CTS XHP steel is an all-rounder and a well-known American steel for making knives. Anyone who has years of experience with knives will know the quality and performance CTS XHP has to offer. Manufacturing uses steel for the making of high-end knives. Let’s check out the features and chemical structure of the steel in depth.


What is CTS XHP Steel?

The famous steel company called Carpenter made CTS XHP a stainless air hardening with amazing corrosion resistance. The chemical composition contains both carbon and chromium at a high percentage for enhancing its features. The manufacturing of CTS XHP steel is done using a powder metallurgy process, making it deliver amazing performance.


The CTS XHP steel is versatile as well with great features. Manufacturers use this steel for making high-quality knives, cutlery items and high-end surgery equipment as well. Famous companies like Spyderco and Cold steel use CTS XHP for the making of expensive knives. This shows the incredible capacity of knife steel for the manufacturing of blades.


Chemical Composition:

CTS XHP is an expensive stainless due to having carbon and chromium in high amounts. There are more elements present that contribute to various properties. Check them out.

  • 1.6% of Carbon: Increases hardness and makes the resistance of the steel to corrosion and wear better.
  • 16% of Chromium: Prevents corrosion and wear. Boosts the edge retention and gives the steel incredible tensile strength.
  • 0.8% of Molybdenum: Increases machinability and steel strength.
  • 0.5% of Manganese: Boosts hardness level.
  • 0.4% of Silicon: Increases steel strength.
  • 0.45% of Vanadium: Improves hardenability and wear resistance.
  • 0.35% of Niobium: Improves resistance to corrosion and wear. Boosts the hardness of the steel.


Steel Hardness:

The hardness rating for CTS XHP is about 60 HRC according to the Rockwell C scale. This shows the steel has high hardness due to its high carbon percentage. The hardness rating can rise to 64 HRC depends on the heat temperature provided by a manufacturer.



  • Excellent wear resistance: The high wear resistance capability of CTS XHP is not something unexpected keeping in mind its high hardness level of it. The steel is capable of enduring regular wear and impact without getting its edge shape harmed. Even after accomplishing tough chores, you will not see the blade wearing out and performing ineffectively.
  • Superb edge retention: The superb edge retention of CTS XHP is due to the high hardness level. Blades made out of steel have the incredible potential of staying sharp even after months of use for cutting chores. Seeing the blade getting dull is a rare case.
  • Incredible corrosion resistance: There is nothing much to stay about the incredible corrosion resistance of CTS XHP. The high chromium content makes it possible for the steel to fight off rust and corruption even under moisture or humid conditions.
  • Average toughness: Toughness is not the best feature of steels with high hardness as they are related to indirect proportionality. Yet, the toughness of CTS XHP is enough to help with resisting cracking and chipping. This is why manufacturers prefer making short blades instead of long ones to tackle impact with proper efficiency.
  • Sharpening at Ease: The shortcoming of hard steel is being difficult to sharpen. Yet, if you are experienced with sharpening and have advanced sharpener it is not a difficult chore to give CTS XHP steel a fine edge. Yet, beginners might struggle and require more time and effort for sharpening the blades of CTS XHP.


Comparison With Other Knife Steel Options

CTS XHP vs. S30V

Both of these steels are expensive. Yet, CTS XHP is the better one at edge retention. But in corrosion resistance, the S30V performs better. Furthermore, S30V has more popularity and is more available in the market compared to CTS XHP.



CTS XHP has better capability in edge retention than S35VN. But, S35VN beats CTS XHP in corrosion resistance.


CTS XHP vs. M390

Even if both the steels have premium quality, the M390 has a more expensive price. It performs better than CTS XHP in Edge retention and corrosion resistance. However, it is more difficult to sharpen, M390 than CTS XHP.


CTS XHP vs. D2

D2 is semi-stainless steel. This makes D2 much weaker at corrosion resistance compared to CTS XHP. But in edge retention, both of the steels deliver similar performance.


CTS XHP vs. VG10

VG10 steel has an ideal balance of hardness and toughness, making it a popular choice amongst knife manufacturers. When compared to CTS XHP steel, VG10 shows better performance in corrosion resistance. On the contrary, CTS XHP beats VG10 for having better toughness and edge retention.



CTS XHP is premium American steel. Whereas AUS 8 steel is a mid-range Japanese steel. The properties of these steels vary with each other at a high level. Yet, it is surprising how the performance of these steels in corrosion resistance is neck to neck.


So, is CTS XHP a Good Knife Steel?

If you are looking for features like excellence in edge retention, and wear and corrosion resistance with no lackings in performance then yes CTS XHP is the right choice as a knife steel. The steel has the right amount of toughness required for resisting chipping and cracking. This is why CTS XHP steel is widely used by knife manufacturers for the making of outdoor and EDC knives.


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