In this article LeeKnives is going to be examining and assessing 8Cr13MoV steel as a kitchen knife steel. Known somewhat disparagingly as one of the group of ‘Chinese alphabet steels’ amongst steel snobs, 8Cr13MoV is a very popular choice today for kitchen knives and we’re going to see why that is.
8Cr13Mov steel fills an essential niche in the knife steels market as it is produced at a low cost, making it one of the most reasonably priced knife steels on the market.
Combined with its cost effectiveness, 8Cr13MoV steel offers good durability and very easy sharpening for in kitchen usage. Indeed, it’s performance and user friendliness make knives made from 8Cr13MoV steel recommended buys for people unfamiliar with high care knife steels or complicated knife care practices.
Let’s look a little closer at 8Cr13MoV steel and see what type of a product it is and how it relates to today’s kitchen knife buyer!
8Cr13MoV steel explained
8Cr13MoV knife steel is a martensitic stainless steel alloy that contains carbon, and a relatively high amount of chromium in its composition. The term ‘martensitic’ refers to the crystalline structure of 8Cr13MoV steel. It means that the steel can be manufactured or worked using a number of different aging or heating treatments.
This easy workability on the production end lowers the production cost which can then be passed on to the end consumer.
An alloy steel is a mixture or blend of different elements that combine with the base element iron to make a specific type of steel with specific properties.
The composition of 8Cr13MoV
8Cr13MoV is part of the Chinese MoV steel line along with 9cr18mov and 7cr17mov. They follow the same naming system. Take 8Cr13MoV as an example:
- The ‘8’ means the steel contains at least 0.8% carbon
- The ‘Cr’ is chromium and the ‘13’ tells us that the steel has at least 13% chromium content
- The ‘MoV’ indicates to us that the steel alloy contains Molybdenum (Mo) and Vanadium (V) in the blend
Now let’s look at the total composition of 8Cr13MoV steel. Of course, as with any steel our base element is iron, but here’s what’s added to create 8Cr13MoV:
- Chromium: At 14.5%, this is a high level of chromium for an alloy steel, and it adds resistance to rust, resistance to wear, hardness and strength to 8Cr13Mov.
- Carbon: 8Cr13MoV steel has 0.8% carbon in its composition. The carbon contributes greatly to the hardness level of 8Cr13MoV, and it adds edge retention capability to the steel.
- Manganese: 8Cr13MoV is 1% manganese. The manganese both makes the steel hard and adds a touch of brittleness, which if added sparingly means that the steel is easier to sharpen.
- Silicon: Also at 1%, the silicon in 8Cr13MoV makes it stronger and it works together with the chromium to raise the steel’s rust resistance.
- Molybdenum: Molybdenum is 0.3% of 8Cr13MoV steel and it makes the steel easier to shape and machine in the production phase. It also adds strength and hardness.
- Vanadium: At 0.25%, the vanadium in 8Cr13MoV makes the steel easier to harden and it also adds wear resistance and durability to the steel.
All of the elements listed above are mixed very carefully in a proprietary blend that gives 8Cr13MoV steel its unique characteristics!
The key properties of 8Cr13MoV steel
In this section we’re going to see what the properties of 8Cr13MoV steel are, and how these relate to 8Cr13MoV specifically as a kitchen knife material.
This is a fair rating amongst knife steels and means that a blade made from 8Cr13MoV is hard enough for everyday kitchen usage although it may not have long term edge retention capability.
8Cr13MoV steel is decently tough for indoor usage but you wouldn’t want to take it outside and do heavy tasks with it. For its very reasonable price point this steel gives good durability.
As the amount of chromium in 8Cr13MoV steel is not very high, a knife made from this steel IS stainless, but will need careful storage, usage and maintenance to prevent rust or discoloration forming.
It is recommended that knives made from 8Cr13MoV steel are washed by hand, dried thoroughly and stored in dry conditions to protect their blades and patina.
Kitchen knives made from 8Cr13MoV steel will fall down slightly here as 8Cr13MoV doesn’t hold an edge on the blade for a long time. For this reason, regular sharpening or honing will be needed.
Ease of sharpening
8Cr13MoV excels in this area as it’s very simple and easy to sharpen with no fancy tools or complicated techniques required.
For this reason, 8Cr13MoV knives are super ‘starter’ knives either for novices , youths, or people just starting out on learning about knives and sharpening them.
This forgiving steel is perfect for getting familiar with sharpening strokes and the different methods there are for getting a wicked edge on a blade.
8Cr13MoV steel is known for getting VERY sharp with little effort and this is a big ‘plus’ in its favor.
8Cr13MoV is an industry and user regarded ‘middle of the road’ steel at an attractive price point.
It’s not the best steel available on the market today, but it certainly isn’t the worst either and it offers many properties for the home kitchen user that will satisfy the customer.
8Cr13MoV steel compared to other knife steels
We’re comparing knife steels generally here, but it’s important to note that there can be variations within a steel alloy depending on how it’s heat treated and produced, where it’s sourced, and the quality standards applied by the manufacturer.
8Cr13MoV steel vs D2 steel
D2 steel is regarded as a slightly ‘better’ steel than 8Cr13MoV simply because it has better edge retention and a higher hardness rating.
The hardness will mean that sharpening is more difficult with D2, but also that you don’t have to sharpen it as often as you would 8Cr13MoV.
Because D2 is not technically a stainless steel, it requires great care to keep it rust free, more care than 8Cr13MoV steel would need. That being said, neither of these steels offer high rust resistance so some degree of upkeep and proper storage etc. would be needed for both.
8Cr13MoV steel vs AUS 8 steel
These two steels are very similar in composition, so you can expect their performance to be alike and this is the case to a large extent.
8Cr13MoV outclasses AUS 8 slightly in hardness and the quality of the edge it can achieve on a blade with minimal effort.
In terms of corrosion resistance the AUS 8 steel edges ahead somewhat, it has a higher tolerance for rust. That being said if either knife steel is looked after and kept dry this difference won’t even be noticed by the daily user.
8Cr13MoV steel vs 440C steel
440C is a more expensive steel and its performance is demonstrably better, thus it’s regarded as being of better quality than 8Cr13MoV steel.
As 440C has more chromium and more carbon content than 8Cr13MoV steel, it is more wear – resistant and also offers better resistance to corrosion. As far as edge retention goes, there’s no contest, the 440C steel will hold an edge for much longer given the same usage conditions.
8Cr13MoV steel vs 9Cr18MoV steel
9Cr18MoV steel is a step up from 8Cr13MoV steel as it has more of the good stuff – more chromium and more carbon, meaning that it’s stronger and more rust resistant.
This better performance and better alloy mean a higher price, but both steels are regarded as being good buys for their price.
Simply put, 9Cr18MoV steel is the upgraded, more expensive version of 8Cr13MoV steel.
Should you sell 8Cr13MoV steel knives in your knife store?
8Cr13MoV as a kitchen knife steel is incredibly popular and sales figures in the knife industry support that.
Companies like Benchmade, Spyderco and Kershaw all sell 8Cr13MoV products and do so very successfully indeed!
The knife buying public has a lot of familiarity with steels like 8Cr13MoV because they’re so prevalent and carried by so many reputable knife products firms around the globe.
As a steel 8Cr13MoV offers a lot to like. It performs well for ordinary kitchen usage and although not the toughest knife steel out there, if looked after and used on jobs appropriate to the knife it’ll give good customer satisfaction without any glaring inadequacies.
Its super easy sharpening is a real boon too to those who simply enjoy sharpening or are just starting to learn about routine knife care.
As a budget steel 8Cr13MoV fills a gap in the market that the premium end steels are simply too costly for and there’s nothing wrong with that as all segments of the market must be catered to for true sales success.
While 8Cr13MoV knife steel may not be the steel of choice for the true ‘knife snob’ with loads to spend, it fills a needed space in the knife products market, and it has a proven sales track record.
Many users swear by their 8Cr13MoV knives and enjoy their performance in the kitchen every day.
We hope that this overview of 8Cr13MoV has given you something to think about with useful information on this popular knife material.