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Are you looking for a premium steel quality for your next knife? If yes, CPM S30V can be an ideal option for you. Benchmade uses this steel to make premium hunting knives, now available under the HUNT series along with many other knife brands like Zero Tolerance, Spyderco, and Piranha.

What is S30V Steel?

Spyderco Ikuchi Flipper Pocket Knife with 3.26" CPM S30V Stainless Steel Blade and Carbon Fiber G-10 Laminate Handle - PlainEdge - C242CFP

CPM S30V, popularly called S30V, is from Crucible in response to the need for a steel with increased toughness, wear resistance and corrosion resistance. Originally formulated by the famous knifemaker Chris Reeve and Dick Barber of Crucible, It’s a powder-made premium steel.

It belongs to the martensitic camp, as it is tempered and hardened to render great hardness and good toughness. As the name indicates, S30V belongs to the SxxV series containing other steels such as S110V, S35VN, S90V, S60V, and S125V.

Just like other steel grades in the series, S30V is made using the Crucible Particle Metallurgy (CPM) process. This process results in high-quality output with outstanding toughness, dimensional stability, and grindability as compared to non-CPM-steels.

Although on the low side of the series, it delivers remarkable performance. As you can guess, this steel resides on the higher side of the price gamut, hence S30V knives are expensive.

Chemical Composition

CPM S30V is stainless. Following are the different elements present in this premium stainless steel:

  • 1.45% Carbon: For increased hardness, edge retention, tensile strength, as well as resistance to wear and corrosion
  • 14% Chromium: For increased tensile strength, hardness, toughness, and resistance to corrosion
  • 4% Vanadium: For increased toughness, resistance to abrasion and wear, and strength
  • 2% Molybdenum: For increased toughness, hardness, strength, corrosion resistance, and machinability

Steel Hardness

On the Rockwell C scale of hardness, the S30V stainless steel has a rating ranging from 58 to 64 HRC. The exact rating varies as per the given heat treatment. Nevertheless, this range renders the Crucible steel harder than several stainless-steel options. The credit goes to the high carbon and high vanadium contents.

Properties

Buck Knives 110 Slim Pro Lockback Pocket Knife with Thumb Studs and Removable/Reversible Deep Carry Pocket Clip, 3-3/4" S30V Blade

  • Toughness: Despite the high hardness, it delivers a good amount of toughness. It is tough enough to endure a significant amount of hard use as well as abuse. This is attributed to the smaller vanadium carbides coupled with fewer chromium carbides.
  • Excellent Wear Resistance: This is where S30V shines. You can expect this American steel to ensure superb wear and abrasion resistance. This is attributed to the steel’s chemical composition that is balanced enough to facilitate the generation of vanadium carbides. The more the vanadium carbides and the lesser the chromium carbides, the more is the hardness as well as wear resistance ability. Further, the more the vanadium carbides, the better is the balance of toughness and wear resistance.
  • Excellent Edge Retention: The even distribution of vanadium carbides ensures better sharpness as well as edge retention. This is exactly what is seen in S30V. This steel is known for its commendable ability to retain a sharp edge for an extremely long time. There might be some reviews reporting bad edge retention, but this is perhaps because of the manufacturer’s poor heat treatment.
  • Good Corrosion Resistance: It is stainless, hence you can expect great corrosion resistance. You can rely on an S30V knife in humid and saltwater environments without any risk of rusting. Regardless, it is essential to keep it dry every time after use.
  • Ease of Sharpening: Considering that S30V can be very hard at 64 HRC, it can be a bit challenging to resharpen it. You would need a diamond stone sharpener for sharpening carbides of vanadium to gain razor-like sharpness. However, you will not have to resharpen it frequently due to its excellent edge retention ability.

Comparison With Other Knife Steel Options

Let’s benchmark CPM-S30V with other competing steels.

S30V vs. D2

Both are Crucible steels. However, S30V wins over D2 in terms of edge retention, ease of sharpening, and corrosion resistance. On the other hand, D2 is tougher.

CPM-S30V vs. D2

S30V vs. S35VN

S35VN was introduced as an advanced form of S30V. It performs better when it comes to toughness. In terms of ease of sharpening, edge retention, and corrosion resistance, both compete closely.

CPM-S30V vs. CPM-S35V

S30V vs. S90V

S90V is a premium steel in the SxxV series. It is harder to sharpen S90V. On the other side, S30V is tougher and is better also at corrosion resistance.

CPM-S30V vs. CPM-S90V

S30V vs. S110V

S110V is known to provide superior edge retention. However, S30V is tougher and easier to sharpen.

CPM-S30V vs. CPM-S110V

S30V vs 154CM

Both are Crucible steels. Due to the finer grain structure, S30V ensures better edge retention than 154CM. It is also more resistant to corrosion and tougher too. In terms of ease of sharpening, both compete closely.

CPM-S30V vs. 154CM

S30V vs. 20CV

Both steels come from Crucible. 20CV has more chromium and carbon content, which means superior edge retention. However, S30V is easier to sharpen than 20CV.

CPM-S30V vs. CPM-20CV

S30V vs. 420HC

Due to more quantity of carbon, S30V wins over 420HC in terms of resisting wear and retaining a sharp edge. It is also better at corrosion resistance. The high hardness level of this Crucible steel, however, makes it more difficult to sharpen than 420HC.

CPM-S30V vs. 400 Series

Top S30V Knives on Amazon

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So, is S30V Steel Good?

If you need a high-end stainless steel that is durable, good at corrosion resistance, retains a sharp edge for a long time, and resists wear commendably, CPM S30V is an ideal option.