Lots of steel grades come with interesting backstories that explain their design and make up. The same is true for the 154cm steel as it has gone through a lot over the past half-century. A portion of the story will explain its composition and a part of it will let people know why it’s only regaining its popularity as of late.
If you’re interested in the 154cm steel for knife products and you want to know it better, this guide and roundup is for you. It will give you a closer look at this particular steel grade and even give you some of the finest options in the market today so make sure to read on.
What is 154cm steel?
Described as a high-alloy, high-carbon, space-age stainless steel, 154cm is an American-made steel grade that is created and manufactured by the Crucible Industries. This particular material is born out of the necessity for applications that will generate higher temperatures, as the 52100 steel eventually proved to be unsuitable for such requirements.
It should be noted, however, that the 154cm is not the first alternative to the 52100. In fact, it’s often characterized as a modified version of the 440C, primarily differentiated by the addition of molybdenum. As a result, it’s an option for those who want something with higher hardness, better wear resistance, and improved corrosion resistance to the older steel grade.
The 154cm steel should not be confused with the CPM 154. While the two share a lot of things in common, the latter is a powder steel version of the 154cm.
Using 154cm steel for knife products has been a common practice since the 1970s. However, it lost its appeal at some point when its manufacturers stopped using the vacuum-melted process in its production. This caused it to lose quality so knifemakers turned to its Japanese equivalent, the ATS-34, instead.
Nowadays, however, Crucible Industries have taken steps in restoring the glory and quality of the 154cm steel so it’s gaining popularity once again. It’s classified as one of the premium steels today.
Common Uses of 154cm Steel
With its rich history, it’s pretty easy to tell that the 154cm steel has quite a bit of different applications. To further establish its versatility, here’s a quick list of its most common uses:
- For bearings
- For cutlery products
- For valve ports
- For bushings
- For the creation of different kinds of knives
154cm Steel Chemical Composition
Since the 154cm steel was created with a specific purpose in mind, its composition is quite specific. It’s also very similar to a number of other steel grades as most manufacturers competed to create a better steel grade than the 52100.
What are the components of the 154cm steel? It’s made up of :
- Chromium, 14%
- Molybdenum, 4%
- Carbon, 1.05%
- Manganese, 0.50%
- Silicon, 0.30%
It also has small amounts of Tungsten, Vanadium, Phosphorous, and Sulfur.
Again, as mentioned above, the composition of the 154cm is largely similar to a number of other high-carbon stainless steel grades that were created around the World War II era. There are just some slight differences, mostly to get around patenting issues.
154cm Steel Hardness
The 154cm steel has a Rockwell hardness rating of 58-61 HRc. This makes it harder than many other stainless steel varieties available today. It’s also a basis of its superiority as this trait guarantees its ability to retain its shape for much longer. When double-tempered, its toughness is ramped up.
Properties of 154cm Steel
To truly get to know how the 154cm stands apart from other steel grades in the market, it’s best to take a close look at its features and properties. These will let you know about the benefits it can offer and whether it will suit your needs.
With its significant composition, it can be expected for the 154cm steel to be hard and resistant to wear and tear. It’s high carbon and chromium levels make it very hard and the additional vanadium further strengthens it as well as makes it more wear-resistant. It can certainly handle heavy use which might explain why it’s a popular pick for making cutlery.
Its corrosion resistance is possibly one of the biggest draws of the 154cm steel. With its high levels of chromium, it guarantees that it won’t easily rust or get stained. It promises to maintain its pristine metallic look without the need for religious cleanups and upkeep, guaranteeing that the blade will look shiny and new all the time.
Being a high-carbon steel, toughness can be expected from the 154cm steel. This translates to a capability of handling rough use for whatever purpose the steel may be subjected to. For blades, it can certainly handle quite a bit of force and impact. It’s highly durable, too, so it can withstand quite a bit of abuse.
Edge retention and sharpness
Excellent edge retention is also something that the 154cm can promise, thanks to its high hardness rating. Since it contains a number of components that add up to a very solid material, it can be expected that this steel can hold up its edge for quite a while.
This also means that once it’s sharpened nicely, it will hold the sharpness for a long time. And since the 154cm isn’t that hard to sharpen, users can expect that they’ll always enjoy a sharp blade with this material.
154cm Equivalent Steels or Alternative
Despite being around for quite a while already and having quite a few versions, some might still not have a good idea of what the 154cm steel is like. So to paint a clearer picture on this matter, here are some quick comparisons to some of the most similar steel grades to the 154cm:
154cm vs S30V Steel
First on the list is the S30V, another martensitic stainless steel from Crucible Industries. It’s officially known as the CPM S30V, however, so it’s powder-made. It’s often compared to the 154cm for its reliable corrosion resistance and ability to hold an edge for long.
However, the S30V is deemed as a super steel so it performs somewhat better than the 154cm. While the 154cm holds a fine edge better and is easier to sharpen than this steel grade, it holds a toothier edge better. However, depending on the heat treatment of the S30V, it’s possible to end up with a not-so-stellar piece.
154cm VS 440C Steel
Among all of the other steel grades pitted against the 154cm, the 440C is the closest since it is a modified version of it. It’s said that the 440C was practically the jump-off point for the formulation of the 154cm as an alternative to the 52100.
In terms of toughness, the 154cm and 440C are nearly identical. However, their traits were balanced as the 440C has a higher chromium content while the 154cm has a higher molybdenum content. This balanced out the corrosion resistance and hardness equation for the two steel grades.
154cm VS CPM 154 Steel
As their names would suggest, the 154cm and the CPM 154 are two very similar steel grades. The latter can actually be seen as a modern iteration of the older stainless steel, created as the CPM-manufactured version of the classic steel grade.
CPM 154 addressed the issues a lot of people are having with the 154cm, particularly during the polishing process. With CPM 154’s makeup, polishing and finishing are easier to do. It’s also possible to heat treat the CPM version to further enhance the quality and performance of the steel grade.
154cm vs 1095 Steel
At face value, the comparison between the 1095 and 154cm seems out of place since the two steel grades are very different. However, in terms of performance, they’re very similar. The 1095 steel is tough and holds its edge well. It’s just prone to corrosion and rust as it doesn’t contain chromium.
154cm Steel vs D2 Steel
The D2 steel is a semi-stainless grade that is also popular for its wear resistance, edge retention, and hardness. It’s around the price point of the 154cm so they’re often pitted against each other but since the 154cm is resistant to rust and corrosion, many tend to opt for it instead. It’s also easier to sharpen, adding more reasons for people to choose it over the D2.
154cm vs VG10 Steel
As a popular kitchen knife steel, the VG10 also gets to be compared to the 154cm a lot since the latter also enjoyed the position back in the day. The two are actually very similar with small differences in composition, particularly in their carbon and chromium contents. So for these two, it’s pretty much a toss up. Many make their call depending on the design and make of the knives instead.
Is 154cm steel good for knives?
As mentioned above, the 154cm steel has been used in knives since the 1970s. Originally, it was used for building jet engines but a popular knifemaker, Bob Loveless, decided to use it to create some blades. He claimed that the steel grade was instrumental in raising the general quality of his blades so the material was greatly hyped.
It has become one of the top choices for stainless steel for cutlery and higher-end knives. Many also choose this material for their everyday carry or EDC knives.
Pros & Cons of 154cm Steel
Best 154cm Steel Knives
To further give you an idea of what this steel grade is like, here’s a roundup of the best 154cm steel knives that can best demonstrate its capabilities:
#1: Gerber Gator 154CM Folding Knife
- Overall Length: 8.54″,
- Length Closed: 4.96″
- Overall Length: 8.54″
- Blade Length: 3.76″
- Cutting Edge: 3.50″
- Blade Thickness: 0.12″
- Blade Style: Drop Point
- Handle Length: 4.96″
The Gerber Gator 154cm Folding Knife may not be one of the superstars from the brand but it’s one of the items that convinced a lot of people to give the brand a try. This folding knife has been around for decades already, proving itself to be a reliable choice for a lot of users.
Aside from its good choice of steel, the construction and overall design of the Gator are very notable. Some think that it’s too big but its handle has a nice shape and balance so it’s still quite easy to wield. It’s also shaped in a way that makes it suitable for all sorts of purposes. To top it all off, it’s very reasonably priced, making it a nice choice for an EDC or hunting knife.
#2: Gerber Edict Knife, Tanto
- Overall Length: 8.54″
- Blade Length: 3.75″
- Cutting Edge: 3.25″
- Blade Thickness: 0.10″
- Blade Style: Tanto
- Blade Grind: Flat
Promising top-notch quality is the Gerber Edict Knife being an American-made product. Made specifically for military and police officers, this tactical knife is meant to be heavily used outside, especially with its tanto blade. It’s additional ceramic coating also further reinforces the blade’s strength and integrity.
This folding knife ticks all of the boxes for a tactical and survival knife. It has a rubberized handle for comfortable handling, a good-sized 3.6” blade so it’s not cumbersome, and thumb studs for easy opening. It’s also made to be a workhorse, therefore promising durability and wear resistance.
What tends to make this product stand out, however, is its lightness. It only weighs 4 ounces so it won’t add much to your gear if you wish to carry it around while you’re out and about.
#3: BOKER PLUS 01BO374 USA Blue Knife
- Overall Length: 19cm
- Blade Length: 8,5 cm
- Closed Length: 4.125″
- Blade Thickness: 2,9 mm
- Weight: 60 g
- Handle Material: FRP
- Lock Type: Backlock
- Color: Blue
- Country of Manufacture: United States
Completing this 154cm knife review round-up is the Boker Plus 01BO374 USA Blue Knife. It’s a mid-range lightweight folding knife that has a high-end touch to it since it was designed by the German custom knifemaker Raimund Lhotak.
The expert design really shows, too, through its beautiful and functional shape as well as its handle. Made of nylon-reinforced fiberglass, it’s made to be very durable. It has a slim profile so it’s easy to stash away and handle. It also has dual thumb studs that make ambidextrous one-hand opening possible.
With its wear resistance, durability, and great performance, it’s not hard to see why the 154cm steel became a popular choice for knives and other applications. Nowadays, it’s more of a mid-range option, suitable for those who want to invest a bit more on the tool they intend to use heavily.
All of the three products in the 154cm steel reviews above are highly recommended so they can be great starting points for your search for the best 154cm steel knives.