Is 52100 steel good for knives? [Complete Steel Review]

52100 steel

Another famous carbon steel in the world of Knife Making, the 52100 Steel, while reading knives forums, I found out some users claim that 52100 is very good for knives, so I did some investigations, and yes, I ended up doing a 52100 Steel Review.

So if you’re reading this, it means you wish to know more about the 52100, You came to the right place, I did a bunch of researches about it and answered some common questions (like What is it? What is its chemical composition? What is its hardness? How hard is it? Is it good or no ? and other questions) So let’s dive in.

52100 Steel is an alloy high in carbon (more than 1% of carbon) used in industrial bearings for its excellent wear resistance and strength, today its also used in knife industry as mono steel or welded with other steels such as 410 or 416.

52100 Steel Review

52100 steel composition

  • 1,1% of Carbon: It improves hardness and wear/corrosion resistance, but a high amount of it decreases strength.
  • 1,5% of Chromium: For tensile strength and Edge retention, and enhances corrosion resistance and wear resistance.
  • 0,3% Nickel: Improves toughness.
  • 0,45% of Manganese: Increases hardness and brittleness.
  • 0,30% Copper: Prevent surface oxidization.
  • 0,30% of Sulfur: Increases machinability.

As you can see, the chemical composition of the 52100 steel is a mixture of high Carbon (more than 1%) and low in Chromium, which makes carbon steel that offers wear resistance and edge retention.

52100 steel hardness

The Hardness or Rockwell hardness is a maximum of 64-66 HRC.

If you wish to know more about the terms “Rockwell Hardness” or HRC”, read this blog post (spoil alert: good scientific information!)

52100 steel properties

According to the chemical composition and the HRC of the steel, the 52100 Steel has the following features:

52100 Edge Retention: 52100 is very hard steel, that can reach 65 HRC. The harder the steel, the better for edge retention, it can hold an edge for a long time.

52100 Corrosion Resistance: 52100 is poor in Chromium (Only 1.5%), which makes it corrosive and exposed to rust.

52100 Wear Resistance: the high carbon of the 52100 alloy makes it great for wear resistance.

52100 Sharpness: The rule says the harder the steel, the harder to sharpen it, and it applies to our steel, so sharpening it won’t be an easy task.

52100 Toughness: the steel offers a great toughness that comes relatively with the fine grain, high hardness, and low hardness.

52100 steel equivalent

52100 is similar to both 1095 Cro Van Steel and the 5160 Steel. They are both carbon steels the only difference is in Chromium (52100 has more chromium in it). In all, they offer great hardness, edge retention, wear resistance, and decent corrosion resistance.

Is 52100 steel good for knives?

It depends on the usage of the knife,  in general, its good for knives, it has very great toughness, wear resistance, and ability to hold an edge for long, many knife makers use it for custom hunting knives, it can be used in all outdoor activities that require a tough knife to handle the damages and the hard usages, but it’s has a low corrosion resistance, so it needs to be taken care of more often (oiling and cleaning after usage, and you’ll be fine), so if you intend to use your knife in extremely humid environment (for fishing for example), I wouldn’t recommend the 52100 Steel.


I enjoy the carbon steels in my knives for their capacity to hold an edge for a long period, and the toughness that comes with combined with the hardness, makes them a “SURVIVAL KNIFES”, even if they come with a low corrosion resistance, you can still overcome the rust if you take good care of your knife, the proof is many famous Chef knives are made from the 52100 Carbon steel, it’s very great for binding and cutting hard pieces of meat, so if you intend to buy a 52100 steel knife, I highly recommend it.

We reached the end of our blog post, as always, if you have another opinion about the 52100, feel free to leave a comment I’d gladly answer and discuss knives with you.

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