A hunting knife is a special tool: it is multifunctional, so it is important that it copes well with both cutting and stabbing blows, is resistant to physical and chemical influences, and does not dull for a long time during operation. 

The material from which the blade is made is responsible for all these parameters. What is the best steel for a hunting knife and what to look for when choosing a tool, we will talk about this article?

What steel to choose for a hunting knife: the main types of steels

When rating which steel is best for a hunting knife, it is worth starting a conversation with an analysis of the composition of the steel. This material is an alloy of iron, carbon, and some alloying elements that modify the properties of the mixture. There are two types of steel:

  • Carbonaceous – they are dominated by carbon. These steels are easy to sharpen but can be susceptible to corrosion. Due to the simplicity of heat treatment, the knives are inexpensive, and due to the fine-grained structure of iron carbides, the blade can be sharpened sharply even at home.   
  • Alloyed – they contain a large amount of alloying additives. The main advantage of such steels is corrosion resistance: it can be achieved due to the chromium content of more than 13%. In addition, alloy steels are characterized by higher wear resistance and flexibility. Their disadvantage is the complexity of manufacturing and processing, respectively, the products have a higher price.

Knife steel differs in several characteristics, but there is a key parameter – hardness. It is measured in Rockwell units – HRC. To the greatest extent, hardness depends on the carbon content. 

If the percentage is large, then the knife will keep sharpening for a long time, but it will be more brittle. Standard indicators of knife steel – 55-60 HRC. Harder steel can break when bent, so additional elements are added to it to increase the elasticity of the material.

Strength is the opposite of hardness. Achieve the hardening of steel is obtained by adding alloying elements such as molybdenum or manganese. Another way is vacation. This is a procedure for heating the steel to temperatures substantially lower than those used in hardening to obtain an equilibrium structure and increase the strength of the metal.

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What steel is better for a hunting knife: the most popular options

The best domestic steel for a hunter’s knife 

65X13 – stainless steel hardness 56-58 HRC.

It lends itself well to processing and is easy to sharpen, but due to its low hardness, sharpening does not last long.

95X18 – this alloy has a hardness of 58-59 HRC. 

The knives are flexible and durable, and due to the higher carbon content, they retain their sharpness longer.

9ХС – alloyed steel of domestic production with a hardness of 60-63 HRC.

It has high cutting properties and excellent sharpening but needs to be hand-forged.

ХВ5 — slav with a high content of chromium and tungsten,

which is called “diamond steel” because of its high hardness (63-67 HRC ). As a rule, it is used for the production of tools that are needed for cutting hard materials. The disadvantage of such steel is its susceptibility to corrosion. That is why XB5 is rarely used for hunting knives that often come into contact with water.

110Х18МШД – Russian stainless steel

which combines strength and flexibility. The hardness of such an alloy is 59-61 HRC. The material is resistant to corrosion, keeps sharpening for a long time, withstands serious mechanical loads. It is considered one of the best options for the production of tourist and hunting knives.

Rating of imported steels for hunting knives 


Is stainless steel that is actively used by manufacturers of cheap knives. Due to the small amount of carbon, it quickly dulls and wears out.


Is an American high-carbon stainless steel with a 14% chromium content. Differs in high resistance to corrosion, ability to keep sharpening for a long time, good impact strength. Hardness after heat treatment – 58-61 Rockwell units.

CPM 15 V 

Is powder steel with high carbon and vanadium content. The cutting edge holds up to six months for the light of high hardness of the material – 63-65HRC. However, the chromium content is less than 6%, so the knives require maintenance.


Is high carbon steel made in Japan? It is included in the ranking of the best hunting knife steel due to the optimal combination of hardness and toughness. The secret is in adding a large amount of cobalt to the composition. Steel VG-10 is hardened to a hardness of 61-63 HRC.

K 390

Is tool steel from Bohler with excellent strength characteristics and wide processing possibilities. Vanadium and carbon in the composition provide high wear resistance of the cutting edge, while molybdenum, cobalt, and vanadium increase toughness.

Vanadis 8

Is a powder tool steel with an extremely high hardness of 64 HRC. When choosing from which steel it is better to buy a hunting knife, you should pay attention to this alloy if the durability of the product is of paramount importance. Steel is distinguished by high abrasive and adhesive wear resistance, good ductility, and polishability.

Damascus steel

The answer to the question of which brand of steel is better for a hunting knife will not be complete without talking about Damascus steel. It is obtained by repeated forging in several layers, followed by hardening. Damascus hardness reaches 60-61 HRC. 

Knives have excellent cutting qualities but are susceptible to corrosion, so they should not be left wet. A unique feature of Damascus knives is a pattern with unique patterns and stains.

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