While super steels are all the rage among knife fans today, a reliable low-priced option can never be discredited. Even if you’re looking for a great performing piece, you can still check out some of the basic steel grades out there. Aside from being ubiquitous, they can also meet your needs even if they’re not of the premium variety.
This is the case for the 4034 steel. It might not necessarily be the most sought-after option but since it’s readily available, it can be a convenient pick for many. But to get the most out of this simple metal, it’s important to get to know the available options better.
To help you do just that, this roundup includes not just the most vital details about the 4034 steel for knife products but will also feature details about the finest options made with the said metal. Read on to learn more.
What is 4034 steel?
Made by the German manufacturer Thyssen-Krupp, the 4034 steel is a low alloy stainless steel that is commonly used on folding knives and fixed blades. It’s often described as a softer kind of steel, especially when compared to high-end varieties. Some folks describe it as the budget alloy of Germany, much like the 420 steel in the US.
With a decent edge retention and good sharpness levels, this steel grade is not a top-shelf material. However, as the performance of knives still largely depends on good heat treating, lots of 4034 steel still get to deliver excellent results even with heavy use.
Common Uses of 4034 Steel
The 4034 steel is used in various applications:
- For the creation of various cutting tools
- In the making of surgical instruments and implements
- For plastic moulds
- For the manufacturing of measuring gauges
- For manufacturing different kinds of knives
Due to its relative hardness and corrosion resistance, the 4034 steel is popularly used for kitchen knives, diving knives, and all sorts of utility knives.
4034 Steel Chemical Composition
Like other basic metals, the 4034 has a very simple composition. It’s only really made up of three components:
- Carbon, 0.47%
- Chromium, 12.5 to 14.5%
- Manganese, 1%
Some manufacturers add up to 1% of Silicon, however.
The 4034 doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles but it also promises dependability because it’s not brittle. Its softness also makes it easy to sharpen which is favorable to a lot of knife users.
4034 Steel Hardness
As mentioned above, the 4034 steel is not one of the hardest options there is. The general range is from 54 to 58 HRc but according to one manufacturer, the 4034 has a hardness of 56 HRc after quenching. This puts this steel grade in the softer end of the scale as super steels are usually beyond 60 HRc.
Properties of 4034 Steel
Due to its basic composition, the 4034 steel may not have the same properties as other popular steel grades. Here are the key features it has:
The top thing that the 4034 steel can offer is corrosion resistance. Since it contains a good amount of chromium, it’s already capable of keeping rusting at bay without requiring serious maintenance. It can withstand humidity and saltwater that it’s even a choice for diving knives.
Despite being relatively soft, the 4034 can still be quite tough, especially since it’s not brittle. It might not have a lot of additional components to make it the toughest material out there but its chromium levels make it capable of handling just about anything thrown its way.
Blades in this steel grade will not easily break or chip, thanks to how flexible its material can be. They can handle quite a good amount of abuse so they can be suitable for everyday use.
Since the 4034 steel is of the softer variety, it should be expected that it will take an edge with more ease. However, it’s still up to your sharpening skills on how quick you can get to the sharpness you want to be. Those who are less skilled might still struggle in its sharpening but by changing the angle a little, things can improve significantly.
As for its sharpness, the 4034 can get very sharp. This is why it can still be quite reliable for everyday use.
As mentioned above, the 4034 doesn’t retain an edge for extremely long but it also doesn’t lose retention right away. It will not get dull in the middle of a heavy task but you might need to sharpen it periodically if you intend to get one as an EDC. Luckily, it can be quite easy to sharpen so you don’t have to worry about its upkeep.
Since the 4034 isn’t a hard steel, its wear resistance is not comparable to more expensive steels. However, it can still handle regular wear and tear without affecting its performance as long as it’s properly maintained.
Again, as many experts will tell you, the heat treatment of a blade will have the final say on the quality and performance of a knife. This is why some 4034 knives tend to be better than others. So if you want to get the most out of this steel grade, it’s best to look for something that is well made.
4034 Equivalent Steels or Alternative
As a simple steel, it shouldn’t be surprising to find that the 4034 steel has quite a number of alternatives and equivalents. In fact, some roundups list up to 38 similar steel grades to this metal.
So if you still can’t fully grasp what it’s like, there’s a good chance that you’re familiar with something else that it’s often compared to. Here are some comparisons that might help you get a better understanding of the 4034 steel.
4034 vs AUS 8 Steel
To get a good gauge of how the 4034 performs, it might be wise to compare it to an upper-range steel, the AUS 8. This Japanese metal is described to be carefully crafted to create a nice balance between hardness, toughness, machinability, as well as wear and corrosion-resistant. It can deliver very well on all fronts as it has a nicely curated list of components.
Generally, in terms of toughness, with somewhat similar carbon and chromium contents, the AUS 8 and the 4034 should perform similarly. However, the many additions to the AUS 8 reinforced its toughness and hardenability so it’s superior in terms of durability.
4034 vs 440 Steel
With the 440 being the stainless steel standard, it’s also a good point of comparison for the 4034. It has higher chromium content, however, so it’s way more rust-resistant. The 440B and 440C also have nearly double the carbon content so it’s also tougher and harder.
The only advantage the 4034 has over the 440 is its inexpensive price tag.
4034 vs 4040 Steel
The 4040 steel is a carbon-molybdenum steel that has similar carbon levels with the 4034. Since it’s not stainless steel, it relies on its nickel and molybdenum content for toughness. This makes it different from the 4034 steel.
The 4040 is not widely used in knives, however, so comparing the two as blade materials can be quite difficult.
4034 vs 154cm Steel
As a popular stainless steel grade, the 154cm is another good point of comparison for those who want to get to know the 4034 better. Both have about the same chromium levels but the addition of tungsten, molybdenum, silicon, and even a tiny amount of vanadium gives the 154cm a leg up in this face off. These make the 154cm a lot tougher and harder than the 4034.
On many occasions, the 154cm is even considered as a step up from the 440C. This makes it an interesting option for many as the 440C is considered as a standard.
4034 vs 3Cr13MoV Steel
Out of everything on the list, the 3Cr13MoV is possibly the most similar to the 4034. While it is made in China, it has around the same composition as the 4034. Their main difference is that it has a slightly lower carbon content so the performance will still vary a little.
Both are inexpensive options, however, so they can be found in budget-friendly knives.
Is 4034 steel good for knives?
Like many other basic steel grades, the 4034 can be an inexpensive knife material. This is why it’s used for entry-level options. It can get the job done and deliver good results, especially if the product you got is well made.
However, that is the important qualifier for this steel grade. Its heat treatment makes a huge difference when it comes to the quality of the item. Since 4034 steel on its own is not a top-of-the-line metal, some might not be satisfied with its performance if it’s not manufactured with high standards.
Should you opt for 4034 steel for knife products? Yes, if they’re well-made. There are still quite a number of 4034 steel knives that are reliable and will offer great value for the money, you just need to know where to start looking.
Pros & Cons of 4034 Steel
Best 4034 Steel Knives
What are the best 4034 steel knives like? Here are three 4034 steel knife reviews that will answer that question.
#1: Smith & Wesson SWMP4LS 8.6in S.S. Assisted Folding Knife
- Blade Length: 3.6″
- Overall Length: 8.6″
- Weight: 0.475lb
- Handle Material: Aluminum
- Made in: Taiwan
The Smith & Wesson SWMP4LS 8.6in S.S. Assisted Folding Knife is possibly one of the most popular 4034 steel knives in the market today. Being a budget-friendly but reliable and attractive looking all-around knife, lots of people were won over by its practicality.
Aside from its 4034 stainless steel blade, this product is also equipped with an aluminum handle. It also has a M.A.G.I.C. assisted opening making it quite handy and easy to deploy. Its drop point design and 8.6” size make it rather easy to handle even if it’s a bit heavy.
#2: Cold Steel Crawford Model 1 Folding Knife
- Weight: 4.1oz
- Blade Thickness: 3.3mm
- Blade Length: 3-1/2in
- Handle Length/Material: 4-7/8in Zy-Ex
- Overall Length: 8-3/8in
- Additional Features: Stainless Pocket / Belt Clip
Another option for a 4034 steel knife is the Cold Steel Crawford Model 1 Folding Knife. This item got its name from its designer, Wes Crawford, a well-known custom knife maker. The Model 1 is a budget version of his more expensive creations, giving those who don’t want to spend a lot an opportunity to own one of his pieces.
In combination with its Japanese 4034 blade, this knife is made of a high-strength glass reinforced nylon material with traction rubber inlays and a unique integral ‘flipper’ with a secondary safety mechanism. It’s meant to handle all sorts of cutting, slashing, and slicing tasks without hurting your wallet.
#3: Boker 120547 Bowie Boot Knife
- Overall Length: 32,50 cm
- Blade Length: 19,80 cm
- Blade Thickness: 6,40 mm
- Weight: 495,00 g
- Handle Material: Walnut Wood
- Color: Brown
- Blade Color: Uncoated
- Sheath Material: Leather
- Made in: Solingen
If you’re in need of an all-around survival knife, the Boker 120547 Bowie Boot Knife is an option with the 4034 steel. One look at this full-tang Bowie knife and you can tell that it means business.
The great thing about this item is that it’s beautifully crafted, one will not hesitate to carry it around even at its large size. It has a nice, classic wooden handle made of European walnut combined with the reliability of the 4034 steel.
With Boker’s heritage in knifemaking, this product also promises enduring quality. This is also backed up by the manufacturer’s limited lifetime warranty.
The 4034 steel may not necessarily be the finest steel grade available today but it can already meet the requirements of many without costing a lot. For lots of people, these are two of the most important things when buying a knife, so it makes sense that entry-level metals continue to be widely available today.
But like any other simple steel grades out there, what matters most, really, is the manufacturing process of the steel. A well-made 4034 steel blade can still be very impressive and the Boker 120547 can be a good testament to that. This product transformed a low-end material into a fancy survival knife.