The 420 HC steel will not be unknown to you if you have bought the affordable range of knives from the famous companies Bucks and Gerber. Steel has the fame of having satisfying performance while being at an affordable price. Let’s check out its chemical content and features in depth.

What is 420HC Steel?

420HC steel is the updated version of the well-known 420 steel. The HC in the name stands for high carbon The steel is the product of Latrobe, which is a steel company in America. The steel is used for the manufacturing of custom knives, camping knives, cutlery, EDC knives, machetes, scissors, surgical tools, and tactical knives.


Even if this steel contains a higher carbon percentage than 420 steel, the amount is considered to be perfect. This makes the steel affordable in terms of price than many other sheets of steel that have an even higher percentage of carbon. The affordability of the steel does not signify that the steel lacks behind in performance. The steel is used by well-known knife brands like Buck, Kershaw, and Gerber to make quality products that are affordable to purchase.


Chemical Composition

420 HC steel is categorised as stainless steel which has a chromium percentage above 11%. Steel consists of carbon and vanadium as well as its chemical content.

  • 13% of chromium: Boosts tensile strength, corrosion and wear resistance, and edge retention for long-lasting sharpness.
  • 0.46% of carbon: Increases durability, hardness, corrosion and wear resistance.
  • 0.4% of manganese: Brings improvement in edge retention and hardness level.
  • 0.4% of silicon: Improves steel strength.
  • 0.3% of vanadium: Improves hardenability and wear resistance.


Steel Hardness:

Usually, the hardness range of 420 HC steel is seen to be around 55 HRC on the Rockwell C scale. The hardness is right enough for manufacturing various sorts of knives. Yet, some knife manufacturers give the steel a boost by applying various heat temperatures while manufacturing which can increase the range from 56 HRC up to 59 HRC.


Steel Properties:

  • Good Edge Retention: You will get a lot of steels in the market that are capable of holding sharpness for a very long time than 420HC due to having a high hardness range. Yet, the capability of 420 HC in edge retention is not that poor. The steel has shown better performance in edge retention than many other steel types that you get to see in the 400 series. You might need to sharpen the edge of a 420 HC steel frequently but that will be required much less than you would for any other steel in the 400 series.
  • Great Corrosion Resistance: 420 HC steel can be considered a pure version of stainless steel due to having the exact required percentage of chromium in its chemical content. This gives the steel the capacity of resisting rust and corrosion to a great extent. This makes the steel adequate for tackling moisture without getting corroded.
  • Ease of sharpening: The steel is easy to sharpen due to the low hardness range.
  • Moderate Toughness: Even if the steel hardness can be boosted with heat treatment the toughness level is still sufficient to protect it from chipping or breaking. 420 HC has an ideal balance of toughness and hardness ensuring the still can endure the heavy impact.


Comparing 420 HC With Other Knife Steel Options


420HC vs. S30V

420 HC lies on the affordable and low range price scale and the other hand S30V is a premium quality steel with a pricey tag. S30V steel consists of greater edge retention and corrosion resistance than 420 HC. Both sheets of steel have similar performance in terms of corrosion resistance. But in terms of ease of sharpening and toughness level, 420HC wins the race.


420HC vs. 440C

440C has a higher price point due to the high hardness level but has a lower toughness level than 420 HC. Higher hardness boosts the edge retention and corrosion resistance of 440C. Both of the steels can be sharpened with ease.


420HC vs. 8Cr13MoV

8Cr13MoV steel has a similar price point to 420HC. Furthermore, both sheets of steel deliver similar performance in edge retention and corrosion resistance. However, 420HC steel shows better rust resistance and has greater toughness than 8Cr13MoV.


420HC vs. AUS 8

Just like 8Cr13MoV steel, AUS 8 also has a similarly affordable price just like 420 HC steel. Both sheets of steel show similar performance in terms of edge retention and toughness. But in terms of corrosion resistance AUS 8 steel does better and it is also easier to sharpen than 420HC steel.


420HC vs. 1095

1095 steel also falls into the affordable price range. The steels have significant differences with similarities in ease of sharpening. They differ in corrosion resistance as 420HC does better but 1095 is very vulnerable to corrosion especially if it is used in humid conditions.


420HC vs. 154CM

Both of the steels deliver the same performance in keeping corrosion away. But 420HC lags in edge retention when compared with 154 CM. But in toughness and ease of sharpening the 420HC steel wins over 154 CM.


420HC vs. D2

The D2 steel has a higher hardness level which makes edge retention better than 420HC steel. But in the case of toughness level and corrosion resistance, 420 HC steel wins.


420HC vs. 440A

420HC steel wins over 440A steel in terms of toughness. But it gets defeated by 440A in case of edge retention and corrosion resistance.


420HC vs. Sandvik 14C28N

Both the steels deliver similar performance in all aspects.


420HC vs. S35VN

The S35VN steel is a high-end steel that beats 420HC in terms of edge retention and corrosion resistance.


So, is 420HC a Good Knife Steel?

The 420HC steel is the perfect choice to go for if you are looking forward to manufacturing knives that are affordable in terms of price and have all the required features. The steel has a proper balance of toughness and hardness making it stand out in the market.


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