Is 8Cr13MoV Good Knife Steel? Pros & Cons

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Keen observers of the knife market have likely noticed the increasing prevalence of Chinese-made knives. This growth is attributed to their notably affordable prices compared to leading brands and an evident improvement in quality over recent years. One steel following this trend is the stainless steel 8Cr13MoV.

The question arises: is 8Cr13MoV good knife steel? Is it a suitable choice for knives, especially for YOUR knife?

I will explore to uncover the merits of 8Cr13MoV, aiming to provide insights into its performance and suitability.

What is 8Cr13MoV steel?

8Cr13MoV is a low-end stainless steel manufactured in China by Ahonest Changjiang. It is a very attractively priced all-round steel for a wide range of purposes and, with its high carbon and chromium content, belongs to the CR13 series. Its values, both in performance and composition, are close to the Japanese AUS 8 steel. Its edge retention is not as good compared to higher quality steels and although it can theoretically reach a hardness of well over 60, it is usually lower.

In knives, it is most often used for camping and hunting knives, especially by the manufacturers of Spyderco and Kershaw.

Is 8Cr13MoV good knife steel
Is 8Cr13MoV good knife steel?

8Cr13MoV steel composition

Chrome13 – 14.5%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.
Carbon0.80%Increasing hardness and tensile strength. In larger quantities, increase in brittleness and reduction in forgeability and weldability.
Manganese1.00%Improves hardness and tensile strength.
Molybdenum0.30%Improves hardenability, tensile strength and weldability. Reduction in forgeability and ductility.
Nickel0.10%Nickel increases tensile strength and yield strength. From 8% increase in corrosion resistance.
Phosphorus0.04%Increases tensile strength, hardness and corrosion resistance but also brittleness.
Sulfur0.04%Increases machinability but also brittleness.
Silicon1.00%Improves strength.
Vanadium0.0%Increasing hardness, increasing wear resistance and improving tempering resistance.
Chemical composition of 8Cr13MoV steel

The name 8Cr13MoV already shows its essential composition: 0.8% carbon, 13% chromium, plus some molybdenum and vanadium. In the table, the chromium value is given as 13 –14.5%.

In my opinion, it shouldn’t be higher than 14, otherwise, it would have to be declared as 8Cr14MoV (here, Wikipedia) (which does exist, but even Zknives states it that way!).

Is 8Cr13MoV stainless steel and rust-free?

8Cr13MoV steel is a stainless steel but not a 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, depending on the definition (see here). This is the case here, 8Cr13MoV contains 13 – 14.5% chromium. Unfortunately, it is not stainless steel, because its sulfur and phosphorus content (so-called iron companion) exceeds 0.025% (see here).

What is the hardness of 8Cr13MoV?

8Cr13MoV steel typically has a hardness ranging from 60 to 62 HRC (Rockwell Hardness Scale) when properly heat-treated. This hardness level provides a good balance between edge retention, ease of sharpening, and overall durability. Keep in mind that specific hardness values may vary based on factors such as the heat treatment process used by the manufacturer and the intended application of the steel.

8Cr13MoV steel Rockwell Hardness
8Cr13MoV steel Rockwell Hardness

Properties of 8Cr13MoV

Depending on the chemical composition of a batch and the hardness of the steel achieved individually by quenching and tempering, it has the following properties:

  • Edge retention: Since it is a low-cost steel, it offers comparatively great hardness and cut resistance for its price, which is comparable to steels in the middle price segment.
  • Corrosion resistance: Being a rust-free steel with 13% chromium and above, it offers high corrosion resistance.
  • Wear resistance: The chromium and vanadium provide high wear resistance.
  • Sharpness: When used for knives, although a hard steel, it is easy to sharpen.
  • Welding: Due to the high carbon and chromium content, 8Cr13MoV has poor weldability.
  • Toughness: 8Cr13Mov has decent toughness for its price.

Related: How good is 420HC steel for knives?

Is 8Cr13MoV a good knife steel?

Yes, 8Cr13MoV is a good knife steel. It is a budget steel that offers good edge retention, corrosion resistance, hardness, and wear resistance at a very low price. You can use it for EDC knives, kitchen knives or hunting knives, but you have to be aware that you will have to resharpen it a bit more often than higher-priced knives.

Comparison with other steels

In this section, we compare 8Cr13MoV to other steels on four criteria: Edge retention, corrosion resistance, ease of sharpening and toughness on a scale of 1 to 10.

8Cr13MoV vs. 440C steel

Edge retention1/102.5/10
Simplicity of sharpening8/107/10
Corrosion resistance6/107/10
440C steel vs 8Cr13MoV steel

As you can see 440C has better edge retention compared to and is a tad more corrosion resistant than 8Cr13MoV.

8Cr13MoV vs 8Cr14MoV steel

Edge retention1/102/10
Simplicity of sharpening8/108/10
Corrosion resistance6/106/10
8Cr14MoV vs 8Cr13MoV steel

Both steels are almost identical in their properties, but the 8Cr14MoV is better in terms of edge retention.

8Cr13MoV vs AUS 8 steel

Criteria8Cr13MoVAUS 8
Edge retention1/102/10
Simplicity of sharpening8/109/10
Corrosion resistance6/107/10
AUS8 vs 8Cr13MoV steel

AUS 8 or 8Cr13MoV? Based on these values, the choice would probably be AUS 8, if the price is right.

8Cr13MoV vs VG-10 steel

Edge retention1/105/10
Simplicity of sharpening8/106/10
Corrosion resistance6/107/10
VG10 vs 8Cr13MoV steel

Last but not least, a comparison with VG10. VG10 surpasses 8Cr13MoV in terms of edge retention by worlds. However, you have to make concessions in terms of toughness. It is also somewhat more demanding to sharpen.

8Cr13MoV steel knife
8Cr13MoV steel knife

8Cr13MoV equivalent or alternative

The steel that comes closest to this is another steel from the Far East, namely the inexpensive Japanese AUS 8. Both steels have a similar chemical composition and are in a similar price range. I had a hard time deciding between the two – both offer decent quality at a pleasingly low price.

However, if I had to choose one, I would probably go for the AUS 8. Why? Gut feeling. Maybe because I think the Japanese have more experience in making knives … On the other hand, there is no reason for an either/or decision in this price range.

Final Words: Is 8cr13mov good knife steel?

If you wanted to sum up the essence of this steel in one sentence, it could be “cheap doesn’t mean bad“. Many people have mixed feelings not to say reservations when it comes to products from China, especially knives. But the Chinese are catching up fast in terms of quality. So if you’re looking for an affordable knife at a really, really good price, take a look at knives made from 8Cr13MoV.

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