Sharpen Your Curiosity: Is 14C28N a Good Knife Steel?

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Is 14C28N a Good Knife Steel? This question has sparked many a debate among knife enthusiasts and experts alike. Whispers abound of its razor-sharp bite that lingers for weeks, its rock-solid toughness that shrugs off abuse, and its stainless swagger that mocks the mere thought of rust.

But is this budget blade dream too good to be true? Or is 14C28N the secret weapon we’ve been searching for? Sharpen your focus, knife-wielders, because we’re about to crack open the secrets of 14C28N and see if it deserves a place in your arsenal.

Get ready for a high-octane thrill ride through the world of steel, where myths will be sliced, truths revealed, and your next blade upgrade could be just a click away!

What is 14C28N steel?

14C28N is a stainless martensitic chromium steel from the Swedish manufacturer SANDVIK with a composition optimized for high-quality professional knife making. The chemical composition offers a unique combination of properties, including excellent cutting performance, very high hardness and good corrosion resistance. This steel is recommended by the manufacturer mainly for knife making that has very high requirements for sharpness, stability and corrosion resistance of the cutting edge. Examples are pocket knives, chef’s knives, hunting knives and fishing knives.

Historically, the Kershaw company was the driving force behind the development of this steel. For a number of years, Kershaw was the sole purchaser of its predecessor, 13C26 steel, but was dissatisfied with its corrosion resistance. Kershaw therefore asked SANDVIK to develop an alternative to 13C26 with better corrosion resistance. The result was 14C28N steel.

Is 14C28N a good knife steel
Is 14C28N a good knife steel

14C28N steel chemical composition

Chrome14.0%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.
Carbon0.62%Increasing hardness and tensile strength. In larger quantities, increase in brittleness and reduction in forgeability and weldability.
Manganese0.60%Improves hardness and tensile strength.
Phosphor0.025%Increases tensile strength, hardness and corrosion resistance but also brittleness.
Sulfur0.01%Increases machinability but also brittleness.
Silicon0.20%Improves strength.
Nitrogen0.11%Austenite former, increasing strength and corrosion resistance.
14C28N steel composition

What is the hardness of 14C28N steel?

The hardness of 14C28N stainless steel typically ranges from 55 to 62 HRC (Rockwell Hardness Scale). The specific hardness can vary based on the heat treatment process applied by the manufacturer and the intended application of the steel.

14C28N Rockwell Hardness
14C28N Rockwell Hardness

14C28N is a high-performance steel known for its excellent combination of corrosion resistance, edge retention, and ease of sharpening, making it a popular choice for knife blades.

Is Sandvik 14C28N a stainless steel?

14C28N is both rustproof steel as well as a stainless steel. To be considered rustproof, it must have a chromium content of at least 10.5 – 13% dissolved in austenite or ferrite, depending on the definition (see here), which is the case with 14% chromium.

To be considered as stainless steel, its sulfur and phosphorus content (so-called iron companion) must not exceed 0.025% (see here). With 0.025% phosphorus and 0.1% sulfur, it does not.

Sandvik 14C28N steel properties

According to the chemical composition and hardness of the steel, it has the following properties and characteristics:

  • Edge retention: With a maximum hardness of 62 HRC and a chromium-to-carbon ratio, this steel offers good edge retention.
  • Corrosion resistance: With 14% chromium, 14C28N steel offers high corrosion resistance.
  • Wear resistance: Wear resistance is good due to the appropriate carbon and manganese contents.
  • Sharpness: Even though it is hard steel, it is easy to sharpen.
  • Toughness: All low and medium-entry steels are geared to provide either good toughness and good hardness, or good corrosion resistance and good hardness. 14C28N offers hardness and corrosion resistance, somewhat at the expense of toughness. I must say that the toughness is quite decent for a steel in this price segment.
  • Affordability: 14C28N steel is light on the pocket, often regarded as one of the best budget steels.

Is there an alternative to 14C28N steel?

14C28N is very close to the Japanese AUS 8 stainless steel, the chemical composition of both steels is quite similar, they also both have good edge retention and corrosion resistance, good toughness and are often found in kitchen knives.

My opinion: is 14C28N a good knife steel?

Yes, Sandvik 14C28N is a good knife steel for kitchen and EDC knives. For a real outdoor knife where toughness (“batoning”, using the knife to split wood) and easy sharpening “in the field” is more important, it is not the choice, here carbon steels are the better choice. They do dull faster but are easy to sharpen. They also tend to rust, which can be prevented or greatly reduced by occasionally “oiling” the blade with Balistol.

14C28N is a fantastic choice for:

  • Cooks: It’s a kitchen workhorse that handles a variety of tasks with ease.
  • EDC enthusiasts: Its compact size and impressive edge retention make it a great everyday companion.
  • Knife newbies: It’s a forgiving steel that’s easy to maintain and won’t break the bank.
14C28N steel knife
14C28N steel knife

Related: Does 440C steel make good knives?

14C28N steel in comparison

In this section, we compare 14C28N to other steels, in four criteria: Edge retention, corrosion resistance, ease of sharpening, and toughness on a scale of 1 to 10.

14C28N vs. VG10 steel

Edge retention3/105/10
Simplicity of sharpening6/106/10
Corrosion resistance7/107/10
VG10 steel vs 14C28N

The edge retention of 14C28N is significantly lower than that of VG10. It is significantly tougher, while corrosion resistance and ease of sharpening are on par.

14C28N vs. 8CR13MOV steel

Edge retention3/101/10
Simplicity of sharpening6/108/10
Corrosion resistance7/106/10
8CR13MOV vs 14C28N steel

The edge retention of 14C28N is significantly higher than that of 8CR13MOV, it is also easier to sharpen. Corrosion resistance is also better, while toughness is the same.

14C28N vs S30V steel

Edge retention3/105/10
Simplicity of sharpening6/105/10
Corrosion resistance7/107/10
S30V vs 14C28N steel

The edge retention of 14C28N is significantly lower than that of CPM S30V. It is easier to sharpen, while the corrosion resistance and toughness are the same.

14C28N vs 420HC steel

Edge retention3/102/10
Simplicity of sharpening6/107/10
Corrosion resistance7/106/10
420HC steel vs. 14C28N

The edge retention of 14C28N is slightly higher than that of 420HC. The corrosion resistance is also better, while the toughness is the same. Also, 14C28N is easier to sharpen than 420HC.

14C28N vs D2 steel

Edge retention3/103,5/10
Simplicity of sharpening6/104/10
Corrosion resistance7/104/10
D2 steel vs 14C28N steel

The edge retention of 14C28N steel is equal to or slightly lower than that of D2. The corrosion resistance as well as the ease of sharpening are significantly better, while the toughness is the same.

14C28N steel vs 440C

Edge retention3/102,5/10
Simplicity of sharpening6/107/10
Corrosion resistance7/107/10
440C steel vs 14C28N

The edge retention of 14C28N is equal to or slightly higher than that of 440C steel. The toughness is also slightly better and the corrosion resistance is the same on. It is also slightly better for sharpening.

Conclusion: How good is 14C28N steel?

The verdict is in: 14C28N is a champion for its price point, offering a potent blend of sharpness, resilience, and rust resistance. It’s not the ultimate steel for every task, but for everyday kitchen warriors and EDC enthusiasts, it shines bright.

Here’s a quick recap of its strengths:

  • Razor-sharp edge: Get ready for effortless slicing through fruits, veggies, and even the occasional rogue pineapple.
  • Tough enough for everyday tasks: Don’t be afraid to put it to work. 14C28N can handle light chopping, scraping, and even the occasional accidental drop.
  • Rust-resistant champion: No need to baby this blade. It shrugs off moisture and stays looking good with basic care.
  • Budget-friendly beauty: Your wallet will thank you. 14C28N packs a punch without breaking the bank.
  • But like any good warrior, it has its limitations:

Not for hardcore outdoor adventures: If you’re tackling extreme environments or heavy-duty tasks, consider a tougher steel like 154CM.

If you’re looking for a versatile, value-packed blade that excels in everyday situations, 14C28N is a worthy contender. Just remember its limits and treat it right, and you’ll have a loyal companion for years to come.

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