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If you are on a tight budget and have been looking for knives for use in the kitchen and outdoor applications, chances are high for you to have come across 7Cr17MoV stainless steel knives. It is a low-end steel type that is one of the most affordable build materials for knives.
One of the main reasons is that it is made in China. Not all Chinese steels are cheap in terms of performance. Even esteemed brands such as Gerber make knives using this Chinese steel.
What is 7Cr17MoV steel?
7Cr17MoV refers to a type of Chinese stainless steel that is a highly economical option for those unwilling to overspend. It is considered an upgraded version of 440A and contains more vanadium for improved toughness and strength. This steel is widely used in making survival knives.
Primarily, the Chinese steel producers altered the chemical composition of the 440A steel revered for its ideal mix of affordability, wear resistance, and edge retention. Its only limitation is that it is not as resistant to rust or corrosion as a few knife users may expect.
Thus, these developers worked on this steel’s composition to improve the hardness level by adding vanadium and other elements. This resulted in 7Cr17MoV steel that overcomes the limitation of corrosion resistance of 440A.
It is a versatile steel option. Thus, it is used to make knives for the first responders and EDC and kitchen knives. It is also used in making cleavers and bigger chef knives.
The steel belongs to the category of mid-range steel varieties. Thus, it is softer than the high-end versions but is still durable due to its additional elements.
7cr17MoV chiefly consists of moderate carbon and high chromium content. Due to ample chromium content, it belongs to stainless steel. Due to a good amount of carbon content, it is also tagged as a type of high-carbon stainless steel. Following are the various elements of which this steel is made up:
- 17% chromium for better tensile strength, resistance to corrosion as well as wear, and retention of sharpness; 17 in 7Cr17MoV indicating percentage of chromium
- 1% manganese for improved hardness and sharpness retention
- 1% silicon for better strength and toughness
- 0.7% carbon for enhanced hardness, durability, as well as resistance to wear and corrosion; 7 in 7Cr17MoV indicating percentage of carbon
- 0.75% molybdenum for better strength as well as manufacturing ability (machinability)
- 0.6% nitrogen for better edge retention ability as well as strength
- 0.2% vanadium for boosting hardness as well as wear resistance
- 0.04% sulfur for easier processing while manufacturing
- 0.04% phosphorus for better strength
The 7Cr17MoV steel is reasonably hard due to the amount of carbon content. Thus, it is also not too brittle, which is the main drawback of hard steel. On average, the hardness rating of this steel is between 55 and 57 HRC, which is modest. However, a few makers use some heat treatment techniques to increase the hardness rating to 60.
According to the Rockwell hardness chart, the rating of 60 is considered a high level. Such a level is attainable due to the high amounts of chromium, vanadium, and carbon. In addition, the hardness range makes it a reliable material for making blades for tough outdoor activities.
The chemical composition of this steel governs its properties. Following are its most significant properties that you can expect from a knife made of a good quality 7Cr17MoV steel:
- Decent Toughness: A steel variant with less hardness is tougher than a variant with more hardness. Due to high hardness, 7Cr17MoV high-carbon stainless steel is less tough. However, unlike most low-end steel variants, this one will withstand abuse.
- Great Corrosion Resistance: This is a major benefit of using this steel. Thanks to lots of chromium content ~ 17%, that uplifts its ability to keep corrosion, stains, and rust at bay.
- Sharpening Ease: Its moderate hardness makes it super easy to sharpen the blade edge. However, as this steel is not too hard, it will likely dull quickly. Thus, you will have to resharpen it often.
- Moderate Edge Retention: The ability of this steel to sustain a sharp edge is not that good. This is because of the inclusion of phosphorus and sulfur, the two components that boost brittleness. Nevertheless, high amounts of vanadium and carbon boost its hardness, which can offset brittleness. Thus, you can expect a decent ability to retain an edge, unlike a premium steel variant.
Comparison With Other Knife Steel Options
7Cr17MoV vs. 440A
7Cr17MoV is an upgraded form of 440A with a close chemical composition. Both are low-end stainless-steel variants with superb corrosion resistance and decent ease of sharpness. However, it is harder than the softer 440A for better edge retention and better corrosion resistance.
7Cr17MoV vs. 8Cr13MoV
By their names, both tend to look quite similar in composition. However, it can be seen that 8Cr13MoV contains more carbon, due to which its ability to sustain a sharp edge is relatively better. On the other hand, 7Cr17MoV is known for getting sharpened easily. The main difference here is in terms of corrosion resistance. Due to more chromium, the former has a better ability to resist corrosion resistance than 8Cr13MoV.
7Cr17MoV vs. 5Cr15MoV
Again, both these steels belong to the same CrMoV family of steels. However, the differences lie in their names. Due to less carbon and chromium content, 5Cr15MoV is neither as hard nor as resistant to corrosion as 7Cr17MoV.
7Cr17MoV vs. 9Cr18MoV
9Cr18MoV, due to more carbon and chromium content, is less hard but tougher. Thus, its ability to sustain a sharp edge is better than 7Cr17MoV. However, sharpening its edge is more difficult than that of 7Cr17MoV. Both steels rank closely when it comes to corrosion resistance.
7Cr17MoV vs. 420HC
7Cr17MoV is a type of stainless steel having more carbon for ensuring a higher level of hardness. The 420HC steel has a low hardness rating of 55, due to which the edge retention ability is not as good as 7Cr17MoV. Both are affordable steel options.
7Cr17MoV vs. D2
The latter is a high-end steel variant, due to which it is costlier than the affordable 7Cr17MoV steel. However, it is also quite harder and retains the edge for longer. At the same time, it is more difficult to sharpen. Furthermore, D2 has less chromium (13%) than 7Cr17MoV, hence lesser resistance to corrosion.
So, is 7Cr17MoV Stainless Steel Good for Your Knives?
Yes, it is an ideal choice for your knife, particularly if you have a limited budget. If you look for good hardness and excellent corrosion resistance properties, 7Cr17MoV steel could be a great choice for a kitchen knife. However, if you want a survival knife made of it, ensure that you have a sharpener with you, as it gets dull fast.
Do not think it is a poor option because it is made in China. On the contrary, people use it and find it a value for money option.
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.