S90V steel is another super steel manufactured by the company Crucible. The steel is well known to give the best performance in terms of edge retention, and wear resistance and also tackle regular usage. The S90V can compete with other super steels in the market like Elmax, CPM 110V, CTS-204P, and M390. There is more to know about this amazing steel from Crucible which includes details of chemical composition and properties.


What is CPM S90V Steel?

CPM S90V steel is the manufacturing of the American brand Crucible. The steel belongs to the famous SxxV series that is formulated with the company’s Crucible Particle Metallurgy (CPM).


The previous name of the steel was CPM 420V which was used as tool steel and was used for the manufacturing of tools like bearings, cutters, gear pumps, feed screws, slitters, valve components, and many other tools that will be put to use for heavy-duty work.


CPM S90V is popular in the market currently for the manufacturing of high-end knives. Brands like Benchmade and Spyderco use steel for the manufacturing of expensive knives. The only issue with the steel is that the manufacturing cost is expensive and the grind ability of the steel does not match demands.


Chemical Composition

S90V is alloy steel consisting of elements like carbon, chromium and vanadium in high percentages. There are other elements present that we have listed below.

  • 2.3% of Carbon: Increases hardness level and increases the resistance of the steel to corrosion and wear.
  • 14% of Chromium: Boosts corrosion resistance, hardness and toughness level, edge retention and tensile strength of the steel.
  • 9% of Vanadium: Increases the level of toughness, resistance towards wear and steel strength.
  • 1% of Molybdenum: Improves hardness, machinability, toughness, and steel strength.
  • 0.5% of Silicon: Increases corrosion resistance and steel strength.
  • 0.5% of Manganese: Brings improvement in forge ability, hardenability and wear resistance.
  • 0.40% of Tungsten: To bring improvement in hardenability, forge ability, and wear resistance.
  • 0.03% of Phosphorus: Makes hardness level, machinability and steel strength better.
  • 0.03% of Sulfur: Improves machinability.


Steel Hardness: 

According to the Rockwell C scale, the hardness rating of S90V ranges between 57 to 59 HRC. The hardness rating of the steel can boost up to 66 HRC depending on the heat treatment provided to the steel. The range of Rockwell C defines that the steel has a great hardness level. Manufacturers use steels of this level of hardness for the manufacturing of premium EDC knives.



  • Satisfying toughness: Considering the hardness rating of S90V, the steel has a decent amount of toughness. Yes, the toughness level was supposed to be low considering the hardness level. It is low but has a moderate amount because of the presence of fine vanadium carbide that is evenly distributed on the surface because of the CPM process provided to the steel. These carbides allow the steel to take on a slight amount of abuse without breaking.
  • Excellent Wear Resistance: This property makes S90V stand out in the market as the knife made out of steel is capable of withstanding wear and abrasion daily. The high wear resistance is because of the high amount of vanadium carbides that ensures the steel’s extraordinary wear resistance.
  • Moderate Corrosion Resistance: The S90V steel consists of a high amount of carbon and chromium that prevents the formation of rust and corrosion. The steel is classified as stainless as the chemical composition consists of 14% chromium. The presence of vanadium carbides also boosts the corrosion resistance of the steel.
  • Superior Edge Retention: Wear resistance and edge retention of steel is directly proportional to each other. As the steel has excellent wear resistance the edge retention is also superior. S90V can hold the edge for a long time which allows the blade to take on both heavy and light duty without becoming dull.
  • Ease of Sharpening: The S90V steel is difficult to sharpen because of the high wear resistance caused by the presence of vanadium carbides. This results in the blade of S90V requiring diamond and CBN sharpening stones which are more expensive than regular stone sharpeners.


Comparing S90V With Other Knife Steel Options: 


S90V vs. S30V

S90V possesses a better capability of edge retention, wear resistance and hardness compared to S30V. But, S30V beats S90V in terms of toughness and ease of sharpening.


S90V vs. M390

Both of the steels are high ends but the differences lie in their origin. S90V is American steel that beats the German M390 steel in terms of edge retention. M390 steel beats S90V in terms of toughness, corrosion resistance and ease of sharpening.


S90V vs. M4

M4 is also the manufacturing Crucible that goes through the PM process but it wins over S90V in terms of toughness and ease of sharpening. S90V beats M4 in terms of edge retention and corrosion resistance.


S90V vs. S35VN

S90V wins over S35VN in terms of edge retention. But S35VN gives the best performance in all other parameters and is also popular in the market.


S90V vs. Elmax

Elmax consists of higher amounts of elements like chromium, molybdenum and vanadium in its chemical composition compared to S90V. This makes Elmax beat S90V in corrosion resistance and toughness level. But S90V is better in edge retention compared to Elmax.


S90V vs. 20CV

Both of the steels are manufactured by Crucible. However, 20CV wins in corrosion resistance and ease of sharpening. But S90V has higher hardness and edge retention compared to 20CV. But both the steels have the same level of toughness.



S90V vs. S110V

Both of the steels are high-end steels from Crucible with great performances in terms of hardness and edge retention. But S90V is better at these two parameters compared to S110V. S110V steel is better than S90V in terms of corrosion resistance.


S90V vs. D2

D2 is not high-end steel; rather it has a mid-range with a lower hardness level and it falls in competition in all parameters when compared with S90V which is stainless steel.


S90V vs. CPM 154

Both of these Crucible steels have excellent corrosion resistance. Even though 154 is high-end steel it gets defeated by S90V in terms of hardness and edge retention.


S90V vs. Maxamet

S90V gets defeated by Maxamet in terms of edge retention but wins over in terms of corrosion resistance.


S90V vs. CruWear

CruWear has higher wear resistance and toughness level compared to S90V as it is air-hardening steel. But in terms of edge retention and corrosion resistance S90V wins.


So, is S90V Steel Good?

Considering all the aspects of S90V it is a great steel for manufacturing premium quality knives. The steel has excellent wear resistance with superior edge retention which makes it preferable steel by knife makers.



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