3 Types of Stainless Steel Used in Making Knives

Oct 25th 2018

Knife enthusiasts who have collected knives for a long time are usually aware of the different types of stainless steel used in knife blades. However, those who may be new to knives are not always sure of the different kinds and wonder which type of stainless steel is the best. Whether it is a  stainless steel folding knife or a fixed one, the type of steel used can greatly affect the quality and durability of the knife.

As with variants of any product, there are various pros and cons to each type of stainless steel. Adding different alloys to the steel will give the knife different properties. For instance, certain alloys will make the blade harder whereas other ones will make it tougher. However, it is hard to achieve both these properties simultaneously. Therefore, it is important to understand the differences between the several kinds of stainless steel and decide which one is best for you.

Stainless Steel

The main alloy in any stainless steel knife is chromium which prevents corrosion. Typically, chromium will make up 12% of the ingredients and increase the strength of the knife.

stainless steel folding knife

The 400 Series

There are different types of steel within this series. For example, the 420 steel contains approximately 38% carbon. This steel is extremely soft, and its edges don’t hold well. It is both a low cost and low quality material. Knife blades made of this material need to be sharpened frequently. However, this steel is quite rust resistant. As such, its primary use is in making diving knives as these knives are constantly in contact with saltwater.

Another type is 440C Steel which has a very low carbon content ranging from 0.95 – 1.20%. Due to this, it is considered as a higher quality  stainless steel. It is resistant to wear and tear and is commonly used in many knife blades.

The AUS Series

This series is a marked improvement over the 400 series due to the addition of vanadium, an alloy which makes the blade harder and improves wear resistance. It also enables the steel to be sharpened easily.

One such steel in this series is Bohler  M390 steel which contains only 1.9% carbon. This type of steel is stain resistant. It is a popular hard steel as it has vanadium added to it. Therefore, this type of stainless steel is commonly used in surgical instruments.

Another type is the Gingami 1 Steel (GIN 1). It contains carbon in the range of 0.80 – 0.90% and provides superior edge retention.

knife blade

SXXV Series

This is increasingly becoming one of the most popular series due to its unparalleled strength, ability to hold edges and excellent rust resistance.

In this category, the S30V steel is a famous one as it offers high wear resistance and is quite tough as well. This is why it is considered one of the best choices for knife production.

The X15 steel, in this series, has 0.40% carbon. It originated in France and was mainly produced for the aviation sector. Even in the worst conditions, it is resistant to corrosion. Since this steel is the most stain resistant steel available, it is also used for diving knives.

folding knife


There are endless varieties of stainless steel found on the market. It is up to you to decide which type will best fit your needs. For instance, if someone was considering to buy a stainless steel folding knife for sale, they would need to consider all the factors mentioned above and then choose a knife blade accordingly.