What is 3G Steel?


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3G Steel Knife for camping and hunting in a plastic and leather case on a white spaceSome metals are very straightforward while others are made in complex manners that make them very interesting to know more about. Usually crafted for higher performance, they’re meant to impress, especially properly treated and used correctly.

The 3G steel is one great example of these complex metals that are meant to wow. Created to be exceptionally strong, it uses a special manufacturing procedure that sets it apart from the rest.

To learn more about this special steel, continue reading this 3G steel review below.

What is 3G Steel?

Knife for camping and hunting in a plastic case on a whiteIn the simplest sense, the 3G steel is a high-carbon, high-chromium powdered steel grade. It’s also distinguished for being a laminated steel, promising more strength.

There are a few important things to note about the 3G steel, however. For starters, it got its name from the composition Fallkniven used to achieve their final product. The 3G steel is made of two layers of the VG2 with the SGPS at its core, hence, the name.

Another important point to note is that the core of the 3G steel is also known by other names. This isn’t a new thing since a lot of metal manufacturers like to make their own versions of certain steel grades. However, the case of the 3G steel is a bit different.

The Takefu SGPS is also known as the Takefu SG2, Takefu MC63, and the Kobelco R2. It’s said that the Kobelco R2 is a proprietary blend supplied to Takefu who then packages it as the SG2, SGPS, and the MC63. Fallkniven then gets their supply from Takefu and calls their version the 3G after additional processing.

Despite being the same steel grades essentially, these steel grades are still quite easy to distinguish from each other. The R2 is often tempered using a different process and technique. This is why it has a higher hardness rating compared to the SG2. The 3G, on the other hand, has additional layers, so it offers a whole different experience.

The 3G is also noted for having a secret manufacturing process. This gives it a sense of exclusivity and explains its premium price.

Common Uses of 3G Steel

Since the 3G steel is primarily a Fallkniven product, it can be expected to be used for manufacturing survival knives. However, the other versions of this very steel are also popular choices for blade making. The R2 is a top choice for culinary knives among professionals in many parts of the globe.

3G Steel Chemical Composition

There’s not one standout component for the 3G steel as it is a good balance of all of its ingredients. It also has high amounts of many different things which will definitely affect its make.

  • Carbon, 1.25-1.45%
  • Chromium, 14-16%
  • Molybdenum, 2.30-3.30%
  • Vanadium, 1.80-2.20%
  • Manganese, 0.40%
  • Silicon, 0.50%
  • Phosphorus, 0.03%
  • Sulfur, 0.03%

Carbon, 1.25-1.45%: Deemed as the most important component in commercial steels, carbon is a staple in these items. The 3G has high levels of carbon, making it very strong and hard. This also improves its hardenability to some degree.

Chromium, 14-16%: The 3G may not necessarily have the highest chromium content but it has a good amount for it to be considered as stainless steel. This component also adds hardness and corrosion resistance to the mix.

Molybdenum, 2.30-3.30%: This element is a desirable addition to any steel composition as it adds corrosion resistance while balancing out the hardness of the metal. It increases the toughness and tensile strength of the steel as well so won’t be too brittle. It also boosts hardenability.

Vanadium, 1.80-2.20%: While the 3G is a powdered steel, refining its grains is still ideal to help it perform better. The vanadium addition helps in this area and its high amount in this mix adds hardness and strength to the finished product.

Manganese, 0.40%: This is another balancing ingredient. It’s not just a deoxidizer but it also adds strength and reduces brittleness in steel.

Silicon, 0.50%: Like manganese, silicon also adds strength and hardness to the blend and also works as a deoxidizer.

Phosphorus, 0.03%: Even in small amounts, phosphorus can already contribute to the performance of a steel. They add strength and improve corrosion resistance. It also enhances the machinability of a steel.

Sulfur, 0.03%: This component may be considered an impurity, that’s not the case for the 3G. With high levels of manganese in the mix, it can promise to help increase the metal’s machinability.

3G Steel Hardness

The 3G steel is noted for its hardness and can reach a Rockwell rating up to 62 HRc. As mentioned above, its counterparts can reach higher hardness levels as they are tempered in a different manner. However, with the formulation of this particular metal, this rating already suffices for its uses.

Does 3G Steel Rust?

With its very high chromium content, the 3G steel isn’t prone to rusting. SGPS alone already has great corrosion resistance but the addition of the layers of VG2 steel also further enhances this feature. VG2 also has high levels of chromium so adding it as a finish to the 3G steel ensures incredible corrosion resistance.

Properties of 3G Steel

Best 3G Steel KnivesTo better demonstrate the performance of the 3G steel, here’s a quick rundown of its features:

Hardness

Again, one of the standout properties of the 3G steel is its hardness. This can be attributed to several things.

As one of Fallkniven’s laminate steels that they tout to be at least 20 times stronger than solid stainless steel. The 3G is stainless steel as it is with the SGPS and VG2 both being stainless steel grades. They tend to reinforce themselves to achieve high levels of hardness and corrosion resistance.

It also helps that this blade steel is made through powder metallurgy. The fine grain size it sports help make it harder and stronger.

Toughness

While toughness can’t be quantified in metals, the 3G steel can still be considered as a tough steel. It contains high levels of specific elements that help make it highly resistant to abrasive and adhesive wear. These make it quite durable and capable of staying intact even when subjected to high amounts of force.

Edge retention

With its hardness and fine carbide structure, the 3G steel offers a good and long-lasting edge. It can achieve a nice sharpness and stay sharp for a very long time. As a result, there’s no need to keep sharpening it which is a plus as its hardness can make it a challenge to sharpen.

Wear resistance

Thanks to its high levels of toughness and hardness, the 3G steel also won’t wear out easily. It can stay in top shape for a long time despite heavy use. It won’t easily shave off its materials when subjected to friction.

Corrosion resistance

This is another area where the 3G steel shines as it is very resistant to rust and corrosion. Aside from its high levels of chromium and manganese, it’s also laminated with another high-chromium steel grade so that really boosts its capability to keep rusting at bay.

3G Equivalent Steels or Alternative

Apart from the steel grades that are similar to the 3G steel, it might also be beneficial to look into its alternatives. This list can better establish the qualities and characteristics of this special blade steel.

3G Steel vs VG10

The VG10 is another premium steel grade that is manufactured in Japan and used primarily for manufacturing cutlery. Like the 3G, it has high levels of carbon, chromium, and molybdenum. It contains cobalt, however, so it’s forged in a different manner.

With how similar the two is, it can be expected that they also offer similar performance. The differences are just very small. For example, some find the 3G better when it comes to slicing tasks while the VG10 is more widely available.

What might help some folks decide is the price. Some VG10 knives are more affordable than 3G options.

3G Steel vs S30V

The S30V is also a premium high-carbon stainless steel grade. It has very high chromium content so it can offer excellent corrosion resistance.

Performance-wise, both are very tough and durable blade steels. Depending on the maker of the S30V, they can offer incredible edge retention.

As both are also quite pricey, it’s really a toss up between these two materials. It’s up to the buyer which one appeals to them better.

3G Steel vs CPM 3V

Another popular blade steel is the CPM 3V. Best known for its high toughness, it can take quite a lot of beating which makes it a popular choice for those who like to enjoy outdoor activities.

3G steel and CPM 3V are very different kinds of steels so it’s easy to see why many are curious about the two. While the 3V is very tough, the 3G, on the other hand, is very hard. This makes it a bit more brittle than the former. This gives each of a different charm.

Is 3G Steel Good for Knives?

Like what was said above, the 3G steel is widely used for blademaking and it got quite popular as a blade steel. With its good balance of toughness, hardness, strength, and corrosion resistance, it can suit the many requirements users have on knives.

The fact that 3G steel knives continue to be highly coveted options from the Fallkniven range is a good proof to this. It’s available primarily as survival blade material but everyday carry knives can also be found in this particular steel grade.

Using 3G steel for knife making isn’t commonly done, however, since it is a special blend by Fallkniven. Those who want to give it a try might also need a good amount of budget for the materials.

Pros & Cons of 3G Steel

Pros
  • Has a nice grain so it’s not very difficult to sharpen despite its hardness
  • Promises to be stronger than stainless steel
  • Good versatility
  • Popular choice for survival knives
  • Usually offered as limited edition options for popular knife models
  • Easy maintenance
Cons
  • Quite pricey
  • Not available from other brands except Fallkniven
  • Might not be the best pick for beginners since it’s an advanced steel

Best 3G Steel Knives

To further get to know this high-end blade steel, it’s important to take a loot at the best 3G steel knives as well. These will better demonstrate the qualities and capabilities of the featured steel grade.

#1: 3D Peep Sight Fallkniven TRE Kronor Fixed Blade Knife

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Quick Specification
  • Item Weight: 0.43 Pounds
  • Blade Material: Stainless Steel
  • Blade Shape: Trailing Point
  • Blade Edge: Plain
  • Handle Material: Thermatron

The 3G steel can be quite a bit intimidating so it would be best to start this list with a very friendly option: the 3D Peep Sight Fallkniven TRE Kronor Fixed Blade Knife TK2. As the affordable option in its range, it offers great bang for the buck.

Equipped with a Swedish design, it has a minimalist, utilitarian feel to it that makes it suitable for outdoor use. It can also handle all sorts of outdoor requirements, thanks to its blade design.

Pros
  • Compact so it’s easy to handle and carry around
  • Well balanced
  • Good handle design so it’s comfortable to grip
  • Blade design can handle all sorts of tasks easily
  • Affordable option from the Kronor 3G steel range
Cons
  • Still a bit on the pricey side
  • Those with bigger hands find the handle to be a bit too thin

#2: Fallkniven F1 Thermorun Handle 3G Blade Knife

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Quick Specification
  • Total length: 210 mm (8.3″)
  • Blade length: 97 mm (3.8″)
  • Blade thickness: 4.5 mm (0.18″), tapered
  • Weight (knife): 150 g (6oz)
  • Steel: Lam. 3G
  • Blade hardness: 62 HRC
  • Handle: Thermorun
  • Sheath: Zytel sheath
  • Made in Japan

Next up is a modern take on a best-selling classic: the Fallkniven F1 Thermorun Handle 3G Blade Knife. Also referred to as the F1L3G or F1/3G, this is the contemporary version of the F1 knife that is the official survival knife for pilots in the Swedish Air Force.

The ones with the Thermorun handle are more rugged but buyers can also opt for the special edition version that comes with an elegant-looking micarta handle.

Pros
  • Compact and easy to carry
  • Can handle some serious beating
  • Available in special edition version that is perfect for gifts
  • Highly versatile functionality
  • Made of high-quality materials
  • Comes with well-designed and made accessories
Cons
  • Small size may not make it an all-rounder outdoors
  • Handle is a bit thin for those with large hands

#3: Fallkniven 9001774 TK3mopc Fine Edge Folding Knife

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Quick Specification
  • Blade length: 70 (mm)
  • Blade thickness: 2,5 (mm)
  • Total length: 165 (mm)
  • Blade Material: Stainless Steel
  • Hardness (HRC): 62
  • Edge: Flat ground
  • Handle Material: Mother of Pearl
  • Sheath: Cordura
  • Locking: Lock-back

Ending this list on a grand note is the Fallkniven 9001774 TK3mopc Fine Edge Folding Knife. While this item is available in wood and bone handles, what makes it special is the fact that it’s also available in a mother of pearl handle. This makes it quite fancy and eye-catching.

This knife offers great form as well, so it can be a nice option for an everyday carry. It’s lightweight and designed to be safe to handle and carry around.

Pros
  • A collector piece
  • Beautiful and elegant design
  • Lightweight and safe
  • Made for everyday use
  • Solid build and materials
Cons
  • Quite pricey

Conclusion

A lot has been said in this 3G steel review and most of them might prove to be helpful to those who are looking into getting the best 3G steel knives available. As these items are on the higher end of the scale, it’s important to be discerning. Many find them to be worth the money since they’re durable and very hardy but it’s still best to take a closer look to be sure.

Got anything to add to this roundup? Share them in the comments to start a nice discussion.

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