Many grades of tool steel and stainless steel are used to produce knives. Since there is no "One perfect knife steel", the grade of steel is chosen by its' intended use.
Many steel properties and attributes are taken into consideration when selecting a grade of tool steel to fabricate into a knife. Toughness, wear resistance, corrosion resistance, hardness and edge retention are all very important to the user of the knife. While knifemakers will also consider grindability, heat treatment and polishibility before selecting a grade of steel to use. All of these things come together to provide some of the finest crafted knives in the world.
These are the most common grades used in the knifemaking industry, chosen for their durability in their intended use. Many different styles of knives, sure to fit any cutting situation, are available in each of these grades.
D-2 Tool Steel Knives
D-2 is a high-carbon high-chromium tool steel providing very good wear resistance. D-2 possesses good edge-holding ability and can be polished to a very bright finish. For this reason, many show-class quality knives are made from D-2.
420HC Stainless Steel Knives
420HC offers similar wear resistance and toughness as D-2 tool steel, but adds much better corrosion resistance. 420HC is used by many of the commercial knife-making companies.
440C Stainless Steel Knives
440C is very much like D-2 with the addition of corrosion resistance. 440C will also polish to a brite finish. This balance of properties has made 440C the most popular grade of stainless steel used in both the commercial and custom knifemaking industries.
CPM 154 Stainless Steel Knives
CPM 154 has better toughness, wear resistance and corrosion resistance than 440C. The PM processing adds additional toughness over the the conventional 154CM version of this grade.CPM 154 has proven to have excellent edge retention.
CPM S30V Stainless Steel Knives
CPM S30V stainless steel knives are made from the knife steel that has taken over the knife world by storm. This grade has bescome very popular with both the commercial and custom knifemakers.
CPM S35VN Stainless Steel Knives
CPM S35VN is an upgraded version of the very popular CPM S30V. CPM S35VN has an addition of niobium, which provides the user with a tougher grade of steel, while also making it easier to shape and grind by the knifemaker.
M390 Stainless Steel Knives
M390 stainless steel is a grade that offers the user, very good wear resistance and excellent corrosion resistance. This is achieved by combining high amounts of chromium and vanadium.