Maybe you’re aware that there are different blade finishes and coatings out there, but how much do you really know about them? Finishes and coatings are used to prevent corrosion and generally speaking, the smoother the knife, the greater the corrosion resistance. Here’s an overview of the different finishes out there along with their benefits and drawbacks.
Piranha Blue P-1 Pocket Automatic Knife (Mirror Plain)
A mirror finish is one of the more expensive knife finishes out there, and it is typically used on custom knives. As you might guess from its name, a mirror finish will literally reflect like a mirror. The high polish and smoothness in this type of knife reduces cutting resistance and makes the knife easier to clean. This type of finish also has the greatest corrosion resistance. One downside of a mirror finish, though, is that is tends to show scratches fairly easily.
Schrade Smedy Automatic Knife (Polished Plain)
A polished finish is also on the expensive side and is similar in appearance to a mirror finish, but it is less reflective. A polished finish is similar to the mirror finish in many ways; it has great corrosion resistance and shows scratches easily, but just slightly less so than the mirror finish. Polished finishes are also typically used on custom knives.
Boker Magnum Shadow Rainbow (Satin finish)
A satin finish is the most typical knife finish. It is slightly less shiny than a polished finish, and it is less expensive than both the mirror and polished finishes. It has decent corrosion resistance, but less than polish or mirror finished knives.
Kershaw Leek (Stonewashed)
With this type of finish, the steel is literally rolled with pebbles and then smoothed. Many people like this type of finish because it hides scratches better than other finishes. Depending on the manufacturer, a stonewash finish can often look satin from a distance. Stonewash also hides fingerprints pretty well, so the blade might not need to be polished as often as others with different finishes.
SOG Escape FF24-CP (Bead Blasted)
A bead blasted blade is dull and non-reflective, and it is just what it sounds like; the steel is literally blasted with plastic beads to reach the desired finish. This type of finish also hides scratches pretty well, but the stonewash accomplishes this a little better. A bead blasted finish has a rougher texture and is therefore more susceptible to corrosion.
Zero Tolerance 0350ST (Black Tungsten DLC)
Coatings provide corrosion resistance, but they will scratch off eventually and at different rates, depending on the quality of the coating. Black, powder coatings, and titanium nitride are a few coatings that are available. DLC (Diamond-like-carbon) is one of the best black coatings and it will hold up longer than most other coatings. Coatings are not shiny.
Finishes and coatings will wear away with use over time. To help prevent rust from accumulating, you should clean, dry, and oil your knife periodically.
What’s your favorite finish?