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Thread: Help me decide on blade material for Mule Team elk hunting job

  1. #41
    Spyderco Forum Registered User Donut's Avatar
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    Sep 2009
    Virginia Beach, VA, USA
    Quote Originally Posted by bdblue View Post
    My father had a friend who owned a guide service, this was about 40 years ago. He claimed he could do several Elk with his production 440C folding knife. I always found this hard to believe myself.
    You know, I believe there are many types of 440C. China calls 8Cr13MoV 440C. It gets a bad wrap from being associated with some lower quality China knives. I read that in the 90's, it was the king of steels. (I believe that is why China likes to brand their steel 440C.)

    A lot of custom makers use 440C and the people who buy customs think 440C is a good steel.

    I was hoping to hear some feedback of the 440C Cat and Chicago, but people that use it seem to think that it's a lower quality steel than S30V.

    I haven't heard too much about the Cast 440C being used on the Serrata yet.
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  2. #42
    Spyderco Forum Registered User
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    Jan 2011
    Northern California in the heart of the Gold Country
    Nice bull and congratulations on taking that guy with a bow. Your original post mentioned you will be taking a diamond sharpener along. To me that is the key to your question. I am always amazed on how tough and abrasive animal hair and hide is. No matter the steel chosen if you are fussy about sharp and like the to keep the knife biting a quick touch up on the diamond is so very quick and easy. I like the round or oval 5 inch diamond embedded rods. They are light and take up very little room. Just a few quick strokes, takes a few seconds and you are back in business. We did the South Fork with a little more blade length with the larger animals like elk in mind. The length helps when peeling out the back straps and also the rotor rooter job if you do it that way. CPM S90V has always done the job for me and I like the stainless aspect especially if you are working around wet and humid. Let us know how it all works out for you. Phil

  3. #43
    Spyderco Forum Registered User
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    Mar 2014
    I agree with Cliff that the extreme abrasion resistant steels are probably a bit overkill for skinning and field dressing. A few years back I went on a Moose hunt with my uncle, he did all the field dressing work and majority of the skinning with a cheap 8Cr13MoV Kershaw and it was still sharp enough to shave hair off your arm after we were done. VG-10 seems like a good balance of wear resistance, corrosion resistance and ease of maintenance. You might want to take consider the Bill Moran fixed blades, although the South fork does look like a really nice knife.

  4. #44
    Spyderco Forum Registered User
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    Dec 2005
    Quote Originally Posted by Donut View Post
    You know, I believe there are many types of 440C.
    440C is an AISI designation for a particular type of steel, this designation is American and it isn't even the only American standard. Outside of the US this same steel will be called by its local designation and even individual steel mills in the can call it something different as many mills will make up trade names for steel. It is no different than in English you call something a hat but in French is it called a chapeau, it is still a hat because of its nature.

    The thing to be careful of isn't just the name but the way the steel is made. For example Carpenter typically uses vacuum arc remelting which makes a steel much more homogeneous and pure. Even if the steel has the same nominal composition, the material properties will be different in a steel which is so processed vs one that isn't.

  5. #45
    Spyderco Forum Registered User
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    Apr 2012
    Denver, CO
    Quote Originally Posted by Ankerson View Post
    Another thought would be the South Fork in S90V, that's what that knife what made for....
    I second this recommendation. While a Mule would work the ergonomics are not ideal in my opinion for field dressing an animal, no belly for skinning, blade is to wide and point drops to steeply for running up between the hide and membrane on the legs, handle ergonomics are poor for the various grips needed, etc.... A properly designed knife will allow you to work more efficiently and speed up the processing of the elk resulting on less wear and tear for you and your equipment. The South Fork isn't the perfect knife for every task involved with breaking down an elk but it is good at all of them which is what you want in a single knife situation. If weight and space were of no concern you would have a skinning blade, boning blade and bone saw but that just isn't practical in most hunting situations. The S90V with a proper edge, should hold that working edge through processing an entire elk and more.

    I have skinned my fair share of big game animals over the last 20 years and a properly designed knife is worth its weight in gold when you are in the field. For fun a couple years ago I decided to see if I could process an entire deer with my Sage 1 and while it wasn't ideal it got the job done. The S30V blade handled everything from gutting, skinning and limb separation without the need to touch up or sharpen. It wasn't a small deer either but a very nice, large bodied 4x5 mule deer. It took me a little longer than usual to process and I don't intend to repeat the exercise for two reasons. One being I have better tools for the job. The second and most important reason is I have more knives I want to test out in the field than animals I process in a year. Even when I volunteer to take care of processing my fellow hunting partners animals so I can test more knives in a given year.

    Two other knives you might look at in the Spyderco line is an Enuff Clip Point or Bill Moran Trailing Point. Both have excellent ergonomics and come in quality steels for your application.
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  6. #46
    Spyderco Forum Registered User
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    Sep 2013
    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Wilson View Post
    We did the South Fork with a little more blade length with the larger animals like elk in mind. The length helps when peeling out the back straps and also the rotor rooter job if you do it that way.
    Going back and reading my earlier post I wanted to note that the vast majority of my cleaning has been rabbit, squirrel, and whitetail, so what I consider a good size blade for skinning and processing might not be relevant for elk. I shouldn't be talking about things I know nothing about. .

    Now, give me a 2.5-3" blade and a partner to hold the legs and I can clean squirrel with the best of them. Must have cleaned THOUSANDS with my father. We had it down to a science. And there is no food on Gods green earth that I would rather eat! Oof!

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