Blade Steel

420HC - Blade Steel

author image by -

Steel Composition

carbon 0.45 %
chromium 13.00 %
molybdenum 0.60 %
manganese 0.50 %
silicon 1.00 %

The 420HC is a budget-grade knife steel famous for being used extensively by Buck Knives. It originates from the United States. Although it’s not the hardest or strongest steel out there, it has proven its worth in terms of ease of sharpening and corrosion resistance. It’s relatively softer, which makes it less prone to snapping or breaking when in use. Being a budget steel, it doesn’t keep an edge as well as more expensive steels.

Advantages of 420HC as Knife Steel

The primary benefit of 420HC is that it is cost-effective. Another advantage of this steel is ease of sharpening. Unlike harder steels, a 420HC blade can be sharpened successfully by a beginner. Furthermore, its good corrosion resistance negates the need for special care to prevent rust.

Moreover, it's ideal for everyday (EDC) use not only because of its affordability but also because of its sufficient performance for light to medium tasks.

Disadvantages of 420HC for Knives

The most notable disadvantage of 420HC is its poor edge retention. Although sharpness can be restored with regular honing and stropping, those who use knives heavily every day may find this a burden. Besides, as a softer steel, it does not offer the same sturdiness and resilience as premium steels.

It may also not perform well in cold weather, a common issue with cheaper steels.

Steel Rating

Steels with good edge retention will stay sharp longer, reducing the need for frequent sharpening

Edge Retention

1/6 Points

Toughness is the steel's ability to absorb energy and deform without breaking


3/6 Points

Corrosion Resistance measures how well the steel can resist rust and oxidation

Corrosion Resistance

4/6 Points

Sharpenability refers to how easily a knife blade can be sharpened to its desired edge


5/6 Points

This is a relative measure based on typical market values. The actual price can vary widel


6/6 Points

A higher HRC number typically indicates a harder steel, which can hold a sharper edge


56 - 58 HRC
Please be aware that this rating should be understood as a comparative measure. It's simply a rough estimation in relation to other knife steels.

Is 420HC Rust Resistant?

420HC boasts good corrosion resistance due to its high chromium content. This means it is less likely to rust than other budget-tier steels, providing it is adequately taken care of. But it's always recommended to clean the knife after use and avoid leaving it wet.

How Durable is 420HC?

With an HRC of 56-58, 420HC is considered a 'soft' steel which contributes to its ease of sharpening. Though this might be a disadvantage in terms of edge retention, it does make the steel less brittle and hence, less prone to chipping or snapping.


420HC, a popular budget-grade steel used by Buck Knives, is known for its affordability, easy sharpening, and decent performance for light tasks. It is widely used in the manufacturing of hunting knives, camping knives, and other outdoor gears.

Similar blade steels


In conclusion, 420HC is a reasonably good choice for general-purpose and EDC knives, particularly for those on a tight budget. While it isn't the hardest or most durable steel out there, its corrosion resistance and easy maintenance make it a suitable steel for outdoor gear. However, for those who rely heavily on their knives, investing in a higher-grade steel might be more beneficial in the long run.