River Knife & Tool, Coopersville, MI, March 2017–White River Knives and its Michigan manufacturing facility enjoys a well-deserved reputation for turning out near-custom knives at production prices. This family of knife makers uses only 100 percent American-made materials and labor and that includes the steels they use.
White River’s FireCraft line of survival knives (great for general purpose use, too) is currently made from S30V steel, an improved alloy with increased wear resistance (not “just” hardness, which is different). S30V alloy reduces abrasive wear, which means contact with materials that over time can abrade the blade’s fine edge such as whittling, cutting, etc. of various materials and exposure to dirt, sand, grit, bone and other elements that can erode a knife’s edge and are problematic in survival situations.
Blade marked 3V special run FireCraft 7-inch survival knife
Impact abrasion wear (from chopping) is also reduced significantly by using S30V alloy steel. What you get is a survival knife with excellent fine-edge endurance and effectiveness.
These fine detail differences in various steels make a difference in how a knife performs. Years ago, 440C was all the rage and worked very well when used in thin steels such as flexible fillet knives and surgical instruments, where no corrosion can be tolerated. However, when used in thicker profiles such as hunting knives, hatchets, and heavy-profile “military” or “survival knives,” S30V is a far superior steel.
Today’s alloys are the result of advanced chemical engineering and heat treating techniques that make a difference depending on the steel’s intended use – and that brings us to White River’s newest steel offering: 3V. Most of us mere humans cannot tell the difference between S30V and 3V steels, but here it is: 3V has 0.65 percent less carbon than S30V, 0.7 percent less molybdenum, and 1.25 percent less vanadium, which while at super-fine chemistry levels increases impact abrasion resistance (not actual breaking or chipping but actual abrasion) to hard chopping.
While this is really splitting hairs (pun intended), some folks who are seriously into knife technology asked White River to make a special run of the 7-inch FireCraft knives in 3V steel. Their reasoning (and it is correct at the super-expert level) is that the 7-inch knife FireCraft is large enough to be used for heavier chopping than the 5- and 6-inch models of the same knife, so the added abrasion resistance is worth the small trade-off in slicing efficiency.
White River agreed to the request of these technically inclined customers and is now making a limited run of 3V marked-knives in the 7-inch length. When available, these knives can be found in the Custom Shop section of the White River website www.whiteriverknives.com.