M2 Tool Steel Knife review

m2 steel

Growing up as a knife user, I always heard about the M2 steel, many knifemakers used it, like Gerber, Benchmade and others, it’s a well known old steel, used in many types of industry, especially in the knife industry.

Therefore If you wish to know more about the M2 steel, I tried to gather enough pieces of information about it(What is it, What is its chemical composition? What is its hardness? How hard is it? Is it good …),  accordingly let’s start with the M2 presentation.

Its high-speed tool steel high in Molybdenum, made for high-wear cutting tools, it’s a popular choice for custom knives and high-end knives, it’s also suitable for cold work applications such as punching, forming and pressing tools.

m2 steel review

M2 Tool Steel Chemical composition

  • 1.05 % of Carbon: It improves hardness and wear/corrosion resistance, but a high amount of it decreases strength.
  • 4.5 %of Chromium: For tensile strength and Edge retention, and enhances corrosion resistance and wear resistance.
  • 5.5% of Molybdenum: Increase Machinability and strength.
  • 0.3 % Nickel: Improves toughness.
  • 0.4 % of Manganese: Increases hardness and brittleness.
  • 0.25% Copper: Prevent surface oxidization.
  • 0.03% of Sulfur: Increases machinability.
  • 2.2% of Vanadium: Improves wear resistance and hardenability.
  • 6.75% Tungsten: Improves wear resistance and hardness.

The M2 tool has a combination of high Tungsten, Nickel and Chromium, which makes hard steel with great toughness and corrosion resistance.

Is M2 steel stainless?

M2 steel is tool steel, and it’s Not stainless steel, it needs a minimum of 12% of chromium to be considered stainless steel.

What is the hardness of M2 Tool steel?

The hardness of the M2 tool steel is 62-65 HRC

If you would like to know more about the HRC or the hardness test, check this post right here!

What are the M2 tool steel properties

According to its chemical composition and Hardness, the M2 tool steel offers the following properties:

Edge Retention: the M2 steel offers good edge retention, but not an optimum one.

Corrosion Resistance: The M2 isn’t so great for corrosion resistance, it has only 4% of Chromium, which I essential for corrosion resistance.

Wear Resistance: The M2 Offers a great wear resistance thanks to its chemical composition.

Sharpness: M2 steel is very easy to sharpen.

Machinability: According to the steel manufacture, M2 steel has a 60% machinability rate, which makes it a bit hard for machinability.

Toughness: The M2 steel has a very decent toughness, due to the rule of trade, more hardness equal less toughness, but it has good toughness.

Is M2 steel good for knives?

As a mid-range tool steel, it’s a very good steel for knives. It offers good edge retention, wear resistance, toughness, but not quite good corrosion resistance. Therefore it would be a great knife for EDC usage, and I won’t recommend using it for a humid environment, like fishing, kitchen, diving, or hunting.

In all its good steel for knives, its been used for so long by many Knifemakers, but I wouldn’t recommend, there are better steels with better properties for the same price or lower.

M2 Tool Steel Equivalent

The closest tool steel to our M2, would be the D2, they have the same properties in edge retention, wear resistance, hardness, toughness, but no in corrosion resistance (D2 steel hs more corrosion resistance in it), they’re both used in the knife industry.

I would rather take D2 steel than M2 steel for my Knife, I use my knife in a lot of wet environment, especially while fishing, besides that they have the same price range.


The M2 Steel is a great steel, but for knives, it’s not the best, I personally wouldn’t recommend, maybe I would if we were in 2005, but we’re in 2020 there re better steels with much better performance and lower price, but if you ever got the chance to have M2 knife (as gift or your dad’s knife), leave us a little review/ or your opinion on it in the comments below, as I always say I’m always ready to discuss knives.

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