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Blade Steel Reference Chart

Jantz Knife Supply provides a wide selection of blades, from a heavy-duty kitchen knife to a practical pocket knife, for various needs. Choosing the right steel for your knife depends on how you use your blade and how often. We offer the best materials, allowing you to craft high-quality practical artisan knives and more. This chart features ten of the most common blade steels such as the CPMS110V, CPMS90V, CPM M4, CPMS35V, CPM154, CPM3V, 1095, AUS-8A, VG10, and D2. Three main factors to consider when choosing blade steels include resistance to corrosion, edge retention, and hardness. To assist with making a choice, we also offer helpful metrics.

Hardness (HRC)

Hardness, or HRC, is a metric referring to steel's resistance to heat, stress, and other forces applied to knives. The ability to retain original shapes is measured on the Rockwell C scale or HRC. A knife must have an HRC of at least 52. Some knives have a high HRC of 66 but those used with a high HRC are in the 58-62 HRC range.

Keep in mind that the higher the hardness, the harder it is to sharpen the blade. Take a closer look at what a knife's HRC implies:

  • 52-54: Decent quality, yet still considered a soft blade.
  • 54-56: Typical hardness of kitchen knives, requires regular sharpening, although it is much easier to sharpen than most blades.
  • 56-58: Characteristic hardness of premium kitchen knives. Retain their sharpness for longer periods of time and are relatively easy to sharpen.
  • 58-60: Typical of the hardness found in pocket knives such as Spyderco and Cold Steel or premium Japanese kitchen knives. These knives retain their sharpness much longer but can be a bit difficult to sharpen.
  • 60-62: Although they remain sharper for extended periods of time, these blades are more prone to becoming brittle. Sharpening these blades can be a challenge depending on the quality of the manufacturing process.

Corrosion Resistance

Steel resistance to corrosion refers to the resistance to rust and any other damage that can result from the elements including moisture and salt. In this metric, more isn't always better and there is an optimal number depending on your application. Knives that are high-resistant to corrosion often have a lower edge performance.

Edge Retention

Edge retention refers to how long the blade will remain sharp as you use it over time. There is no set scale for this metric but we have set a scale of one to ten. Note that as the numbers are higher the greater the edge retention requiring less sharpening.

 

Steel Type Photo Desc Price Hardness Sharpening Edge Corrosion Resistance Uses
CPM S110V The S110V is considered a “high-hardness” steel that is highly resistant to corrosion. It features superior wear resistance and will remain sharp for an extended period of time, which makes the blade a bit costly. *All CPM knives are high alloy martensitic stainless tool steels made using the Crucible Particle Metallurgy process. $98 - $173 60-62 1 - Very hard to sharpen. 10 -High edge retention 6 - Moderately high corrosion resistance Industrial Pocket Knife - Good for outdoor use
CPM S90V A powder metal steel, which makes it high in HRC and very hard to sharpen. However, this type of knife will retain its sharpness longer than most knives. The S90V is a superior quality steel manufactured by Crucible that is considered to be a "super steel" and features a high carbon concentration. It is more expensive than the S110V due to the fact that this blade offers great balance between corrosion resistance and edge retention. *All CPM knives are high alloy martensitic stainless tool steels made using the Crucible Particle Metallurgy process. $200 - $410 56-58 1 - Very hard to sharpen. 9 - High edge retention 5 - Moderate corrosion resistance Industrial Pocket Knife - Good for outdoor use
CPM M4 Offering superior resistance to abrasion, this is a tough blade with high carbon levels. It is a great steel for cutting but you’ll want to make sure to properly care for this knife or it can develop a little bit of rust over time due to its carbon steel composition. *All CPM knives are high alloy martensitic stainless tool steels made using the Crucible Particle Metallurgy process. $160 - $250 63-65 2 - Moderately easy to sharpen. 9 - High edge retention 2 - Low corrosion resistance Tactical Use Pocket Knife
CPM S35V This knife offers an optimal balance between edge retention, hardness and corrosion resistance. It is an improvement from its previous model, the S30V, which was prone to chipping due to its hardness. It boasts a carbon content of 1.45% and its finer grain structure allows it to chip less than its predecessor. *All CPM knives are high alloy martensitic stainless tool steels made using the Crucible Particle Metallurgy process. $50 - $2,200 58-62 5 - Moderately easy to sharpen. 7 - Moderately high edge retention 7 - Moderately high corrosion resistance Tactical Use Pocket Knife
CPM 154 The CPM 154 is an upgraded version of its more commonly mentioned 154CM counterpart. The CPM is a powder metal version of the same blade that offers even more edge retention and corrosion resistance. This blade is relatively easy to sharpen and it ranks in the middle in each of our metrics. *All CPM knives are high alloy martensitic stainless tool steels made using the Crucible Particle Metallurgy process. $95 - $1,600 58-60 5 - Moderately easy to sharpen. 6 - Moderately high edge retention 6 - Moderately high corrosion resistance Tactical Use Pocket Knife
CPM 3V Offering a good combination of toughness and wear resistance, this knife is perfect for everyday use. It can discolor and accumulate some rust, but the blade is quite easy to sharpen and can withstand your average daily pocket knife use. This little tool is not your average pocket knife. *All CPM knives are high alloy martensitic stainless tool steels made using the Crucible Particle Metallurgy process. $255 - $1,500 58-60 5 - Moderately easy to sharpen. 4 - Moderately low edge retention 2 - Low corrosion resistance Everyday Use Pocket Knife
1095 Toughness is the number one quality of this blade steel, which is why this is the most commonly used steel for knives. While the steel does lack corrosion resistance, it is much more resistant to chipping, which is why it is also commonly used for survival knives. Although they also don’t retain their sharp edge as long, they are very easy to sharpen so you can easily restore them. $14 - $1,000 56-60 8 - Easy to sharpen. 3 - Low edge retention 2 - Low corrosion resistance Survival Knives
AUS-8A AUS knives are Japanese knives that prioritize are made with ease of use in mind. They are very easy to sharpen and offer just enough toughness and corrosion resistance for everyday use. $18 -$195 57-59 8 - Easy to sharpen. 3 - Low edge retention 4 - Low corrosion resistance Everyday Use Pocket Knife
VG10 VG10 is a Japanese steel that is very common in high-quality kitchen knives. It is considered a high-end stainless steel due to its high resistance to corrosion. It is also very easy to sharpen and retains its edge moderately well, making it the ideal knife for chefs. $75 - $250 59-61 6 - Easy to sharpen. 6 - Moderately high edge retention 7 - Moderately high corrosion resistance Premium Chef Knife
D2 This steel falls short from being considered a stainless steel due to its slightly low chromium level. But like every other stainless steel blade, it provides great corrosion resistance as well as great edge retention. It is tougher than most stainless steel blades and can be very difficult to sharpen. $30 - $1,070 58-62 3 - Easy to sharpen. 8 - High edge retention 2 - Low corrosion resistance Everyday Use Pocket Knife