Blade Steel

N690 - Blade Steel

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Steel Composition

carbon 1.07 %
chromium 17.00 %
molybdenum 1.10 %
vanadium 0.10 %
cobalt 1.50 %
manganese 0.40 %
silicon 0.40 %

N690 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.

What are the Benefits of N690?

The N690 for EDC Knives provides a good balance of hardness and toughness thanks to Bohler's advanced metallurgy. With its chromium and vanadium content, N690 is capable of achieving a good level of edge retention alongside satisfactory toughness, making it excellent for a wide range of applications particularly in the realm of outdoor activities such as fishing and camping.

The cobalt in its composition enhances its individual characteristics and contributes to making it a well-rounded steel. More so, it has good wear resistance and decent capability to withstand adverse conditions without chipping or damage.

Disadvantages of N690 for Knives

N690, although having several notable features, also experiences some limitations. For one, it is far from being the best when it comes to edge retention, although it certainly does fare better than cheaper steels. The edge needs to be maintained regularly to keep the blade performing at its best. While the steel itself is resistant to corrosion, it's not entirely immune - meaning care needs to be taken to prevent rust from forming, particularly in damp conditions.

Steel Rating

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

Edge Retention

4/6 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


4/6 Points

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


3/6 Points

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


59 - 60 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.

How Rust Resistant is N690?

N690 is inherently rust resistant due to its high chromium content. This means the steel has an excellent ability to resist rust and other forms of corrosion, making it useful for knives that are likely to be exposed to the elements on a regular basis such as marine or diving knives. However, the corrosion resistance can be significantly reduced if the surface is not well-maintained.

How Strong is N690?

The typical HRC rating for the N690 knife steel is between 59 and 60. This level of hardness results in excellent edge retention and sharpenability, making it a great choice for a hunting or EDC Knife. The hardness allows the edge to be fine-tuned for precise cuts, while also maintaining a level of toughness that prevents chipping under hard use.

For what is N690 known for?

N690 is generally well-received in the knife community. It has found a place in many knife models designed for use in tough, outdoor environments where resistance to wear and corrosion is critical. Due to its 'all-around' character, N690 is a popular choice amongst both knife manufacturers and users. Its reputation leans more on its toughness and corrosion resistance rather than outright hardness or edge retention.


In conclusion, N690 steel provides a commendable blend of hardness, toughness, corrosion resistance, and wear resistance, offering a good balance that makes it a reliable and durable choice for a range of applications. It may not excel in any one area, but its ability to perform well across the board is what makes it stand out. Overall, N690 makes an excellent choice for those seeking a tough and dependable knife steel.