Sandvik 12C27 Steel: Is it a Good Knife Steel?

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12C27 is a classic Sandvik steel grade that is widely used for making a variety of outdoor knives. Knifemakers such as Russ Kommer and Robert David prefer this steel. Similarly, many knives of reputed knife brands such as Ka-Bar, Columbia River, and Gerber are made using this steel.

What Is 12C27 Steel?

Cangshan TG Series 62212 Swedish 12C27 Steel Serrated Utility Knife, 5-Inch, G10 Handle

Sandvik 12C27 is a martensitic high-chromium steel alloy from Sandvik AB, an esteemed Swedish company. The Sandvik series contains seven steel grades, including 12C27M, 13C26, and 14C28N.

This Swedish steel is popular in the American knife market for its great corrosion resistance, high hardness, superior edge retention, and high wear resistance. Used at times to make razor blades in bulk, this Swedish steel is widely used to make tactical, camping, hunting, pocket, fishing, and high-end chef knives. It is also used to make skate blades and ice drills.

Chemical Composition

This Sandvik steel is stainless. Following are the elements that make up this Swedish steel:

  • 0.6% Carbon: For increased hardness as well as resistance to wear and corrosion
  • 13.5% Chromium: For increased edge retention, toughness, tensile strength, hardness, and resistance to corrosion and wear
  • 0.4% Manganese: For increased hardness, tensile strength, and resistance to wear
  • 0.4% Silicon: For increased strength as well as resistance to corrosion
  • 0.03% Phosphorus: For increased strength and machinability
  • 0.01% Sulfur: For increased machinability

Steel Hardness

On the Rockwell C scale of hardness, the Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel gains a rating between 54 and 61 HRC. The exact value varies as per the implemented heat treatment. Still, the given range indicates high hardness. A value above 59 HRC is considered highly hard.


Land 9102 911 Lock Pocket Folding Knife 12C27 Stainless Steel Blade

  • Great Toughness: Considering that the level of hardness is not that high (not beyond 61 HRC), it can be concluded that 12C27 is tough! some might consider it is tougher than the lips of a woodpecker. This is attributed to its fine carbide structure.12C27 knives can take the beating while resisting chipping, breaking, and cracking.
  • Good Wear Resistance: As a thumb rule, the higher the hardness, the better is the wear resistance.  Keeping in mind the range of hardness this steel has; it can be inferred that it has good power to resist wear and tear. This ability is sufficient but not the best when compared to other stainless steels. However, you can expect 12C27 knives to stand up to usual wear and tear.
  • Good Edge Retention: Even edge retention is directly proportional to hardness. Keeping this in mind, Sandvik 12C27 is known to have a good ability to retain a sharp edge for long with normal use.
  • High Corrosion Resistance: As 12C27 is stainless due to sufficient chromium and minimal carbon content, it ensures high resistance to corrosion as well as stain. This justifies its use in making fishing and hunting knives. However, it is important to note that this steel is not 100% resistant to corrosion. You will have to dry it after every use and lubricate it periodically to keep rust at bay.
  • Ease of Sharpening: This Sandvik steel is pretty easy to sharpen as it is not super hard. This is unlike most high-chromium steels that are difficult to sharpen.

Comparison With Other Knife Steel Options

12C27 vs D2

D2 is admired for its ability to hold an edge exceptionally well and resist wear tremendously when used in a variety of applications. Many knife fans consider it to be the king of wear resistance. The reason behind such exceptional abilities is its high hardness.

Even 12C27 retains a sharp edge and keeps wear away, but not as great as D2. On the flip side, it is easier to sharpen the Swedish steel. It is also easier to work with 12C27 too. Moreover, it is cheaper to make 12C27 due to its fewer alloying elements and is better at corrosion resistance.

12C27 vs 8Cr13MoV

The latter is a Chinese option, while the former is a Swedish option. The Chinese steel has additional elements such as vanadium, nickel, and molybdenum; which are absent in 12C27. This means it gets an edge over the Swedish steel in terms of hardness, toughness, and sharpness. On the flip side, it is not a good option for resisting corrosion.

12C27 vs 440C

12C27 is harder than 440C due to more carbon content, which means that the latter is easier to work with. It also means that 440C is tougher than 12C27. Although both steels offer reliable edge retention, the Swedish steel gets an edge here.

The higher chromium content makes 440C superior to 12C27 when it comes to anti-corrosion properties. Moreover, 440C knives are more affordable and attractive due to mirror finish than those made using 12C27.

12C27 vs 420HC

420HC has less carbon content, due to which 12C27 seems to be harder. This means it retains a sharp edge for a longer time than 420HC. However, the presence of vanadium makes 420HC superior to the Swedish steel when it comes to wear resistance performance.

On the flip side, it is easier to sharpen a 420HC blade than this Sandvik blade. Both grades, though, have similar power to resist corrosion and are for buyers on a budget.

12C27 vs VG10

Unlike the Sandvik steel, VG10 lies on the higher-end of the steel scale. VG10 is harder, provides better wear resistance and edge retention, and depicts more corrosion resistance.

On the flip side, it is difficult to sharpen a VG10 blade as compared to a 12C27 blade sharpening easily. Further, VG10 is found to be brittle, which means that its edge will chip if used on hard surfaces. Above all, VG10 knives are more expensive.

12C27 vs S30V

S30V is a high-end option. The vanadium and carbon contents in S30V make it win over 12C27 when it comes to edge retention. On the other hand, Swedish steel is easier to sharpen and is more economical than S30V.

Top Sandvik 12C27 Knives on Amazon

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So, is 12C27 Steel Good?

Yes! Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel is durable enough to endure a lot of abuse during heavy use. It is resistant to corrosion, holds a sharp edge well when put to normal use, is easy to sharpen, and is affordable.