8cr13MoV Steel For Knives
In this article we take a close look at 8cr13MoV steel. We will explore its makeup and characteristics as a knife steel.
There are so many different types of knife steel available on the market today that it can be hard to determine what steel is right for your knife. 8cr13MoV is a good middle of the road steel that performs very well for its price point.
What Is 8cr13MoV Steel?
8cr13MoV steel is a martensitic stainless steel that contains 0.8% Carbon and 13% Chromium. The name 8cr13MoV follows the GB/T 1220 Chinese national standard for steel classification.
Wikipedia classifies stainless steel as containing a minimum of approximately 11% Chromium. This Chromium helps prevent steel from rusting and higher amounts usually impart a greater stainless ability.
One of the main uses for 8cr13MoV is as a knife blade steel. Although it is very similar in makeup to 3cr13 steel it has a much higher Carbon content which allows it to reach a higher hardness.
There are many quality knives being made with 8cr13MoV today. Considering its relatively low cost it has numerous benefits such as;
- Fairly easy to work with for knife manufacturers
- Good toughness
- Sharpens quite easily
- good resistance to corrosion
- cost effective
- easy to get large quantities for mass production
As part of the cr13 series of steels 8cr13MoV follows the same naming conventions and as such we can easily determine that it has a composition containing 0.8% Carbon and 13% Chromium. The addition of the MoV in the name indicates the addition of Molybdenum (Mo) and Vanadium (V)
The full chemical composition of 8cr13MoV is;
- 0.8% Carbon
- 13% Chromium
- 1% Silicon
- 1% Manganese
- 0.6% Nickel
- 0.2% Molybdenum
- 0.2% Vanadium
- 0.04% Phosphorus
- 0.03% Sulfur
Properties of 8cr13MoV
8cr13MoV has many properties that make it a good choice for a knife steel on a budget. It is hard to find another steel that has better performance for the price.
One of the good features of this steel is that it has a decent edge retention for its price. Although this is one steel where the specific manufacturers heat treatment can make a big difference in the overall performance of the steel.
Overall edge retention of steel is a combined factor of a variety of things such as the hardness, toughness, edge geometry, blade grind, and more. As such, edge retention can be a very subjective measurement that can be though of as a aggregate of the various properties of a specific steel.
There is a wide variety of steels in the cr13 series and they all have a variety of different hardness which is largely determined by the amount of carbon that they contain. Some of the other additions such as the Vanadium specifically add to the overall hardness but the Carbon is generally thought of as the biggest contributor to this.
There are many well known brands that use 8cr13MoV such as Spyderco, Benchmade, Kershaw and many others. Most of them apply heat treatments that attain a HRC hardness of between 56 and 60 which helps this blade steel hold its edge quite well.
8cr13MoV is a reasonable tough steel that can take a fair bit of abuse before it will chip or break. While it is not quite as tough as some other steel with lower carbon content or exotic additions it is a very durable steel that will hold up well to normal cutting tasks.
As with any of the steels in the cr13 line, 8cr13MoV is considered a stainless steel. however, being that the chromium is on the lower end of the stainless scale it can still be susceptible to rust or staining if it is not cared for.
As with any knife, it is important to keep it dry when possible and not let it set in wet conditions for long periods of time. While 8cr13MoV will corrode if left exposed to the elements for a long period of time, it is corrosion resistant enough to hold up to most real-world applications and conditions.
8cr13MoV sharpens relatively easy for a knife with a decent level of hardness. While many of the new ultra-high hardness steels are quite difficult to sharpen with standard sharpening stones, 8cr13MoV can take a very fine edge with standard sharpening tools.
The small addition of Vanadium produces a small amount of Vanadium carbides which are extremely hard and in large amounts can make certain steels notoriously hard to sharpen. However, the amount of Vanadium in this steel is now enough to make it too difficult to get a good edge on your blade.
8cr13MoV Equivalent Steels
Being that 8cr13MoV is a good middle of the road knife steel there are a few different equivalent steels that we can compare it to. The two main comparisons can be made to 440B and AUS-8.
AUS-8 has a very similar composition with the main difference being the amount of Manganese in AUS-8. In practice, I have noticed more variance between 8cr13MoV steel of different manufacturers that I have between 8cr13MoV and Aus-8. That said, both of these steels are solid performers and can vary quite a bit with the specific heat treatment the manufacturer applies.
440B also has a similar composition with the main differences being that 440B has around 17% Chromium and does not contain any Vanadium. These differences give 440B a slightly better corrosion resistance and anecdotal reports that 8cr13MoV holds an edge slightly better than 440B
Is 8cr13MoV A Good Knife Steel?
So, what does all this mean in relation to 8cr13MoV being suitable for a quality knife steel? Basically, it is a decent all around steel that comes at a very affordable price for its performance.
8cr13MoV packs a solid performance for its price and does a good job at just about everything you need a knife steel to do. There are tougher and harder steels on the market and some of the more premium steels will definitely do better than 8cr13MoV at certain tasks, however, they do so at a much higher price point.
Best Knives With 8cr13MoV Steel
Spyderco Tenacious Special Mention
I could not leave this article without a special note about the Spyderco Tenacious here. This is without a doubt one of my favorite knives in this price point and is an unbelievable value.
It is a shining example of what a good heat treatment on 8cr13MoV steel can do and really showcases the fact that a steel does not need to be super expensive to perform exceptionally well.
If you want to learn more about this knife you can check out our full Spyderco Tenacious review here.
If you are looking for the hardest steel or the toughest steel or the most corrosion resistant steel then 8cr13MoV is not for you. However, if you are looking for a cost effective steel that does all of these things fairly well then you may just have the right steel for your next knife.
Do you have any experience with 8cr13MoV? Have you had a knife with this steel and have a story to tell? Drop me a note below and let me know what you think of 8cr13MoV steel.