Is 420 Stainless Steel Good for Knives? [Complete Steel Guide]

If you own an old knife, there is a big chance it’s a 420 steel knife, if not, I m sure you already came across a 420 steel knife, if you have no idea about it, and you wish to know more about it, What is it, its chemical composition, its properties, is a good or lousy steel?

You’re at the right place, at Knifeuser we’re going to answer these questions for you!

The 420 steel that provides the 3H (high corrosion resistance, high strength, high hardness), it’s a very popular budget steel, used by the knife makers to craft high corrosion resistance budget knife.

It’s also famous for cutlery and cutting edge applications like surgical applications.

420 steel Chemical Composition

  • 13% of Chromium: It improves hardness and wear/corrosion resistance, but a high amount of it decreases strength.
  • 0.15% of Carbon: For tensile strength and Edge retention.
  • 0.6% of Nickel: Improves toughness.
  • 1% of Manganese: Increases hardness and brittleness.
  • 1% of Silicon: Increases strength like Manganese.
  • 0.04% of Phosphorus: Increases strength.
  • 0.03% of Sulfur: Increases machinability, and decreases strength.
  • 0.09% of Copper: Helps prevents Oxidization

What is the hardness(HRC) of 420 stainless steel

“Quick stop, if you don’t know the meaning of HRC or Rockwell Hardness Check this post first!” 

The rock well hardness of the 420 steel is 50 HRC according to Azom.

What are the 420 steel properties

Edge Retention: The 420 stainless steel is known for soft steel, that loses its edge quickly.

Corrosion Resistance: 420 stainless steel has a 13% of Chromium, and whenever a high amount of chromium, it only means a high Corrosion Resistance.

Wear Resistance: The 420 steel has a right level of wear resistance, but not the best, as shown earlier, it is soft steel, so it doesn’t have high wear resistance.

Sharpness: being soft steel, makes the 420 steel extremely easy to sharpen, so sharpening a 420 steel knife with a wet stone wouldn’t take much time (I highly recommend sharpening your knife, then buying a new one, don’t be lazy, and take care of your knife)

Machinability: the 420 Steel is excellent for machinability, I m not an expert in this field, but I did many pieces of research about it, and I end up with the same conclusion every time, 420 steel is used for many tools.

Toughness: The 420 steel is great in toughness, and of course, the more robust the steel, the lower the hardness and the edge retention, that what explains the HRC of 50 and the inferior edge retention of the 420 stainless steel.

Is 420 steel Good for knives?

In General Yes, thanks to it 50 HRC, good toughness, and high resistance, it’s a really good steel for your knife, especially if you are a Chef or a Hunter or more likely a Diver, thanks to its corrosion resistance it can handle humid environments, but still, due to its low edge retention you must have a sharpening stone next to it, luckily is a comfortable steel knife to sharpen, and let’s not forget the price, it’s very affordable, and it has what it needs for a low-end knife.

Best 420 Stainless Steel Knives

1. Sheffield 12106 Timber Series Mini Classic 3

This a great little cheap knife made from the 420 Stainless Steel, it’s a folding pocket knife, with a Hardwood handle with brass bolsters, it has a 3″ Serrated blade, it comes with a leather pouch, it has a lock-back release which is great for safety and a thumb groove for easy opening.

If you wish to have a try on a 420 knife give this one a try, but let me remind you it’s a low-end knife that comes with a low price.


A great EDC pocket knife, I love its design, it’s just perfect for small outdoor and indoor activities, thanks to it steel, it’s a stainless steel knife, easy to sharpen but it loses the edge quickly as I already mentioned, so if you’re looking for a little effective knife with a 420 steel, this one is a great one.

420 Stainless Steel Equivalent

According to the Chemical composition and the properties of the 420 stainless steel, I can say that the 420 is so close the Chinese stainless steel “ 3CR13” or the “30CR13”, they both offer a great corrosion resistance, high toughness, and extremely easy to sharpen, and they are in the same price zone for a low-end steel.


This part of the blog post is my personal opinion, so if you don’t share it with me, please let me know why in the comments. I find that the 420 stainless steel a great steel for knives, the balance between the price and the quality is perfect, it’s a low-end knife, Yes I know it has low edge retention, but in the same time it’s easy to sharpen, so it depends on you, are you willing to take care of your knife? If Yes, then this steel knife is for you. If not, you better go for a high or medium steel knife, with higher hardness and edge Retention, Like an M390 Steel knife, it’s my favorite for high-end steel knives (I even wrote a complete review about it). Check it out!

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