440A Steel: Is it a Good Knife Steel?

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Hardness toughness, edge retention, corrosion resistance, and ease of sharpening are the most common performance parameters an average knife user is interested in. If you want an acceptable blend of these parameters without spending much, the 440A knife steel can be a suitable option.

What is 440A Steel?

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440A is a martensitic high-carbon stainless steel alloy that belongs to the 400 series of steels encompassing 440B, 440C, and 440F.

The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) has assigned three-digit names to stainless steels and four-digit names to non-stainless steels.

440A is alloyed with chromium but differs from the 400 series in carbon content. It is known as a budget knife steel, as it is available at a cheaper price than the high-end grades. The steel is widely used to make surgical and razor blades, shaving gear, dental instruments, cutlery, dive knives, and kitchen knives.

Chemical Composition

Following are the ingredients that make up this stainless steel:

  • 0.7% Carbon: For improved hardness, resistance to corrosion, and resistance to wear; the quantity is likely to vary from 0.6 to 0.75 from one maker to another
  • 17% Chromium: For increased toughness, hardness, corrosion resistance, and tensile strength
  • 1% Manganese: For more strength, hardness, hardenability, wear resistance, and
  • 1% Silicon: For more strength and improved resistance to corrosion
  • 0.75% Molybdenum: For more hardness, hardenability, toughness, strength, machinability, and resistance to corrosion
  • 0.5% Nickel: For better toughness as well as corrosion resistance power
  • 0.04% Phosphorus: For better hardness, strength, and machinability
  • 0.03% Sulfur: For better machinability without compromising the strength

In terms of chemical composition, 440A is very close to 440B. The only difference is in the terms of carbon content, which is higher in 440B. Even AUS-8 is a similar steel as both have sulfur, phosphorus, nickel, and manganese. However, they both differ in terms of chromium and carbon content.

Steel Hardness

Steel hardness is an indicator of how difficult it is to damage, etch, or scratch the metal’s surface. On the Rockwell hardness scale, 440A has a rating of 55-58 HRC. The low range of hardness is because of the low level of carbon. However, the exact hardness rating is subject to the heat treatment implemented by the steel maker.

As the rating is below 60 HRC, it can be concluded that 440A steel is soft, and is easy to process. 440A is hardenable, which means it gets more strength when heated well. Note that 440A is the softest compared to 440B and 440C, which have more carbon content than the former.


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  • Good Toughness: As the hardness level of 440A stainless steel is not that high, its toughness level is! This is because soft steels are always tougher. While it may not be the toughest one, it can resist breaking while under lateral pressure. The credit goes to high nickel and manganese content.
  • Satisfactory Wear Resistance: Hardness and wear resistance are directly proportional. As this steel is not so hard, its wear resistance is truly not the best. However, you can expect a good level of wear resistance for daily use.
  • Okay Edge Retention: The carbon content in the steel is more than other softer steels. Thus, relatively, this steel can sustain a sharp cutting edge for a longer period than many other softer steels. However, because of higher carbon volumes, 440B and 440C siblings ensure you better edge retention ability.
  • Relatively Great Corrosion Resistance: As 440A is stainless, you can expect a good level of resistance to rust, stains, and corrosion. However, it is slightly less resistant to corrosion than most stainless steels due to its martensitic structure. Such a structure increases the level of hardness but leaves the surface a bit more susceptible to corrosion than the ferritic and austenitic steels. 440A is more resistant to corrosion than its siblings due to relatively more chromium and lesser carbon content. It is the best option in the 4XX family when it comes to corrosion resistance.
  • Ease of Sharpening: As 440A is a softer steel, it is relatively easier to sharpen it. You can make the edge sharp using standard sharpening stones easily.

Comparison With Other Knife Steel Options

Let’s now benchmark this high-carbon stainless steel with its peers based on toughness, hardness, corrosion and rust resistance, and ease of sharpening.

440A vs 440C

440C has more carbon content, hence better at retaining a sharp edge. However, 440A is better at resisting corrosion and is easier to sharpen.

440A vs 8Cr13MoV

8Cr13MoV is a Chinese steel that is similar to AUS-8, which in turn, is close to 440A. However, 440A has more chromium and less carbon content hence more resistant to corrosion. However, due to the presence of vanadium, 8Cr13MoV is tougher and will resist distortion better.

440A vs 420HC

Both the steels are similar in terms of toughness and corrosion resistance. 420HC has lesser carbon content, hence 440A is better at resisting wear and retaining an edge. However, 420HC is easier to sharpen.

440A vs 1095 Cro-Van

1095 Cro-Van holds a great edge but rusts easily, especially in wet conditions. 440A is better at corrosion resistance but inferior at retaining the edge. 1095 Cro-Van is harder than 440A.

Top 440A Knives on Amazon

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So, is 440A Steel Good?

440A is a good option if you want a budget-friendly knife that can resist corrosion, easy to sharpen with decent toughness, and wear resistance.