Even if you haven’t heard of 9Cr18MoV steel, you probably may have already encountered this material. It’s actually a popular option for EDC and hunting knives, cutlery, and even surgical blades.
If you’re looking for all-around knives with the performance and durability you want, going with 9Cr18MoV steel is a sensible option. That way, you end up with a knife that does the job you want it for, while it lasts long enough that you don’t need to replace it too soon.
What is 9Cr18MoV Steel?
9Cr18MoV steel is regarded as a high-end type of stainless steel, but it’s popular because it’s not too expensive given the quality of the steel. The surprisingly low price explains why it’s so common. With 9Cr18MoV steel, common isn’t synonymous with low-quality at all.
It’s known for being extremely resistant to corrosion, and it’s also able to maintain its cutting edge nicely. Even when the knife loses its edge, it’s easy enough to sharpen. Manufacturers also like it as the steel is easy to work with.
9Cr18MoV Chemical Composition
Like other types of steel, 9Cr18MoV steel is made up mostly of iron. But it contains several other elements that contribute several other advantages.
- Carbon, 0.95%
- Chromium, 18%
- Molybdenum, 1.3%
- Silicon, 0.8%
- Manganese, 0.8%
- Nickel, 0.6%
- Vanadium, 0.12%
- Phosphorus, 0.04%
- Sulfur, 0.03%
Carbon, 0.95%: Just about every type of steel contains carbon, but only a small amount of it. It’s true that the carbon enhances the hardness of the metal and also boosts the resistance to both wear and corrosion. But too much carbon can make the metal too brittle.
Chromium, 18%: The chromium helps with increasing the steel’s resistance to corrosion. It helps with wear resistance as well, and it also increases the steel’s tensile strength. This element also helps with edge retention.
Molybdenum, 1.3%: This boosts the strength, and also makes the steel easier to work with.
Silicon, 0.8%: This also enhances the strength of the material.
Manganese, 0.8%: This boosts the hardness of the steel.
Nickel, 0.6%: Also for increased strength, and for better edge retention.
Vanadium, 0.12%: This boosts the hardness, while also improving its resistance to wear.
Phosphorus, 0.04%: Also for strength.
Sulfur, 0.03%: Helps make the metal easier to work with (machinability).
9cr18MoV Steel Hardness
The hardness of the steel in knives are rated using the Rockwell Hardness HRC scale specifically meant for knife steel. The hardness of 9Cr18MoV steel tends to depend on the specific brand that makes it, but in general, the hardness level tends to max out at a range of 58 to 60 HRC.
What you need to understand is that hardness is different from toughness. In general, hardness refers to how the metal resists wear. If you have a hard knife, usually that means it will last longer.
On the other hand, toughness is different. In this context, it’s the very opposite of brittle. So, if you have a tough knife, that means it’s very resistant to chipping and breaking.
The main problem is that the harder a knife is, the more brittle it becomes. You sacrifice toughness to gain greater hardness. You have a hard metal here with the 9Cr18MoV steel, but it’s not as tough as some other steel alloys used for axes and machetes.
Properties of 9Cr18MoV
Here are some of the more notable properties of 9Cr18MoV steel.
Resistant to Corrosion
The 9Cr18MoV is a type of stainless steel, so it’s natural for you to expect that your 9Cr18MoV knife won’t rust easily. But not all stainless-steel blades are equally resistant to corrosion. At least with 9Cr18MoV steel, rusting isn’t really an issue.
This comes with relatively high levels of chromium, nickel, and molybdenum, which are the elements that boost the resistance to corrosion. If you’re working with lots of wet stuff or live in a high-humidity area, then a 9Cr18MoV will be ideal for your needs.
Hard and Long-Lasting
As we’ve already noted, this is one hard type of steel. But it’s not too hard, so you avoid the perils of brittleness.
Because it’s hard, the 9Cr18MoV steel can last a long while with its great resistance to wear. This is due to the relatively high levels of carbon and chromium, with vanadium thrown in for good measure. Expect this knife to last a nice long while.
One of the advantages of 9Cr18MoV steel is that it’s quite hard, but it’s still tough enough. Normally, you’d expect steel with this much hardness to be somewhat brittle.
But this has excellent tensile strength, so that it won’t chip easily. This is due to the inclusion of manganese and nickel in its chemical composition. Adding these 2 elements somehow boost the toughness level without significantly reducing the hardness.
Sharpness and Edge Retention
Knives using 9Cr18MoV steel can be quite sharp, which explains its popularity for ED knives and cutlery knives. Moreover, it’s able to retain its sharp edge for longer than usual.
This means you won’t have to sharpen the knife-edge as often. The carbon content is one of the reasons for this excellent edge retention, and the bit of vanadium also helps. In addition, the intense heat treatment used for this stainless steel really helps here as well.
The bad news is that the 9Cr18MoV steel isn’t as easy to sharpen once you eventually dull the blade. This is the side effect of its excellent hardness. If you’re not used to sharpening steel this hard, it may take more time and effort to sharpen it.
At least nowadays, you do have plenty of good sharpening systems you can use for your 9Cr18MoV steel knives. It may cost you more, but then these sharpening systems can make sharpening these knives a lot easier.
9Cr18MoV Equivalent Steels or Alternative
How does the 9Cr18MoV steel compare with other steel alloy options?
Let’s take a closer look at how it sizes up with side-by-side comparisons with other steels. You may actually find that another steel alloy may better suit your particular needs.
9Cr18MoV vs D2 Steel
The steel you find in knives generally has a chromium level of just 12%. While that’s enough to make it relatively rust-resistant, it’s not enough to qualify it as a type of stainless steel.
Normally, stainless steel has at least 14% chromium. You get 18% chromium with 9Cr18MoV steel.
D2 is usually a very hard steel, with a carbon content within 1.5% to 1.6%. That’s higher than the 0.95% carbon found in 9Cr18MoV steel. Yet it’s also a lot tougher (resistant to chipping) than most stainless steels, though 9Cr18MoV steel is tougher.
Since it’s very hard, it also retains its cutting edge longer. But it’s also more difficult to sharpen. It’s also usually too difficult to mirror polish.
9Cr18MoV vs 440c Steel
These are very similar, as both have equal levels of chromium for great rust-resistance. Here the carbon content is even greater, with a range of 0.95% to 1.2%. However, the 9Cr18MoV does have more molybdenum.
9Cr18MoV vs 8cr13mov Steel
These stainless-steel versions belong to the same CR series. Generally, the 9Cr18MoV is considered the best of this series, so it’s better than the 8cr13mov. The 8cr13mov isn’t as hard, though, and it’s also somewhat less resistant to corrosion.
But this is also more affordable steel, and you can get lower-priced knives using 8cr13mov with still acceptable levels of hardness and corrosion resistance. If you’re using the knife for just cutting paper and soft cords, without getting it wet too often, then it offers great value for your money.
Is 9cr18MoV Steel Good for Knives?
The short answer here is yes, it’s good for most knives. The longer (and more accurate) answer is that it depends on the type of knife you want and how you intend to use it.
Plenty of people appreciate its hardness, while the toughness remains decent. Lots of users also like the edge retention.
You’ll want these features in your EDC all-around knives and for kitchen knives, since you won’t use these knives for high-impact tasks.
But the 9Cr18MoV steel may not be the best choice for knives you’ll want to use for camping or hunting, as you’ll want tougher knives for these situations. If you use a 9Cr18MoV to chop wood, then you may end up with a chipped blade instead.
Pros & Cons of 9Cr18MoV
Best 9Cr18MoV Steel Knives
These all have 9Cr18MoV steel, so we won’t repeat all the benefits that come with that choice of steel. But these offer other high-quality components as well, and the craftsmanship for the entirety of these knives make them better than even other 9Cr18MoV knives.
#1: Civivi Praxis Folding Pocket Knife
- Overall Length: 8.45″ / 214mm
- Blade Length: 3.75″ / 95mm
- Closed Length: 4.70″ / 119mm
- Blade Thickness: 0.12″ / 3mm
- Handle Thickness: 0.51″ / 13mm
- Weight: 4.42oz / 125.4g
- Blade Hardness: 58-60HRC
- Handle Material: G10
- Handle Color/Finish: Orange
Civivi is a subsidiary of WE Knife. So, it’s not surprising that this particular 9Cr18MoV blade comes with the fit and satin finish that you generally find in other WE knives. The Civivi brand offers good-quality folding knives with affordable prices, and the Praxis model exemplifies these features.
Here, the blade is 3.75 inches long, while the whole knife measure 8.45 inches. The blade is also 1.25 inches wide. The length of the cutting edge is 3.25 inches, while the thickness of the blade is just 0.11 inches.
The blade here comes with the typical attributes you’d normally find in 9Cr18MoV steel. However, somehow this particular variant of the 9Cr18MoV steel is actually easy to sharpen.
You’ll like the G-10 handle here, with its textured surface offering a secure grip. The orange handle is also easy to see, and it even looks nice with the gold liner. There’s also a lanyard hole in the back spacer.
The flipping action is very easy, thanks to the stainless-steel ball bearings in the pivot. It doesn’t weigh much at 4.42 ounces due to the skeletonized liners, so it works nicely as an EDC knife. This even comes with a reversible deep-carry pocket clip so it’s easier to have around you all the time.
#2: XHM Awesome 9.6-inch Tanto Fixed Blade Knife
- Full length: 9.6”
- Blade thickness: 0.19”
- Blade length: 4.8”
- Hardness: 59HRC
- Handle material: G10
- weight: 5.93 oz
- Sheath: Kydex
It’s true that most knives are utilitarian, which means you buy the knife for its functions. But then there are knives like this one, which is rightly named “Awesome”. It looks like a miniature Japanese sword, which may tempt you to keep it on display.
Yet despite the fact that it looks like it belongs in a museum, it’s actually useful for a lot of situations. It comes with curved bladed that’s 4.8 inches long, with a thickness of 0.19 inches. You may find a lot of uses for this even in outdoor situations, such as when you’re camping.
The overall length is 9.6 inches, with the slightly curved ergonomic handle made with G10. It’s comfy to hold and quite sturdy besides, plus the textured surface of the handle also offers a secure grip.
The full-tang design gives you the strength you need for cutting. The weight of the knife is just 5.93 ounces, which is manageable.
This even comes with the tactical Kydex sheath with the universal mounting clip. You can also adjust this vertically and horizontally. The sheath weighs less than 2 ounces. It also comes with a nice cleaning cloth made with suede.
#3: Oerla TAC Transformers Decepticon Folding Knife
- Open length: 9”
- Blade length: 4”
- Blade width: 1.1”
- Closed length: 5”
- Weight: 8.8oz
- Type: folding knife
- Handle material: Stainless Steel
- lock Type: Liner lock
Admit it, you were fascinated by the Transformers way back when. But even a quick look at this particular 9Cr18MoV knife makes it easy for you to imagine that it can somehow transform into a robot.
That’s because the whole thing is made with steel, including the somewhat skeletonized handle. The steel handle is great if you need to break some glass.
This is a folding knife, which measures in at 5 inches long when closed. The blade itself is 4 inches long, so do the math and you get an overall length of 9 inches. The blade width is 1.1 inches.
Opening this knife isn’t a problem, as you can do it with one hand. The ball bearings in the pivot let you open it quickly. The steel liner lock does lock the blade in place when you’re using this, so you don’t get hurt by accidentally closing the knife.
This also comes with a pocket clip for convenient carrying. But it comes in a nice gift box, which you can use for home storage.
How to sharping knife 9Cr18Mov Steel
The 9Cr18MoV steel offers excellent hardness, sharpness, and corrosion resistance for your EDC knife, and you can clearly see that with the excellent knives on our list. All of these knives are extremely sharp right out of the box, and it takes a while to dull the cutting edge.
We also made sure that the quality of the handles in these knives matched the excellent 9Cr18MoV steel you find in the blade. For the folding knives, we also checked that there are locks in place, and that these knives are easy to open.
It’s true that you have lots of steel options available when it comes to your knives. But it’s also true that you should seriously consider getting 9Cr18MoV steel for your blade. This steel is excellent, as it lasts a long time. It’s hard, but somehow not that brittle.
With its excellent sharpness and edge retention, you’ll find a lot of uses for these knives. Aside from outdoor uses (such as for opening packages and cutting cords), these knives can also help a lot when you’re camping.
Try out any of the 9Cr18MoV steel knives on our list, and you’ll get great value for your money!