What is ZDP-189 steel? [Complete Steel Guide]

ZDP-189 Steel

Have you ever heard of a very super steel ? or did you ever typed on google “what is the best steel ever?” and as a result, you got the ZDP-189, well if you did experience this I also did, and I wanted to know more about this steel, and what makes it one of the best knife steel today, so I decided to make a ZDP-189 Steel Review.

Therefore, If you’re still interested in this steel, I invite you to keep reading this blog post, I spent some hours of research, and I gathered all the possible info 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) in this blog post. So let’ us dive in!.

ZDP-189 is a Japenese Premium or Super high-end Stainless Steel. It’s one of the latest developments in PM (Powder Metallurgy), very high in Chromium and Carbon, offers extreme hardness, Corrosion resistance and wear resistance, its mainly used in Premium Chef knife (Kitchen knives), it’s one of those steel that makes me so excited to find out its properties!

ZDP-189 Steel Review

ZDP-189 steel composition

  • 3% of Carbon: It improves hardness and wear/corrosion resistance, but a high amount of it decreases strength.
  • 20% of Chromium: For tensile strength and Edge retention, and enhances corrosion resistance and wear resistance.
  • 1,4% of Molybdenum: Increase Machinability and strength.
  • 0,5% of Manganese: Increases hardness and brittleness.
  • 0,1% of Vanadium: Improves wear resistance and hardenability.
  • 0,6% Tungsten: Improves wear resistance and hardness.

As you can see, the chemical composition of the ZDP-189 shows how superior the steel is. It has 3% of Carbon (which is very expensive to manufacture) and 20% of Chromium (that’s a very high level of Chromium), results in an exceptional hardness, wear-resistance, and corrosion resistance.

ZDP-189 hardness (Rockwell hardness)

ZDP-189 Steel can reach a maximum hardness of 67HRC.

If you wish to know more about the terms “Rockwell Hardness” and “HRC”, have a quick read of this blog post.

ZDP-189 steel properties

According to the chemical composition and the HRC of the steel, the ZDP-189  Steel has the following features:

ZDP-189 Edge Retention: With a maximum hardness of 67HRC, the steel can offer a great hardness that’s going to result in an exceptional Edge Retention!.

ZDP-189 Corrosion Resistance: Excellent corrosion resistance!, with 20% of Chromium ZDP-189 is just the best for corrosion resistance.

ZDP-189 Wear Resistance: Excellent Wear Resistance, again thanks to the mixture of High Carbon and High Chromium.

ZDP-189 Sharpness: The rule says the harder the steel, the harder to sharpen it, ZDP-189 is very hard, so sharpening it will take some time and won’t be a simple task, but don’t forget it holds an edge for a long time, you will rarely sharpen it.

ZDP-189 Toughness: Good toughness, but not great as much as its hardness, you can’t have toughness, corrosion resistance and hardness in one steel (but you can reach a balance).

ZDP-189 steel equivalent

I couldn’t find a “Perfect” Equivalent to the ZDP-189, but I think the M390 is a very close competitor, they’re premium steel know for there great hardness, wear resistance and corrosion resistance, ZDP-189 is superior in hardness (it has 3% of Carbon compared to 1.9% in the M390 Steel), they both fall in the same price range.

Is ZDP-189 steel good for Knives?

After reading its properties, are you going to believe me if I say “no”? I wouldn’t belive it my self! It’s an excellent Steel for knives! It offers excellent corrosion resistance, excellent wear resistance, and great toughness. It might be the best steel for knives, it can be used in survival knives, hunting knives, kitchen knives.

Best ZDP-189 Knives

Spyderco Dragonfly 2

This a little gem with a 2.28″ ZDP-189 premium steel blade, it’s very hard (you’ll have trouble sharpening it), holds an edge for long and great for corrosion resistance, okay now let’s talk about the ergonomics, the knife size is perfect (that sweat medium spot), it has nice finger choil and a thumb ramp, and comes with a fibreglass reinforced nylon handle, in all this knife is just perfect, especially if you’re looking for a “legal knife” with a 2.28″ blade, I guess it’s legal everywhere, so If you’re interested in a ZDP-189, I highly recommend the Dragonfly 2, you won’t regret it.

ZDP 189 VS Steel

In this section, we’re going to compare our steel with other steels, and for this, I use four criteria; Edge Retention, Corrosion resistance, Ease of Sharpness, and Toughness, and I use a scale or note from 1 to 10.

ZDP 189 VS S30V

ZDP 189S30V

S30V lower edge retention, the same level of toughness, and higher corrosion resistance compared to the CTS BD1 steel.

ZDP 189 VS VG10

ZDP 189VG10

VG10 has lower edge retention, lower toughness, and higher corrosion resistance compared to the CTS BD1 steel.


It always feels good to review Premium steels, especially if you wish to have it in a Knife! while researching, reading forums and watching youtube videos, I found out that every knife user is very happy about his experience with the ZDP-189, and I share the same opinion, so if you were reading this intending to own or buy a ZDP-189 Knife, Just do it! You will not regret it, it’s worth your money (You can get a ZDP-189 Spyderco at 130USD on sales), You’ll defently feel the difference between premium steel compared to other steels.

We reached the end of the blog post. If you have another opinion about the ZDP-189 feel free to share it in the comments below.

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