Properties of knife steel - different types under the magnifying glass

When you head off towards the gym, you take the right clothes out of your wardrobe in advance so that you can hold your own better on the spot and make yourself more comfortable. In the world of knives, this is no different.

The choice of material is also a crucial point here, as the properties associated with it do not automatically suit every purpose. Not all knife steel is the same. The search for a new cutting utensil should therefore be carried out carefully, so that afterwards you can carry a tool that fits your individual requirements in every respect. To give you a better overview in the large and confusing steel jungle, we have taken a closer look at a few popular types in the following text. This will help you to better understand the special features of the knife steels and come to a decision more quickly.



The world of knives, knife blades and tools is huge. It is therefore not possible for us to provide an insight into all the options in this text.

Instead, we will focus on those types that are very commonly used across the board and which are accordingly symbols of quality and reliability on the part of knife fans, including:

  • 420 steel
  • 440 steel
  • D2 steel
  • Carbon steel
  • Damascus steel
  • Damasteel
  • Carbon steel
  • Chrome-molybdenum steel

Many of the listed types are used within the manufacturing process as tool steel as well as blade steel.

After processing or forging, products are finally created that all have different advantages. For every terrain, the knife lover will find a variety of outstanding options today.



Both 420 and 440 knife steel are frequently used for the manufacture of blades.

The 420 shines with its high corrosion resistance. The breaking strength is also convincing. In addition, this type can be excellently re-sharpened if the cutting edge has become blunt. The 440 knife steel, on the other hand, stands out due to its stainless quality, which is why it is also used extremely often in knife making.

It is divided into the subcategories 440A, 440B and 440C. The latter is the one with the highest carbon content. This also makes it a steel that is extremely hard. This explains why it is so popular in the knife industry. Our all-rounder, the W1 outdoor knife, is also made of this reliable knife steel.



D2 steel is an impressive steel in every respect. Knife lovers around the world enjoy the tool steel, which originated in America, because it brings with it an excellent overall package. The mix of hardness, edge retention and stability puts a big exclamation mark on it. D2 can reach a maximum hardness of 62 HRC, depending on the heat treatment. The steel is not stainless, but extremely rust-resistant. As discussed in more detail in one of our previous blog posts, the lifespan is fantastic with regular care. It is not without reason that we have chosen this material for our absolute classic, the AMBULO. The outdoor knife with G10 handles and Kydex sheath is a loyal companion on every tour.



Carbon steels generally make do with very few alloying elements. Especially knives that need to be extremely hard are often made with this type of steel. The edge retention is also impressive. However, since no chrome is used, this is not a stainless steel variant either. From knives to swords, everything can be made with this option. Even a tool can be made very well with carbon steel.



Damascus steel, also known as Damascus steel, is increasingly used in the manufacture of knives and weapons. High-carbon steel, which is also hardened, is combined with a softer and lower-carbon variant. Layer after layer is changed between the two compositions. The material is then folded. The hundreds of layers created by this process are then forged to produce steel. It is characterised by great hardness, resistance and flexibility. Particularly remarkable is also the appearance, which is one of the greatest distinguishing features of a damask knife. Damascus steel can be described succinctly as a further development of the previously discussed damascus steel. The "Damasteel" was conceived in Sweden and has more or less the same characteristics as its older brother. Only the approach during the manufacturing process is different. Of course, the attractive patterning and appearance of this variant is also retained.