As a knife enthusiast, it is obvious that you have knowledge about various qualities of knives which includes the premium ones as well. CPM 20CV is also a premium-grade knife steel even though it has been newly introduced in the market a lot of knife manufacturers have already tried it out.

Famous knife-making companies like Benchmade, Kershaw and Zero Tolerance have already produced their knives using this amazing steel. Let’s take a look at the details of its chemical composition and properties to get to know it in depth.

What is CPM 20CV Steel?

CPM 20CV is martensitic steel and also another product of Crucible. This steel is manufactured using the famous Powder Metallurgy process of the company. The CPM process allows even distribution of carbides that works for improving the toughness level and grindability of the steel.

The superb capability of the steel to resist wear and abrasion gives it versatility for the manufacturing of various knives and tools. CPM 20CV is used for the making of barrel liners, high-end knives, mould cavities, plastic injection screws and screw tips.

Chemical composition: 

CPM 20CV is categorised as stainless steel due to the presence of the required amount of chromium. There are other elements present as well that work for enhancing the properties of the steel. We have listed down all the details regarding these elements.

  • 1.9% of Carbon: Increases resistance of the steel towards corrosion and wear and also increases hardness.
  • 20% of Chromium: Enhances the edge retention, hardness level, toughness, tensile strength and resistance of the steel towards corrosion and wear.
  • 4% of Vanadium: Boosts steel strength, toughness level and resistance towards corrosion and wear.
  • 1% of Molybdenum: Increases hardenability, steel strength and toughness level.
  • 0.6% of Tungsten: Improves hardenability, toughness level, corrosion resistance and steel hardness at high heat treatment.

Steel Hardness:

According to the Rockwell C scale, the hardness rating of CPM 20CV ranges between 58 to 61 HRC. The value of the scale can differ depending on the heat treatment provided by the manufacturer.

Steel properties: 

  • Good Toughness: Even after having such a high hardness rating, the steel does have a good amount of toughness present. Normally you will see harder steels being less tough due to their inversely proportional relationship. However, you will witness CPM 20CV doing its best at resisting breakage and chipping even during regular use. But the toughness of the steel is not the best you have seen.
  • Exceptional wear resistance: The steel has exceptional wear resistance and the presence of vanadium carbide is the reason behind it. These carbides allow the steel to be resistant to abrasion as well along with resistance towards wear and tear.
  • Unbeatable corrosion resistance: The steel consists of elements chromium and molybdenum at a high percentage which gives it unbeatable capacity at corrosion resistance. The chromium percentage causes the formation of a defensive oxide layer that prevents the formation of rust and stains. The presence of molybdenum increases steel strength which ensures protection of the steel from rust and corrosion even under moist conditions.
  • Long-lasting edge retention: If you are in search of a knife steel that can withhold sharpness for the longest time possible then you will get that from CPM 20CV. The presence of vanadium in high amounts allows the surface of the steel to have a fine grain struct
  • Ease of sharpening: This is the only feature that holds back the steel. The steel has a high hardness which makes sharpening the steel difficult. But you will not require frequent sharpening as the edge does not dull easily.

Comparison With Other Knife Steel Options: 

CPM 20CV vs. S30V

Both of the steels perform similarly in terms of edge retention and toughness. But you will find it easy to sharpen S30V compared to 20CV. But in terms of corrosion resistance 20CV stands out.

CPM 20CV vs. M390

Both of these steels belong to the high-end category. Crucible made 20CV with similar chemical composition to M390. Furthermore, both of the steels are made using a powder metallurgy process resulting in similar chemical properties.

CPM 20CV vs. S90V

S90V is also a premium steel and a product of Crucible like 20CV. Both of the steels deliver excellent performance in edge retention. But in case of corrosion and rust resistance, 20CV takes the crown. It is also easier to sharpen 20CV compared to S90V. But in terms of other steel properties, S30V performs with great efficiency.

CPM 20CV vs. 154CM

154CM was created by Crucible as a better version of their famous 440C steel by adding molybdenum to its chemical composition. Yet, the steel delivers low performance than 20CV in terms of edge retention and corrosion resistance.

CPM 20CV vs. S35VN

20CV beats S35VN in terms of corrosion resistance and edge retention even though S35VN is an updated version of the famous S30V. The S35VN has a higher toughness level and is easier to sharpen than the 20CV.

CPM 20CV vs. Elmax

Elmax is a famous super steel in the market that has elements like chromium, molybdenum and vanadium making it great at wear resistance beating down 20CV. But 20CV stands out in edge retention and corrosion resistance beating Elmax.


CPM 20CV vs. CPM 3V

20CV has a higher hardness level making it better at edge retention compared to 3V and also it is better at corrosion resistance. But, 3V has great toughness and is easy to sharpen.

20CV vs. M4

Both of the steels are from Crucible but M4 performs better at toughness. However, M4 gets beaten down in terms of corrosion resistance.

20CV vs. CTS-204P

Both of these steels are premium grade stainless steel with similar performance due to similar chemical composition. Both of the steels are produced using the powder metallurgy technique.

20CV vs. S110V

Both of the steels are products of Crucible with the same performance at corrosion resistance and other properties except edge retention, where S110V is the better-performing steel.

20CV vs. CruWear

CruWear is another product of Crucible that is an air-hardening tool with great capability in resisting wear and having high toughness compared to 20CV. But when the matter is about corrosion resistance and edge retention, 20CV gives better performance.

So, is CPM-20CV Steel Good?

Yes, CPM 20CV is an incredible choice for using as a knife steel as you get all the required properties in the steel. Furthermore, steel has the perfect balance between hardness and toughness. It also has the great wear and corrosion resistance that all knife manufacturers wish for.




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