CTS-BD1 Steel: Is it a Good Knife Steel?

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The CTS-BD1 is a budget-friendly steel for knives. However, it is not that widely seen these days. Mostly, you will see it in knives made by Spyderco, which ordered the formulation of this steel. Will it perform well? Will it rust? How long does it retain its sharpness? We answer all these questions here.

What is CTS-BD1 Steel?

Spyderco Manix 2 Lightweight Signature Folding Knife with 3.37" CTS BD1 Black Steel Blade and Black FRCP Handle - PlainEdge - C101PBBK2
Spyderco Manix 2

CTS-BD1 refers to the Carpenter’s entry-level, budget, vacuum-melted steel. In the name, CTS stands for Carpenter Technology Corporation, a company known for its specialty steels delivering high performance.

Spyderco had asked Carpenter to produce this steel. Carpenter made CTS-BD1 steel based on Hitachi’s esteemed Gingami steel known as GIN 1 in the current Spyderco tools. This steel is often linked with the famous Japanese AUS 8 steel and the  Chinese 8Cr13MoV but wins over both with improved edged retention capability.

CTS-BD1 is not CTS-BD1N, although both come from Carpenter. The latter is a premium nitrogen-based modernistic steel that provides superior hardness to the former steel.

CTS-BD1 is used in making camping and EDC knives, ball bearings, cutlery, and small machinery parts exposed to high-wear environments because of its good finished appearance and great retention of sharpness.

Chemical Composition

CTS-BD1 contains high chromium and near-to-high carbon content. This means it falls under the category of stainless steel.

  • 0.9% Carbon: For more hardness as well as resistance to wear and corrosion
  • 15.75% Chromium: For better tensile strength, hardness, edge retention, toughness, and resistance to corrosion and wear
  • 0.6% Manganese: For more resistance to wear, hardenability, and forgeability
  • 0.37% Silicon: For better strength
  • 0.3% Molybdenum: For better strength as well as resistance to corrosion
  • 0.1% Vanadium: For boosted wear resistance as well as toughness


On the Rockwell scale, CTS-BD1 has a rating of 58 to 60 HRC. The exact value depends on the type of heat treatment chosen by the manufacturer. It is moderately hard, hence fairly tough too. This means it will not easily chip off.


Spyderco Alcyone Value Folding Knife with 2.91" CTS BD1 Stainless Steel Blade and Durable Gray G-10 Handle - PlainEdge - C222GPGY
Spyderco Alcyone

The chemical composition of this stainless steel determines its properties.

  • Acceptable Toughness: As this steel is not that hard, it is sufficiently tough. This is because hardness and toughness are inversely proportional. In addition, toughness is ensured by vanadium and chromium content; hence the blade will not break or chip. However, remember that this steel does not have the best toughness level as found in high-end options.
  • Good Corrosion Resistance: This steel has plenty of chromium content. This means it will not rust or corrode easily even while using it in rains or humid conditions. Still, it is essential to take basic precautions, such as not leaving it in a wet area overnight and wiping it after each use. This is because it still is not fully corrosion-proof. Nevertheless, CTS-BD1 excels in corrosion resistance compared to most affordable steels.
  • Decent Edge Retention: It is known for better edge retention ability than most steels in its group, such as 8Cr13MoV and AUS 8. This is because its moderately high hardness level keeps the blade’s deformation. Although this steel will not sustain a sharp edge like high-carbon super options, there is no need for you to sharpen its blade frequently.
  • Decent Wear Resistance: This steel edge will last for a while. This is why you will not find a CTS-BD1 knife in the price range of below $50. So, this knife is costlier than a cheaper model, but it also lasts longer.
  • Ease of Sharpening: Despite having a good hardness level, this American steel is surprisingly easy to sharpen. You can quickly sharpen it after using it for tough jobs. There is no need for complex sharpening devices. So, if you are about to learn how to sharpen knives, this steel is a good beginner option to start with.

Comparison With Other Knife Steel Options

Let’s benchmark the steel with its peers.

CTS-BD1 vs. BD1N

BD1N  is a better option. While it belongs to the high-end category of steels, BD1 belongs to the budget steel category. As BD1N can become very hard, it can ensure better wear resistance. However, BD1N is also a costlier option than CTS-BD1.

CTS-BD1 vs. VG-10

The latter is among the mid-range steels. It scores higher than CTS-BD1 in terms of hardness. On the other hand, BD1 is a bit tougher, which means it is more resistant to chipping than VG10. Both steels are similar in other properties.

CTS-BD1 vs. VG-10

CTS-BD1 vs. 8Cr13MoV

As both are budget steels, these two get compared often. For example, Spyderco uses both steels to make knives. However, BD1 wins over the Chinese steel in corrosion resistance and edge retention. However, 8Cr13MoVis significantly easier to sharpen.

CTS-BD1 vs. S30V

CPM-S30V is a type of premium steel. It is better at sustaining a sharp edge because of its high carbon and vanadium content. However, a BD1 edge is easier to sharpen.

CTS-BD1 vs. CPM-S30V

CTS-BD1 vs. AUS-8

Both steels are budget-friendly. However, AUS 8 is softer and cannot hold the edge’s sharpness as long as CTS-BD1. Moreover, it is also not as good as BD1 in resisting corrosion. However, in terms of ease of sharpening, AUS 8 wins.

CTS-BD1 vs. AUS-8

So, is CTS-BD1 Steel Good?

Yes, it is a good affordable option for knives due to its great corrosion resistance, decent toughness, fair ease of sharpening. While wear resistance is not as good as high carbide steels, it is affordable with satisfactory performance.