Knife Steel

S30V Knife Steel Review

S30V Knife Steel Review

When picturing the perfect knife steel, every user has a different image. Some want incredible edge retention that won’t mind a fragile blade; some prefer sturdy knives that will outlive anything they cut. 

Despite specific needs, most knife users look for something well-balanced. S30V knife steel is one of the best options for users looking for harmony in the steel’s properties. 

S30V steel is a high carbon stainless steel manufactured by Crucible Industries, a steel company based in New York. They are behind multiple steel known to knife enthusiasts. S90V, S110V, 154CM, and 440C, to name a few.

S30V is knife steel manufactured following powder metallurgy. Due to this, you might’ve also seen this steel as CPM S30V, referring to Crucible Particle Metallurgy. 

Crucible’s goal was to develop knife steel that appealed to everyone before releasing the S30V to the market. It had to have proper corrosion resistance, toughness, and edge retention. They also kept the knifemakers in mind. This new steel had to be easy to heat treat under 1,100ºC with basic knifemaking equipment.

The company interviewed countless knifemakers and companies prior to developing the S30V and eventually selling it in 2001. Today, S30V is one of the most prominent choices in the knife industry, from custom knives to mass-produced kitchen and outdoor products. 

Learn everything you need to know about the S30V knife steel in this article. We’ll cover its features, chemical composition, what to expect from an S30V knife, and conclude if it’s a good idea to sell products made from it. 

S30V steel composition

  • Carbon (C): 1.45%
  • Chromium (Cr): 14%
  • Molybdenum (Mo): 2%
  • Vanadium (V): 4%

S30V has a straightforward composition that gives it balanced properties. Unlike many other knife steel, S30V doesn’t stand out with a single attribute, overlooking its other features.

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S30V steel properties

S30V steel properties

Here are the properties of S30V steel as a knife material. Read through the rest to get an idea of what to expect from a knife forged using this steel. 

Hardness

Depending on the heat treatment, S30V has an average hardness of 58 to 61 HRc. The hardness you’ll get from an S30V knife blade depends entirely on the heat treatment performed by the knifemaker. S30V can reach up to 64 HRc with the amount of carbon it has.

The tempered hardness of S30V is at an ideal point for most knives. Regardless of where the users are looking to employ an S30V knife, it offers balanced hardness between durability and edge retention.

Edge retention

S30V knife steel has superior edge retention to many common alternatives featured on our blog. Namely, 420, 154CM, 440C, and many more. Nonetheless, S30V doesn’t have the best edge retention. It falls behind SG2, ZDP-189, and other knife steel with higher hardness.

The most intriguing part about S30V steel’s edge retention is not the ability to hold an edge for long periods but also its sharpness. As it’s manufactured following powder metallurgy, S30V has a fine microstructure. This gives knives a razor-sharp edge that cuts very satisfyingly.

S30V steel has better edge retention than most people would expect. Its ability to resist deformation to the cutting edge with incredible sharpness is the top reason why S30V became so renowned over the years. 

Wear resistance

At 58 to 61 HRc hardness and a generous amount of vanadium, we can expect solid wear resistance from S30V. It will resist scratches and other damages to the blade better than most stainless steel choices.

While it’s good to have a smooth blade that looks just polished, sharpening can get troubling. The vanadium carbides are exceptionally wear-resistant, making S30V a bit challenging to sharpen. 

When sharpening an S30V knife, it’s best to use a silicon carbide whetstone. The user can polish it with any polishing stone, but even that may take some elbow grease. 

This can be a good opportunity to bring whetstones into the conversation when pitching your customers about the features of an S30V knife. You can boost further sales by turning their heads to sharpening equipment. 

Toughness

Damaged blade

S30V steel has a similar toughness to 154CM and VG-10. It isn’t exceptional but ideal for most utilizations a user demands. 

Not to say that it won’t chip, but it will take constant robust or inconsiderable use to the knife’s purpose. For example, using an S30V chef’s knife to cut meat bones regularly. 

Considering the proportion between edge retention and toughness S30V has, it’s favored as an outdoor knife material. That’s why there are more pocket, outdoor, and EDC knives made from S30V than kitchen knives.

Corrosion resistance

So far, we’ve discussed how well the S30V keeps an edge and its durability. The S30V steel’s capability to keep rust at bay is yet another reason it’s so popular. S30V performs better than average knife steel in corrosion resistance. 

Undoubtedly, there is countless other knife steel with more chromium in the composition. The molybdenum also plays a role in S30V’s great corrosion resistance. With 2% of it, the sufficient chromium amounts proportionate to carbon levels enable S30V steel to have superb corrosion resistance.

Overall, S30V is adequate for those who fish, divers, chefs, and others who expose their blades to moist environments regularly. 

S30V vs. other steel

S30V vs. other steel

Here is a short rundown of comparing S30V with similar alternatives.

S30V vs. 154CM

People often compare S30V with 154CM. After all, the knives made from this steel come at similar price ranges, are made by the same company and perform likewise. 

S30V has better toughness than 154CM with superior edge retention. However, S30V tends to lose its razor-sharp edge faster but keeps a working edge longer. This means S30V knives will cut for longer but not at their best. 

In corrosion resistance, both perform the same. The biggest downside to S30V is its sharpening difficulty. It takes significantly more time and effort to sharpen S30V knives.

S30V vs. S35VN

S35VN is very comparable to S30V. They have the same hardness rating and corrosion resistance performance, but S35VN is tougher. 

S30V and S35VN have similar wear resistance, but S35VN can resist impact without permanent damage much better.

Despite the equal wear resistance, S35VN is easier to machine for knifemakers. Since S35VN has better toughness, it’s a more ideal pick for outdoor knives that provide vigorous use.

Is it a good idea to sell S30V steel knives?

Is it a good idea to sell S30V steel knives

S30V steel is at a perfect point between hardness and toughness. It delivers a durable blade that keeps a sharp edge for adequate periods.

A general audience was in mind when the S30V was being developed. Since S30V steel doesn’t have traits that outweigh puts the others down, it’s at a perfect point for most people. If your customers are home cooks, regular campers, or people looking for a simple yet effective blade, you can’t go wrong with S30V. 

Enter specific uses; things get a bit complicated for S30V. For example, if a customer is looking for a knife that holds an edge but doesn’t mind a fragile blade, ZDP-189 or S90V is a better option. If they need nothing but toughness, AEB-L would be a more fitting pick.

That said, whether it’s suitable or not depends on your clientele. Buyers will be satisfied if they need a blade that cuts efficiently for a sufficient amount of time. There is not much bad to talk about S30V other than its sharpening difficulty, which can get overwhelming fast. 

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Brands that sell this steel

Many prominent names in the knife industry sell knives made from S30V. Spyderco, Kershaw, Buck, Benchmade, and many others use S30V as a typical knife material. 

You know it’s suitable for many people when the popular knife brands use it for their products. There are plenty of S30V knife options, ranging from tactical to outdoor to EDC knives. 

If you see the products of any knife brand and think you wish you had a similar option to present to your customers, we got you covered. 

LeeKnives is a leading OEM knife manufacturer with ODM options also at your disposal. You can customize the knife you always dreamt of or take an existing product and change the details that matter to your customers the most.

We can utilize the steel of your choice following the appropriate heat treatment techniques to ensure top-quality products for every item.

Click here to request a quote for OEM services or browse our homepage to look for other services that can help your business grow.