8Cr13MoV steel has been called “cheap” — it is, after all, a Chinese steel — but that doesn’t meant it’s a bad blade steel. This budget steel is used to make affordable knives that tend to get high reviews. Let’s review 8Cr13MoV steel. We’re covering its composition, popular knife blades that use it, and its pros and cons.
Table of Contents
- What is 8Cr13MoV Steel?
- 8Cr13MoV Composition
- 8Cr13MoV Steel Hardness
- 8Cr13MoV Steel Advantages
- 8Cr13MoV Steel Disadvantages
- 8Cr13MoV vs. AUS-8
- 8Cr13MoV vs. D2
- 8Cr13MoV vs. 440C
- 8Cr13MoV vs. S30V
- Popular 8Cr13MoV Knives
What is 8Cr13MoV Steel?
8Cr13MoV steel is a budget stainless steel containing 13% Chromium. That’s the minimum amount often cited for any steel to be considered stainless. 8Cr13MoV is said to be a Chinese counterpart to the popular Japanese AUS-8 steel. Both alloys have steel compositions that are nearly identical (compare them here with our sorted charts).
Both are used to make affordable kitchen knives. Like AUS-8, this stainless steel balances hardness with toughness. It provides decent retention without high risk of damage when used for chopping and dicing.
This steel is softer than 9Cr18MoV. That’s because of its lower carbon and chromium content. This makes 8Cr13MoV knives (like the popular Spyderco Tenacious) more flexible, more resilient when struck hard, and easier to sharpen. Any pocket knife made from this steel will still be corrosion resistant, which is great for any daily-carry folder.
Let’s take a closer look at the 8Cr13MoV’s carbide and chemical composition.
- Carbon: (0.7 – 0.8%) Increases hardness and wear resistance, but decreases strength.
- Chromium: (13 – 14.5%) Increases tensile strength, edge retention, and carbide content.
- Manganese: (1%) Improves hardening and quenching, strength, and wear resistance.
- Molybdenum: (0.1 – 0.3%) Increases carbide formations, adding hardness and edge retention.
- Nickel: (0.2%) Helps the heat treatment, reducing cracks and distortions in the steel’s grain structure.
- Phosphorus: (0.04%) Contributes to hardness, strength, and corrosion resistance.
- Silicon: (1%) Increases hardenability and strength, removing oxygen during forging.
- Sulfur: (0.03%) Small amounts help improve machinability when forging and forming the blade.
- Vanadium: (0.1 – 0.25%) Contributes significantly to toughness and wear resistance.
8Cr13MoV Steel Hardness
This blade steel is capable of obtaining a Rockwell C Rating of 58 to 59 HRC. This hardness level places it just below high-end kitchen cutlery, which tends to measure 60 to 63 HRC. A rating of 58 to 59 is still excellent. Like we said in our guide to knife steel hardness, most popular pocket knives from brands like CRKT, Cold Steel, Spyderco, and Kershaw fall in this range.
8Cr13MoV Steel Advantages
Resiliency, toughness. This stainless steel can take some abuse. Knives using this alloy can typically be used for hard striking and chopping, without risking edge damage.
Easy sharpening. The medium carbide content of this steel, coupled with its hardness rating, means it’ll be relatively to sharpen and maintain.
Corrosion resistance. Any steel with at least 13% Chromium is considered stainless steel, and will provide good rust protection and corrosion resistance. That means 8Cr13MoV will perform well as a kitchen knife, or when used in outdoor, wet, or humid environments.
Affordability. 8Cr13MoV is an easy-to-produce, widely used steel. That means knives made from this alloy are typically quite affordable, with prices averaging under $50.
Wear Resistance. Because this stainless steel has a decent carbide and carbon content, it has good wear resistance. It balances cutting ability with resiliency, providing good resistance to rolling and surface wear when used to cut stubborn stuff.
8Cr13MoV Steel Disadvantages
Edge retention. Steels with more carbides and higher hardness ratings tend to provide better edge retention. Since 8Cr13MoV has a hardness rating that averages around 58, it’ll hold an edge for awhile, but not as long as a high-end steel like S35VN, 9Cr18MoV, or VG-10.
Absolute sharpness. Obtaining a razor’s edge on this steel may prove a bit challenging, as grinding it to a very fine apex with a thin bevel will make the edge more likely to roll quickly when used.
Typically, a hardness rating greater than 60 is preferred for those who want “push-cut-through-paper” sharpness that’ll last.
8Cr13MoV vs. AUS-8
Like we mentioned, 8Cr13MoV’s composition is almost identical to AUS-8. Both steels contain almost the exact same amounts of Carbon (0.7% to 0.8%), Chromium (13%), Molybdenum (~0.15%), and Vanadium (~0.1%). Both steels have the same corrosion resistance and nearly the same Rockwell Hardness (57 to 59 HRC).
AUS-8 contains slightly more Nickel than 8Cr13MoV (0.49% vs 0.2%) but less Manganese (0.5% vs 1%). Nickel improves heat treatment uniformity, but so too does Manganese. Manganese also improves hardenability, wear resistance, and blade strength. So, 8Cr13MoV may actually outperform AUS-8. Both steels will generally have the same edge retention and sharpness when properly honed.
8Cr13MoV vs. D2
Unlike stainless 8Cr13MoV, D2 steel is a tool steel. The former alloy will provide better corrosion resistance in wet environments, making it better suited for kitchen duty.
Compared to 8Cr13MoV, D2 steel excels in edge retention and absolute sharpness, while sacrificing toughness and chip resistance. It’s a tool steel with more carbon than 8Cr13MoV: 1.4% to 1.6% compared to just 0.7% to 0.8%.
D2 steel also contains more Vanadium (1.1%) and Molybdenum (0.7% to 1.2%). Both elements provide more carbide formations, tighter grain structures, and higher hardenability. This all contributes to higher sharpness and longer edge retention.
Lastly, D2 steel has a maximum Rockwell Hardness of 61 HRC, beating 8Cr13MoV by 2 points. In short, D2 steel is a more brittle and corrosive steel. But it’s also sharper, harder, and longer-wearing compared to 8Cr13MoV, so it’ll probably have slightly better edge retention and less toughness.
8Cr13MoV vs. 440C
440C is one of the most popular and long-established stainless steels found in knives today. It’s an affordable alloy with carbide contents similar to 8Cr13MoV. But 440C has about 40% more carbon (0.95% to 1.2%) and 25% more Chromium (16% to 18%), on average.
That means it provides a harder and more corrosion-resistant blade. 8Cr13MoV compensates with the inclusion of Vanadium and Nickel, which 440C lacks. Both steels share the same percentages of Manganese and Silicon, both of which enhance hardenability and strength.
Both steels have the same Rockwell Hardness ratings (57 to 59 HRC). Overall, 440C provides a harder and longer-wearing blade, like D2. Except it does this at the expense of resiliency and resistance to damage. 440C will also be more difficult to sharpen than 8Cr13MoV.
8Cr13MoV vs. S30V
Put simply, S30V (a powdered metal alloy) is superior to 8Cr13MoV as a knife steel at the expense of, well, being more expensive. S30V contains twice as much carbon as 8Cr13MoV (1.45%), with more Chromium (14%), Molybdenum (2%), and much more Vanadium (4%).
Coupled with its higher hardenability (59 to 61 HRC) and its powdered metallurgy, S30V will outperform 8Cr13MoV in just about every category, except for ease of sharpening: Again, softer steel are just easier to maintain from they finally dull.
The average S30V knife costs around $120 to $200. The typical 8Cr13MoV knife costs just $20 to $40. Plenty of highly rated knives use this “cheap” stainless to great effect.
In fact, we bet you’ll recognize some of these names.
Popular 8Cr13MoV Knives
Spyderco Tenacious. The Tenacious is one of the all-time greats when it comes to finding an affordable, reliable EDC folder. It’s one of Spyderco’s most popular liner lock knives, and it enjoys a nearly perfect rating thanks to its good edge retention, strength, and corrosion resistance.
CRKT CEO. The CEO is a very popular, inconspicuous pocket knife that takes advantages of 8Cr13MoV’s flexibility and resilience to produce a small, thin, flexible blade that’s still strong.
Kershaw Clash. Another very popular 3″ folder, the Kershaw Clash is a great EDC knife. It, too, takes advantage of 8Cr13MoV’s strength to provide a light, fast, durable blade with serrations that can handle some tearing and chopping without chipping.