What is ATS 34 Steel?

ATS 34 is known as high-carbon stainless steel developed by Hitachi Steel with a hardness that ranges from 60-61HRC. In terms of chemical composition, properties, and overall performance ATS 34 happens to be identical to the 154 CM steel category, which has long been benchmarked as a high-end performing stainless steel.

The ATS 34 Steel is one of the popular steels that have gained recognition among custom knife makers for the robustness and incredible edge holding power that it has.

ATS 34 Steel – Common Uses 

  • commercial and domestic cutlery knife makers. 

  • opening packages, cutting cords, slicing foods, opening cans, and other domestic and industrial uses. 

  • ATS 34 knives are also used for hunting, camping, and other outdoor activities, like Browning Hell’s Canyon Speed Knife

  • Using ATS 34 steel for making custom knives has been a popular choice. As the name implies custom knives are engineered to your order specification. Depending on your specialty area, you can choose a wide collection of knives for hunting, fishing, tactical or kitchen purpose. 

ATS 34 steel – Chemical Composition

With its high carbon stainless steel profile, ATS 34 is primarily rich in a high amount of carbon and also featured with over 12% chromium apart from other chemicals content – it’s acknowledged as a high grade stainless in the global industry. Other elements used for making this steel are stated below. 

1.05% Carbon: With fairly high carbon content, the steel has a noticeable amount of hardness and wear resistance. However, a high carbon mix decreases its toughness.

14% Chromium: High amount of chromium mix contributes to corrosion resistance, wear resistance, hardness, toughness, and tensile strength. 

4% Molybdenum: Apart from improving deep hardening and toughness ability, it adds anti-wear molybdenum carbides to the steel.

0.4% Manganese: Improves harden-ability, forge-ability while reducing the chance of brittleness and deformation. 

0.35% Silicon: By improving hot-forming properties, it works brilliantly as a deoxidizer and prevents the steel from possible deterioration.  

0.03% Phosphorous: The low volume of phosphorus not only helps make the steel less brittle but equally increases the tensile strength, machinability, and toughness of this steel.

0.02% Sulfur: the minimum amount of sulfur mix improve the machinability of the steel.

ATS 34 steel – Properties 


Combined with alloying elements chromium, molybdenum, and manganese, the high carbon content of ATS 34 stands unique in terms of its hardness that ranges from 60-61HRC. The hardness of the steel helps retain its sharpness for noticeably long, however, how will be a bit hard to sharpen compared to the steel knives with lower HRC. 

Edge retention

As stated above, it’s the hardness of the steel that empowers it to retain its edge for a prolonged period. It is one of the primary reasons why ATS 34 is so appreciated by its users across the world. Given that it doesn’t get blunt easily, you can continue working with them without having to worry to sharpen your gear in the continuation of your work. 

Wear resistance

With more than 1% of carbon and 15% of chromium, the steel boasts high-class wear resistance ability. 


With a decent level of toughness, ATS 34 steel knife blades can withstand almost all kinds of cutting tasks without getting chipped off. 

Corrosion resistance

If it wonders you what makes ATS 34 so demanding to knife makers for kitchen purposes, camping, hunting, etc, then look at its great corrosion resistance profile. With as high as 15% chromium content, it is truly robust stainless steel with prowess to fight against all kinds of corrosion, rusting or deterioration no matter how humid, salty and acidic the environment is. However, with due care, you can maximize its corrosion resistance outcome.


Due to high HRC, compared to the steel knives with low HRC, knife blades made of ATS-34 steel could appear to be a bit challenging when you are at the threshold to sharpen it. However, with proper tools in place, you can get it to sharpen without much hassle.  

It goes without saying that ATS 34 the Japanese high carbon stainless steel excels in the industry with justified quality, integrity, and performance. Apart from having a remarkable hardness level with a brilliant edge retention profile and fantastic corrosion resistive strength – ATS 34 is exactly the steel quality found in a collection of steel knives for different purposes. 

Although, it happens to be somewhat challenging at the time of sharpening due to its high HRC %, however, equally realize it’s the reason what contributes to its great hardness and edge retention characteristic. With appropriate sharpening implements, making it sharpening is not a big deal.