"That's too pretty to use!"
I hear that a lot at knife shows. The fact is that a mirror polished finish holds up very well and is indeed very useable. A good mirror finish actually repels water and is much easier to clean and thus transfers less crud into your sheath where is would be held in contact with the blade. Of curse you will get a few scratches and marks on the blade over time with use but not nearly as much as people seem to think.
I also hear a lot of people say that 440C stainless steel won't hold an edge.
This is my personal hunting knife that I made in 2005. It has served me through 5 hunting seasons and so far has field dressed 21 deer. I am not talking about light duty. I pound this knife through pelvic bones, rib cages and cartilage.
After 5 years and 21 deer this knife has NOT been resharpened. I have only dressed the edge with a croc stick as needed and it will still shave hair. I also have NOT buffed the blade since I made it 5 years ago. What you see in these photos is exactly what this knife looks like today. If you look at it closely with the light at just the right angle you will see a few scuffs and marks on the blade. These are all memories to me. But all things considered, it still looks pretty darn good doesn't it?
So, the next time someone tells you a knife is too pretty to use, remember this one.
If you get the light just right you can see the marks from use.
Here is a close up of the edge. Not bad after 21 deer.
And it's still hair shaving sharp!