospace industry. Later on, the knife making industry also started using steel. You will see the steel is used for manufacturing bearings that require performing heavy duty.

For increasing the purity of the BG42 steel, it goes through double vacuum melting technology. The technology is a combination of two processes called the Vacuum Arc Re-melted and Vacuum Induction Melted that ensures the BG42 steel is clean to use for critical tasks.

Previously, the BG42 steel was not commonly used in the knife making industry like other steels for instance 152CM and S30V. The steel was used by high-end brands like CRK and Mercewerx. Some limited knives do have blades made out of BG42 steel which is the limited edition of Buck’s Strider and Spyderco Sprint knives.

When the famous company Chris Reeve Knives used it for their Sebenza the BG42 was levelled as super steel for a short period. Later the knife company switched their preference to use CPM S30V stainless steel. Yet, even today people go for using Sebenza made out of BG42 instead of using S30V.

Chemical Composition:

The reason why the BG42 steel is considered stainless is because of the high amount of chromium percentage in it. There are other elements present in various percentages that contribute to giving interesting properties to the steel. Have a look at these elements.

  • 15% of Carbon: Enhances hardness and also makes the steel resistant to corrosion and wear.
  • 5% of Chromium: Increases the level of edge retention, resistance to corrosion and impact, and tensile strength.
  • 00% of Molybdenum: Aids machinability and increases the strength of the metal without making it brittle.
  • 50% of Manganese: Increases hardness level of the metal.
  • 30% of Silicon: Increases resistance of metal to corrosion and adds strength.
  • 20% of Vanadium: Enhances hardenability and as well as makes the steel resistant to impact.

The hardness of BG42 steel:

According to the scale of Rockwell C, the hardness level of BG42 steel lies between 61 to 62 HRC. This shows that the steel has a high level of hardness which is because of the high amount of carbon, manganese, molybdenum and vanadium in the stainless steel.

Properties of BG42 Steel:

  • Great Toughness: As the stainless steel consists of manganese, molybdenum and vanadium in its alloy it has great toughness with an increased level of hardness. This property makes the steel perfect for use in knife blades as it will not break, crack or chip upon regular and heavy use.
  • Fair Edge Retention: The hardness of the steel is directly proportional to the capability of resisting the wearing of steel. The hard vanadium carbides of the steel and the great volume work for making the steel resistant to wear. This allows the BG42 steel to have the capability of holding the sharp edge for long periods.
  • Excellent Wear Resistance: The stainless steel has a remarkable level of hardness because of the combination of elements like chromium, molybdenum and vanadium in it. These elements contribute to providing enough carbide volume to the steel to ensure that it is resistant to impact making it have great edge retention. Furthermore, it is well known that vanadium carbides are tougher than chromium ones.
  • Corrosion Resistance: BG42 steel contains chromium which is a famous element that aids resistance to corrosion. along with chromium, the steel contains molybdenum which also works for the same purpose.
  • Ease of Sharpening: Because of the high level of hardness of BG42 steel the blade is not very easy to sharpen. For sharpening the BG42 steel you will need to get an expensive diamond sharpener. The positive side is that you will not need to sharpen the BG42 blade very often as it is capable of holding sharpness for long periods.

Comparison of BG42 with other knife grades:

BG42 vs 154CM

154CM steel does contain vanadium, which is present in BG42 steel. This makes BG42 steel better than 154CM as vanadium adds more resistance to wear. BG42 steel has better edge retention capability compared to 154 CM. The only benefit of 154 CM is that it is easy to sharpen compared to BG42 steel.

BG42 vs S30V

If you compare these two metals, you will find that BG42 is the tougher steel. greater toughness means that BG42 steel will be able to have greater edge retention compared to S30V. BG42 has greater resistance to stains compared to S30V. On the negative side, the BG42 is less resistant to wear compared to the S30V.

BG42 vs ATS34

BG42 has a lot of similarities with ATS34 as both of them have similar element content. Just exceptionally, there is a high quantity of vanadium and manganese present in BG42 which is absent in ATS34. These two elements help BG42 have great edge retention and corrosion resistance compared to ATS34.

So, is BG42 Steel Good for your knives?

Yes, BG42 steel is good enough for use to manufacture knife blades because of its properties. A high level of hardness, toughness, corrosion resistance, edge retention and fine structure of grain makes the stainless steel suitable for the making of knife blades.

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