We have been getting a bunch of questions lately about finishes on Hinderer knives. This is by no means meant to be an all encompassing look at every finish they have used, but a quick explanation of the main ones used on the production knives.
A FEW CAVEATS:
There is no “perfect finish” for everybody. It’s kinda a “boxers or briefs” thing. Everybody has their likes and dislikes based on appearance and function.
Secondly: Not sure everybody knows this, but stainless steel is not “rust proof” any steel can corrode if not taken care of. However, titanium CANNOT rust under any circumstances. It is a non-ferrous material. Therefore, when we speak of corrosion issues below, we are only referring to that finish on a STEEL blade.
STONEWASHED (TUMBLED): The standard finish on Hinderer folders is a stonewashed finish. It is achieved just like the name says. The parts are literally put in a huge vibrating bin with pieces of “stone” (actually ceramic media) that are literally making thousands and thousands of tiny scratches on the surface of the part. It results in a nice, smooth finish with a somewhat mottled appearance. We have had some people say “there is a scratch on my new knife”. Well, yeah there is. That is how it was finished. Obviously the patterns are random and sometimes a difference in the length or the way it will reflect the light can make a portion look like “a scratch”.
Here is a shot from the Hinderer shop showing folder parts in the stonewash process.
The advantages of the stonewashed finish is that it is pretty durable and does not show wear very much. In addition, the process tends to make the surface of the blade smoother which helps shed moisture and help to minimize corrosion issues.
The Hinderer shop will also combine finishes on the same knife.
GLASS BEAD BLASTED: This finish is obtained by using a fine grit “glass” blasting media on the part. It results in a smooth, even finish. The way Hinderer does it, it almost looks like the knife has been coated in hard chrome. Very attractive finish that also has a smoother surface to helps to shed moisture and minimize corrosion. The downside is that because it is so even in color, the knife wear will be more evident.
Here is a XM-3.5” in full glass bead finish. Almost looks like hard chrome finish
This finish is obtained by using a coarse blasting media on the part. Although called “sand blasted” it is usually an aluminum oxide media. It results in an even colored, matte finish that is slightly rougher to the touch (think like an AR-15 barrel). People like this finish as it has a matte mil-spec, all business look to it. The slightly more porous surface is a bit more prone to corrosion than the smoother finishes.
Here you can see a well used XM-24 with a sand blast finished titanium frame and you can see the wear showing.
The Hinderer Knives “Working Finish” is actually a combination of finishes. First the parts are given a sand blasted finish as above. Then, they go over to the huge tumbler for a stonewashed finish. The resulting finish ends up having the mottled surface appearance of the stonewash with the more matte finish of the sandblasted. For those that want a finish that does not show wear easily, and is not quite as reflective as a normal stonewash, this is a good choice. It is not quite as smooth to the touch as stonwashed or glass bead blasted, but is not as rough as the sand blasted.
Here is a XM-18 3.5” Bowie in full Working Finish on both the frame and blade.
Anodizing is merely changing the thickness oxidation layer on titanium which causes it to reflect different portions of the wavelength spectrum and appear in various colors. Any of the Hinderer finishes as applied to titanium can be then anodized to give them a color. Most typically, this is either a bronze or blue.
Here is a XM-18 3.5” Spanto with a working finish frame and stonewashed blade.
DLC (PVD): Hinderer Knives is always moving forward and has done smaller runs with DLC finish which was developed for aerospace. PVD is Physical Vapor Deposition and is a process by which a material is evaporated and then deposited (coated) onto a surface. Unlike many coatings that are thick and have high spots, PVD coatings can literally be laid on atoms thick and the coating is even. DLC stands for Diamond Like Coating in which the material being deposited is carbon (along with a trade secret of other minerals). The result is a super tough finish that is incredibly corrosion resistant. The downside is cost. There are only a couple places in the country that do PVD finishes and the equipment is VERY expensive. Therefore, adding PVD to the knife jumps up the cost quite a bit.
Here is a XM-18 3.5” Wharncliffe with DLC finish frame and blade
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