LC200N Steel: Is it a Good Knife Steel?

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LC200N is a great knife steel for humid environments. It is one of the high-end steels used in making knife blades. Spyderco already has an array of knives made of this steel. Let’s explore its chemical composition and properties.

What is LC200N Steel?

Spyderco Native 5 Salt Folding Knife with 2.95" Corrosion-Resistant LC200N Steel Blade and Lightweight Yellow FRN Handle - PlainEdge - C41PYL5

LC200N is a new European steel, first introduced in 2013. It’s a high-nitrogen tool steel that is specifically designed for extremely high corrosion resistance power.

It is formulated using the Pressurized Electric Slag Remelting (PESR) methodology. Hence, it has a refined microstructure as well as boosted cleanliness, contributing to high polishability as well as machinability. This steel is known to have the best properties of CPM 154, and very close to the corrosion resistance of H1.

This steel is made by the Zapp Group. It came up with this steel for processing applications involving dynamic loads in high-temperature and corrosive environments. The steel is also known as Z-FiNit, wherein Z represents Zapp and FiNit is the short form of Fine-grain Nitrogen steel.

Today, it is extensively used in the pharmaceutical, recycling, chemical, and food industries. Just as many other knife steels, it was not initially formulated for making knives. However, it yet offers stunning performance in terms of some properties due to which it is suitable for making knives.

NASA also used this steel for making ball bearings for their state-of-the-art aerospace equipment instead of using Cronidur 30 bearing steel. The latter is quite similar to LC200N steel in terms of chemical composition and has been around for a long time.

Chemical Composition

This tool steel has >13% chromium content. Thus, it is stainless. Below are the components of this high-nitrogen tool steel:

  • 0.30% Carbon: For increased hardness, tensile strength, and resistance to wear as well as abrasion
  • 15% Chromium: For more toughness, edge retention, tensile strength, and hardness
  • 1% Manganese: For more tensile strength, resistance to wear, and hardenability
  • 0.95% Molybdenum: For improved strength, toughness, and hardness
  • 0.5% Nickel: For improved toughness but decreased hardness
  • 0.5% Nitrogen: For improved resistance to corrosion, edge retention, and strength

In terms of chemical composition, apart from Cronidur 30, Bohler-Uddeholm’s N360 is equivalent to LC200N. Both are stainless steels and have a medium carbon content. They are admired for their ability to keep stains away. However, N360 contains silicon that is absent in LC200N. Both steels are expensive.

Steel Hardness

On the Rockwell scale, the hardness rating of LC200N is in the range of 58 to 61 HRC. This range puts this steel in the same group of high-end steels such as 154CM, S35VN, and VG10. You can rely on an LC200N knife blade having this range of hardness to ensure super sharpness for longer and better wear resistance than the cheaper ones.

Steel Properties

Spyderco Siren Premium Folding Knife with 3.6" LC200N Steel Blade and Coarse Textured Black G-10 Handle - PlainEdge - C247GP

  • Toughness: Considering the high hardness level, this steel is not the best option if you wish to have extremely tough steel that will never chip. However, it is reasonably tough.  The level of toughness is similar to that of the H1 steel. The decent toughness level makes it a good choice for making fishing, hunting, and filleting knives.
  • Excellent Corrosion Resistance: With its exceptional rust resistance ability, LC200N can endure lots of sweat, saltwater, and water without staining. As it is stainless, it is rustproof. This is the major reason why it is the best choice for making kitchen and fishing knives. After all, it is already in use in food, pharmaceutical, and chemical industries wherein corrosion resistance is indispensable to counter moisture in the air.
  • Excellent Edge Retention: The ability to retain a sharp edge is commendable and is near that of CPM S30V, a popular option used widely for its remarkable edge retention ability. The high edge stability of this steel allows its knife to cut lots of items for months without getting dull even a bit.
  • Decent Wear Resistance: As the hardness level is not very high, the power to resist wear is not that high. Both these attributes are directly proportional. LC200N has a good power to resist daily wear and wear. It also prevents the edge from distorting as you cut items with its blade.
  • Ease of Sharpness: Sharpening an LC200N edge is easy, as it is not that hard steel. Even the fine grain structure of this steel contributes to easy sharpening and razor-like sharp output.

Comparison With Other Knife Steel Options

LC200N vs H1

Both are nitrogen steels. Several experts deem LC200N to be the upgraded form of H1, a softer steel option. LC200N wins over H1 in terms of edge retention, as H1 becomes dull quickly when used for hard tasks.

On the other hand, H1 wins over LC200N in terms of toughness such that it withstands tough use. H1 is also easier to sharpen. H1 steel is slightly better at corrosion resistance, as both are rustproof options.

It has also been seen that H1’s performance is better if the edge is serrated, while LC200N performs better when the edge is plain.

LC200N vs. H1

LC200N vs S30V

However, S30V wins over the European steel in edge retention. LC200N is easier to re-sharpen as well as better at resisting rust than S30V.

LC200N vs. CPM-S30V

LC200N vs S35VN

S35VN is an upgraded form of S30V. It holds a sharp edge better than LC200N and is a bit tougher. However, this European steel wins over it in terms of ease of sharpening and resistance to corrosion.

LC200N vs. CPM-S35VN

Top LC200N Knives on Amazon

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So, is LC200N a Good Knife Steel?

The extremely high level of corrosion resistance and great edge retention power makes LC200N ideal for making knife blades for saltwater, kitchen, and humid conditions.