All knife materials are a trade-off. Asking for the perfect blade steel is like selecting the perfect car. No vehicle can do it all but some are a better compromise than others for the tasks at hand.

A2 is a high carbon tool steel that takes an excellent edge but lacks the chromium of stainless steels. Without the proper care of cleaning and oiling A2 will rust. For the knife owner willing to take the time to care for his knives, the effort is worth the reward. Extremely tough and able to take an excellent edge this tool steel creates a beautiful patina taking on a rich brown black cladding of manganese.  

S35VN is probably the best “all around” stainless knife steel available. Supreme toughness, great edge holding and high corrosion resistance, S35VN is the best choice if the knife will serve double duty as a camp knife as most hunting knives do. If you want one knife to do the job and last forever, S35VN cannot be beat.

S30V is very similar to S35VN with slightly better edge holding and slightly less toughness. For all practical purposes, the end user will have a difficult time distinguishing between the two steels. It comes down to personal preference.

S90V is an extremely hard steel made with the same powdered metallurgy process as S35VN and S30V but in an alloy designed for edge holding ability. The tradeoff is toughness and because it is so hard, sharpening is difficult. Once sharpened it will hold an edge for a very long time but will be more brittle and less of an all-around camp knife type of steel versus a dedicated slicing instrument.

AEB-L is a refinement of the well-known 440C steel that 95% of all kitchen cutlery is made. Originally designed for making razor blades, AEB-L will take a razors edge. However, it will not have the toughness or edge holding capability of the other previously mentioned steels. If you enjoy the sharpening process and want a knife capable of making the air bleed, this is the steel for you. For a high quality kitchen knife this is an outstanding choice for the myriad tasks of day in and day out culinary preparation. Easily sharpened, the blade can be brought back to an extremely fine edge quickly making this steel a very good choice for kitchen duty.