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Cobalt Alloy Knives: Talonite and Stellite as an Alternative to Steel

By | 2016

Blades made of cobalt alloys, including Talonite® and Stellite®, can offer different properties for the knife enthusiast or sportsman who needs a blade for a specific task.

Cobalt alloys are used in knife blades for better corrosion resistance compared to steel as well as a slicker surface for better, smoother cutting. The cobalt forms a strong matrix pattern that holds carbide grains to create better edge retention.

What is Talonite and Stellite?

Talonite and Stellite are the most well-known cobalt alloys. During the manufacturing process, the chromium and a small amount of molybdenum in the alloy combine chemically with carbon to form small carbide grains. The cobalt matrix securely holds these carbides, which gives the alloy its characteristic wear resistance. Talonite is also known as Cobalt Alloy 6BH (H= Hot Rolled Process) and Stellite is Cobalt Alloy 6B.

What is dendritic cobalt alloy?

Dendritic cobalt alloy is a cast alloy used by knifemaker David Boye for his knives.

What is the Difference Between Talonite and Stellite?

Stellite is the name of a family of cobalt alloys created in the early 1900s and manufactured by Kennametal Stellite. Talonite is actually a type of Stellite; it's also known as Stellite 6BH. Stellite 6K is another alloy used in knife blades. Compared to Stellite 6K, Talonite and the other Stellite 6B alloys have one-half of 1 percent more carbon, and the H means that the material has been hot rolled and age hardened.

What is the Difference Between Stellite/Talonite and Steel?

Talonite is primarily cobalt and chrome with very little iron. Steel is iron with a bit of carbon added to it. In a hardness test like Rockwell (RC), steel will measure higher, but Talonite actually wears better. It also has about 30 percent greater lubricity than steel and its slickness helps a blade made from it to cut better and more evenly than a similar blade made from steel.

What are the Benefits of Stellite/Talonite?

The slicker edge of Talonite is closer to diamond or Teflon than to steel. This helps it to cut faster and easier, and hold its edge. This is ideal for a sportsman's knife where you may need to perform skinning or frequent cutting tasks. David Boye, a knifemaker known for using Talonite in his designs, claims to have cut 3,000 pieces of 1-inch hemp rope without resharpening.

Stellite/Talonite knives are also popular for marine applications, because they resist corrosion much better than other materials. Dive knives, for example, are frequently made of Talonite. In order to corrode a Talonite blade, you would need to soak it in a 20-percent acid solution for several weeks or months.

What are the Drawbacks of Talonite/Stellite?

While an excellent choice for high-performance applications, Talonite is harder to work than steel. Thus, it takes more time and materials to create a blade from Talonite, and you'll pay more for it. However, the alloy can be cast, unlike steel.

The raw cost of Talonite is also high -- around $200 a pound (although it can fluctuate). That's partly due to how the alloy is created. The process can be time-consuming, but it was originally designed for use in jet engines and was done without concern for cost.

If you are interested in a blade made from a cobalt alloy like Talonite, contact us to see what is available. We offer a full-satisfaction guarantee on our products and can ship to you same day.