What Is 420HC Steel?

420HC is a steel grade from the Martensitic 420 series. The HC in the steel name stands for high carbon, this means the still can become hard if there’s the right heat treatment.

This will help the steel to reach the hardness level of about 58 HRC. This steel is mostly used in needle valves, knives, cutlery, surgical tools, shear blades, and scissors. This is low-cost steel.

It has over 12% of chromium which makes the material stainless. The 420 along with HC which means high carbon makes it a hard material. However, this steel is still considered a softer one in comparison to other steels.


420hc vs other types

Other steels can be compared with 420HC. Mainly this steel is a retrofit of an old type, as it adds more carbon. It has a low level of extra hard microcrystals, carbides which provide the hardness and the sharp edge to the knife.

The material does not hold an edge well, and it’s tough and stain-resistant. A knife made with this material can be sharped easily. This is good for low-cost performance and at an affordable rate. There are other materials to compare with 420hc such as:


  • 1095: This is an old type of high carbon steel. It’s tough, and often. This material is used in traditional style folders and can become hard based on the heat treatment. This is also used as a fixed blade, and it’s low-cost steel. This material is used in knives since World War II.


  • AUS-8: This is one of the most common steel use in the global market. This is a decent material that is hard enough, also it’s stain resistant. Although it won’t stay long with high-end power metal materials, this is still a good choice.


  • VG-1: If you are looking for non-power steel, and it has slight up-gradation from other versions. This is an all-around material and has better corrosion resistance, with decent hardness and toughness. This material is similar to VG-10 and 440C


  • 8Cr13MoV: This is china produced steel and Chinese knives are made with the same. This quite good and better than the material of AUS-8. This has a common formulation and is prone to corrosion, which makes it a softer one. However, it comes with a cheap price, and from the value point, it can be the winner.


  • 1.4116: This steel is used in making Swiss army knives. This is better in sharpness and it very tough with corrosion resistance. However, it doesn’t hold edges that much but it’s easy to sharpen, and you will get a sharp knife in minutes.


  • 154CM:  It is not powder steel, but it’s widely used to make knives. It provides a good balance between three features such as corrosion-resistant, hardness, and toughness. It’s similar to ATS-34 and RWL 34. If you use a 154CM blade for a knife it will give better performance.


  • S30V: This one is made with American powder steel, and it’s specifically used to make knives. Similar to 154CM it gives better features of a knife. Some years ago this material had a great price in the market, but the cost has dropped down with the emergence of other steel types.


  • S90V: This steel is made with Crucible, and it’s hard steel and not easy to sharpen. Compared to 420HC it lacks in performance. But it holds the edges very well, and for a long time. Just because of the complications of sharpening, this material is hardly used and has a high price. The steel has better hardness and corrosion-resistant. This is one of the best stainless steel in the market.


  • VG-10: A non-powder-made Japanese steel, and it’s corrosion-resistant. However, it lacks in the hardness part, especially when compared to 420HC and AUS-8. Made of mid-price material, and gives a moderate performance. You can find better steel in the market than this.


420HC Composition:

Similar to other alloys, 420HC has a chemical composition.

  • 0.3% Vanadium
  • 0.5% Nickel
  • 0.45% Carbon
  • 0.6% Molybdenum
  • 0.4% Manganese
  • 13% Chromium
  • 0.4% Silicon


Properties of 420HC:

The 420HC blade has better sharpness than other materials. It offers a better edge hold, is harder steel. A blade made with this material will be hard than its counterparts.

However, this is still a softer material and lacks in holding the edge at some point. But compared to the other 400 series, this is the better option.

There are other steel types for knives that give better sharpness, but 420 HC is one of the oldest and most used materials that are still effective. This steel provides better corrosion protection and is very tough. It can be easily sharpened and you can use it for a long time.


Uses of 420HC:

Among other steels in the market, 420HC is a pretty good choice for a reliable knife. This is mostly used by hunters and fishermen. The high corrosion protection helps the steel to hold up and prevent rust too. This steel can withstand a rough environment and is used for hard works.

Various companies make knives out of 420HC steel. Some of the well-known companies such as Buck, Gerber, and Kershaw. There are the most popular companies that offer 420HC knives.

Also, blade beginners mostly choose the material because of the cost. It’s a budget knife and gives better performance. However, blades made with this material are not for good edge retention, and softer steel as well. But it will become sharp faster.

It is good for Beginners, Budget knives. Fishing, hunting, Survival, outdoor knives. Example products:

  • Gerber US-Assist Everyday Carry Pocket Knife

  • Oerla TAC OLF-1009 Fixed Blade Outdoor Duty Knife
  • JXE JXO Camping Axe



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