The Thing About CIVIVI Knives’ Button Lock Elementum No One Seems to Be Mentioning

Let’s talk about the CIVIVI Knives Elementum Button Lock for a minute. The first thing that really makes this picket knife great. Is it the button lock?

Ask 10 collectors or knife enthusiasts and you will probably hear that. CIVIVI was quick to hop on the button-lock bandwagon when that lock type took off.

Which isn’t a bad thing. Button locks are fairly strong, easy to use, fidget-friendly, and get high marks for safety because they keep your fingers out of the way of the blade, unlike a liner lock. They are also pretty cool.

But this iteration of the perennially-popular Elementum has an even cooler feature that, if we dare say so, does so much more to revolutionize the functionality of the Elementum than the lock upgrade does. It’s the steel.

CIVIVI Knives’ Button Lock Elementum Is Made with 14C28N Steel

While this folding knife preserves the drop point blade and general ergonomics of the other Elementum knives, it diverges in a few ways. It lacks a flipper tab, and it is made with different – perhaps better – stainless steel.

CIVIVI Knives’ Button Lock Elementum is made with 14C28N steel which is a slight divergence from the flagship model which is typically made with D2 steel.

Not that D2 is bad. It’s quite a heavy hitter for its budget class. But 14C29N is in a class of its own.

Let’s break down the specs before getting into the soft details. This steel contains .62% carbon, 14% chromium, .6% manganese, .3% silicon, .02% phosphorus and .01% sulfur.

It has a little bit less carbon than 1095 and substantially less than D2, from which many (if not most) other versions of the Elementum are made. Nonetheless, this steel is hard enough to take and maintain a very sharp edge. The upside of the lower carbon content is that it’s also easier to sharpen.

As you can expect, with so much chromium, it’s quite corrosion-resistant. It’s just about as rust-resistant as quality knife steels come, just about as good as 420HC, which is well known for its corrosion resistance. It’s also leagues ahead of 1095 and D2.

The addition of that manganese makes the steel a bit tougher, too, so we have a good balance between hardness, toughness, and the ability to tell rust off.

Now, for the kicker, this steel also has a smidge of nitrogen, at .11%. This is the defining attribute of 14C28N steel.

Is nitrogen in steel a good thing? It depends on whom you ask. When included wholesale and indiscreetly, it is almost universally considered slag. Well, not literally, but it is an undesirable inclusion.

Too much nitrogen makes steel far too brittle, significantly damaging its mechanical and tensile properties.

But, knife makers can use this fact to their advantage. While you don’t want nitrous steel in construction or engineering (usually), in a small tool like a knife, it can be a good thing.

This is because it substantially improves the hardness of the alloy, which compliments the lattice structure formed by carbon and enables the steel to take and hold a sharper edge for longer.

Technically it does make the steel slightly more brittle, but in a small tool like this, the softness of chromium and toughness of manganese are more than enough to round out that minor shortcoming.

And, coming from someone that has used this steel fairly extensively, let it be said that it can take an insanely sharp edge and hold it for a surprisingly long time.

So, yeah, button lock or no – more people should be talking about the steel that CIVIVI has used to make this Elementum.

Where Can You Get This Model and Other CIVIVI Knives?

Interested in learning more about this button lock Elementum or any other CIVIIVI knives? Check out the collection at White Mountain Knives online at They carry a huge range of CIVIVI knives at great prices, and they have a lot of exclusive knives and tools too.

Check out their collection and get in touch with them at [email protected] if you have any questions.

By Michael Caine

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