D2 steel is a tool steel, which is rich in both carbon and chromium. It is air hardening and has scratch resistant properties. The major difference between D2 steel and stainless steel is its chromium content. Due to this high chromium content, it also has superior corrosion and stain resistance. D2 steel knives are among the strongest knives. Let’s find out why in this article.
Formulation of D2 steel knives
D2 Steel is a World War II product, as per the available information. During the war, it had been using in stamping dies due to its tough nature and wear resistance. It belongs to the category of high carbon steels, with 1.4% of carbon in it. D2 steel also contains 11% of chromium, 0.3% of nickel, 1.2 % of molybdenum, 0.6% of magnesium, 1.1% of vanadium and 0.3 % of silicone.
The Rockwell hardness of D2 tool steel is RC 57-62, with blades typically hardened to the upper range. Most of the tool steels are prone to both corrosion and staining. But high chromium content gives it the ability to resist both corrosion and stains.
D2 Steel Features
High heat resistance
A D2 steel knife is highly resistant to heat if made through a careful procedure by controlling the temperature at right intervals. Just a slight variation in temperature can yield a different quality blade. If the knife had tempering at the right time, you can produce high performing blade, which is tough and heat resistant.
Most of the high carbon steels are prone to corrosion, whereas D2 steel knives are corrosion resistant. Like I said above, it is due to the presence of high chromium content in D2 tool steel.
D2 steel blades are very sturdy and hence they are ideal for any hard use. D2 steel is perfect for camping chores and other abusive use. Its toughness makes it break resistant and less brittle. In fact, D2 steel is one of the strongest and most durable materials used in knife making.
Quality of D2 Steel Knives
D2 steel knives could be both extraordinarily good or just good according to the heat treatment process on the steel (long before you purchase the knife). Tempering is the final stage of the heat-treating procedure. And it determines the quality of the knife, by increasing or decreasing the flexibility of the knife.
D2 is known as semi-stainless because of the presence of chromium in it. D2 knives are more resistant to rusting than other high carbon steel knives. As D2 steel is air hardened, it cannot be differentially tempered like other steels which have high carbon content.
How break-resistant it is? The break resistance of a D2 knife mainly depends on the thickness of the blade and the kind of heat-treatment it did undergo. Blades which are thick and hard will have high break resistance. However, generally, D2 steel knives can endure a significant amount of lateral stress.
Still, it is relatively easy to sharpen the blade. Friction forging will help in increasing the cutting endurance of a D2 steel blade.
Drawbacks of D2 Steel Knives
A D2 steel knife does have some drawbacks as blade steel. It is hard to polish (still possible, it just takes more time and effort). As D2 blades are usually Rockwell hardened to RC 60-62, you might also face some problems with edge reestablishment. Nevertheless, if you sharpen the blade in the right way, it would hold its edge longer.
D2 steel is too hard to be sharpened with a whetstone, you need to use either diamond sharpeners or ceramic crock sticks work well. Personally, I use this multifunction sharpener for my D2 knife: Smith’s PP1 Pocket Pal Multifunction Sharpener.
If you want to study more about testing hardness in Rockwell scale, have a look at this video:
The Best D2 Steel Knives
So to help you to pick your next (D2) knife, I listed the best D2 steel knives I know below.
Ka-Bar 1281 D2 Extreme Fighting Knife
If your life is on the line, you should only go with the best. Ka-Bar 1281 is an excellent all-around knife. Yes, I mean all-around, from cutting, prying to chopping, digging, hammering, fighting, everything. The D2 steel can hold an edge longer than carbon steels, and it doesn’t have the brittleness of stainless steels. The handle material is Kraton, which allows a non-slip grip, even with wet hands.
I would recommend it to anybody. But if you’re a civilian, then you would probably be better off with the Ka-Bar D2 Impact. Because it’s smaller and lighter (and prettier). But if you’re military, paramilitary, etc. there’s not much better out there, especially not for the price.
Another thing worth mentioning is the coating on the blade. It looks bead-blasted or powder coated in the picture, but it’s more like some kind of black paint. It does a good job of reducing reflectivity and also acts as a blade lubricant.
This knife could easily excel your purpose of an everyday carry (EDC). Kershaw’s Rake is a good-sized knife, with Composite Blade technology. A Composite Blade combines two steels in one blade. Thus enabling us to put each steel to work doing what it does best. In this case, The Rake is outfitted with tough, wear-resistant D2 steel on the cutting edge and high-performance Sandvik 14C28N steel on the spine. 14C28N provides both good corrosion resistance and high hardness. While the high-carbon high-chromium D2 steel provides the razor edge. The Rake is extremely practical. Its blade has a big, curved belly for ample slicing and slashing capability. A clipped point preserves piercing power, too. The handle is G10, and I just love the way this knife looks. The shape and flow of the knife is near perfect.
The knife opens quickly and safely thanks to the SpeedSafe assisted opening system. With SpeedSafe, you can smoothly and easily open the blade with one hand, either left or right, using the flipper or built-in thumbstud.
Whenever you want to choose D2 steel knives, make sure that you have a close look at the knife. Also, check the tang and find out if it is strong enough and adequately balances the knife or not. For people who are interested in having a custom-made D2 steel knife, it is quite easy to find stores offering custom-made knife delivery services. A knife with unique features characterizing personal preferences is something everyone would love to have.References