What is CPM 20CV Steel?

CPM 20CV Steel is good for a knife that can be used in all environments. It has a high level of chromium, vanadium, carbon, and molybdenum, and excellent wear resistance. Although it might be daunting to sharpen for some, knives made from this steel tend to hold sharpness for longer.

CPM 20CV is a martensitic stainless steel with exceptionally good wear resistance. Also, it contains a high amount of chromium that provides outstanding corrosion resistance. It has hardness about 60 HRC.



This is an excellent steel for screw tips and mold cavities, barrel liners, granular knives, and pelletizing equipment. It is used to make knives. Example products:

  • Zero Tolerance Hinderer Pocketknife
  • Spyderco Zoomer Fixed Blade Knife



CPM 20CV steel vs. other types

This steel can be compared with Carpenter’s CTS-204P and Bohler’s M390. Bohler’s M390 is an all-around knife that exhibits a high level of toughness, corrosion resistance, and excellent edge retention. The CTS-204P, on the other hand, boasts of a significant amount of Molybdenum, chromium, Tungsten, vanadium. While these two models are ready for action, CPM 20CV steel is great at holding an edge and takes a mirrored finish.

CPM 20CV vs. M390

While both metals are relatively expensive, the M390 is a bit difficult to sharpen. Also, products made from M390 are difficult to modify compared to those made from CPM 20CV steel.

CPM 20CV vs. S30V

The CPM 20CV steel excels in terms of overall toughness but can be a bit brittle to sharpen. It can perform a variety of tasks without any problems.

Looking at applications, the S30V is brittle and hard to sharpen. This means it’s not ideal for high-impact applications like lever work, digging, and sharpening.

CPM 20CV vs. 154 CM

Both types of steel will offer great corrosion resistance. Unlike 154 CM, CPM 20CV will not break or lose support.



CPM 20CV steel is made up of 20% chromium, 1.9% carbon, 1% molybdenum, 4% vanadium, and 0.6% tungsten.

Carbon improves wear/corrosion and hardness, but a high amount can decrease the strength. The level of carbon for this steel is within the recommended level, thus resistant to chipping.

The high chromium component guarantees edge retention and improves corrosion resistance. At 20%, you won’t have a problem working in a watery environment.

Molybdenum improves hardenability while tungsten improves wear resistance. Furthermore, it enhances creep strength in elevated temperatures.

The high chromium, vanadium, and carbon make the CPM 20CV premium steel. Very few types of steel contain vanadium and those that do have trace amounts. It’s no wonder the metal has joined the ranks of other stainless steel.

Finally, tungsten boosts strength at high temperatures. This is outstanding compared to other carbon steels.




Edge retention

According to the CATRA test, CPM 20CV steel is better than other comparable models. The high percentage of vanadium guarantees a fine grade structure. And with the addition of molybdenum, this steel has the much-needed strength to hold an edge with time. The only downside is that you need a bit of strength to sharpen. The trade-off is CPM 20CV holds an edge, so sharpening is an occasional activity.

A high CATRA score denotes the steel can work seamlessly in adverse conditions.



CPM 20CV steel is a tough knife that fits most uses. In terms of hardness, this model is rated at 59-61 HRC. It’s no wonder CPM is considered `super’ steel. The level of hardness explains how well the steel can resist the external forces that may deform it.

HRC is a numeric value that describes the hardness. It signifies the metals’ ability to withstand pressure. Keep in mind the scores compare different steel hardness results and cannot correlate to any other particular observation.

A knife that bends when in use means it lacks the required level of hardness. Some designers will compensate for this by making the blade thicker. A quality blade will have a thickness of 50-60.


Toughness inadequacy can lead to chipping, breaking, or cracking when in use. It can result in an injury or derail the task at hand.


Corrosion resistance

This steel has a high level of chromium, making it one of the best high-end knives that are corrosion-resistant. A high level of chromium ensures the metal has some form of protective film that prevents staining and rust.

Corrosion resistance determines how well metals develop oxidation due to humidity, salt, moisture, or any other environment. CPM 20CV offers exceptional corrosion resistance compared to the 440C steel.


Wear resistance

This is the ability to withstand rough surfaces without picking up other items. Sometimes, the wear can originate from the same materials that you wish to cut.

When the rough surface gets into contact with the blade, this kind of wear can constitute an abrasion. The abrasive wear can make a sharp blade turn dull without applying too much pressure.

CPM 20CV provides up to five times the abrasion resistance and can be a sure bet to invest your money. It can handle even the most demanding environments.

For steels with equal hardness, those with higher carbide will resist any wear better. Very few other types of steel can match the visceral reactions exhibited by this metal.


Deformation prevention

The most forgotten aspect of steel is deformation. After heat treatment, the CPM 20CV steel can outperform other knives in the market today. And the metal won’t lose shape even after an accident.



Who makes it?

CPM 20CV is made by Crucible Industries LLC. It’s part of Colt’s Crucible Specialty Metals Division and is headquartered in New York. They make stainless steel through a unique manufacturing process.

If you’re familiar with knives, one of the best steel that tops the list is the CPM 20CV.

CPM 20CV steel excels in terms of durability and performance. Being one of the best Martensitic knives, it doesn’t wear easily and can resist the effect of corrosion.

Furthermore, it’s durable and requires little maintenance. Compared to other steel blades, CMP 20CV has an impressive composition and gives value for money.



Carbon Steel used for Knife making:
ATS 34

Stainless steels used for knives: