As someone who has regular experience with using EDC knives, there is a possibility of you coming across knives that have blades made out of 9Cr18MoV Steel. The features of the steel make it an ideal choice for the manufacturing of everyday carry knives that can tackle the pressure of outdoor environments. Let’s check out these features and the chemical composition of the steel.


What is 9Cr18MoV steel?

The origin of 9Cr18MoV steel is China. Yet, steel can compete with others belonging to the high-end category. As 9Cr18MoV steel has the capacity of delivering great performance and possessing great quality at an affordable price.


The reason behind the popularity of steel is its great performance in corrosion resistance. This is why steel is commonly used by manufacturers for producing cutlery items, medical blades and EDC knives.


Chemical Composition:

The unique chemical composition of the 9Cr18MoV steel has both chromium and carbon in high percentages. Usually, steels that are used for knife making consist of chromium that is above 12%. But to classify a steel ‘stainless’ the chemical composition has to have chromium of about 14% or above it.


9Cr18MoV steel contains 18% of chromium. Thus falling into the stainless category. Steel is also considered an alloy due to the presence of elements like vanadium and molybdenum in its chemical composition. There are other elements as well. Let’s check them out.


  • 18% of Chromium: Boosts edge retention,  Enhances edge retention, corrosion and wear resistance, and tensile strength.
  • 1.3% of Molybdenum: Improves steel strength and ductility for easy manufacturing.
  • 0.95% of Carbon: Increases hardness level and improves the resistance of the steel towards correct and wear.
  • 0.6% of Nitrogen: Boosts strength and edge retention of the steel.
  • 0.8% of Manganese: Increases hardness.
  • 0.8% of Silicon: Increases strength.
  • 0.12% of Vanadium: Increases hardenability and resistance of the steel towards wear.
  • 0.04% of Phosphorus: Boosts strength.
  • 0.03% of Sulphur: Increases steel ductility.


Steel Hardness:

The 9Cr18MoV steel has a hardness range between 58 to 60 HRC according to the Rockwell C scale. The range can vary depending on the heat temperature provided by different brand owners. Famous brands like Buck, Cold Steel and Spyderco have a lot of high-quality knives with similar hardness levels like 9Cr18MoV steel.


The high hardness level of the steel is due to the presence of a high amount of carbon in its chemical content. Furthermore, the chemical content of the steel has vanadium as well which results in the formation of vanadium carbides that also boosts hardness.




Steel Properties:

  • Moderate Toughness: Due to the high hardness level of the steel the toughness level lowers down because of the inversely proportional relationship of the features. Yet, 9Cr18MoV steel does bear some amount of toughness due to the presence of elements like nickel and manganese in its chemical content. With this toughness level, it can resist chipping and breaking to some extent but not to the level of other high-end tough steels in the market.
  • Great Edge Retention: The high hardness range of the steel boosts the edge retention which enhances the capability of 9Cr18MoV steel to hold the sharpness for a long period. The presence of 1% carbon and vanadium carbides works for increasing the hardness level of the steel.
  • Good Corrosion Resistance: As 9Cr18MoV steel is stainless, the steel is capable of resisting corrosion and rust under all circumstances. The steel can resist corrosion for a long time due to the presence of elements like molybdenum and nickel besides chromium which also contributes to corrosion resistance. Hence, there won’t be issues of rusting even if the steel comes in contact with moisture and humidity.
  • Excellent Wear Resistance: Wear resistance is directly related to the hardness level. Furthermore, the presence of chromium and vanadium also enhances the wear resistance of the steel.
  • Ease of Sharpening: The 9Cr18MoV steel has a high hardness level that makes sharpening difficult. If you are a beginner you ought to face difficulty in giving the steel a sharp edge. Furthermore, the steel has great edge retention capability so you will not need to frequently sharpen the edge.


Comparison of 9Cr18MoV steel with other knife steel options:

9Cr18MoV vs. 440C

Two of these steels have the same grade due to having the same chemical composition and the same affordability in price. The only difference is that 9Cr18MoV steel has a higher percentage of molybdenum in its chemical composition. Both of these steels have excellence in edge retention and corrosion resistance.


9Cr18MoV vs. 8Cr13MoV

Two of these steels originated in China and belong to the same Cr series. The 9Cr18MoV steel is the superior one due to better hardness level and corrosion resistance than 8Cr13MoV steel. But 8Cr13MoV is the most affordable of these two.


9Cr18MoV vs. D2

D2 steel has a higher hardness level due to a higher carbon percentage in its content than 9Cr18MoV steel. This makes D2 better at edge retention and wears resistance but also it will be more difficult to sharpen than 9Cr18MoV steel. The price of D2 is also slightly higher.


9Cr18MoV vs. 14C28N

Compared to 9Cr18MoV steel, 14C28N has lesser carbon and chromium content making it hard and weaker at edge retention.


So, is 9Cr18MoV a Good Knife Steel?

The 9Cr18MoV steel is a great steel for the manufacturing of EDC and kitchen knives because of the great features it has. The steel has a low-end price yet it delivers high performance. But, it wouldn’t be wise to manufacture knives that will be used for tough jobs as 9Cr18MoV steel is not the best at resisting chipping and breaking at extreme levels.




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