Grades of steel

Hex tool manufacturers do not all use the same type of alloy steel. Chrome vanadium, 1050 carbon steel, S2, and 8650 are all common grades in use.

  • Protanium® Steel is a proprietary alloy steel developed and used only by Bondhus. It is the hardest, most ductile, and longest wearing steel that exists in the hex tool industry.
  • 8650 is the most common grade in use throughout the U.S. and the Far East. It does not have the hardness or ductility of Protanium® Steel
  • Chrome Vanadium is about comparable in quality to 8650. It is used primarily in Europe.
  • Chrome Moly is similar to Chrome Vanadium, but is somewhat stronger and harder. Because it is fairly expensive, manufacturers generally only use it on their higher grade and higher priced tools like ball head products, and substitute lower grades for their other tools. Europe and Japan are the primary users.
  • S2 is used by only a small number of manufacturers. It is harder than 8650, but it is also less ductile, more costly, and far more prone to shattering.
  • 1050 carbon steel is low-grade steel that is inferior to those listed above. It is still used by some manufacturers in Europe and Asia.

Some of the factors that affect the performance of steel, and the tools manufactured from it, are: hardness, ductility, grain size, alloy composition, and heat treating. Metallurgists and tool makers understand that behind these characteristics stand the deeper concepts of lattice structure, bonding, crystal formation, dislocations, phase transformation, quench rates, and heat treating to mention just a few.

What these concepts mean, and how they all work together, is fundamental to understanding why Bondhus® tools work better, last longer, and are safer to use.