Knife Reviews & Articles

Case CV
CARBON STEEL



Above: the Case Large Sodbuster®. CV.
That's a lot of knife for $22.99 !


Its simple, its inexpensive, its basic. But its just what we want!


Back in the 1950s, when I was given my first knife by my father, he told me "Don't go for stainless steel knives. Always go for carbon steel. It will always be easier to sharpen to a good cutting edge, and you will always get a much better edge than stainless steel. But you'll need to look after it. Just clean it after every use, and when you put it away, put a little oil on the blades. If you don't, then it will rust. But I want to see your knife clean enough to eat with. Always."

Here we are in 2005, some fifty years later, and the people who use knives still feel the same. Carbon steel is a user's steel. There are indeed some other good steels available for knife blades these days, for example D2 and ATS-34, but most knives produced are of stainless steel.

All of the old Case knives are carbon steel. People still lust after them, and in fact, knife collectors will pay some high prices for them nowadays. They were made as user's knives. Your grandfather used a knife that was made of carbon steel, and his father too.

Nowadays, dare I say it, most knives are collector's knives, and they are made to look pretty, and rust less. So they are produced in "rustless" steel. (That doesn't mean "won't rust" it means "rust less" - literally). Rustless steel is the same thing as stainless (stain less) steel. Its for collectors and people who don't want to look after their knife to keep it in good shape. But they are going to have to be satisfied with a cutting edge that is less than perfect compared with a carbon steel blade.

Carbon Steel is the Real Business

Fortunately, W.R. Case & Sons has always continued to manufacture some knives with carbon Steel (CV - short for chrome vanadium). And, they are nowadays under more pressure by the knife users to produce more, and it appears that they might be listening.


Two Case Stockman knives, both CV

Since the introduction of stainless steel knives in their range, there has always been the good old inexpensive "Yellow Handle" range of knives available from Case. Then came the "Amber Bone" range. Some of  the yellow handled knives and amber bone knives are stainless (SS) so look for the ones that have CV on the tang stamp. They are the ones with carbon steel blades.

Will they rust? Yes, if you don't look after them. Looking after them means wiping them clean after use, and then every so often giving them a light coating of oil. Its as simple as that. Its amazing how often I hear people say, "But where I live its humid, and a knife will rust very quickly". Folks, its an excuse. An excuse for not looking after them! There's just no way that a knife will rust if it has a light coating of oil. Any oil. If you are stuck for oil, then wipe your finger on the side of your nose (that's the outside!) and then wipe it onto the blade. (Most people also have enough oil on the ends of their hair at the back of their neck to do the same thing when the nose oil runs out). Stuck out in the country for a week? Use bacon fat, steal a little from your dip stick. Finding a little oil is easy!

What will happen, over time with a carbon steel blade, is that it will turn grey instead of shiny. That's OK. In fact, most users of carbon steel blades like that lovely grey patina. It looks like this on a 50 year old knife that has been used.

There's nothing wrong with that grey patina. And it is still clean enough to eat with.

If you want to get that "look" more quickly, then use your new carbon steel knife to cut an apple.

This is a brand new Case Amber Bone Jack knife with CV blades. The larger (clip) blade has been used to cut an apple just twice. The sticky juice from the apple does need cleaning off with a damp cloth though, (spit will do), and then the blade drying afterwards.

And actually, that grey patina helps to inhibit rust too.


Above left: The Sodbuster Junior® (3-5/8")
Above right: Barehead Slimline Trapper (4")
Both knives made in 2005 as seen by the tang stamps. (5 X's and no dots).

Modern Case Knives in CV

Amber Bone

  • 61265LC CV Mid Folding Hunter
  • 62131 CV Canoe
  • 62032 CV Small Texas Jack
  • 6254 CV Trapper
  • 6318 CV Medium Stockman
  • 63032 CV Medium Stockman
  • 6375 CV Large Stockman

Yellow Handle

  • 3137 CV Sod Buster Jr®
  • 3138 CV Sodbuster® (Large)  *
  • 31048 CV Barehead Slimline Trapper
  • 31549WL CV Wharncliffe Copperlock *
  • 31749L CV Mini Copperlock *
  • 31953L CV Russlock *
  • 3207 CV Mini Trapper
  • 3220 CV Peanut
  • 3254 CV Trapper
  • 32087 CV Pen Knife
  • 3318 CV Medium Stockman
  • 3375 CV Large Stockman *
  • 3468 CV Small Congress *

* Now discontinued in the 2005 Case catalog.

There are some new CV knives in Red Jigged bone appearing in March 2005, but those are not yet listed in the Case catalog.


The Case CV Large Stockman. 4-1/4" closed, and a beast of a working tool.


The 4-1/8" full size Trapper and the Mini Trapper at 3-1/2"


A carried and used Amber Bone CV Small Texas Jack


Amber Bone CV Medium Stockman - before it was used. It has been now!
A great pocket sized versatile knife



Rod Neep
March 2005

Copyright ©2005 Rod Neep All Rights Reserved
Photographs by Rod Neep