To understand why we use M-390 steel in our knives, it helps to know a little about the background of this excellent sharpness retention material. M-390 comes from the Böhler Edelstahl GmbH & Co KG factory in Kapfenberg, Austria. Böhler produces many types of steel that are incredibly wear-and-tear resistant called “specialty steels.” Böhler originally developed the M-390 to be used in molds for the injection molding industry. The fact that it is also great for use in knives is really a secondary use.
(Böhler factory in Kapfenberg, Austria)
The molds needed for the injection molding industry need to be extremely wear-and-tear resistant. If you think about it, if you have to take the same shape from one mold thousands of times, it has to perform exactly the same on the 10,000th time as it did on the first. That is why these molds are made from such top-quality steel.
Why Is M-390 Steel Good for Knife Blades?
M-390 is incredibly wear-and-tear resistant and it properly maintains the shape of the edge over a longer period than other types of steel, making for knife blades that retain their sharpness longer. The end result is you don’t have to stop and sharpen your knife while dressing a big whitetail or bull elk. It also means that no matter which knife you choose from Williams Knife Co., your knife will last longer. Knives made of cheaper, less-durable steel will wear out faster than a knife made of M-390. If you think about it, the more you sharpen your knife, the faster it will wear out. That’s why we offer a limited lifetime guarantee.
What Makes M-390 Steel Durable?
The chemistry and manufacturing process used in creating M-390 steel makes it exceptionally durable.
Böhler makes its M-390 according to a powder metallurgical process. Normally a manufacturer combines different elements in an alloy, pours out large blocks and flattens them to end up with sheets that can be used by knife manufacturers. Böhler’s approach is different. After combining the elements, Böhler puts them in a gas-atomizing machine, which sprays the melted steel like a diffuser. This results in the molecular structure of the steel becoming much finer.
In addition to staying sharp longer, M-390 can be sharpened a little thinner, which of course allows it to be sharpened to an even finer level. It is also nearly stainless because of the amount of chrome used in its manufacturing. Of course, this does make sharpening an M-390 knife a little tougher. Whipping out an old conventional sharpening stone won’t get you the edge you are looking for. M-390 sharpening is best done on a diamond-coated or ceramic stone option.
We hope you are enjoying your Williams knife and putting it to good use.
- Chris Williams