Blade Steel

M390 - Blade Steel

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Steel Composition

carbon 1.90 %
chromium 20.00 %
molybdenum 1.00 %
vanadium 4.00 %
tungsten 0.60 %

M390, 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.

Advantages of M390 as Knife Steel

The M390 knife steel offers excellent edge retention, making it a top choice for EDC knives that require frequent use. This blade steel resists wear and chipping, offering a long life of sharpness. It also exhibits high corrosion resistance, eliminating concerns about rust if maintained properly.

Beyond the practical benefits, the M390 for EDC knives is often lauded for its aesthetic appeal. It polishes to a high mirror finish, adding to its appeal in premium knife offerings.

Disadvantages of M390 for Knives

While M390 offers an impressive array of benefits, it’s not without drawbacks. This knife steel is not the easiest to sharpen, largely due to its high hardness. It requires patience and the right equipment to get a nice, sharp edge.

M390 is also a premium-priced steel, which may make it less accessible for some users. Lastly, this steel might be a bit overkill for those who don’t need extreme edge retention in their day-to-day tasks.

Steel Rating

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

Edge Retention

6/6 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

5/6 Points

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


2/6 Points

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


1/6 Points

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


60 - 62 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 M390 Rust Resistant?

M390’s significant chromium content makes it highly rust-resistant. While no blade steel is completely immune to rust, M390 performs exceptionally well against corrosion when compared to other premium steels. Regular maintenance could further extend its resistance to oxidation.

How Durable is M390?

The high hardness of M390 steel, typically around 60-62 HRC, confers excellent edge retention and wear resistance. Its toughness is sufficient to withstand the demands of multiple tasks. However, this hardness does make the steel tougher to sharpen and may lead to more fragile tips.


M390 has a positive reputation in the knife industry, often being described as a ‘super steel.’ It is frequently used in premium and high-quality EDC knives due to its excellent balance of edge retention, corrosion resistance and overall durability.


In conclusion, while the M390 blade steel might be overkill for casual uses or those on a tight budget, it shines in applications that require excellent edge retention and corrosion resistance. If you’re after a premium EDC knife that will stay sharp for a long time and resist the elements, M390 is a strong contender.