Rustproof & Razor Sharp: Is 7Cr17MoV a Good Knife Steel?

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Stainless steel? Budget-friendly? Razor-sharp performance? Hold up. Buckle up, knife enthusiasts, because we’re diving into the murky waters of 7Cr17MoV.

This Chinese mystery meat of the knife world whispers promises of edge retention like a samurai and rust resistance like a duck in a rainstorm, all at a price that begs the question: is 7Cr17MoV a good knife steel?

Join us as we dissect this steel from chromium to carbide, uncovering its hidden strengths and subtle flaws. We’ll compare it to its pricier rivals, test its bite on everything from tomatoes to tree branches, and ultimately answer the question: can 7Cr17MoV be the secret weapon in your EDC arsenal?

Key Takeaways

    • Tough and tenacious: Holds an edge well and resists wear, making it great for heavy-duty tasks like chopping and prying.
    • Chip caution: Can be prone to chipping if not properly heat treated, so choose knives made by reputable manufacturers.
    • Maintenance matters: Regular sharpening and honing keep its performance at its peak, unlike some steels that require less care.

What is 7Cr17MoV steel?

7Cr17MoV steel is a stainless steel from Chinese production, which is used for the production of inexpensive knives mostly with fixed blades. It has a very high chromium content steel, which makes it corrosion-resistant.

Strictly speaking, 7Cr17MoV is not the standard designation, but “only” 7Cr17. There is no 7Cr17MoV in either GB/T 20878 or GT/T 1220 standard specifications. While the standard lists up to 0.75% molybdenum in the composition, vanadium is not mentioned at all. So the “V” at the end of the name doesn’t really mean much. Some sources list it at 0.04% vanadium, but that’s very little – too little to seriously affect the performance of the steel.

is 7Cr17MoV a good knife steel
Is 7Cr17MoV a good knife steel?

7Cr17MoV steel chemical composition

Chrome18.0%Improves wear resistance, heat resistance and scale resistance. It increases tensile strength because it acts as a carbide former. Use of rust-proof or stainless steel, as it increases corrosion resistance from a mass proportion of 12.2%. Reduction in weldability.
Carbon0.75%Increasing hardness and tensile strength. In larger quantities, increase in brittleness and reduction in forgeability and weldability.
Manganese1.0%Improves hardness and tensile strength.
Molybdenum0.75%Improves hardenability, tensile strength and weldability. Reduction in forgeability and ductility.
Phosphorus0.4%Increases tensile strength, hardness and corrosion resistance but also brittleness.
Sulfur0.4%Increases machinability but also brittleness.
Silicon1.0%Improves strength.
Nitrogen0.6%Austenite former, increasing strength and corrosion resistance.
7Cr17MoV steel composition

What is the hardness (HRC) of 7Cr17MoV steel?

However, 7Cr17MoV steel typically has a hardness ranging from 60 to 63 HRC (Rockwell Hardness Scale) when properly heat-treated. The hardness may vary based on the specific heat treatment process employed by the manufacturer and the intended application of the steel.

7Cr17MoV steel rockwell hardness
7Cr17MoV steel Rockwell hardness

Is 7Cr17MoV rustproof or a stainless steel?

7Cr17MoV steel is a rust-proof steel but not stainless steel. To be considered rust-free, it must have a chromium content of at least 10.5 – 13% dissolved in the austenite or ferrite (see here), which is the case here. 7Cr17MoV even contains 18(!)%. However, it is not stainless steel, because its sulfur and phosphorus content (so-called iron companion) exceeds 0.025% (see here).

Related: Is 9Cr18Mov steel good for knife making?

Properties of 7Cr17MoV steel

According to the chemical composition and hardness of 7Cr17MoV steel, it has the following characteristics and properties:

1. Edge retention

7Cr17MoV is not the best steel in terms of cut resistance, but it is decent in comparison. That doesn’t mean 7Cr17MoV can compete with high-end steels, but for its price, you should be pleasantly surprised by its decent edge retention.

7Cr17MoV steel contains sulfur and phosphorus that make it more brittle and affect edge retention, but the amounts of carbon and vanadium make up for it. In addition, carbon and vanadium increase the hardness of the steel, which further increases its edge retention.

7Cr17MoV steel outdoor knife
7Cr17MoV steel outdoor knife

2. Corrosion resistance

7Cr17MoV contains high levels of chromium, which prevents staining and provides good corrosion resistance. Its high corrosion resistance makes 7Cr17MoV steel well-suited for survival and outdoor knives. Regularly maintained, 7Cr17MoV steel knives can be expected to remain rust-free for a long time, even with moderate levels of “abuse”.

3. Wear Resistance

For an entry-level steel, 7Cr17MoV offers high wear resistance due to the amount of carbon in its composition. Even with moderate use, knives made of 7Cr17MoV steel will remain in good condition for a long time.

4. Sharpness

The steel is hard but not too hard, so sharpening is not too difficult a task. Note: The harder the steel, the harder it is to sharpen. However, 7Cr17MoV is not a premium steel, which means it can still be sharpened with normal means at a reasonable cost.

7Cr17MoV Stainless Steel knife
7Cr17MoV Stainless Steel knife

5. Toughness

Its toughness is not excessive, as it is a low-end steel with good hardness and high corrosion resistance. Toughness, unlike hardness, is determined by how well the steel can resist fractures. 7Cr17MoV is a low-end steel with good hardness and great corrosion resistance, resulting in low toughness. However, it is not the worst out there.

Is 7Cr17MoV a good knife steel?

Yes, it would be great steel for your knife, especially if you have a limited budget. But of course, it’s not the best steel compared to other entry-level stainless steel. That said, it always depends on the intended use (area). So for those who are still interested – it has good corrosion resistance and hardness, so it would be a good choice for a kitchen knife.

However, if you want a hunting or survival knife, you should make sure to pack a sharpening stone as well, because you have to expect that the edge will become dull faster than you like.

On the other hand, it is similar to carbon steels – like the 1084 – but these require more care because they rust quickly. but for comparatively little money you get a hard, good-cutting steel.

7Cr17MoV steel is low-maintenance due to its high chromium content, but it needs frequent sharpening.

7Cr17MoV steel survival knife
7Cr17MoV steel survival knife

7Cr17MoV Steel equivalents

7Cr17MoV is basically a copy of 440A steel, so its closest equivalent would be 440A steel. Both have very similar chemical compositions, both are entry-level stainless steel.

The corrosion resistance of both steels is high, their toughness is decent, they are easy to sharpen, and they are in the same price range.

Final Words: 7Cr17MoV steel review

I can’t stress one thing enough: Entry-level steel does not automatically mean bad steel. That’s why you shouldn’t get the wrong idea when you hear “entry-level steel”.

Forget “entry-level” equaling “inferior.” 7Cr17MoV, the budget-beast of Chinese steel, proves that affordability can bite back! Thousands carry this blade for a reason: surprisingly sharp, stubbornly rust-resistant, it tackles “normal use” with gusto.

Of course, like a classic car, it whispers for a touch more care. Sharpening may come a bit sooner, and rust prevention keeps it singing. But for a blade that performs beyond its price tag, 7Cr17MoV isn’t just budget-friendly, it’s smart. Many people own knives made of Chinese 7Cr17MoV steel and are happy with them. Embrace its honest bite and discover the joy of a blade that punches above its weight.

Cut Bolt
Cut Bolt
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