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Spyderco users, H1 serrated vs LC200N serrated

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Ok knife nerds, does anyone have experience with spyderco’s serrated knives in both LC200N and H1? 
 

It’s well documented that H1 has better edge retention in SE than PE and that LC200N has better edge retention in PE than H1 in PE. 
 

How similar are the steels in edge retention and toughness when they’re both serrated?

 

For context, looking for a kayak knife for cutting bait, gutting fish, making steaks and to serve as a back up rescue knife. 
Have seen this topic brought up on the spyderco forums but haven’t really seen a comparison from someone who’s used both. 

 


 

 

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Great question.  I, too, would like to see more of a direct comparison in SE.......especially FFG SE.  Problem is that the serrated salt series is pretty much hollow or saber ground H1 so a direct comparison is problematic with the different geometries.

 

Evil_D did an abuse test on a FFG SE LC200N Caribbean and it seemed plenty tough.  I don't know why Spyderco hasn't made more SE LC200N at this point.  I suspect it has something to do with Sal's loyalty and code of ethics with his long time Japanese H1 salt series manufactures.  There may be light at the end of the tunnel as rumor has it that Eric has finally come to some sort of agreement with their Japanese manufacturers to start making some of their salt series with LC200N and hopefully in FFG SE.

 

I luv, luv, luv my Siren and wish they made a FFG SE version of it.  I seem to be the only one campaigning for it and hate to keep sounding like a broken record.  Would love to see others lobbying for such a knife on the Spyderco forum.  (hint, hint)

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Thanks for the response Bass. I think there’s some really good discussion points that you brought up. Very true about the the FFG on the LC200N knives.
 

Played with an older native and loved the size and ergos. I’m almost sold at this point. Price and compression lock of the Caribbean are deterrents for me since I’m left handed. 
 

Seems like the waterway and siren are really popular. I wonder if Lance will design a serrated knife at some point. In his video of the Pacific salt he touted the virtue of the serrated blade for cutting gills so I was a little surprised that he designed a PE knife. I know he wanted a versatile knife that can be used off the water so maybe that combined with his propensity to filet fish on the boat led him to PE? 
 

And yea, it would be nice to see the whole salt like done in both H1 and LC200N, I guess we’ll see in time 

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9 mins ago, hhager23 said:

The Siren is a beautiful knife. I love mine as well. 

Same here.

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I'm a custom knife maker and have made customs from all sorts of blade materials ranging from CPM -10V to grade 5 titanium and 1095. I've built with LC200N (Zfinit) as well.

 

The big difference between H1 and Zfinit is the age hardening properties. H1 will get harder over time, but it won't affect your performance negatively. Neither knife will hold an edge significantly differently from each other. The material you cut has a far FAR greater influence on edge retention than the steel type, when the steel is treated optimally for a knife. The geometry of the blade (edge angle, grind, etc) also has a far greater effect than the blade steel itself. We are talking orders of magnitude here. You would need extremely precisely controlled scientific tests to see the difference in performance of two steels. I am talking holding all parameters equal. Blade geometry, material cut, speed of cut, length of edge presented during the cut, angle of edge to material being cut, etc.

 

This is completely unnatural and not how people actually use knives. If we're talking cardboard or carpet for example, the difference in blunting from one piece to another could easily be 10:1. Assuming you could perfectly linearize the material you're cutting, edge geometry can affect your cutting performance by an order of magnitude (10 times or 900% difference). The effect of the blade steel on edge retention is far far less than this.

 

What will be most affected by the steel type is the ease of sharpening or time taken to repair the edge. Low carbide, very strong hard steels are always the best knives if you keep them pretty sharp. If you let your knives get pretty dull and want essentially a saw-type knife, higher carbide steels are better. They can get sharp, but take a lot more work to sharpen. They don't hold an edge any differently to low carbide steels at high sharpness, but when the edge gets dull, a high carbide steel will stop blunting due to wear while the low carbide steel will continue to get duller.

 

H1 and LC200N are both nitrogen based stainless steels with low carbide volume and wear resistance. They'll be easy to sharpen and take a keen edge. The difference between the steels themselves might be 5% in a laboratory. The difference between them in the real world will be imperceptible. Get the knife that has the better edge geometry, handle design, and if price is a factor, that too.

 

This is all coming from an engineer who has studied material sciences in knives and stuctural applications for a couple years and has been making knives since 2014, so you know my information is credible.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

I love my Spyderco H1 blades. They are the only blades I use in the kayak and my only blades that stand up to constant Serious abuse in the salt. My Discontinued H1 Caspian May be my favorite fishing knife of all time. 
 

That said, I find them VERY difficult to sharpen. The h-1 steel is really hard to upkeep. Ill admit it may just be my sharpening skills but I don’t have as hard of a time with my other Spydercos. If LC200N is easier to sharpen but can handle the Saltwater like H1, I would make the switch. 

 

 

Edited by ThirstyOwl III

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I can't answer any questions regarding the steel, or how it is to sharpen, having not sharpened mine yet having it I guess for about two years now. I've only ever had to actually use it vs my regular pocket knife only a few times to cut a rope here or there, or some line.

 

However, I do very much so like my Spyderco Enuff Salt which is in H1 steel. I keep it on my surf belt, but like I said I've really not used it, it's there just for safety. I can say though I've only ever seen a spot of rust on it, and that was when I didn't wash my belt/gear off once, and the rust wiped off with a rag.

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Sharpening is a skill in and of itself. Not too hard to learn. Best sharpeners are always hard stones, ceramic rods are ok, but require special care to keep clean and cutting. Draw-through sharpeners are absolute crap.

 

LC200N will handle the salt just fine. It's corrosion resistance is analagous to H1. The biggest difference between them is their heat treatment and hardening procedures.

 

LC200N is a low carbide non-age hardening nitrogen stainless steel. High toughness (for a stainless) and low wear resistance. Should be much easier to sharpen than H1. It is a bit harder to sharpen than AEBL (if you've shaved, you've used AEBL. Specifically designed for knives and fine cutting tools), but still sharpens very well.

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I see no reason a serrated knife would be necessary, and I think it would be a detriment as a fish cleaning and filet knife, I've never seen a cannery worker with a serrated knife, if anyone would know what is needed, it would be them.

Spent 20 years in the Coast Guard saving mariners, taught how to do it for 4 years at Ilwaco, WA. at the Motor Lifeboat school, not one Coast Guardsman I remember ever carried a serrated blade survival knife. The rescue knives sold for our military use to cut, themselves away from parachute shrouding are not serrated.

I carried a Buck 110 folder everyday of my career and still do, my survival knife was a Gerber Shorty fixed blade knife in a special built marine grade sheath, it cut line like butter and saved countless people's property.

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3 hours ago, RedGreen said:

I'm a custom knife maker and have made customs from all sorts of blade materials ranging from CPM -10V to grade 5 titanium and 1095. I've built with LC200N (Zfinit) as well.

 

The big difference between H1 and Zfinit is the age hardening properties. H1 will get harder over time, but it won't affect your performance negatively. Neither knife will hold an edge significantly differently from each other. The material you cut has a far FAR greater influence on edge retention than the steel type, when the steel is treated optimally for a knife. The geometry of the blade (edge angle, grind, etc) also has a far greater effect than the blade steel itself. We are talking orders of magnitude here. You would need extremely precisely controlled scientific tests to see the difference in performance of two steels. I am talking holding all parameters equal. Blade geometry, material cut, speed of cut, length of edge presented during the cut, angle of edge to material being cut, etc.

 

This is completely unnatural and not how people actually use knives. If we're talking cardboard or carpet for example, the difference in blunting from one piece to another could easily be 10:1. Assuming you could perfectly linearize the material you're cutting, edge geometry can affect your cutting performance by an order of magnitude (10 times or 900% difference). The effect of the blade steel on edge retention is far far less than this.

 

What will be most affected by the steel type is the ease of sharpening or time taken to repair the edge. Low carbide, very strong hard steels are always the best knives if you keep them pretty sharp. If you let your knives get pretty dull and want essentially a saw-type knife, higher carbide steels are better. They can get sharp, but take a lot more work to sharpen. They don't hold an edge any differently to low carbide steels at high sharpness, but when the edge gets dull, a high carbide steel will stop blunting due to wear while the low carbide steel will continue to get duller.

 

H1 and LC200N are both nitrogen based stainless steels with low carbide volume and wear resistance. They'll be easy to sharpen and take a keen edge. The difference between the steels themselves might be 5% in a laboratory. The difference between them in the real world will be imperceptible. Get the knife that has the better edge geometry, handle design, and if price is a factor, that too.

 

This is all coming from an engineer who has studied material sciences in knives and stuctural applications for a couple years and has been making knives since 2014, so you know my information is credible.

Sounds like you just moved to the head of the class for our form's custom knife needs Red. I have a bit of background on this department myself and I concur. Everything you have said is spot on.

 

I'd also say that for basic fishing purposes, be it processing fish, fillets, or emergency measures, specific knives can be used for specific jobs. I don't think any one knife is going to do all those things well.

 

So, for fish processing purposes I would use a breaking knife and a fillet knife. For actual fishing purposes where you just need to slice a fish's throat and bleed it, or for cutting rope, a serrated blade is not necessary. 

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Cary, I completely agree. Knives, like lures of any sort, can be general or specific, and there's times when a specific type is better than a general use one.

 

I've never felt serrated knives were necessary for any sort of work personally. You can replicate the slicing aggression very easily by sharpening with a coarse abrasive, say 150 grit or thereabouts. That will give really good performance slicing materials but you lose fine cutting ability as the edge now resembles a crude saw more than a keenly formed apex.

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The sharpening response of LC200N is very, very good.  A joy to sharpen. 

 

When it comes to PE or SE, form follows function.  What is the task at hand?  When it comes to thin precise slicing, a TBE (thin behind the edge) fine grain tool steel is an exquisite thing of beauty.  Practically scares the hair off your arm before contact.  When it comes to slicing through cartilaginous fish gills, I've found nothing better than a GOOD serrated blade.  I slash through weed and kelp balls like Zorro. 

 

The problem with serrations is that what comes to most people's mind is a cheap gas station quality Zombie killer blade.  Kind of like a pointy saw with widely space blocky rounded teeth.  A functional disaster.  Really snaggy with deep obtuse scallops that don't make contact with the material.  They try one and think, "Yup!  Serrations are crap!"

 

Geometry matters..........a lot! The scallops should be shallow enough to make decent contact with the material and the teeth should have a good amount of bevel to them also.  Depending upon the grind (chisel, FFG or hollow) a scallop bevel of 15-20 degrees should be fine.  Slicing will still be pretty good and the snagging largely eliminated.

 

For those with a bias against serrated knives, try using the serrated blade on your SAK.  It's halfway decent.

 

For those on the fence because of expense, you may want to consider a serrated Hawkbill or Rescue Cara Cara by Byrd.  $28-$32 or thereabouts.  Serrations seem to do well with tough steels that chip less with hard use.  Although the Byrds are made with a much maligned budget steel (8CR13MOV) I think it is better than most knife nerds give it credit for when properly heat treated.  Seems tough enough to handle serrations just fine in my experience.  Not saying serrations will rock your world, but for me they were a bit of an epiphany.

 

 

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Interesting discussion guys. To hit a few points...

 

- LC200N has a different sharpening response than H1. More crisp feeling and less “gummy” on the stones. It sharpens quite easily and takes a very fine edge with little effort. 

 

- I like serrated knives for some uses. Things like making a short controlled gill gut between my legs in the kayak. It is very easy to make that cut with less downward pressure and with a shorter, more controlled stroke than with a PE (even one with a low grit agressive edge). When you’re cutting between your exposed legs in a tight space this is a nice characteristic. 

 

- I designed the Siren as a folding version of the Waterway, which was a knife meant to be capable of pulling fillets in a pinch. That was the reason for PE instead of SE. I would personally LOVE to see a serrated version and have told Sal and Eric as much. I don’t pay the light bills around there though, haha. I’d imagine if sales are strong on the Siren then we will indeed see a serrated version down the road though. 

 

- I would agree with a lot of what RedGreen had to say about the overhype of performance differences between various steels but I would disagree on one point. Sometimes the performance difference between two steels (even two steels as close as H1 and LC200N) is quite obvious. I’ll offer a common example from my daily use. If I am cutting behind the gill on large Snapper, the downward pressure on those big scales combined with the inevitable lateral forces will dull PE H1 almost immediately. One or two cuts and my edge has dulled due to plastic deformation (rolling). LC200N on the other hand has enough additional hardness (and therefore strength) to make these cuts without deformation. So the actual wear resistance may not be vastly different on those two steels but some tasks will cause almost immediate dulling in H1 but not in LC200N. The difference between wear resistance between the two is also notable in controlled rope cutting but I would agree with Red that it might be harder to notice in random everyday use. But for the use like I described above, the difference is night and day. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Surfingringo said:

Interesting discussion guys. To hit a few points...

 

- LC200N has a different sharpening response than H1. More crisp feeling and less “gummy” on the stones. It sharpens quite easily and takes a very fine edge with little effort. 

 

- I like serrated knives for some uses. Things like making a short controlled gill gut between my legs in the kayak. It is very easy to make that cut with less downward pressure and with a shorter, more controlled stroke than with a PE (even one with a low grit agressive edge). When you’re cutting between your exposed legs in a tight space this is a nice characteristic. 

 

- I designed the Siren as a folding version of the Waterway, which was a knife meant to be capable of pulling fillets in a pinch. That was the reason for PE instead of SE. I would personally LOVE to see a serrated version and have told Sal and Eric as much. I don’t pay the light bills around there though, haha. I’d imagine if sales are strong on the Siren then we will indeed see a serrated version down the road though. 

 

- I would agree with a lot of what RedGreen had to say about the overhype of performance differences between various steels but I would disagree on one point. Sometimes the performance difference between two steels (even two steels as close as H1 and LC200N) is quite obvious. I’ll offer a common example from my daily use. If I am cutting behind the gill on large Snapper, the downward pressure on those big scales combined with the inevitable lateral forces will dull PE H1 almost immediately. One or two cuts and my edge has dulled due to plastic deformation (rolling). LC200N on the other hand has enough additional hardness (and therefore strength) to make these cuts without deformation. So the actual wear resistance may not be vastly different on those two steels but some tasks will cause almost immediate dulling in H1 but not in LC200N. The difference between wear resistance between the two is also notable in controlled rope cutting but I would agree with Red that it might be harder to notice in random everyday use. But for the use like I described above, the difference is night and day. 

 

 

Are you sure you're actually seeing a difference in steel type, or just heat treatment? H1 is normally much harder than LC200N. Some samples I have seen up to 65 HRC and as low as 57. It depends on the age of the blade. LC200N tends to max out around 60-61. Like geometry, heat treatment has an immensely greater influence on performance than steel type. Even a well treated common stainless kitchen knife can easily outperform a steel like Elmax when it's not treated correctly.

 

Faulty heat treatment in production knives is unfortunately very common. Look at the track record with Zero Tolerance knives and their Elmax and you'll see what I mean. Same story with razor blade steel normally seen in less expensive knives. They are not taken to high enough heat to ensure full transformation to austenite, so the steel never fully hardens. Then they are tempered too hot and made far too soft, HRC54-56. Razor blade steel like AEBL, 14C28N, etc were engineered to take and hold very fine edges at high hardness. When mistreated as I described, you get steels which are gummy, soft, and refuse to get really sharp despite being easy to abrade or cut with a sharpening stone.

 

I don't keep the fish I catch, at least not in the NE where pretty much every species has been abused and neglected to almost total decimation, but if I did I would probably want properly designed serrations (as described above) for doing rougher work. Scales do not treat a plain edge very well, especially bottom species.

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