AUS-8 Steel: Is it a Good Knife Steel?

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If you are knife-savvy, you are aware of Japanese steel grades, known for their unbelievable toughness, edge quality, and sharpness. If so, it is impossible not to come across the AUS-8 (8A) steel. It allures those who want a novel, fairly-priced model to be added to the collection of knives.

However, does it offer high performance as other Japanese steel? Is it a better option compared to non-Japanese counterparts? Let’s find out in this AUS 8 steel review!

What is AUS-8 Steel?

KA-BAR TDI Law Enforcement Straight Edge Knife

AUS 8 is a popular Japanese steel admired for its mid-range performance. Built by Aichi Techno Fukami, it belongs to the family of stainless steel. It is one of the best sellers in the AUS series.

Many knife fans and experts tend to associate this steel with 440C, the stainless-steel standard, and other highly-rated grades in the category, such as D2 and 154 CM. Thus, expectations from the AUS 8 stainless steel are high. After all, it is alleged to be one of the superior stainless-steel grades, which can fulfill all standards to ensure high-quality blades.

Apart from creating knives, this steel is used for making scissors, automotive parts, medical devices, and the parts of food machines.

Chemical Composition

This stainless steel contains a higher level of carbon. Thus, it belongs to the category of mid-range steels. There are also other components such as vanadium, nickel, and molybdenum. Hence, some may feel it is close to many premium steel options. Following are the different components of this highly refined steel:

  • 0.75% Carbon: For improved resistance to wear and corrosion as well as increased hardness level
  • 14% Chromium: For high tensile strength, toughness, hardness, edge retention, and corrosion and wear resistance
  • 1% Silicon: For higher strength
  • 0.5% Manganese: For more resistance to wear, hardenability, and forgeability
  • 0.5% Nickel: For more toughness
  • 0.3% Molybdenum: For better hardenability, strength, and toughness
  • 0.25% Vanadium: For more strength, toughness, and resistance to wear and corrosion
  • 0.04% Phosphorus: For more strength
  • 0.02% Sulfur: For enhanced machinability

Steel Hardness

On the Rockwell scale of hardness, the AUS 8 steel has a rating of 59 HRC, although it can be 58 HRC as well. The exact rating depends on the kind of heat treatment the manufacturer has given.

Steel Properties

The chemical composition of AUS-8 indicates which properties are truly commendable. Let’s explore them!

  • Okay Toughness: This Japanese steel is fairly tough due to the presence of nickel and the high content of chromium.  This steel can withstand heavy impact and heavy use without chipping or breaking easily. With an apt heat treatment, an AUS 8 knife becomes tougher.
  • Great Corrosion Resistance: Due to the chromium content exceeding 12%, AUS 8 exceeds the least threshold required for a steel to be a part of the stainless family. Thus, it can easily resist corrosion and rusting even if exposed to humidity and saltwater.
  • Great Wear Resistance: This is another great property of this stainless steel. Due to the inclusion of molybdenum, manganese, and silicon, you can expect excellent anti-wear performance from this steel. This is the reason why it can withstand well without losing its form as well as sharpness. This steel can even keep abrasive damage at bay, which may be the reason why it is often compared to the premium grades.
  • Good Edge Retention: An AUS8 steel edge will retain its sharp edge well even with heavy use. The credit goes to the steel’s high carbon content and apt hardness level. In this area, AUS 8 is often contrasted with premium steels. It is because of this property that this steel is widely used for making cutting tools.
  • Ease of Sharpness: You can easily obtain a razor-sharp edge on an AUS 8 blade without much effort. This is due to the good balance of hardness and toughness. It is not that time-consuming or complicated to sharpen this steel. You can expect to get highly sharp portions at finer edges.

Comparison With Other Knife Steel Options

SOG Fixed Blade Knives with Sheath - SEAL Pup Elite Survival Knife, Hunting Knife w/ 4.85 Inch AUS-8 Bowie Knife Blade for a Tactical Knife (E37SN-CP)

Just knowing the structural components and properties, you truly cannot make out how well the AUS-8 steel can perform. You also need to compare its properties to other competitive counterparts.

AUS-8 vs 440C

Both these steels do not have significant differences in terms of edge retention and toughness. However, it is easier to sharpen an AUS-8 edge than that of 440C.

On the flip side, due to more chromium content, 440C is more resistant to corrosion, making it a solid choice. Still, the balanced composition of AUS-8 makes it better.

AUS-8 vs. 400 Series

AUS-8 vs VG10

Both the steels come from Japan and have the same rating for toughness. However, VG10 ensures better edge retention and corrosion resistance than AUS-8. On the flip side, it is not that easy to sharpen a VG10 edge.

AUS-8 vs. VG-10

AUS-8 vs S30V

S30V comes with better resistance to wear as well as a higher hardness level than AUS-8. So, S30V knives usually last longer. Nevertheless, sharpening an S30V edge is more challenging.

AUS-8 vs. CPM-S30V

AUS-8 vs D2

Both steels rank the same in terms of corrosion resistance. However, AUS-8 is easier to sharpen, while D2 is tougher and holds its edge better.

AUS-8 vs. D2

AUS-8 vs 8Cr13MoV

Both steels are considered similar in some aspects. The 8Cr13MoV steel in China is made in a similar way to the AUS-8 steel in Japan. Still, AUS 8 ensures better corrosion resistance as well as edge retention than 8Cr13MoV. In terms of toughness, both are similar.

Top AUS-8 Knives in 2022

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

So, is AUS-8 Steel Good?

Yes, it is if you are looking for mid-level material for your knives. AUS-8 can be a great option for your knife due to its right balance of toughness and hardness, ensuring great edge retention as well as resistance to wear and corrosion. If you are a knifemaker, this steel is ideal for machinability.

Although not a premier-tier steel grade, AUS 8 stainless steel delivers fair value for its price range. As it is a mid-range steel option, it is essential to take care of the blade by oiling it whenever required. If this is ensured, you can rely on this quality steel blade for a long time.