Originally Posted by txpossum
Although I generally prefer carbon steels over stainless, if it were a SHTF situation I where I couldn't do proper maintainence on a knife, I would prefer the 440C stainless (but could certainly live with 1095). For me, 420HC is a little soft, but Buck does get a heck of performance out of it with their heat treatment. Never used a knife out of 425M that I know of, so no personal experience. I prefer 440C over 440B, but that is what Randal used to make their stainless blades out of (don't know if they still do) and suspicion was that 440B was what Cold Steel used to make their 400 series steel used in knives like the Outdoorsman, Mini-Tanto, etc. out of. When doing rough chores outside my usual "beater knife" is a CKRT Prowler made of AUS 6. I find that the steel is too soft to hold an edge very long, but it is a snap to sharpen with just a pocket whetstone.
I like possum's thinking here.
440 Stainless is an excellent steel which resists deterioration that you might expect with bad conditions under SHTF.
I don't what what the OP meant by "a lot of research", but if he would like to make a good decision, a real study of steel and steel chemical compositons would not be too tough with today's internet and will result in a pretty sound method of making a good judgement call on steels.
E.g. carbon added to iron gives steel - and higher carbon content provides a very fine sharpening ability. Unforunatly, brittleness suffers with increasing carbon content.
Typical car bodies are built with 1020 steel - meaning 0.20% carbon along with a percent of manganese.
The SAE categorizes all the steels and a person can learn the characteristics of each additive and make an informed decision. This without relying on opinion, conjecture, wishful thinking, misinformation of others.
The company Cold Rolled? Who knows what steel they actually used - and at what time in their history they used any particular steel. "Cold rolled" is actually a steel industry term for a certain type of forming prossess for certain steels- it results in certain properties over and above the basic chemical properties - as most 1020 steel is cold rolled - but so are very many others forming processes. So it was a cute name to name a knife company. Most people didn't understand and it didn't really mean much - unless they declared that all their steels were cold rolled formed rather than something else - like annealed.
For easy - again possum's 440 stainless is excellent. You should realize that in general stainless steels (chromium additive steel family) do not sharpen quite as well as a carbon steel. But the other attributes of both must be considered - and what you want the metal to do or live through. A plain 1020 may sharpen well (or 1030, or ... ) but it will rust and with the higher content carbon the edge will suffer cracks and breakage due to increased brittleness. It's all a trade-off.
Just my thoughts.
Kind of... do it yourself. Then you know.