What is CTS XHP Steel: The Perfect Balance of Performance & Durability

CTS XHP steel is a widely recognised stainless steel manufactured by Carpenter, a US company under the CTS steel series. It is air-hardening, high Carbon and high Chromium alloy, which creates an excellent balance between performance and durability.

If you are looking for high-quality knife steel, feel free to choose this Steel. But, before picking this steel for your knife, you should know about its composition, properties, origin, and advantages. So, I thought to write down a whole blog on CTS XHP Steel to answer all the questions related to this steel and clear all your confusion.

Understanding CTS XHP Steel:

It is a stainless steel alloy produced through a powder metallurgy manufacturing process. The whole process consolidates under high temperature and pressure, followed by heat treatment to achieve the desired properties. So this process provides several advantages such as improved uniformity, and fine-grain structure. It also enhances control over the steel’s composition and characteristics that contribute to its desirable properties. So, it is essential to understand this steel’s composition, properties, and other features before choosing it for your knife. Let’s get started-

Composition and Chemical Properties

  • Carbon (1.60%): Contributes to the hardness and wear resistance of the steel.
  • Chromium (16%): Enhances the steel’s corrosion resistance
  • Molybdenum (0.80%): Contributes to the steel’s strength,  corrosion resistance and toughness.
  • Manganese (0.50%): Contributes to the steel’s strength, hardness, and wear resistance.
  • Vanadium (0.45%): Contributes to its strength, wear resistance, and edge retention.
  • Nickel (0.35%): Increases Corrosion resistance and hardenability of steel.
  • Silicon (0.40%): Improve its strength and hardness.

Physical Properties and Characteristics

It has several physical properties and characteristics. All the properties equally contribute to its excellent performance in cutlery and tool applications. Here are some of them-

  • Hardness:

CTS XHP Steel exhibits a high level of hardness, typically ranging from 61 to 62 HRC as per Rockwell Hardness Scale.  This high hardness allows the steel to maintain a sharp edge for extended periods, resulting in excellent edge retention.

  • Toughness:

Despite its high hardness, this Steel exhibits excellent toughness. So, it can absorb impact and resist chipping or breaking. For its excellent toughness, it is an ideal choice for knives with short blades.

  • Corrosion Resistance: 

This steel also offers good corrosion resistance, making it suitable for use in various environments. As it has high chromium content in its composition that forms a protective layer of the steel and provides resistance against rust oxidation and staining.

  • Wear Resistance:

If you are concerned about its wear resistance, stop worrying. Because this steel demonstrates enhanced wear resistance that helps the knife to withstand repetitive cutting tasks and tough materials.

  • Edge Retention:

Being hard steel, it has great edge retention like other high-quality steel. So with proper care and maintenance, users can easily use the knives for a long time.

  • Sharpness:

As I mentioned before that this steel has excellent hardness and toughness, so you have to face challenges while sharpening. So it would be best if you also purchase a good-quality sharpening tool and follow the right angle to sharpen the knife.

Pros and Cons


  • Exceptional Edge Retention: CTS XHP Steel has exceptional edge retention. With its outstanding wear resistance, blades made from this steel can maintain a sharp edge for extended periods of use.
  • High Corrosion Resistance:  This steel has high corrosion resistance. For this reason, the made from this steel can be used in various environments.
  • Stainless Properties: As a stainless steel alloy, It does not easily stain or discolour.
  • Enhanced Wear Resistance: This Steel demonstrates superior wear resistance, allowing it to withstand abrasive materials and repetitive cutting tasks without significant deterioration.
  • Excellent Toughness: This steel has excellent toughness that allows it to endure impact and resist chipping or breaking.
  • Durability: The combination of exceptional edge retention, corrosion resistance, wear resistance, and toughness makes it highly durable
  • Longevity: Due to its excellent edge retention and durability, we can use the knife made from this steel for a long time.


  • Cost: One of the main disadvantages of CTS XHP Steel is its relatively higher cost compared to other stainless steel options.
  • Availability: This Steel may have limited availability compared to more widely used stainless steel.
  • Hard to sharpen: This Steel is generally considered relatively easy to sharpen compared to some other high-performance steels.

Comparing with Other Steels:

CTS XHP Steel vs. M390:

Both CTS XHP Steel and M390 are high-performance stainless steels that offer excellent characteristics for cutlery and tool applications. But here are some following points that should be considered:

  • When it comes to edge retention, both steels have outstanding edge retention. But M390 have slightly better edge retention than CTS XHP.
  • As CTS XHP steel has higher chromium content in its composition, its corrosion resistance is better than M390 steel.
  • Due to higher vanadium content, M390 steel has a slight edge in wear resistance compared to CTS XHP steel.
  • CTS XHP steel is harder to sharpen.

CTS XHP Steel vs. S30V:

S30V is also a good quality stainless steel. If you are confused about which steel you gonna choose for your knife either S30V or CTS XHP steel, then the following points should be considered:

  • It typically has a slight advantage in edge retention over S30V.
  • It may provide slightly better corrosion resistance due to its higher chromium content than S30V.
  • It generally has better wear resistance than S30V, contributing to its longer-lasting performance.
  • S30V may be slightly easier to sharpen due to its slightly lower hardness compared to CTS XHP Steel.

Notable Brands and Products Utilizing CTS XHP Steel:

CTS XHP Steel is widely used worldwide for its outstanding performance. Especially it is highly appreciated in the cutlery industry. So many renowned brands and knife manufacturing companies use this steel for their applications and products. Some notable brands that utilize CTS XHP Steel include:

  • Spyderco
  • Benchmade
  • Zero Tolerance
  • Cold Steel
  • Kershaw
  • Chris Reeve Knives

Care and Maintenance

To ensure the longevity and optimal performance of knives or tools made from CTS XHP Steel, proper care and maintenance are essential. Here are some recommended practices:

  • Cleaning and Storage: After each use, clean and remove all the dirt from the blade. Then thoroughly dry it to prevent moisture accumulation. Store the knife in a dry place, preferably in a sheath or protective case.
  • Sharpening and Honing: When sharpening CTS XHP Steel, use a high-quality sharpening stone and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for angle and technique.
  • Preservation of Corrosion Resistance: Applying a thin layer of oil or lubricant to the blade can help preserve its corrosion resistance. This is especially important if the knife or tool will be stored for an extended period.

Conclusion: Whether it’s for everyday carry, outdoor adventures, or professional use, CTS XHP Steel is always highly regarded by knife enthusiasts and professionals alike. I personally like to use this Steel for my daily cutlery tasks in my kitchen. So I highly recommend this steel to everyone who looks for a knife steel with a  perfect balance between performance and durability. But if you are going to purchase a knife made from this steel, then you must follow proper care and maintenance to maximize the lifespan and performance of CTS XHP Steel knives.

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