65Mn Steel: Is it a Good Knife Steel?

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Kershaw camp series of machetes are made of 65Mn steel. So do some forged sword blades you may have seen. Let’s find out what makes this steel very suitable for large bladed knives.

What is 65Mn Steel?

Schrade SCHF57 6.3in Steel Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife with 2.6in Drop Point Blade and G-10 Handle for Outdoor Survival, Camping and EDC

65Mn is a readily available Chinese steel that belongs to the category of spring steels. It is considered one of the hard steels from China. Formulated to ensure good hardness as well as wear resistance, 65Mn contains medium-high carbon amount and high manganese quantity.

This mix results in a high degree of toughness and resilience with manganese contributing to improving these characteristics and enhancing the hot-working properties of the steel.

This makes 65Mn an ideal option for making forged sword blades and machetes. Mn in its name stands for Manganese that enhances hardenability. As a result, its hardness, strength, hardenability, and elasticity are higher than those of 65# steel.

65Mn is a GB standard low-alloy spring steel grade. It is also used for large blade knives, clutch reeds, small-section flat springs, round springs, shock absorbers, valve springs, and brake springs.

Chemical Composition

65Mn is also referred to as manganese steel due to the high amount of manganese. It has a mix of carbon, manganese, and chromium. However, due to the very low amount of chromium, it is not stainless. Following are the different elements of this tool steel:

  • 0.62-0.70% Carbon: For improved hardness and resistance to corrosion as well as wear
  • 0.9-1.20% Manganese: For the improved hardness
  • <=0.25% Chromium: For improved tensile strength, edge retention, and resistance to corrosion as well as wear
  • 0.17-0.37% Silicon: For improved strength
  • <=0.03% Phosphorus: For improved strength, hardness, and machinability
  • <=0.03% Sulfur: For more machinability
  • <=0.35% Nickel: For better toughness
  • 0.25% Copper: For better resistance to corrosion by preventing surface oxidization

The closest steel to 65Mn high carbon steel is 5160. This is because they both have a blend of carbon, chromium, and manganese, provide good strength and hardness and are available within the same price range.

Hardness

On the Rockwell C scale, 65Mn has a hardness rating ranging from 28 to 34 HRC. Well, this is not the range what most knife steels have (above 50+). However, this steel is still considered sturdy due to the high level of manganese.

Steel Properties

Kershaw Camp 10 65Mn

  • Great Toughness: As a thumb rule, the harder the steel, the less tough it is! Keeping this rule in mind, it is easy to deduce that 65Mn is very tough because its hardness level is low. Its great toughness comes from the ideal mix of carbon, manganese, and chromium. For you as a knife user, this simply translates to resistance to chipping and breaking.
  • Okay Wear Resistance: In the world of knives, the ability to keep wear and tear at bay is directly proportional to the level of hardness. However, the fact is that 0.60%+ of carbon makes it perform okay when it comes to wear resistance. Nevertheless, do not expect a high resistance power, comparable to that of many stainless steels.
  • Okay Edge Retention: Even this property is directly proportional to the hardness level. Even at the maximum hardness of 34 HRC, 65Mn high carbon steel can not retain a sharp edge well for long. This means that you need to be ready to sharpen it often.
  • Poor Corrosion Resistance: 65Mn is not stainless due to very less chromium amount. Thus, you cannot expect it to perform well when it comes to resisting rust or corrosion. So, obviously, it cannot be chosen for making kitchen or diving knives that are used in an aquatic or humid environment. To improve corrosion resistance performance, manufacturers prefer making 65Mn knives with an anti-corrosion coating.
  • Ease of Sharpening:  Considering that its hardness level is low, it can be inferred that it is easy to sharpen an edge made using this steel. It is easier to sharpen 65Mn steel knives.

Comparison with Other Steel Options

65Mn vs 1095

Both are carbon steel alloys but 1095 is manufactured in the U.S, while 65Mn comes from China. 1095 contains more carbon, but this Chinese steel is tougher than 1095. Finished 1095 products have better edge retention due to more carbon content, but the Chinese steel is easier to sharpen.

1095 does not have chromium and has very low corrosion resistance performance, unlike this Chinese steel. However, in terms of wear resistance, 1095 is a better option.

65Mn vs 8Cr13MoV

8Cr13MoV has more carbon content than 65Mn. Thus, it is harder than the Chinese steel, hence less tough. As 8Cr13MoV has around 13% of chromium, it is stainless. So, you can expect better corrosion resistance.

Top 65Mn Knives on Amazon

On Amazon, you can find mainly machetes, swords, and katanas made of 65Mn steel.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

So, is 65Mn Steel Good?

65Mn steel is affordable and is suitable for large bladed knives, machetes, and swords, because of its very high toughness. It is also very easy to sharpen. The steel is ideal for tougher tasks such as batoning.

This steel is not for use in a humid or wet environment on the flip side, as it cannot keep corrosion away for a long time. It doesn’t hold its edge for not very long either. Thus, 65Mn spring steel is not suitable for kitchen, diving, or your EDC knives.