What Is The Best Steel For Hunting Knife? Carbon vs Stainless

What Is The Best Steel For Hunting Knife? Carbon vs Stainless

When you are in the wild the hunting knife is one of the most important pieces of tool that you can have. Therefore, having a good quality hunting knife is really important.

As you know there are many different types of steel that are used for making hunting knives, but not all of them are good. Some of them are resistant to corrosion while some of them have better edge retention.

There are only specific types of steel that can be used for making hunting knives such as 420HC, AUS8, and a few other types of steel.

Having good quality steel is really important if you want your knife to last longer, and also to protect the knife from corrosion.

Choosing the best steel for a hunting knives is a difficult task, as because there is a lot of confusion between the different grades of steel as there are a lot of them.

Therefore, I have prepared this article and listed out all the best types of steel for knives, so that you can figure out the right knife steel.

So, this article is going to be very informative and useful, so don’t skip any points.

Let’s get started!

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Common Elements Of Steel 

For choosing steel for knife making there are certain properties that you have to consider so that you find out the best one. If you know the right name and composition of the steel it can help you find the right steel for your knife.

When you are choosing high-quality steel, these are some of the factors that your steel should have.

  • Resistance to corrosion
  • Edge holding capacity
  • Ductile (The ability to bend the steel without breaking)
  • Strength (Ability to resist force)
  • Sharpness
  • Toughness (Can easily absorb pressure)
  • Wear & Tear resistance

In order to get the best steel for your knife, there are many different requirements. When getting your knife you will usually come across many different types of alloys that are added in addition to iron and carbon for better strength.

  • Chromium (It’s added to make the steel corrosion resistance)
  • Manganese (Hardens the steel)
  • Cobalt (It adds strength to the blade)
  • Molybdenum (Adds strength and hardness to the steel)
  • Tungsten (Wear resistance)
  • Nickel (It adds toughness to the steel)

These are some of the alloys that are added to the iron for making the steel much stronger, and resistant to wear and tear.

Related Post: What is the strongest metal for a knife?

Some Of The Best Steel For Hunting Knives

There are many different types of steel that are used for making hunting knives. Whether it’s a fixed blade or a pocket knife they both need to have high-quality material so that they last longer.

If you are looking for a good quality knife that holds a longer edge and is corrosion resistant then you will require high-quality steel for that.

Well, this is the list of some of the recommended steel for making hunting knives.


The 420HC steel is much harder than the standard 420 steel. HC stands for high carbon. The 420HC steel is one of the best steel for making knives such as the Buck knife and the chef knife.

The steel is resistant to rust and gets easily sharpened therefore most of the popular knife manufacturers rely on 420HC for making their knives


The 154CM steel is relatively stronger and is great for making hunting knives such as skinning knives and buck knives. The #154CM contains high carbon in addition to Molybdenum. The steel provides better edge retention when compared with other types of steel.


The AUS-8 is Japanese-made steel and it’s very similar to 440 steel. In AUS-8 steel vanadium is added to provide even more hardness. The steel is upper-medium quality steel and it’s among the favorite steel for knife makers as it’s cost-effective and corrosion-resistant.


The VG-10 is hunting-grade stainless steel produced in Japan and the steel is mostly used for making high-quality hunting knives.

The VG-10 stands for (V Gold) which means quality. It’s stainless and its high carbon content of 1% carbon, 1% Molybdenum, 15% Chromium, 0.2% of Vanadium, and 1.5% of cobalt.

Other Types Of Steel For Knife Making 

  • S30V: The S30v is a stainless that contains high vanadium and it has higher edge retention and it can resist rust. The steel is mostly used for making premium quality pocket knives and expensive kitchen cutleries.
  • X55CrMo14: The type of steel is mostly used for making Swiss Army Knives, also it’s used for making Inox blades. Steel is mostly used by Victorinox.
  • CPM S125V: The steel is mostly used by blade enthusiasts for those who are looking to make a knife for a variety of cutting jobs.
  • 80CRV2: It has a high carbon and low alloy popularly used by knife makers. 80CRV2 is a mixture of many components and therefore it’s widely used for making swords. 
  • ZDP-189: This is Japanese-made steel by Hitachi and the steel has a carbon percentage of around 3.0%. Steel is commonly known for making a razor-sharp blade.

What Are The Types Of Steel? 

Steel is one of the most important materials for making knives. Also, steel is the majority of things that we come in contact with in our everyday life.

According to the report of the WSA World Steel Association, there are over more than 1.8 million tonnes of steel were produced in the year 2020, as also around 3,500 different grades of steel.

There are many different types of steel available. However, the majority of steel falls under these four categories.

Carbon Steel 

Carbon steel is among the most of the steel that is used across the globe. Around 90% of the knives are made from high-carbon steel because of their high durability and ability to withstand pressure.

Usually, carbon steel is three-level low (30% or less), medium (between 30% and 60%), and high (between 60% and 1.5%). 

Although carbon steel is very strong, they are more prone to corrosion, and you have to take extra care if you are having a carbon steel knife.

Stainless Steel 

Stainless is shinier and resistant to corrosion because it has a high level of chromium content, which makes the steel resistant to corrosion. Stainless knives are typically a combination of high-carbon steel and chromium in a ratio of about 11% to 17%.

Naturally stainless are very brittle and because of this, high-carbon steel is used as an additive in addition to chromium to make the steel stronger.

Alloy Steel 

Alloy steel has a wide array of elements such as chromium, nickel, and even manganese. Steel is mostly used in electronic parts, pipes, and for making auto parts.

Alloy steel offers very hard and sturdy materials and it contains a number of alloys. Also, the alloy is heat resistant and therefore it’s ideal for making cutting applications.

Tools Steel 

The tool steel is incredibly hard and heat resistant therefore it can be used for making knives.

Tool steel is a very popular choice of steel for knife making. In most cases, tool steel is added with high carbon steel and chromium to make the steel corrosion-resistant and durable enough.

What Is The Best Stainless Steel For Hunting Knives?

Stainless is one of the most common types of steel used for making knife blades because the steel is affordable for an average outdoorsman. 

Most of the industry benchmark is 440C high carbon, high chromium steel that is mixed with magnesium and molybdenum providing a hardness of around 58-60 Rockwell scale of Hardness. 

440c stainless holds very good edge retention, and the steel is resistant to corrosion and stain resistance. 

54cm and ATS-34 are some of the best stainless used for making hunting knives because the steel is long-lasting, and more corrosion resistant when compared with other types of steel on the market.

Steel has less chromium and increases in molybdenum because of which stainless steel is much stronger and harder compared with other types of steel on the market. 

The 54cm and ATS-34 offer super edge retention and you can easily get the steel purchased for less than $100 which is the best part about the steel. 

Carbon Steel Vs Stainless Steel 

These are the main difference between a carbon steel knife and a stainless knife:

Carbon Steel 

Stainless Steel 

Carbon steel is made from alloying Iron with an amount of carbon between 0.5 – 2.0%Stainless is made from alloying Iron, and mainly chromium is added at a percentage of >10%
There is a risk of corrosionStainless is resistant to corrosion
The steel is harder and had a more tensile strengthStainless is not hard
Carbon steel is divided into two main groups ie: “mild steel” and “high carbon steel”The stainless has many different grades depending upon what the user wants.


If you are looking for the best hunting knives then it’s very important to get the best knife-making steel so that the blade lasts longer.

Hunting knives are used for a wide range of purposes such as cutting wood in the wild and performing all the different tasks.

Therefore, it’s very important to get high-quality steel for making a hunting knife.

Overall, there are two most important factors that you have to consider while selecting steel Ie: It must be strong and durable and it should be resistant to corrosion.

Nowadays there are many different types of materials used for making hunting knives. However, high-carbon steel is mostly preferred over stainless because they are more durable.

If you are looking to make a premium quality knife, then you can change the composition of the metal to get a better one.

FAQ: Best Metal For Knives

Finding out the best steel for knives is tough because there are many different types of steel for knives, and choosing the best one is confusing. That is why people ask a lot of questions and I have answered some of them. 

1. Is D2 Steel Good For a Hunting Knife?

Knife steel such as AUS-8 is very much common in the knife industry and it’s a decent choice for most hunters. The D2 steel is also mostly used by hunters as it holds well edge retention and it’s easy to sharpen the blade.

2. What Type Of Steel Is Used In Buck Knives?

Stainless is mostly used for making buck knives because it meets the exact need of a knife blade. Many different elements are used with the combination of stainless for different characteristics making the blade corrosion resistant and making the blade more edge retention. It’s one of the best knife steel you can use for making knives.

3. What Steel Stays Sharp Longest?

Shirogami steel can stay sharp for the longest time but they are brittle if you are under aggressive use. If you looking for a self-sharpening knife then you can follow my other guide on the best self-sharpening knife set

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