CPM CruWear Steel: Is it a Good Knife Steel?

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If you have seen threads about CruWear in knife forums, you will find that most users are a fan. CruWear from Crucible has all the desirable properties for a knife blade. It’s readily available too. On the flip side, CruWear knives are costlier.

Let’s dive deep into its properties and chemical composition.

What is CPM CruWear Steel?

Spyderco Military CPM CruWear steel

Made by the American Crucible brand, Cru-Wear or CruWear is an air-hardening tool steel. It is formulated using the brand’s Crucible Particle Metallurgy (CPM) process. It is regarded as an upgrade to the simple CruWear and D2 steels made by the same brand to make it harder, tougher, and more resistant to wear.

CruWear comes with high machinability, and it tempers better compared to D2, both of which are appealing to knife makers. Improved tempering helps it in adopting surface treatments well. This steel is widely used in making different types of dies, knives, and shear blades.

You can find knives from Benchmade, Boker, and Spyderco with CPM Cruwear blade

Chemical Composition

CPM CruWear is not stainless. As the carbon content is high, it is a part of the high-carbon steel family. Following are the different elements of this steel:

  • 1.10% Carbon: For more hardness and improved resistance to wear and corrosion
  • 7.50% Chromium: For more tensile strength, hardenability, and resistance to corrosion
  • 2.48% Vanadium: For more toughness, strength, and resistance to wear as well as corrosion (latter being possible due to the contained oxide coating)
  • 1.60% Molybdenum: For more hardenability, strength, toughness, hardness, and machinability
  • 1.15% Tungsten: For more hardenability, hardness at high temperatures, strength, and toughness

Steel Hardness

On the Rockwell scale, the hardness rating of CPM CruWear ranges from 60 to 65 HRC. However, the exact value will differ as per the given heat treatment. The range of hardness level is considered high.

The credit for being so hard usually is given to the high carbon content. However, it is also due to the sufficient amounts of tungsten and molybdenum.

Steel Properties

Benchmade 273GY-1 Cru-Wear Knife

  • Exceptional Toughness: Considering the high hardness range of this tool steel, it is obvious to infer that it would be less tough. However, this steel is an exception, as it is incredibly tough. According to the Crucible’s datasheet, this steel is tougher than plain CruWear and D2. The credit for this high toughness level goes to the brand’s CPM process that reduces the size of carbides and evenly distributes toughness. Thus, a CPM CruWear steel knife is highly resistant to breakage and chipping, especially when under pressure.
  • High Wear Resistance: High wear resistance is the typical benefit you can expect from any typical tool steel. The higher the hardness, the more is the power to keep wear and tear at bay. This is attributed to the ideal mix of carbon, vanadium, tungsten, and chromium.
  • Superb Edge Retention: This is another commendable property of CPM CruWear. This high-end steel takes a sharp edge and holds it well. Many users say that a CruWear knife can chop down a jungle before getting dull.
  • Okay Corrosion Resistance: Indeed, this steel is not stainless due to low chromium content. However, 7.5% chromium contributes to okay resistance to corrosion and rust but will rust in salty conditions. You can get knives with an anti-corrosion coating to ensure a better resistance.
  • Ease of Sharpening: Great toughness, high resistance to wear, and high hardness make any steel hard to sharpen. However, this steel is an exception even here. You can easily sharpen a CPM CruWear blade, even using an abrasive of a low grade to get a very sharp edge. It is also possible to sharpen it on a stone while you are out.

Comparison With Other Knife Steel Options

Benchmade Adamas 275FE-2 CPM-Cruwear

CPM CruWear vs D2

CruWear is harder than D2, which also means it is better at resisting wear as well as retaining a sharp edge. Both steels have carbides for resisting wear, but due to more vanadium carbides, CruWear is harder. Typically, vanadium carbides are harder than those of chromium and are more effective in resisting wear. CruWear is also tougher than D2.

Cru-Wear vs S30V

S30V is a premium-grade material from Crucible. It is more resistant to corrosion because of its high chromium content. Further, it is harder than CruWear and has better wear resistance as well as edge retention. On the other hand, CruWear is tougher and easier to sharpen than S30V.

CPM CruWear vs CPM 3V

3V comes from Crucible and is made using the CPM process. The amount of carbon in 3V is less, due to which it is less hard than CruWear. This means CPM 3V will not retain a sharp edge as good as CruWear. However, the higher vanadium and molybdenum contents in 3V make it tougher. Due to the same amount of chromium, both steels perform similarly in terms of corrosion resistance.

CruWear vs M4

When it comes to corrosion resistance, CruWear wins over M4 due to its higher chromium content. However, CPM M4 has more carbon than CruWear, hence it is better at edge retention. It is also more resistant to wear than CruWear. However, CruWear is easier to sharpen. In terms of toughness, M4 gains an edge due to better impact resistance.

CruWear vs Elmax

Both have similar performance at retaining an edge and resistance to wear. Due to more chromium content, Elmax resists corrosion and rust better. However, Elmax is less tough than CruWear.

So, is CruWear Steel Good?

CPM CruWear has a perfect balance of hardness, edge retention, toughness, ease of sharpening, and machinability. Despite not being stainless, this high-carbon steel also offers okay corrosion resistance as compared to the normal high-carbon steels. Be warned that the steel will rust in salty conditions.