Posted on August 26, 2012
The steel used in a sword is often a users main concern when choosing their next sword buy, however the steel used is not as important as the tempering process the forge uses when making the blade. Any good carbon steel (1045 and up) will make for a nice blade i tempered correctly. Generally, 1065 is considered to be one of the best sword steels for its all around performance and inexpensive price.
At the high end of sword prices you will get steels like L6 Bainite, tamahagane, and swedish powder folded steel. These sword steels are eah different and are made for specific sword users that have already honed their craft, however if you have the money to spend, these are the top steels available in sword making today.
1045 Carbon Steel:
1045 steel is commonly used in cheaper swords, but that does not mean the sword cannot be used. 1045 is a softer steel and is usually mono tempered to keep the blade strong yet flexible. There are different manufacturers who use this steel, some are good, others, not so much.
1060 Carbon Steel:
This is the typical steel used by top manufacturers in their mid range sword lines. It has excellent strength and can be mono or differentially tempered but also costs more since it is harder to forge and polish. 1060 will keep a good edge and hold up to cutting practice well.
1095 Carbon Steel:
This steel gained popularity mostly due to the fact is can keep an edge longer than most other steels. It is hard steel and if not tempered correctly, will be no good use to anyone. This steel is mainly recommended only to expers as a mis-cut or hitting of hard targets can cause the sword to break as it is not as tough as those in the lower carbon content.