1095 Cro-Van Steel: Is it a Good Knife Steel?

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Are you looking for the best combat or utility knife? If yes, it is indispensable for you to choose a reliable steel blade. If you have been researching about it, you will definitely find many knives whose blades are made using 1095 Cro-Van steel that has already won the hearts of many military officers.

Thus, this steel is a popular choice of both knife makers as well as knife users. By looking at its name, many consider it to be the same as 1095 high-carbon steel. However, it differs from the original.

What is 1095 Cro-Van Steel?

Becker KA-BAR Harpoon Fixed 4.56 in Blade

If you have researched about this steel, you may have got confused because of the many names it has. The esteemed brand, Ka-Bar, refers to it as 1095 Cro Van, while Bark River names it as 50-110B. Some more names include 50100B, 0170-6, 1095CV, and Carbon V.

At times, you may even see it referred to as Sharon Steel 1095 Cro Van or Sharon Steel 1095CV. Well, this is because Sharon Steel is the pioneer of this steel although the company is now non-operational.

1095 Cro-Van is a kind of carbon steel like the ancestor 1095 steel. Unlike the latter, the former has more Chromium and Vanadium content, hence the name, 1095 Cro-Van. The pioneers added more chromium, carbon, nickel, vanadium, and molybdenum to make a better form of 1095 in terms of hardness. It is used in a variety of applications ranging right from dyes to mill rolls.

The formal name of the steel is 50100B as per the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). However, the marketing officials picked the 1095 Cro-Van name to retell people that it is fairly associated with the 1095 steel.


1095CV is not a type of stainless steel. Any stainless steel will have at least 11% chromium in its chemical structure for total resistance to rusting as well as moisture. 1095 Cro-Van steel has quite less amount of chromium, ensuring you some level of resistance but not as much as a stainless type. Both 1095 and 1095 Cro-Van have an identical base chemical composition. Following are the various elements of which this carbon steel is made up of:

  • 1.1% carbon for enhanced hardness and resistance to wear as well as corrosion although a high amount means less strength
  • 0.6% chromium for great tensile strength, good edge retention, and better wear resistance
  • 0.5% of manganese for improved hardness and brittleness
  • 0.25% vanadium for better hardness as well as resistance to wear
  • 0.06% molybdenum for improved strength as well as machinability
  • 0.25% nitrogen of better edge retention as well as strength
  • 0.25% silicon for more strength
  • 0.025% phosphorus for more strength
  • 0.025% sulfur for better manufacturing ability or machinability


KA-BAR BKR7-BRK Combat Utility , Black, 7-Inch

1095 Cro-Van steel is remarkably hard; it is harder than its ancestor, 1905 steel. The credit for this goes to the additional content of carbon, molybdenum, and vanadium. The HRC rating of 1905 steel is typically 55. This means that it is softer than the 1095 Cro-Van steel whose HRC rating is between 56 and 60.

However, the exact hardness rating varies from one manufacturer to another, as it depends on a few parameters such as the heat treatment. The inclusion of 1.1% carbon is more than the carbon content in several other steel options. However, this is an improvement over the 1095 steel in which carbon’s share is only 0.95%.

As a result, 1095 Cro-Van steel is harder. However, at the same time, it is not that hard to become brittle. Rather, it is much more versatile, which elucidates its use in several combat and utility knives from Kar-Bar. Due to its reliable hardness, and consequently, more longevity, even other brands consider it a great steel option for these knives.


The chemical composition of this high-chromium, high-carbon steel governs its properties. Following are its most significant properties that you can expect:

  • Reliable Edge Retention: One of the most admirable properties of this steel is that it retains a sharp edge for a longer time than 1095. This is due to the high level of hardness because of the presence of manganese, vanadium, chromium, and carbon. There is no need to sharpen the edge frequently, as it is not going to get dull quickly.
  • Great Wear Resistance: This is another admirable property of any hard steel. It is a fact that steel is susceptible to wearing with frequent use. However, this is not a big issue with 1095 Cro-Van. The credit goes to its sufficient hardness, which also contributes to a longer lifespan than others. However, this is possible only with proper care and regular maintenance from your side.
  • Moderately Tough: As a rule of thumb for steel knives, the harder the type of steel, the less is its toughness, and more is the brittleness. The term toughness, here, refers to the vulnerability of the metal to chipping. Well, this is not a big problem with this steel. This is because it is reasonably tough, meaning it is not that brittle enough to result quickly in any damage. This is another reason why it is widely used in making combat and utility tools.
  • Ease of Sharpening: Harder steels having a rating above 59 are infamous for being difficult to sharpen with the standard sharpening tools. They need special sharpeners such as those having diamonds (harder than that steel edge to be sharpened). However, 1095 Cro-Van is not at all difficult to sharpen. Yes, it is hard, but not that hard enough to make sharpening a tough job. Thus, it is a cool option for your EDC knife blade.
  • Weak Corrosion Resistance: This steel is susceptible to rusting, which is a major limitation of this steel. Although chromium is present, it is not sufficient enough to ensure an excellent corrosion resistance as stainless steel. It is common to end up with stains on the blade after using it a few times in wet conditions or in a humid climate. However, if you wipe it well after every use, these stains will remain at bay. Thus, corrosion or rusting will not occur if you constantly keep the edge dry. Even lubricating it using some vegetable oil is useful. If you take proper knife care, this drawback is not applicable to your knife.

1095 Cro-Van vs Other Knife Steel Options

1095 Cro-Van vs 420 HC

In terms of edge retention, out of the two, 1095 Cro-Van steel wins the race. You can even expect better wear resistance from 1095CV because of a higher hardness level than 420 HC. 420 HC is tougher but less brittle and easier to sharpen than the 1095 Cro-Van steel. Even when it comes to corrosion resistance, 420 HC wins.

1095 Cro-Van vs D2

Harder than 1095 Cro-Van, D2 retains its edge relatively better as well as is more resistant to wear. Further, just like other hard steel varieties, D2’s ability to resist corrosion is more than that of 1095 Cro-Van. However, you pay a price for enjoying these benefits. But, sharpening it is a tougher job than sharpening a blade edge made up of 1095 Cro-Van.

1095 CV vs S30v

S30v clearly wins the race in terms of corrosion resistance. S30V is also a bit better to hold its edge as well as resist wear. On the flip side, 1095 Cro-Van will not chip that quickly as S30v because it’s tougher.

Top 1095 Cro-Van Knives

Ka-Bar produces knives made of 1095 CV. Here are a few good knives.

So, is 1095 Cro-Van Steel Good for Your Knives?

Well, the exact answer depends on your usage purpose. 1095 Cro-Van steel is admired for its reliable edge retention ability, great wear resistance, and good hardness as well as toughness balance. This makes it an ideal candidate for EDC knives designed for some hard tasks.

However, if you need a knife to be used in a wet environment such as in water, this steel is not the right choice. It will not prove to be durable in this environment due to low corrosion resistance.