About Blade Steel

The most common blade material used to make knives is iron and carbon that is enhanced with a variety of elements such as chromium, vanadium, manganese, and more. Different types of steel are created by adjusting the amounts of each material that is added. Stainless steels, for instance, are created by adding more rust resistant materials.

Finishing processes play a large role in creating blade steel. Processes such as rolling and heat treating have a great affect on performance. Each material performs differently under varying finishing processes.

154CM

This is an American made stainless steel that was originally developed to make turbine blades in jet engines. It is very similar to ATS-34. It’s very corrosion resistant and has good toughness and edge quality.

440C

This is a stainless steel that is used on many factory manufactured knife blades. It is very tough and extremely stain resistant. It holds an edge well and is fairly easy to sharpen. It is generally hardened to between 56 and 59 Rc., and makes a great all around blade. 440C is far superior to most other 400 series steels. 440A and 440B are not as good.

ATS-34

This is a stainless steel that comes from Japan and is very similar to The U.S.’s 154CM. It became very popular with knife makers in the 1990′s as a higher quality alternative to 440C. The steel is not as rust resistant as 440C, but holds a better edge. The carbon content is 1.04% . It works best when hardened to between 59 Rc to 61 Rc.

AUS-8

This steel has a low carbon to chromium ratio. It is very resistant to corrosion, and is very tough, but does not hold an edge as well as many other steel variations with higher carbon content.

BG-42

This material is a stainless steel. It has a better edge holding ability than 44C and ATS-34, and is tougher than ATS-34. Works best when hardened to 61 – 63 Rc.

D2

This material is a very high carbon steel (1.5%) that has superb edge holding ability and unmatched wear resistance, but lacks toughness. It is not as corrosion resistant as 440C or ATS-34, and is not considered a stainless steel because it only has 12% chrome. Stainless blades have 13% or more.

Damascus

Damascus is made of a variety of steels that are layered together. The finishing process involves an acid etch that exposes the surface lines. The end result is a tough blade with good edge quality. It is quite expensive and used mostly for its artistic nature.

H1

H1′s claim to fame is its corrosion resistance. Blades made of the material sacrifice edge quality for this corrosion resistance and toughness.

M2

This is an extremely tough, tool grade steel. It is used mostly for industrial cutting tasks. The steel has superb strength and is extremely wear resistant, but is highly susceptible to corrosion.

S30V

This is a premium grade steel that was designed in the U.S. for knife making. It has very good edge holding ability and is very corrosion resistant.