Probably the biggest topic in the knife industry is steel. Which one should you use, what is the best, toughest, most stain resistant etc? Becasue steel is the heart of the knife, these are all very valid concerns. Considering the vast amount of steels available it seems like an impossible task to select the best steel. To make things even more complicated is the fact that almost all steels made were never intended to be used in a knife that you or I would carry and use. There is good news. With the current level of knowledge on steel make up and the heat treat process for each steel, there really isn't a bad or even a best steel but, a better steel. What really needs to decided is what you are going to use the knife for. Once decided that will determine if you really need a tough steel that will handle abuse like prying, twisting, batonning the blade or a steel that is more wear resistant for cutting abrasive or fibrous material, or a more stain resistant steel or even just an easy maintain and sharpen steel. When you determine the purpose of your knife the list of steels shrinks and you can more easily determine the better steel.
I am routinely asked what my standard steel is or what is my favorite steel. Honestly, I don't have a standard or a favorite steel. If I were told I could only use something like D2 or 440c, that would be fine. These steels are considered to be very low end by todays standards. Properly heat treated, these steels will take care of most needs without a problem. This may sound a bit like I am not a fan of the newer steels available. That is not the case. I very much like these newer steels. They generally perform as advertised and have better performnace characteristics than older steels. I am big fan of Elmax, Nitro-V, CPM3V to name a just a few. If you order a knife and ask about the steel, I will ask what your using the knife for and then help you decide the steel. I do make batches of knives and will rotate through different steels per batch. One time it might be S35VN the next it might be N690 or 3V. Just ask what steel I am using in my current batch. If it isn't what you like, I can make your knife from your preferred steel.