The famous knife-making company Spyderco use CPM S110V steel for the manufacturing of their premium knives. What makes the steel adequate for manufacturing premium quality knives? For that let us have a look at its perfect chemical composition and properties listed down below that make the steel an ideal choice for manufacturing premium quality knives.

What is CPM S110V Steel?

CPM S110V is a martensitic stainless tool steel that is manufactured by Crucible which is a knife-making company established in the U.S. The formula of the steel involves using the company’s exclusive Particle Metallurgy process which is also known as CPM.


S110V has a unique formula because the chemical composition has a high percentage of carbon and vanadium that makes the steel stand out. Both of these elements allow the S110V to have superior wear resistance that is similar to steels like S390V and M390.


The great wear resistance property of the steel allows it to be used for the manufacturing of circular cutters, industrial knives, slitters and screws as well. However, knife makers seem to opt less for S110V steel as it is difficult to work with.  You will need solid abrasives for dealing with the steel.


Chemical Composition: 


Various elements in the chemical composition of S110V provide it with amazing characteristics. S110V consists of niobium which makes it different from much well-known steel on the market. Have a look at the details of what these elements work for.

  • 2.8% of Carbon: Works for increasing hardness level and enhances the ability of the steel to resist corrosion and wear.
  • 15.25% of Chromium: Aids increase corrosion and wear resistance, edge retention and tensile strength.
  • 9% of Vanadium: Helps in boosting wear resistance and hardenability of the steel.
  • 3% of Niobium: Increases corrosion and wear resistance and also increases the hardness level of the steel.
  • 2.25% of Molybdenum: Works for boosting machinability and steel strength and also stabilises the hardness of the steel to tackle high temperatures.
  • 2.5% of Cobalt: Assists with all the elements in the composition for boosting their functions.


The hardness of the steel:  

According to the Rockwell scale, the hardness rating of S110V steel is about 64 HRC. The hardness rating of the steel can hike up to 66.5 HRC depending on the heat treatment provided. You can categorise S110V steel as extremely hard because the rating is very high.


The reason behind the high hardness level of the steel is because of the presence of elements like carbon, niobium, molybdenum and vanadium. The presence of niobium causes the formation of very fine niobium carbides that increases the hardness level of the steel.


Properties of the steel: 

  • Good Toughness: It is surprising to witness that S110V steel has good toughness because it has a hardness level that is above 66.5 HRC. As a knife maker, you are well aware that toughness level goes down when hardness level goes up. But that is not the case for S110V because of its unique chemical composition.
  • Excellent Wear Resistance: S110V was formulated thinking about using it to manufacture knives and tools that require high wear resistance. The chemical composition of S110V consists of elements like chromium, niobium and vanadium. These elements work together to ensure that the steel can take on heavy-duty regularly.
  • Extraordinary Edge Retention: Knifemakers love S110V for its exceptional capacity in edge retention. The steel can retain its edge for a long time compared to other steels in the market. The reason behind such great edge retention is because of the high hardness level and presence of vanadium that ensures the sharpness stays stable.
  • Good Corrosion Resistance: You can expect S110V steel to have great corrosion resistance because of the presence of 15% chromium in its composition. Yet, the steel does not give a complete 100% corrosion resistance as the chromium content is not enough to keep corrosion and rust completely away.

Another reason for low corrosion resistance is an imbalance of elements which are chromium, niobium and vanadium. Chromium carbides intervene between niobium and vanadium carbides which results in low corrosion resistance.

  • Ease of Sharpening: Because of the high hardness level of the S110V steel it is difficult to sharpen the edge. You will need to invest in expensive sharpeners for giving the steel a perfect edge. Sometimes you might require professional help. The good thing is you can go for a long time without requiring to resharpen the edge.


CPM S110V steel with other knife options: 


CPM S110V vs S30V: 

S110V beats S30V at hardness level, edge retention and wear resistance even though they belong to the same series. However, it is easy to sharpen S30V compared to S110V which is because of its extreme hardness. Furthermore, you will see better performance of S30V in corrosion resistance.


CPM S110V vs S90V: 

S110V has been formulated to be a better version of S90V. This makes S110V beat S90V in edge retention and corrosion resistance as well. However, regarding toughness, you will see S90V winning over S110V.


CPM S110V vs M390:

Both M390 and S110V deliver the same performance in  edge retention, ease of sharpening and corrosion resistance. However, the toughness level in M390 is higher compared to S110V, which is due to more presence of chromium carbide in S110V steel which makes it softer compared to M390.


So, is CPM S110V a Good Knife Steel?


Yes, you can consider S110V good knife steel because it has the exceptional capability of edge retention and wears resistance which is a feature a lot of knife makers look for. S110V steel  is of premium grade that is used for the manufacturing of expensive knives that have high prices above 100 dollars.

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