New Knives with S30V or S35VN Blades for 2018

By Gary Zinn


Buck 110 Folding Hunter Pro
Buck 110 Folding Hunter Pro. Illustration courtesy of Buck Knives.

Many of the leading knife manufacturers have been announcing their new models for 2018. Among these are a number of knives featuring Crucible CPM-S30V or CPM-S35VN blade steel. I wrote about the increasing popularity of S30V and S35VN knives less than a year ago (S30V and S35VN Knives - A Rising Market Force) and predicted that more knives featuring these steels would be introduced over time.

In doing research for the article cited in the paragraph above, I found over 50 brands of knives made with S30V or S35VN blades. These ranged from universally recognized brands, such as Benchmade, Buck, Spyderco and Zero Tolerance, to brands known only to true knife freaks. Following is a brief summary of introductions for 2018 of knives featuring these steels by a handful of the most recognized brand names in the business.

Benchmade Knives has made the largest play in new models or variants featuring S30V blades, adding 17 new knives with S30V to their already extensive line of knives sporting that blade steel. Many of the new Benchmades are so-called tactical or EDC designs, but the hunting and general outdoors use categories are not ignored.

New hunting/general use models include the 15061 Grizzly Ridge, 15085-2 Mini Crooked River and 15400 Pardue Hunter. The first two of these are folders, featuring thumb stud opening and the AXIS lock mechanism, while the third is a classic styled fixed blade hunter designed by Mel Pardue.

These three knives are additions to the Benchmade HUNT knife series. All but one of the models offered in the HUNT series have S30V blades.

Buck Knives has introduced some interesting new models for 2018. Two new variants of their classic Model 110 Folding Hunter feature S30V blades. Chuck Hawks recently reviewed the Model 110 Folding Hunter Pro, noting that its improvements include a S30V blade, nickel silver bolsters and pins, G10 handle scales and a refined back lock. The Model 110 Auto Elite incorporates these features, plus a button activated opening assist mechanism.

Buck also offers six new variants of its Open Season hunting knife series with S35VN blades and micarta handles. These range in blade size from the Model 543 Caper with a 3.5" blade to the Model 535 Moose Hunter, with an 8" blade. Other knives in the series with S35VN include the models 537, 539, 541 and 557.

Cold Steel has announced the folding Bush Ranger knife, with a robust (3.5" long, 4mm thick) clip point S35VN blade, Tri-Ad lock and CNC machined G10 handle. This is an updated version of the original fixed blade Bush Ranger field knife design and it looks like a very capable, heavy duty hunting and general purpose outdoors knife.

Gerber has introduced five new knives with S30V blades. The model that caught my eye is the US-Assist, which sports a 3" drop point blade. It features an assisted opening mechanism with a plunge lock and cross bolt safety in a well-shaped glass filled nylon handle. This one is sized right for comfortable carry and good medium duty cutting capability.

SOG lists four new knives with S35VN blades. The most impressive of these is the fixed blade, full tang Pillar. This is a serious heavy duty knife, with a 5" long, 0.16" (4mm) thick clip point blade. The handle scales are canvas micarta and the knife comes with a Kydex sheath. This one is a beast!

Spyderco put its long-popular Native knife design on a diet, and calls the result the Lil' Native (Model C230). With a 2.5", leaf shaped S30V blade and a 3.5" handle, the Lil' Native weighs a trim 2.5 ounces. A G10 handle, reversible wire pocket clip and compression lock complete the package. The size, weight and features imply a compact, yet highly capable, pocket knife for general use.

Spyderco also lists a few new variants of its Delica 4 (Model C11) and Para-Military 2 (Model C81) with S30V blades. (The numerous previously released variants of the Para-Military 2 mostly have S30V or S35VN blades.)

Zero Tolerance has not announced any new knives using either of these steels, which I found surprising. They seem to be standing pat on the 17 knife models they already list with S30V or S35VN blades.

ZT does list three new knives with another Crucible CPM steel, 20CV. These models, labeled 0393, 0462 and 0609, have not yet been produced and shipped, but are listed on the company website as coming soon.

CPM-20CV is only beginning to be used in production knives. ZT joins Benchmade, which has a couple knife models with the steel, and Bark River has used 20CV in at least two models of their fixed blade knives. Time will tell whether 20CV becomes a popular blade steel.

Summary

These are the S30V or S35VN introductions that I could easily identify. Benchmade and Buck are making substantial commitments to new knives with S30V or S35VN blades, with Cold Steel, Gerber, SOG and Spyderco making more modest additions. Meanwhile, Zero Tolerance is easing into models with CPM-20CV, a close cousin of S30V and S35VN. Add the fact that 154CM has become a popular blade steel and it is not a stretch to surmise that knives featuring Crucible CPM steels will be prominent for a long time to come.




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Copyright 2018 by Gary Zinn and/or chuckhawks.com. All rights reserved.


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