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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 suitable for large bladed knives.
What is 65Mn steel?
65Mn is a readily-available Chinese steel that belongs to the category of spring steels. It is considered one of the tough steels from China. Formulated to ensure good toughness, 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.
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, it is not stainless due to the very low amount of chromium. 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. They both have a blend of carbon, chromium, and manganese that provide good strength and hardness and are available within the same price range.
On the Rockwell C scale, 65Mn has a hardness rating ranging from 28 to 34 HRC. This is not the range that most knife steels have (above 50+). However, this steel is still considered sturdy due to the high level of manganese.
- 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 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 many stainless steels.
- Okay Edge Retention: 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 much less chromium. Thus, you cannot expect it to perform well when resisting rust or corrosion. So, knife makers cannot choose it to make kitchen or diving knives. Instead, manufacturers prefer making 65Mn knives with an anti-corrosion coating to improve corrosion resistance.
- 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 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.
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. In addition, 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.
Hi, I am Jay. I am the creator of Knife Guides, your one-stop site for everything related to knives. I am a computer engineer by profession, knife aficionado by passion. Here I work with a group of people who’ve always had a passion for knives and blades. Over the years we’ve kind of become experts and decided to share our knowledge and ideas. I am also an avid hiker and enjoy offshore gamefishing.