Knife Steel Information

Posted on: 29 March, 2017

Get to know more about knife steels and selecting the right steel for you


As one can imagine, there are thousands of different knife and tool steels available, which are utilised by individual cutlery and knife brands worldwide. Although, the entire range of steels can be categorised into few larger groups, like stainless steels, tool steels, carbon steels etc. Each and every steel has its own unique properties, which gives it a slight edge over another.

Which is the best knife steel...really??

These days, the old adage of there is really only 2 types of steel is no longer valid. Modern technology and advances in metallurgy and materials have allowed us to create alloys and compositions to suit a monumental range of applications. From space-craft to simple springs.
Just like the huge range of knife and cutlery designs available today, the range of steel types and grind profiles is also quite daunting.
So, where do we start?
Well, once again, let’s keep it simple. After all, a knife, no matter how high tech or complex in design is still only a knife, designed to cut, to separate matter. Keep in mind that I am not a metallurgist, nor do I try to be one, however I do know a lot about knives and have done a fair bit of homework. 

Most of today’s blade material choices can be (loosely) put into 5 categories:
  • Stainless steel
  • Carbon steel
  • Tool steel
  • Specialty alloys (beta titanium)
  • Non-metallic materials (crystalline sapphire/glass reinforced plastics/bonded ceramics)

Stainless Steel:

Is not stainless! “That doesn’t make sense” I hear you say. Well, let me clarify. Stainless in the actual meaning of the word is referring to the ability of the steel to be 100% free from stain and rust irrespective of what it is exposed to. This is a fallacy. Stain resistant is more accurate. Chromium content is what makes a knife stainless, the more Chromium the more stain resistant.
440A has more Chromium and /or less Carbon than 440C and therefore will not rust or stain as easily. But they will both rust if exposed to the elements for long enough. It is only the extent of rusting that varies.
Stainless steels tend to get surface rust and stop there (unless left in sea water) whereas Carbon steels will pit and be eaten away to the point of structural damage. Stainless steels are a good choice for those that do not wish to maintain their cutlery on a daily basis.
Stainless steels tend not to be quite as tough as Carbon steels and therefore you will see Stainless steel knives usually made of thicker blade stock materials for any given knife. Thin but large stainless steel knives tend to break whereas thin, Carbon steel knives will flex to a greater extent before gross failure. However, good steel quality and good heat-treating practices are usually what make a knife tough enough for heavy-duty usage. Stainless steels still contain carbon, just not as much as straight carbon steels. Thus, the higher the carbon content in a stainless steel, the better the edge retention.


Carbon Steel:

A simple steel alloy that has existed long before all others in modern cutlery. It remains as a strong contender in the market for a number of reasons. It is tough, it will take an edge easily in the field and is known for its reliability. Having said this, Carbon steels will rust far more easily and if not looked after, will rust to the point of no return. Carbon steels will also stain when exposed to substances that contain acids, such as food stuffs and meats. When you see old carbon steel knives that have been used to process foods their blades will have a dark grey/black mottled patina finish. This is the same finish that appears after rust has been removed. Fine razor edges will dull without usage due to rust at the edge itself, so keep those blades oiled.


Tool Steel:

Metals to cut other metals in other words. Tool steel alloys have existed in the manufacturing industries for a long time but have only recently been introduced into the production knife market. Custom makers have used some tools steels like D2 or A2 for many years but have not made it into the limelight as such, with people like Chris Reeve as the exception to this.
Tool steels are a compromise between Carbon and Stainless steels in most areas. They will stain but not as fast as Carbon steels. They are tougher than Stainless steels generally speaking. Their edge holding abilities is where they surpass both carbon and stainless alloys. But it is for this reason that they are usually much harder on the Rockwell scale and therefore are quite difficult to sharpen. This can be offset by the fact that it would not need to be sharpened as much. Once again, steel selection comes down to personal preference.


Speciality alloys:

Beta titanium was really only used on high end diving knives for a couple of reasons. It will not rust…ever. Titanium forms a hard, oxide layer on its surface and stops there. Almost like a self, healing armour plate! Beta alloys are also extremely lightweight and exceptionally tough/strong. Some Naval units employ titanium diving knives because titanium has little to no magnetic signature, paramount for those conducting mine clearance operations involving magnetically activated mines. The downside to this “wonder alloy” is its cost to manufacture (titanium is difficult to grind and work), material costs and its very low hardness and therefore very low edge retention. Most titanium knives (although costing $500.00 - $600.00+ dollars) will be on the Rockwell scale at about 43-45Rc! Far too soft for constant usage.


Non-metallic materials:

Despite being prohibited items in most localities (for their ability to be undetectable by metal detectors and therefore are seen by some to be a security risk) come in a few different forms. Forms of crystalline sapphire, bonded ceramic compounds and high tech plastics. Sapphire and ceramic types have VERY high hardness and therefore possibly the best edge retention available but will tend to be brittle and impossible to sharpen on anything other than diamond sharpening systems. Plastics on the other hand will be quite soft but will be nearly unbreakable and totally rust and stain free, in the literal sense but next to no edge retention to speak of.
Steel compositions will baffle most as they are really only reserved for the engineers and fanatics amongst us, however, this will serve as a guide to the availability of steel types for potential customers.
Apply common sense…
When choosing a knife or tool that is.
For a machete or a heavy-duty usage tool look for a Carbon steel with a hardness on the lower side of 54-58 Rockwell. This will provide a tough tool that will sharpen easily and be able to withstand lots or repeated impacts and stresses.
For a low maintenance skinning, hunting, survival, field, utility, combat knife look for a good stainless steel with a relatively high carbon content like Z60, AUS8, 440C, ATS-34, 154CM etc.
For those that maintain their gear meticulously then folding and general use fixed blades of all types in any carbon or tool steel alloy will serve well.
In conclusion…
Be mindful of how you use and look after tools. If you use and abuse and don’t maintain your gear then a large, stainless fixed blade with a 6mm thick blade might be best for you.
If you prefer to clean, oil and store your equipment carefully then you will realise the benefits of such steels as L6 and 1095.
Remember that heat treatment and knife design play a big part in the performance of cutlery. Don’t take it as gospel that any knife made by anyone will be the best knife around simply because it is made out of high grade steel. A knife made by a reputable manufacturer using simple and cheap 420HC and a first rate heat treatment will far outperform a backyard job fashioned out of a high tech alloy like CPM S30V or 440C while using improper heat treatment techniques.
Don’t place much stock into online videos of people destroying knives as part of “reviews” and “testing” to determine a knifes worth. Humans are supposed to be intelligent and capable of making and using tools to live and survive. If you are trying to chop a concrete cinder block in half with a hunting knife then you are not very intelligent to say the least! ANY knife can be broken or destroyed if given enough abuse.
The only thing more important than your knife in a survival situation is your knowledge. If you don’t know how to use a knife properly then having the biggest, toughest space-age alloy knife won’t save you anyway as survival knowledge is paramount to your equipment.


Common Name Steel type  Country of Origin 
1095 AISI - 1095 USA 
440B AISI - 440B USA 
440C AISI - 440C USA 
4410 KRUPP W - Nr 1.4410 Germany
50X14MF GOST-50X14MF  Russia 
65X13 65X13 Russia 
D2 (GER) W - Nr 1.2061  Germany
MV58 GB - 8Cr15MoV CHINA
U8 GOST – U8 Russia 
X12MF GOST-X12MF Russia 
Z50 AFNOR – Z50CD15 France
Z60 BONPERTUIS – Z60CDV14 France
Z90 AFNOR – Z90WDCV France

 List of elements used in the production of knife and tool steels
Element Symbol Element Name Description
C Carbon Improves tensile strength, edge retention, hardness, resistance to wear and resistance to abrasion.
Cr Chromium Chromium improves corrosion resistance, wear resistance, hardness and tensile strength.It is also good carbide former. At least 13% Cr.Is required for a steel to be categorised as stainless steel,but in larger amounts it can decrease steel toughness.
M Molybdenum  Molybdenum improves strength at high temperatures, machinability, resistance to corrosion, resistance to brittleness. It is also great carbide former.
W Wolfram (Tungsten) Improves wear resistance, toughness and performance in high temperatures. It is also the best carbide former after Vanadium.
V Vanadium Improves wear resistance, hardenability, grain refinement, edge stability and toughness. It is also a strong former.
Co Cobalt  Cobalt Improves attainable hardness and red-hot hardness. It also intensifies individual effects of other elements in complex steels.
Ni Nickel  Nickel improves mainly toughness and when used in the forging of Damascus steels, it is responsible for the brighter, shiny patterns.
Mn Manganese This element, improves grain structure, hardenability, as well as strength and wear resistance. It is only used in very small amounts, as large concentration can make the steel too hard and brittle.
Si Silicon Very similar to Manganese, it deoxidises during steel manufacturing process and increases steel strength.
Cu Copper In small amounts of 0.20 – 1.00% it helps in preventing surface deoxidisation (rust).
P Phosphorus Found in pretty much all steel types in minute amounts. It helps with strength and machinability od the steel.
S Sulphur Not desirable in knife steels, therefore miniscule amounts are used to increase machinability of the steel. Large amounts will decrease toughness.
* Related article - Steelmaking

 List of steel types and the associated brands 
Steel: 1095  (AISI-1095)
Country of Origin: United States
Knife Brands: J&V Adventure, Kappetijin Knives, Tramontina
Probably the most well-known and widely used simple carbon steel in the knife making industry. 1095 is used by many custom knife makers and although it can rust quite easily, it does keep a very good edge and can be hardened up to 64HRC.
C % Cr % Mo % Mn % Si % P % Hardness
0.90 – 1.03 0.00 0.00 0.30 – 0.50 0.03 0.05 58-64 HRC
The closest aliases to this steel type are the following:
  • AFNOR – XC90
  • BS – BH95S
  • DIN – CK100
  • JIS – SUP4
  • SIS - 1870
  • W-Nr – 1.1275

Steel: 12C27 (Sandvik 12C27)
Country of Origin: Sweden
Knife Brands: Joker Knives, Kizlyar Supreme, Mora Knives
A very pure alloy with very well proven track record. Mostly used in the Scandinavian brands of knives. This steel has good corrosion resistance properties as well as exceptional toughness. 
C % Cr % P % Mn % Si % S % Hardness
0.60 13.50 0.03 0.40 0.40 0.01 54-61 HRC
 The closest aliases to this steel type are the following:
  • GOST - 65X13
  • GOST - 65KH13

Steel: 420HC (LATROBE – 420HC)
Country of Origin: United States
Knife Brands: Joker Knives, Kappetijin Knives 
Simply put, this steel is great value for money for budget knives. As well as the above-mentioned brands, 420HC is extensively used by BUCK knives of USA for decades with great success. It is not the best steel for edge retention, but its simple chemical compositions, makes it quite cheap. But a cheap steel in the right hands can still perform quite well. Ideal steel for outdoor, rough use type knives. 
C % Cr % Mo % V % Mn % Si % Hardness
0.46 13.00 0.00 0.30 0.40 0.40 55-57 HRC
The closest aliases to this steel type are the following:
  • AISI - 420
  • GOST - 40X13

Steel: 440B (AISI – 440B)
Country of Origin: United States
Knife Brands: Joker Knives
Although this steel is not rated very high by some of the knife enthusiasts, most of these opinions are merely based on personal biases and hear-say comments. In the knife manufacturing industry, everything comes down to a delicate balance between practicality, performance and cost. And if you add to the mix a very high quality of workmanship and forging standards, then the 440B will start to meet all criteria. In fact it is the steel that is still being used by one of United States top outdoor knife manufacturers, Randall Cutlery. The main reason for why companies sometimes tend to go for 440B over 440C is because 440B is almost 100% rust resistant and ideal for outdoor adventure type knives. Also, 440B is also less brittle under high impact if accidentally struck against very hard surface.
C % Cr % Mo % Mn % Si % P % Hardness
0.75 – 0.95 16 - 18 0.75 1.00 1.00 0.04 58-60 HRC
The closest aliases to this steel type are the following:
  • AFNOR – Z2CND1805
  • CSN – 17042
  • DIN – X91CrMoV18
  • GB – 9Cr18MoV
  • JUS – C.4772

Steel: 440C (AISI – 440C)
Country of Origin: United States
Knife Brands: Kizlyar Supreme, Joker Knives, J&V Adventure, Kappetijin Knives, Down Under Knives
When first introduced, the 440C was the flagship of complex Stainless steels and the most premium steel available. Only the very best and most expensive knife brands could afford the 440C. However, steel manufacturing has come a long way since then and so these days this steel is widely produced by many steel companies worldwide. Although 440C is still used by some custom knife makers, it is now more common with production and handmade production lines. It is considered a reliable and more affordable alternative to modern complex alloys.
C % Cr % Mo % Mn % Si % P % Hardness
0.95 – 1.20 16  - 18 0.75 1.00 1.00 0.04 58-60 HRC
 The closest aliases to this steel type are the following:
  • AFNOR – Z100CD13
  • CSN – 17042
  • DIN – X105CrMo17
  • GB – 95Cr18
  • GOST – 110X18M
  • W-Nr – 1.4125

Steel: 4110 KRUPP  (W-Nr 1.4110)
Country of Origin: Germany
Knife Brands: Tramontina, Joker Knives 
Often referred to simply as the German KRUPP steel; this is a well-known steel that has been used by many production knife manufacturers especially those that specialise in camp and kitchen knives. The Brazilian cutlery giant, Tramontina, has made an extensive use of this steel with proven track record in the hospitality industry specially. There are also some higher end handmade production brands like, Grohmann Knives of Canada that use this steel for production of their range of well known Canadian belt knives. The 4110 is highly rust resistant with reasonable toughness.  
C % Cr % Mo % V % Si % Mn % Hardness
0.48 – 0.60 13.00 – 15.00 0.50 – 0.80 0.05 – 0.15 1.00 1.00 56-58 HRC
 The closest aliases to this steel type are the following:
  • DIN - X55CrMo14
  • EN - X55CrMo14

Steel: 50X14MF (GOST-50X14MF)
Country of Origin: Russia (RUS)
Knife Brands: Kizlyar Knives
Also known as the GOST series steel, this is a well-known and proven grade of steel mostly used in the kitchen knives and anything with longer blades as it is reasonably mild at 54-56HRC and therefore less likely to break or chip on impact. This steel is highly rust and stain resistant.
C % Cr % Mo % V % Mn % Si % Hardness
0.45-0.50 14.5 – 15 0.60 – 0.65 0.10 – 0.15 0.60 – 1.00 1.00 54-56 HRC
The closest aliases to this steel type are the following:
  • AFNOR – Z50CD15
  • DIN – X50CrMov15
  • GB – 5Cr15MoV
  • JUS – C.4770
  • UNE – F.3422
  • W-Nr – 1.4116

Steel: 65X13 (GOST – 65X13)
Country of Origin: Russia
Knife Brands: Kizlyar
A very clean and high quality Russian stainless alloy steel used by many custom knife makers in Russia and surrounding countries. Although some compare it to AISI-440A, it is far from it. In composition and characteristics it is much closer to Sandvik 12c27. It is mostly hardened to between 56-57HRC and us used to smaller to medium size knives. It holds a good edge, relatively light and is highly rust resistant.
C % Cr % Ni % Mn % Si % P % Hardness
0.60 – 0.70 12 – 14 0.00 – 0.50 0.25 – 0.80 0.20 – 0.50 0.03 56-59 HRC
The closest aliases to this steel type are the following:
  • GOST – 65KH13
Proprietary Equivalents:
  • Bohler-Uddeholm-Marss 500
  • Erasteel – PMC27
  • Sandvick – 12C27

Steel: AUS8 (AICHI-AUS8)
Country of Origin: Japan
Knife Brands: Kizlyar Supreme, 5.11 Tactical
A well-tested and proven stainless steel, which is used by just about every big name brand on mid priced knives. If tempered and worked properly, the steel can perform quite well. The carbon content is not very high, so edge retention is average, but on the same token, AUS8 makes is responds well even to fairly primitive sharpening gear and be honed to a full polished edge.   
C % Cr % Mo % Mn % Si % V % Hardness
0.70 – 0.75 13 – 14.50 0.10 – 0.30 0.50 1.00 0.10 – 0.26 56-59 HRC
 The closest aliases to this steel type are the following:
  • GB – 8Cr15MoV

Steel: CTS-XHP (Carpenter CTS-XHP)
Country of Origin: United States
Knife Brands: Olamic Cutlery
A relatively new air hardened steel with characteristics, similar to both 440C in terms of its rust resistance, but also similar to D2 as it can be hardened up to 64HRC. The CTS-XHP is a premium quality cutlery steel and is not cheap and therefore it is only really used in top of the line custom knives. 
C % Cr % Mo % Mn % Si % V % Hardness
1.60 16.00 0.80 0.50 0.40 0.45 57-64 HRC

Steel: D2 (AISI-D2)
Country of Origin: United States
Knife Brands: Kappetijin Knives, Olamic Cutlery
This type of tool steel has a proven track record in the production of high quality knives as far as the WWII. The D2 steel and its equivalents are produced worldwide by pretty much every single steel manufacturer. D2 is a reasonably tough semi stainless steel, with greater edge retention capabilities than standard stainless blades. However, It is a harder steel, therefore more difficult to maintain. This steel is ideal for heavy use outdoor knives.  
C % Cr % Mo % V % Mn % Si % Hardness
1.50 – 1.60 11.5 – 12 0.60 – 0.90 0.98 – 1.10 0.15 – 0.45 0.10 – 0.40 60-64 HRC
The closest aliases to this steel type are the following:
  • AFNOR – Z160CDV12
  • BS – BD2
  • DIN – X150CrMoVCo12
  • GB – Cr12Mo1V1
  • GOST - X12MF
  • JUS – SKD11
  • MSZ – K8

Steel: German D2 (W-Nr 1.2061)
Country of Origin: Germany
Knife Brands: Kizlyar Supreme, Kizlyar Knives, Ground Zero Knives
Very close and almost identical steel in its composition to American produced AISI D2 steel, with slightly lower Vanadium amount. It is more commonly used by European knife manufacturers as it is more cost effective to buy the steel locally than from the United States. This type of tool steel has a proven track record in the production of high quality knives as far as the WWII. The D2 steel and its equivalents are produced worldwide by pretty much every single steel manufacturer. D2 is a reasonably tough semi stainless steel, with greater edge retention capabilities than standard stainless blades. However, It is a harder steel, therefore more difficult to maintain. This steel is ideal for heavy use outdoor knives.  
C % Cr % Mo % V % Mn % Si % Hardness
1.45 – 1.60 11 – 13 0.70 – 1.00 0.70 – 1.00 0.20 – 0.60 0.10 – 0.60 60-64 HRC
 The closest alias to this steel type is the AISI D2 and many more produced by almost every single steel manufacturer worldwide. 

Steel: Damascus
Country of Origin: Originated from Damascus (Syria) many centuries ago, but now this type of steel is reproduced worldwide, both on smaller custom made quantities and mass industrial production.  
Knife Brands: Kappetijin Knives, Kizlyar Knives, Olamic Cutlery, Nord Crown,  
Damascus steel is a layered type of forged steel, where a combination of various steel types (carbon & alloy) steels are forged together to make a unique looking billet with its own unique characteristics. Its unique properties, gave it an edge over other basic metals which were used in the making of swords and other weapons of the era when the Damascus steel was first introduced. Therefore, historically many cultures viewed Damascus steel as having some kind of mystical powers. However, over the past century as the complexity of alloys saw extraordinary advances, Damascus steels started to loose their edge and preference. On the other hand, Damascus steel is still in very high demand and some blades can cost thousands of dollars. These days, it is more about the craftsmanship of forging the steel, not to mention that the above complex alloys are now used in forging the modern Damascus and naturally some of the unique properties of those steels become the part of the newly form Damascus blade.
The brands that are mentioned above, mostly forge their own Damascus steel billets, therefore listing the exact combinations of steels used is somewhat difficult. However, we have put together a list of some of the more common combinations used by some of our knife brands.
Kappetijin Knives: Dennis Kappetijin uses a combination of alloy steel with various carbon steels. Most common combinations include:
-       4340 Alloy steel and 1065 Carbon steel
-       15N20 Nickel steel and 1075 Carbon steel
Kizlyar Knives: Kizlyar factory forges its own Damascus steel in-house from the combinations of various stainless alloys with Russian GOST75 carbon steel. Stainless alloys used are mostly from Russian steel manufacturers and most often include 65X13, 40X13 and X12MF.
Nord Crown: The factory is really only a studio of art knives therefore all the forging is outsourced. Most of the blade blanks and billets are forged at the Kizlyar factory, others are purchased from well known Damascus billet forgers in Sweden, who specialise in high chromium rust resistant Damascus steel.
Olamic Cutlery: Combination of high carbon steels with Russian tool steels. The exact details of the combination used is undisclosed. 

Steel: MV58 (GB-8Cr15MoV)
Country of Origin: China
Knife Brands: J&V Adventure knives, Joker Knives
The MV58 also referred to NA58, has been widely used by a number of well known knife manufacturers from Spain and Italy with very good results especially as a middle range high carbon stainless. MV58 can be hardened up to 60 HRC without becoming too brittle. In the last 5 years especially, many more brands are experimenting with the MV58 steel as a cheaper alternative to AUS8 and 440B series steels, and many are able to get better results than the more expensive alternatives.
C % Cr % Mo % Mn % Si % V % Hardness
0.70 – 0.75 13 – 14.50 0.10 – 0.30 0.50 1.00 0.10 – 0.26 56-60 HRC
 The closest aliases to this steel type are the following:
  • AICHI – AUS8

Steel: S30V (CRUCIBLE S30V)
Country of Origin: United States 
Knife Brands: 5.11 Tactical
One of the best and premium quality stainless steels with extreme toughness and edge retention capabilities. This steel Was purpose built for high quality knives and widely used by custom made knife makers around the world. 
C % Cr % Mo % W % Mn % V % Hardness
1.45 - 1.46 14.00 2.00 0.10 - 0.40 0.50 4.00 56-61 HRC

Steel: U8 (GOST – U8)
Country of Origin: Russia (RUS)
Knife Brands: Kizlyar Knives
Water cooled heavy carbon tool steel, widely used in Russia by custom knife makers. When heat treated properly this steel is quite tough and has excellent edge retention characteristics. This is not rust resistant steel, therefore most knives manufactured from it, would have to be either coated or at least feature a mirror polished finish.
C % Cr % Mo % V % Mn % Si % Hardness
0.70 – 0.85 0.00 – 0.30 0.00 – 0.60 0.00 – 0.10 0.10 – 0.50 0.10 – 0.40 59-61 HRC
The closest aliases to this steel type are the following:
  • AFNOR – Y90
  • AISI – W1
  • DIN – C80W2
  • GB – T8
  • JIS – SK75
  • UNE - C80KU 

Steel: X12MF (GOST-X12MF)
Country of Origin: Russia (RUS)
Knife Brands: Kizlyar Knives
Premium quality high carbon tool steel produced in Russia. Its closes Western equivalent is the AISI D2 tool steel. This is a top quality tool steel, which has been widely used by knife makers for quite some time and is known for its edge retention capabilities. The X12MF can be hardened to well over 60HRC, when used for production of hard tools, like chisels etc. However, when used in knives it is hardened within 58-60 HRC, so that it is kept within the manageable hardness levels for field dressing. This steel has is very similar to stainless steel apart for the high carbon content, which makes it a little more prone to rust that standard stainless steels. However, the mirror finish on the Kizlyar knives, helps a lot in reducing the chance for rust to build up on the blades.
C % Cr % Mo % V % Mn % Si % Hardness
1.45 – 1.65 11.0 – 12.5 0.40 - 0.60 0.70 – 0.90 0.15 – 0.45 0.15 – 0.35 58-63 HRC
The closest aliases to this steel type are the following:
  • AFNOR – Z160CDV12
  • AISI – D2
  • BS – BD2
  • DIN – X150CrMoVCo12
  • GB – Cr12Mo1V1
  • MSZ – K8
  • JUS – SKD11

Steel: Z50 (AFNOR – Z50CD15)
Country of Origin: France (FR)
Knife Brands: Kizlyar Knives
Also known simply as the Z50 steel, this is a well-known and proven grade of steel used in kitchen knives and also outdoor / hunting knives, which require a milder edge for fast field dressing. At 55-56HR, this steel is considered reasonably mild and therefore less likely to break or chip on impact. This steel is highly rust and stain resistant and when hardened to around 56HRC, it can deliver good edge retention characteristics.
C % Cr % Mo % V % Mn % Si % Hardness
0.50 14.5 0.65 0.15 1.00 1.00 55-56 HRC
The closest aliases to this steel type are the following:
  • GOST – 40X15MF
  • DIN – X50CrMov15
  • GB – 5Cr15MoV
  • JUS – C.4770
  • UNE – F.3422
  • W-Nr – 1.4116

Steel: Z60 (BONPERTUIS – Z60CDV14)
Country of Origin: France (FR)
Knife Brands: Kizlyar Knives
Also known simply as the Z60 steel, this steel closest relative is the Japanese AUS8. Like the AUS8, in the right hands this steel can work quite well and has very goods rust resistance and edge holding capabilities. It must be said that Z60 is the improved version of the AUS8, as it chemical composition is slightly different giving, making it less brittle and it also has a greater hardness range. This steel has widely been used by Kizlyar knives with a very good track record. Kizlyar hardens the Z60 to 56-58HRC giving it a hard enough edge, but still mild enough for the ease of maintenance.
C % Cr % Mo % V % Mn % Si % Hardness
0.60 - 065 14.00 0.55 – 0.65 0.15 – 0.20 0.20 0.35 – 0.40 56-58 HRC
The closest aliases to this steel type are the following:
  • AICHI - AUS8

Steel: Z90 (AFNOR – Z90WDCV)
Country of Origin: France (FR)
Knife Brands: Kizlyar Knives
Often referred to as the Z90 steel, this steel closest and better known alias would be the AISI M2 high speed tool steel, which have been extensively used by custom knife makers and even some large production brands like Gerber (back in the 90s). As a high speed tool steel, the Z90 can hold its temper even at reasonably high temperatures. This steel has a high resistance (toughness) and better edge retention than some of the other popular tool steels, like AISI D2. This steel can be hardened to over 64HRC, however, most production knives will be hardened to 60-62HRC. The main reason for this is, the balance between edge retention and the ability for the user to sharpen and maintain the knife without the need for specialised sharpening equipment.
C % Cr % Mo % V % W % Mn % Hardness
0.78 – 1.05 3.75 – 4.50 4.58 – 5.50 1.75 – 2.20 5.50 – 6.75 0.15 – 0.40 60-64 HRC
The closest aliases to this steel type are the following:
  • AFNOR – Z85WDCV6-5-4
  • AISI – M2
  • BS – BM2
  • CSN – 19830
  • DIN – SC6-5-2
  • EN – HS6-5-2C
  • GB – W6Mo5Cr4V2
  • GOST – 85X4M5F2V6L


Back to News