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Is 4034 Steel Good for Knives? Exploring Blade Mystery

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“Hard as Krupp steel” – who doesn’t know the saying? Well, 4034 steel is Krupp steel. But is 4034 steel good for knives?

How hard it is and what else it can do, we’ll take a look at in this article. Since I had no idea what 4034 steel was, I did some research and tried to give answers to the usual questions about hardness, composition, suitability as knife steel and so on.

What is 4034 steel?

4034 is an entry-level stainless steel from Thyssen-Krupp. It is a carbon steel with a high chromium content that is suitable for use in kitchen knives and diving knife blades. 4034 steel belongs to the 420 steel family, which is a high-carbon stainless steel series.

4034 Steel Blade
4034 Steel Blade

4034 steel chemical composition

ElementPortionEffect
Carbon0.5%Improves hardness, wear and corrosion resistance; but too much reduces the strength.
Chrome14.0%Improves tensile strength and edge retention as well as corrosion resistance and wear resistance.
Manganese0.1%Increases hardness and brittleness.
4034 steel composition

With a chromium content of 14%, it is extremely resistant to corrosion.

What is the hardness (HRC) of 4034?

The Rockwell Hardness of 4034 steel typically falls within the range of 54-55 HRC (Rockwell C scale). This hardness level is in line with the characteristics of stainless steel which is often used for budget-friendly knives and tools.

4034 Steel Rockwell Hardness
4034 Steel Rockwell Hardness

Is 4034 stainless steel or rustproof steel?

Yes, 4034 steel is stainless and rustproof. 4034 steel with a chromium content of 14% is classified both as stainless (see here), and as stainless steel, because its sulfur and phosphorus content (so-called iron companion) does not exceed 0.025% (see here).

Properties of 4034

According to the chemical composition and hardness of 4034, this steel offers the following properties:

  • Edge retention: A maximum HRC value of 55 means that the cut resistance of 4034 steel is not outstanding.
  • Corrosion resistance: 4034 has a chromium content of 14%, which gives the steel very good corrosion resistance.
  • Wear resistance: 0.5% carbon gives 4034 stainless steel decent wear resistance, but it could be better.
  • Sharpening: As a low-end steel with a hardness of 55 HRC, it is definitely easy to sharpen.
  • Toughness: 4034 steel lacks components like nickel that help achieve high toughness. Still, it is decent due to the chromium it contains.
Is 4034 steel good for knives
Is 4034 steel good for knives

Is 4034 a good knife steel?

4034 steel is a cheap entry-level steel, there is nothing to sugarcoat. Its edge retention is not great, and compared to its price, you can find knives made of steels with slightly better properties. Ultimately, it depends on the application, and of course, you can’t expect the same from a cheap entry-level steel as you can from a mid-range or premium steel. And: as a gift for a teenager to enter the wonderful world of knives, it’s all good.

Related: 4116 Steel for knife making

4034 Steel equivalents

According to the chemical composition of 4034 steel, it is roughly in the same range as 420HC or 420J2. They are all low-end or entry-level stainless steels.

Other designations and standards of 4034 steel

4034 steel is alternatively available under these designations (possibly with a slightly modified composition):

Standard SpecsProprietary Equivalents
AFNOR – Z40CMBestar – BE4034
AFNOR – Z38C13MBohler-Uddeholm – N540
AFNOR – Z8CA12Dirostahl – Diro-X46Cr13
AFNOR – Z40C14Dorrenberg – R45
BS – 56DGrimm Edelstahl – RF40
BS – 420S45Kind & Co – RM13H
CSN – 17024*Kind & Co – Coracid420-46
CSN – 17029Lohmann – RF
DIN – X46Cr13Lohmann – LO-R 4034
EN – X46Cr13Metal Ravne – PK4EX
JIS – SUS420J2*Ossenberg – RF4
JUS – C.4175Platestahl – PMC145
PN – 4H13Stahlwerk Stahlschmidt – Corronon4
SIS – 2304TES – REMANIT4034
UNE – F.3405Thyssen-Krupp – NIROSTA4034
UNE – E426Trinec – X45Cr13
UNI – X6CrAl13Ugine & Alz – Uginox MA4
UNI – X40Cr14*Zapp – K40
W-Nr – 1.4034Zapp – ARGESTE 1.4034

Conclusion: Is 4034 steel good for knives?

All in all, 4034 steel is quite decent steel and can be said to have a Krupp steel. Its corrosion resistance is very good and its edge retention and toughness are serviceable, especially since it is also easy to sharpen. However, if I had to choose between a knife with a 4034 blade and an equivalent 420HC or 420J 2 knife for similar knives at similar prices, I would probably prefer the latter.

Why? Quite simply 420HC and 420J2 are a tad harder and also have a tad better edge retention due to their chemical composition. That said, a knife always proves itself in practice and not in theory. And also the performance of a 4034 knife can still be perfectly adequate for individual needs.

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