Is 154CM Steel a Good Choice for Knives? A Knife Enthusiast’s Guide

When it comes to selecting a good knife, choosing the right knife blade material is a crucial factor to consider. You may find several options in the market from the same categories, composition, and properties. 154CM steel is one of them, which contains 1.05% carbon, 14.0% chromium, and 4.0% molybdenum. Due to its excellent hardness, toughness, corrosion resistance, edge retention, and wear resistance, its popularity has grown over the years among knife enthusiasts and makers.

In my extensive guide below, I will explore the properties of 154CM steel and compare it with other types of steel. By the end of this blog, you will have a better understanding of whether 154CM steel is a good choice for knives.

History and composition

154CM steel is high-end stainless steel manufactured by Crucible Industries, based in New York, US, in collaboration with knife maker Chris Reeve in the early 1970s. The steel has a Rockwell hardness of 58-61HRC, making it hard enough to maintain an edge but not too brittle to chip or break. The steel was developed as an improvement over 440C steel, which was popular at the time but had limitations. However, this steel is also compared with other popular knife steels, such as S30V, and S35VN, 154CM steel.

The composition of 154CM steel is as follows:

  • Carbon (1.05%): Carbon increases hardness, edge retention, and tensile strength. It also improves steel hardness and corrosion resistance.
  • Chromium (14.00%): 154CM steel contains 14.00% chromium which enhances the steel’s corrosion resistance and makes this steel highly resistant to rust and staining.
  • Manganese (0.50%): 154CM steel contains 0.50% Manganese which improves the strength and hardness, and brittleness of steel.
  • Molybdenum (4.00%): Molybdenum improves its strength, toughness, and resistance to wear and chipping. It also helps the steel maintain its edge for longer periods.
  • Vanadium (0.4%): Vanadium refines the grain structure and improves the steel’s toughness. It makes the steel more resistant to cracking and chipping.
  • Silicon (0.30%): Silicon increases strength and heat resistance.
  • Sulfur (0.03%): Sulfur improves machinability.

Properties and Performance of 154CM Steel:

154CM steel is a versatile and high-performance stainless steel that offers excellent edge retention, corrosion resistance, toughness, and wear resistance. Compared to other popular knife steels, such as 440C, S30V, and S35VN, 154CM steel falls somewhere in the middle in terms of performance. This steel has several properties that make it a great choice for knife blades. Here are some of the properties of 154CM steel:

Hardness:

Due to the blend of carbon, vanadium, and chromium in its composition, it has a hardness of 58-61 HRC on the Rockwell scale. So, it is hard enough to maintain an edge but not too brittle to chip or break.

Toughness:

154CM steel contains molybdenum and vanadium content that helps to improve its toughness and make it less likely to chip, crack or break under stress. For this reason, this steel can handle outdoor high-impact cutting tasks excellently.

Corrosion resistance:

With its high levels of chromium, it provides excellent resistance to rust and staining. So it is perfectly suitable for use in outdoor and marine environments.

Wear resistance:

Due to the high proportion of carbon and chromium, 154CM steel provides excellent wear resistance, ensuring a smooth, shiny blade for a considerable duration.

Edge retention:

154CM steel has high carbon amounts in its composition that provide excellent edge retention. It also allows knives made with this steel to maintain a sharp edge for longer.

Advantage:

Excellent edge retention:

154CM steel has a high carbon content, making it capable of maintaining a sharp edge for a long time, even under heavy use.

Easy to sharpen:

154CM steel is relatively easy to sharpen despite its being a hard metal. You can sharpen this knife with minimum effort using simple sharpening tools.

Suitable for everyday carry (EDC)

Due to its excellent edge retention, corrosion resistance, toughness, and hardness, 154CM steel is suitable for everyday carry (EDC) and outdoor use.

Versatility:

The balanced properties of 154CM steel make it a versatile steel that can perform well in a variety of different knife applications.

Durability:

The properties of 154CM steel make it durable, allowing it to withstand any pressure, wear, damage, and repeated use.

Availability:

154CM steel is available everywhere and widely used in the knife-making industry. So you can find and purchase knives made from this steel easily.

Disadvantage:

Price:

154CM steel is high-end steel. So, this steel is relatively expensive compared to some other knife steels, which could make it less accessible to budget-conscious consumers.

Corrosion Resistance:

Although 154CM steel is considered to have good corrosion resistance, it is not the most stainless steel option available. So this steel requires proper care and maintenance to prevent corrosion and rust.

Availability:

Although 154CM steel is widely used in the knife-making industry, it may not be as widely available in some knife brands and models.

Is 154CM Steel A Good Knife Steel?

As mentioned above, this steel offers excellent edge retention, toughness, hardness, and corrosion resistance. Moreover, it is very affordable. This steel is a versatile and reliable steel that has proven its worth over many years of use in a wide range of knife applications, from everyday carry to outdoor and marine use. Additionally, it is relatively easy to sharpen and maintain. So154CM steel is good for hunting, fishing, kitchen, and driving knives.

My Recommended 3 Best 154CM Knives:

1. TOPS Knives BOB. The Brothers of Bushcraft Fieldcraft B.O.B. Hunter:

TOPS Knives B.O.B. (Brothers of Bushcraft) Fieldcraft B.O.B. Hunter is a high-quality fixed-blade knife designed by The Brothers of Bushcraft. It has a Rockwell hardness rating of around 55-58 HRC, is considered a relatively high hardness rating for a knife blade, and is known for its toughness and edge retention. It is a versatile and reliable knife well-suited for various outdoor and survival tasks, from preparing food and shelter to processing games and starting fires.

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Features:

Overall Length: 10 inches, Blade Length: 4.75 inches, Blade thickness: 0.19 inches, Blade Material: 154 CM Steel, Hardness: 58-61HRC, Handle Material: Alloy Steel, Brand: TOPS Knives, Made-in: USA

What I Like:

  • Suitable for outdoor and survival tasks
  • It has excellent toughness and edge retention.
  • Secure and comfortable grip even in wet conditions.
  • Suitable for heavy-duty tasks
  • Durable blade material
  • Comfortable grip
  • Versatile blade design
  • Multiple carry options

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Expensive
  • Heavy weight and large in size.
  • Blade thickness may not be suitable for detailed or fine work.
  • Requires regular maintenance to prevent rust and corrosion.

2. Case xx Tony Bose HT Trapper Knife Black Canvas Laminate:

The Case XX Tony Bose HT Trapper Knife in Black Canvas Laminate is a high-quality folding knife designed for everyday carry and use. It features a 3.25-inch clip point blade made from 154-Cm Stainless Steel, known for its edge retention and resistance to corrosion. The handle of this knife is made from black canvas laminate that provides a comfortable and secure grip even in wet conditions. Trapper Knife is well-suited for various tasks, from everyday carry to outdoor and hunting use.

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Features:

Overall Length: 4 Inches(folded/closed), Blade Length: 3.25 inches, Blade thickness: 0.1 inches, Blade Material: 154-CM Stainless Steel, Hardness: 56-59 HRC, Handle Material: Black Canvas Laminate, Brand: CASE XX, Made-in: USA

What I Like:

  • Made from high-quality materials
  • This knife is very classic and stylish
  • Versatile
  • Lightweight and easy to carry

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Expensive compared to other pocket knives
  • Limited availability
  • The handle material may not be as comfortable to hold as other materials

OKNIFE Freeze 2 Drop Point Blade EDC Knife:

The OKNIFE Freeze 2 is a folding EDC knife with a drop point blade with a 3.32-inch blade made of 154-CM Stainless Steel. This knife is known for its durability and edge retention. This knife has a lanyard hole and a pocket clip for added versatility. The knife’s handle features a carbon fiber overlay, which not only adds to the knife’s visual appeal but also provides a comfortable and secure grip. The knife also has a flipper tab for quick and easy access to the blade and a robust stainless liner lock to ensure a safe and secure lockup.

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Features:

Overall Length: 7.61 inches, Blade Length: 3.32 inches, Blade thickness: 0.11 inches, Blade Material: 154-CM Stainless Steel, Hardness: 56-60HRC, Handle Material: Carbon Fiber, Brand: OKNIFE, Made-in: USA.

What I Like:

  • This knife features an attractive and modern design.
  • Made from high-quality material
  • Compact and lightweight
  • versatile and useful for many tasks

What I Didn’t Like:

  • It may not be the best choice for skinning or piercing.
  • It can’t hold an edge as well as higher-end steels.
  • Difficult to find or purchase

Applications of 154CM Steel in Knives:

154CM steel is a high-quality alloy used in various applications due to its excellent properties. Especially it is commonly used in manufacturing high-end knives, including folding, hunting, fixed, kitchen, and tactical knives. Several popular knife brands and models use 154CM steel for their blades due to its edge retention, corrosion resistance, toughness, and ease of sharpening. Here are some examples:

Benchmade: Benchmade uses 154CM steel in several knife models, including the Griptilian, Barrage, and 940 models.

Spyderco: Spyderco uses 154CM steel in several knife models, including the Endura, Delica, and Military.

Cold Steel: Cold Steel uses 154CM steel in many folding and fixed-blade knives, including the Recon 1 and the American Lawman.

Zero Tolerance: Zero Tolerance incorporates 154CM steel into many of its knives, such as the 0450CF and the 0562CF.

Maintenance and Care:

Proper maintenance and care are important for keeping your 154CM steel knives in good condition for a long time. Here are some tips for maximizing the lifespan and performance of your 154CM steel knife:

Proper cleaning

Clean your knife blade thoroughly with warm water and mild detergent to remove dirt, grime, or moisture after each use.

Drying

After cleaning the knife, Use a clean, dry cloth to wipe the blade and handle to dry it thoroughly to prevent any moisture from remaining on the surface.

Storage

Store your knife properly in a dry, cool, and well-ventilated area to prevent corrosion, and avoid storing it in a leather sheath or damp environment.

Sharpen your knife regularly

Sharpen your knife regularly using the appropriate tools and techniques to keep your knife sharp, maintain the blade’s edge, and prevent damage from dulling or chipping.

Conclusion: With its great hardness, corrosion resistance, edge retention, and wear resistance, 154CM steel is a good choice for knives used in everyday carry, hunting, camping, and outdoor activities. However, 154CM steel is relatively expensive and less tough than other steels. If you are looking for high-performance steel for your knife, 154CM steel is worth considering.

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