Knife Steels - Overview
Find the best knife Steel for your next knife
CTS-XHPCTS-XHP, designed and manufactured by Carpenter Technology, a US company, is a high-end, chromium-based, stainless steel. Known for its great ability to maintain an edge and superior corrosion resistance, it is evidently one of the top-quality materials utilized in the production of cutlery and surgical instruments. This premium blade steel is touted for its excellent edge retention, superior hardness, and substantial corrosion resistance.
SleipnerThe Sleipner steel belongs to the high-end category of tool steels. Manufactured by the Austrian company Bohler-Uddeholm, it has quickly gained reputation for its well-balanced blend of characteristics. The precise heat treatment of Sleipner steel results in solid edge retention, impressive hardness, and commendable toughness, even surpassing those of the popular D2 steel.
H13H13 is a hot work tool steel that has abundant features making it a preferred choice for a myriad of applications. The chemical composition of H13 steel allows it to display great stability in heat conditions making it a go-to option in processes involving high temperatures.
Nitro-VNitro-V is a high-end stainless steel designed for use in highly demanding knives such as for cutlery, outdoor tools, and EDC tools. This steel is known for its exceptional balance of edge retention, toughness, and corrosion resistance. Nitro-V uses nitrogen in its composition which aids in making it more resistant to corrosion and pitting. Despite its premium features, Nitro-V falls within the mid-range price bracket, bridging the gap between affordability and performance.
4Cr13The 4Cr13 is a Chinese stainless steel grade with a high chromium content, commercially known in the US as 420J2. Despite its lower hardness values that restrict its use in top-notch knife blades, its performance is highly appreciated in the low-to-mid budget range knives. It is quite popular because of its good corrosion resistance, ease of sharpening, and cost-effectiveness.
N680N680 is a stainless steel made by Bohler, a steel manufacturer from Austria. The steel was designed for high corrosion resistance especially in saltwater, also meant for surgical instruments which makes it easy to sterilize and easy to clean. With a high amount of Chromium and the addition of Molybdenum, as well as the higher HRC rating (HRC 57-60), makes it much better than the 440B. It's well used by Benchmade for their saltwater knives.
12C27MThe 12C27M is a Swedish stainless steel from Sandvik. Known for its corrosion resistance and hardness, this alloy is often used for creating quality kitchen and outdoor knives. With a relatively lower amount of Carbon, this steel is better for those who prefer less maintenance. It's well balanced steel with a good compromise between hardness, toughness, and edge retention.
M2The M2 blade steel, manufactured by the USA steel company Bohler-Uddeholm Corporation, has been a staple in the tool steel industry for years. It provides a decent amount of edge retention and durability but is not the most rust-resistant material. M2 blade steel is typically used for tools and knives that require sharp edges, such as drill bits, saw blades, and high-performance EDC knives.
CTS-BDZ1CTS-BDZ1 is a budget-friendly stainless knife steel produced by Carpenter Technology Corporation based in the United States. Known primarily for its excellent corrosion resistance, this steel has good edge retention and sharpening abilities which make it an attractive option for everyday carry (EDC) knives. While it doesn't command the respect of high-end knife steels, CTS-BDZ1 holds its own in the budget steel category, providing a balance of performance for cost.
4116The 4116 is a popular stainless steel made by the German company ThyssenKrupp. Known for its good corrosion resistance and its balance between strength and machinability, 4116 steel is commonly used in kitchen knives and in some pocket knives. It's a medium range steel that offers good performance without breaking the bank, making it a favorite in the culinary industry.
4034The 4034 steel, sometimes known as Krupp 4034, is a well-balanced stainless steel that boasts a fine structure and tight chemical composition. It has moderate cutting capabilities and retentivity, while it's known for its excellent resistance to corrosion. This mid-range steel is typically found in many household kitchen knives and entry-level chef's knives, which require less maintenance and are not subjected to heavy-duty use.
9Cr13MoV9Cr13MoV, a high-carbon stainless steel, offers an excellent balance of good rust resistance and edge retention capabilities. It's one of the popular Chinese steels widely used in various commercial knives for its affordable cost and impressive performance. The steel is well-regarded for its ease of sharpening and its ability to maintain a sharp edge for an extended period, making it a superb choice for EDC knives.
SK-4The SK-4 knife steel is celebrated for its excellent toughness and ease of sharpening. Originated from Japan, it is sometimes referred to as carbon steel because of its high carbon content. Despite not being stainless steel, it performs well in a variety of conditions and is commonly used for tools and cutlery.
SK-5The SK-5 is a high carbon steel widely recognized and used in Japan, known for its ability to hold an edge and its excellent toughness. It's often used in various tools and knives. The steel is known for delivering an excellent balance of toughness, hardness, and edge retention. It's a great choice for EDC knives as it provides a lot of performance while remaining affordable, placing it in the mid-range price category.
O1The O1 knife steel is a highly popular choice among knife makers due to its amenability to hand forging as well as its robust performance characteristics. Its significant carbon content allows it to deliver excellent hardness and edge-holding ability, making it a superb choice for hunting knives, kitchen knives, and outdoor survival tools. Notably, O1 knife steel is a type of oil-hardening tool steel and features non-shrinking properties.
5160The 5160 steel is a low alloy carbon steel primarily used in swords and large knives. Some compare it to 5160 Spring Steel (with its amazing toughness), but it's filled with a slight vanadium presences that really adds to what makes it such a durable and workable steel. Known for its incredible toughness and durability, it has surprisingly good edge retention properties too.
10951095 knife steel is a popular choice for knife makers due to its ease of manufacture and relatively cheap cost. This high carbon steel has excellent edge retention and is known for its extreme toughness. However, 1095 steel is also relatively rust-prone and requires proper care and maintenance to avoid corrosion.
CTS-BD1NThe CTS-BD1N is a high-carbon chromium steel that balances hardness, edge retention, and corrosion resistance in a unique way. Released by Carpenter Technology Corporation, a US-based manufacturer, this steal is praised for its versatility and impressive performance in knife making, particularly for Everyday Carry (EDC) knives. Carpenter improved the standard BD1 alloy steel by adding Nitrogen into its composition, offering enhanced edge retention, toughness, and corrosion resistance.
AUS-6The Japanese-manufactured AUS-6 is an mid-grade stainless steel with a higher degree of wear resistance and toughness compared to its sister steels, AUS-4 and AUS-6. However, it doesn't hold its edge as efficiently as premium steels. It became popular because of its balance between performance, easy sharpening, and affordable cost.
N690CoThe N690Co is a high-end stainless steel developed by the Bohler-Uddeholm Corp, an Austrian-based company. Known for its superb corrosion resistance and high hardness level, the N690Co is also relatively easy to sharpen, making it an ideal choice for EDC knives. It additionally offers impressive edge retention and is often compared to the VG-10, a renowned Japanese knife steel.
14-4CrMo14-4CrMo is a high carbon stainless steel produced by the Japanese manufacturer Hitachi. Known for its good balance of hardness, toughness, and corrosion resistance, this knife steel is popular in folding knives, EDC knives and kitchen knives. 14-4CrMo falls into the medium price range, making it a popular choice for knife owners who want a steel that performs well, but without the price tag of premium steels.
CTS-204PKnown as a premium grade knife steel, CTS-204P is a highly regarded and efficient blade material made by US-based Carpenter Technology Corporation. The CTS-204P offers exceptional edge retention and corrosion resistance, while maintaining good toughness and wear resistance. This high-performance knife steel is specifically designed to cater to the needs of EDC knife users and knife enthusiasts.
ZDP-189The ZDP-189, also known as MC ZDP-189, is a premium blade steel manufactured by Hitachi Metals in Japan. High carbon and chromium content provides this steel with superior hardness and edge retention. It is known for its incredible cutting performance and long-lasting sharpness.
H1H1 is a stainless steel developed by Myodo Metal Industries Co., Ltd. in Japan specifically for rust resistance in knife blades. H1 for EDC knives is particularly popular due to its lack of need for maintenance and exceptional corrosion resistance, even in saltwater environments where many steels would fail.
LC200NLC200N is a high-nitrogen alloyed tool steel made by Latrobe (Carpenter Technology), is mainly used in knife production due to its outstanding corrosion resistance, and toughness properties which greatly benefits blade applications. It is also known under the brand name 'Z-FiNit' by Zapp Precision Metals. The steel is sought after for its ability to resist corrosion even in salty environments making it a cherished material for maritime applications.
S125VThe S125V knife steel, a high-end stainless steel variant from the Crucible Industries in the USA, is known for its outstanding edge retention capacity and impressive hardness. It is primarily composed of high amounts of carbon and prominent chunks of vanadium that significantly contribute to its unparalleled durability and longevity. The presence of minimal amounts of other elements, including tungsten, niobium, and molybdenum, also contribute to the integrity of its chemical composition. This steel variant is largely beneficial for high-performance knives that require frequent, intensive use.
S60VS60V steel, also known as 440V steel, is a high-end stainless steel developed by Crucible Industries. This steel is known for its excellent edge retention and corrosion resistance. It's a popular choice among knife makers and users who are looking for a premium material for their blades. Although not as widespread as other high-end steels, it's praised for its specific attributes.
S45VNS45VN is a new, upgraded version of the popular S35VN knife steel by Crucible Industries. This steel is a high-end martensitic stainless steel that is known for its improved toughness over its predecessor, alongside excellent balance of hardness, edge retention and corrosion resistance. Being a product of Crucible, defined as a premium steel, it tends to be in the higher price range.
S90VS90V, a premium grade stainless steel manufactured by Crucible Industries, is admired in the knife industry for its excellent edge retention. This US-made steel is a modification of CPM-S60V. It boasts an impressive 9% vanadium, lending to its superior wear and corrosion resistance. It is particularly attractive within the industry for its high performance in premium quality EDC and survival knives.
The CTS-BD1 is a blade steel developed by Carpenter Technology Corporation, located in the USA. It is known for its optimal balance of corrosion resistance, hardness, and edge retention. Originally designed for use in cutlery and surgical instruments, it has gained significant popularity in everyday carry (EDC) knives. The CTS-BD1 is characterized by its ease of sharpening and ability to take a fine edge, making it a choice material for user-friendly, long-lasting knives.
It falls within the mid-range price category, providing a balanced cost-to-performance ratio that makes it desirable to many knife enthusiasts.
CPM-4VCPM-4V is a high-performance tool steel which is known for its outstanding toughness and wear resistance. It was developed by Crucible Industries, a US-based company known for their expertise in producing high quality blade steels. The '4V' in its name refers to the four primary alloying elements - carbon, chromium, molybdenum, and vanadium. This makes CPM-4V ideal for use in high-demand applications including knives for EDC use.
CPM-3VCPM-3V is a high toughness, wear-resistant tool steel made by the Crucible Particle Metallurgy process. It is designed to provide maximum resistance to breakage and chipping in a high wear-resistance blade steel. The CPM process makes this steel tougher and more durable than standard ingot-metallurgy tool steels.
CPM-M4Often referred to as CPM M4, this high-speed steel is produced by Crucible Industries, renowned for its unparalleled hardness and outstanding wear resistance. CPM M4 is a top choice for competition cutters due to its excellent edge retention and toughness. This steel often considered as a bridge between stainless and high carbon steels.
M390M390, also known as CPM M390, is a highly demanded super steel produced by Austrian manufacturer Bohler. It strikes a solid balance between edge retention and corrosion resistance, and it's particularly popular for premium knife offerings. Despite its high-performance classification, M390 is found in both folding and fixed blades, making it a versatile choice for knife enthusiasts across the board.
ElmaxElmax is a high-chromium vanadium alloyed steel, made by Uddeholm. A popular choice for high-end production and custom knives, it offers a good balance of corrosion resistance, edge retention, and ease of sharpening. It's a powder metallurgy stainless steel, known for its high wear resistance and high compressive strength, suitable for hard use applications.
AEB-LAEB-L is a high purity, low alloy stainless steel originally developed by the Swedish company Uddeholm. It's known for its exceptional sharpness and hassle-free sharpening. It's popular with straight razors creators for its ability to maintain a keen edge, and it has similar applications for knife makers as well. It performs excellently in terms of hardness, corrosion resistance, and edge retention.
RWL34RWL34 is a premium grade knife steel, developed by the famous knifemaker Bob Loveless and produced by Damasteel in Sweden. It gets its name from Loveless himself (RWL). This steel is known for its exceptional edge retention and corrosion resistance. RWL34 steel is often used in high-end custom knives, as it combines superior toughness and hardness while offering ease of sharpening among the stainless steels.
N690N690 is a high-end stainless steel that originates from Austria and is often referred to as 'N690Co' due to its additional cobalt content. This steel is well-regarded for its good edge retention, high resistance to corrosion, and ease of sharpening which makes it a popular choice for fixed blade makers, especially for dagger and boot knives.
VG-10VG-10 is a popular high-end Japanese 'super steel' sought after by knife enthusiasts for its balance of properties. The steel manufacturers engineered VG-10 to offer excellent edge retention, high hardness, and decent toughness. Moreover, this steel has found popularity among chefs worldwide due to its high corrosion resistance, which makes it suitable for culinary knives.
D2D2, also known as D2 Tool Steel, has historically been used in various types of industrial applications, including as a cutting tool in various industries. Its popularity stems from its high hardness and wear resistance, which makes it suitable for making sturdy, high-quality knives. Despite its name, D2 is technically a semi-stainless steel due to its relatively high chromium content, although it lacks the corrosion resistance of true stainless steel.
CPM-154CPM-154 is a knife steel made in USA by Crucible, known to offer superior edge retention and toughness. This is a premium, high-quality stainless steel, touted specifically for its use in professional-grade EDC knives and survival tools. It has excellent working properties, making it a preferred choice for many knife manufacturers.
CPM-20CVThe CPM-20CV is a high-end powder steel from Crucible, U.S.A, known best for its exceptional edge retention and impressive corrosion resistance. It's ideal for high-quality pocket knives, or EDC knives, and outdoor tools. As a Crucible Particle Metallurgy (CPM) manufactured product, it guarantees excellent performance and stability in an array of situations.
S110VS110V is a high-alloy martensitic stainless tool steel made by Crucible Industries, an American-based company. Known for its remarkably high wear resistance, it's often used in high-end pocket knives and EDC tools. It contains a high volume of vanadium carbides, which provides the wear resistance, but it also makes the knife harder to sharpen. S110V has an excellent balance of good corrosion resistance and outstanding wear resistance.
S35VNS35VN, also known as CPM S35VN, is a high-end knife steel produced by Crucible Industries. This premium blade steel is an upgrade of the already remarkable S30V steel, offering improved toughness and machinability while maintaining excellent wear resistance and edge retention. S35VN is ideal for everyday carry (EDC) knives due to its balance of durability, sharpness, and corrosion resistance.
S30VDeveloped by the American company Crucible Industries, CPM-S30V is a martensitic (hardened) powder-made stainless steel, widely used in high-end premium pocket knives. Known for its excellent corrosion resistance and superior edge retention, this high-grade knife steel ranks among the best for EDC knives. In addition, it offers above-average durability and excellent resistance to wear.
AUS-10AUS-10 steel, from Japan, is a high-quality knife steel popular in higher-end cooking and EDC knives. It offers an impressive blend of sharpness, durability, and resilience, marking it as a crowd favorite. Its high carbon and chromium content provides it a good edge retention, exceptional toughness, and noteworthy stain resistance, which is ideal for a range of uses. Its composition leads to an overall strength and hardness that facilitates long-lasting and reliable performance.
AUS-8AUS-8 is popular blade steel and a good material for high quality, premium knives. This Japanese stainless steel, manufactured largely by Aichi Steel, is capable of achieving high hardness due to carbon and moderate amounts of chromium. With good versatility and balance between durability, edge sharpness, and corrosion resistance, AUS-8 responds well to heat treatment and exhibits good toughness, making it an excellent choice for everyday carry (EDC) knives.
The 440B is a high carbon martensitic stainless blade steel known for its good hardness and reasonable toughness. This knife steel belongs to the 440 series that includes the 440A, 440B, and 440C, with the 440B being slightly more difficult to find. The 440B is typically used in applications that require moderate corrosion resistance and high hardness.