How Good is 1095 Cro-Van Steel?

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Is 1095 Cro Van steel good for knives? Yes, it is good for a knife that will not be used in humid weather. It is affordable low-chromium carbon steel that performs well but has lower corrosion resistance.

We have discussed 1095 steel earlier, do not get confused with the “simple” 1095. 1095 and 1095 CRO-VAN have similar names, but they are not the same. However, I agree that 1095 CRO-VAN is a derivative of 1095 steel.

I did some research and compiled the information I could find on 1095 Cro Van into this post.

What is 1095 CRO-VAN steel?

1095 CRO-VAN is a carbon steel based on AISI 1095 steel with the same basic composition but with additional chromium, vanadium, nickel and molybdenum. It was originally developed by SHARON STEEL Corporation in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, which ceased to exist in 1992.

Is 1095 CRO VAN steel good for knives
Is 1095 CRO VAN steel good for knives?

Other designations and standards

1095 CRO-VAN steel is also available under these alternative designations:

  • Sharon Steel 50100B
  • Sharon Steel 1095CV
  • Sharon Steel 0170-6
  • Sharon Steel Carbon-V
  • Standard Specifications

1095 CRO VAN steel chemical composition

Chromium0.6%Improves wear resistance, heat resistance and scale resistance. It increases tensile strength because it acts as a carbide former. Use of rust-free or stainless steel, as it increases corrosion resistance from a mass proportion of 12.2%. Reduction in weldability.
Carbon1.1%Increasing hardness and tensile strength. In larger quantities, increase in brittleness and reduction in forgeability and weldability.
Manganese0.5%Improves hardness and tensile strength.
molybdenum0.06%Improves hardenability, tensile strength and weldability. Reduction in forgeability and ductility.
Nickel0.25%Nickel increases tensile strength and yield strength. From 8% increase in corrosion resistance.
Phosphorus0.025%Increases tensile strength, hardness and corrosion resistance but also brittleness.
Sulfur0.025%Increases machinability but also brittleness.
Silicon0.25%Improves strength.
Vanadium0.25%Increasing hardness, increasing wear resistance and improving tempering resistance.
1095 Cro Van steel composition

As you can see, 1095 CRO-VAN steel has about the same basic chemical composition as 1095 steel, plus the addition of chromium, vanadium, nickel and molybdenum which increases the hardness and tensile strength of this steel.

Related: How good is 8670M stee for knives

What is the hardness (HRC) of 1095 CRO-VAN steel?

The hardness of 1095 CRO-VAN steel is 56-60 HRC depending on the way it is tempered.

1095 CRO VAN Steel Rockwell Hardness
1095 CRO VAN Steel Rockwell Hardness

Is 1095 CRO-VAN stainless steel?

Neither. 1095 CRO-VAN steel is neither a rust-free steel nor a stainless steel. To be considered rust-free, it would require a chromium content of at least 10.5-13% dissolved in the austenite or ferrite, depending on the definition (see here).

Also, it is not a stainless steel because its sulfur and phosphorus content (so-called iron companion) exceeds 0.025%.

Does 1095 Cro Van steel rust?

Yes, 1095 Cro Van steel can rust if it is not properly maintained. Due to its higher carbon content and lower chromium levels, it is more susceptible to corrosion compared to stainless steels. To prevent rust, it is important to:

  • Keep the blade dry and clean
  • Apply a light coat of oil to the blade to protect it from moisture
  • Store the knife in a dry environment

By taking proper care of a knife with a 1095 Cro Van blade, you can minimize the risk of rust and ensure the longevity of the knife.

Properties of 1095 CRO-VAN steel

According to the chemical composition and hardness of 1095 CRO-VAN, it offers the following properties and characteristics:

  • Edge retention: It is composed of chromium, manganese, vanadium and carbon, which makes it a very hard steel with high edge retention.
  • Corrosion resistance: 1095 CRO-VAN steel is susceptible to corrosion; it has far too little chromium to resist corrosive processes.
  • Wear resistance: 1095 CRO-VAN offers high wear resistance thanks to the combination of vanadium, chromium and carbon.
  • Sharpness: 1095 CRO-VAN is comparatively easy to sharpen, despite being comparatively hard steel. Note: anything below 60 HRC is comparatively easy to grind.
  • Machinability: 1095 CRO-VAN tends to be quite hard, but should be sufficiently machinable since its maximum hardness is 60 HRC and the iron companions sulfur and phosphorus contribute to its good machinability.
  • Toughness: 1095 CRO-VAN is a tough steel, but it follows the rule of the relationship between hardness and toughness: while it is possible to achieve a hardness of 60HRC with 1095 CRO-VAN, this will be at the expense of toughness.
1095 CRO VAN Steel knife
1095 CRO VAN Steel knife

Is 1095 CRO-VAN a good knife steel?

Yes and No. It depends on what you want to do with the knife. 1095 CRO-VAN has good edge retention, good wear resistance, hardness and toughness. It would be a good choice for an EDC knife “that you can take hard.”

However, if you intend to use it in wet environments such as fishing, hunting, diving, or in the kitchen, you will not enjoy this steel due to its low corrosion resistance.

I think 420HC or 4116 can be a better choice in the lower price segment. If you want a premium steel knife, I recommend you take a look at the H1 or LN200N steel.

1095 CRO-VAN Steel equivalents

I know I made it explicit above that 1095 and 1095 CRO-VAN are not the same thing. The closest equivalent to 1095 CRO-VAN is probably its “ancestor” AISI 1095, or AISI 1084.

However, 1095 CRO-VAN outperforms both in every discipline: edge retention, hardness and wear resistance except corrosion resistance. But it is cheaper than the two.

Final words: Is 1095 Cro Van steel good for knives?

1095 CRO-VAN steel is a low-end steel. It is a good knife steel for all applications that do not take place permanently in humid environments.

It offers good edge retention, hardness, toughness and wear resistance, and is also very affordable. As I said, if a 1095 CRO-VAN knife is to be used in damp or wet environments, then I would strongly advise against it.

It’s a low chromium carbon steel, so it has low corrosion resistance, you won’t be happy with it even if you take good care of it and oil it. Of course, a 1095 CRO-VAN knife can get rid of a little moisture here and there if you take care of it.

1095 CRO-VAN steel offers a lot of value for money, but it also does not hurt to take a look at the “normal” 1095.

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