The Gerber LMF II Blade Steel Story

by D-Poc

I recently received a question from a reader of this site on what type of steel the blade of the Gerber LMF II that he bought was made. I sent an email over to Donda at Gerber and got a great response from her. I didn’t realize that the steel had been changed permanently from the Sandvik 12C27 SS to the US 420HC. Also Donda points out at the bottom of her response that you need to check the packaging to know what type of steel your Gerber LMF II has because it’s not stamped anywhere on the knife itself.

By the way, you can find the Gerber 22-01400 LMF II Survival Knife – Coyote Brown knife here.

Hi Caddotx,

Thank you for contacting Gerber Blades.

***NOTE*** January 2006 – December 2007 this steel type was comprised of Sandvik 12C27 SS.

***NOTE*** January 2008 – April 2008 the steel type was temporarily changed from the Sandvik 12C27 SS to 440A U.S. SS.

***NOTE*** May 2008 – current: Production had not resumed with the Sandvik 12C27 SS due to complications with material availability, but switched to a more closely matching steel, the US 420HC.

Carbon

: Present in all steels, it is the most important hardening element. Also increases the strength of the steel but, added in isolation, decreases toughness. We usually want knife-grade steel to have >.5% carbon, which makes it “high-carbon” steel.

Chromium

: Added for wear resistance, harden-ability, and (most importantly) for corrosion resistance. A steel with at least 13% chromium is typically deemed “stainless” steel, though another definition says the steel must have at least 11.5% *free* chromium (as opposed to being tied up in carbides) to be considered “stainless”. Despite the name, all steel can rust if not maintained properly. Adding chromium in high amounts decreases toughness. Chromium is a carbide-former, which is why it increases wear resistance.

Manganese

: An important element, manganese aids the grain structure, and contributes to harden-ability. Also strength & wear resistance. Improves the steel (e.g., deoxidizes) during the steel’s manufacturing (hot working and rolling). Present in most cutlery steel except for A2, L-6, and CPM 420V.

Molybdenum

: A carbide former, prevents brittleness & maintains the steel’s strength at high temperatures. Present in many steels, and air-hardening steels (e.g., A2, ATS-34) always have 1% or more molybdenum — molybdenum is what gives those steels the ability to harden in air.

Phosphorus

: Present in small amounts in most steels, phosphorus is a essentially a contaminant which reduces toughness.

Silicon

: Contributes to strength. Like manganese, it makes the steel more sound while it’s being manufactured.

Sulfur

: Typically not desirable in cutlery steel, sulfur increases machine-ability but decreases toughness.

Vanadium

: Contributes to wear resistance and harden ability, and as a carbide former (in fact, vanadium carbides are the hardest carbides) it contribute to wear resistance. It also refines the grain of the steel, which contributes to toughness and allows the blade to take a very sharp edge. A number of steels have vanadium, but M2, Vascowear, and CPM T440V and 420V (in order of increasing amounts) have high amounts of vanadium. BG-42’s biggest difference with ATS-34 is the addition of vanadium.

Due to inconsistencies with the Sandvik 12C27 and quality concerns; the decision to move forward with the U.S. 420HC was determined to be the best choice and closest match to the Sandvik 12C27 SS. The U.S. 420HC not only exceeded overall performance but also met our high volume and quality production requirements.

Please note that the blades are not stamped or etched as such. The product specifications will be specifically marked on the accompanying packages. The differences between all the steels used, are so closely matched, we believe you will be sincerely challenged to find any performance differences at all.

Unfortunately however, the only way to tell which steel your LMF might be comprised from is the packaging. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Sincerely,

Donda Burnett

Customer Service Representative

Fiskars Outdoor – Americas

Gerber | Brunton

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Dave June 19, 2011 at 12:31 pm

I just bought a gerber lmf 2 and there is no indication of what steel was used on the knife or the package. The package just says stainless steell.

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