420HC vs. S30V Knives: Which Is Better?

S30V is superior to 420HC in edge retention and durability, it holds a sharper edge for a longer time than 420HC. On the other hand, 420HC is affordable and ideal for making knives for everyday use. To choose between 420HC and S30V knives, you must consider all steel properties like edge retention, corrosion resistance, toughness, and ease of sharpening.

420HC vs S30V
420HC vs S30V

In this article, we will put 420HC and S30V against each other. By the end, you will be equipped with all the information you need to choose between 420HC and S30V knives.

Are 420HC and S30V Knives the Same?

420HC and S30V are common steel in making outdoor knives, which might confuse you to think the knives are the same. The truth is, there are significant differences between the knives.

420HC and S30V are not the same. They differ in toughness, corrosion resistance, edge retention, ease of sharpening, and price. S30V knives are more durable and hold an edge for a long time, but they are expensive. On the other hand, 420HC knives are more affordable and suitable for everyday work.

Although both knives are known for good performance, there are significant differences. We will discuss the features, pros, and cons of each to help you decide which one is best for you. Here is a table of 420HC and S30V primary compositions.

CarbonChromiumVanadiumMolybdenum
420HC Steel0.46%13.00%0.30%0.00%
S30V Steel1.45%14.00%4.0%2.00%
420HC vs S30V composition

420HC Knife Characteristics

420HC vs. S30V Knives: Which Is Better?420HC vs. S30V Knives: Which Is Better?

The 420HC knife is made from low-end stainless steel and is ideal for everyday work because it offers minimal edge retention.  It provides excellent toughness and is suitable for challenging applications because it can withstand impact and abuse without breaking, chipping, or cracking.

420HC steel knife is also very easy to sharpen and attains a razor-sharp edge using simple sharpening tools and minimum effort. It also delivers excellent corrosion resistance. 420HC steel is affordable and it offers high performance.

Pros

  • Excellent toughness
  • Easy to sharpen
  • High corrosion resistance
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Minimal edge retention
  • Needs frequent sharpening

S30V Knife Characteristics

420HC vs. S30V Knives: Which Is Better?420HC vs. S30V Knives: Which Is Better?

The S30V knife is made of high-grade steel and is suitable for outdoor use. It delivers high performance characterized by high edge retention, great corrosion resistance, and good toughness. Compared to 420HC, it is more challenging to sharpen and is more expensive.

S30V Steel production is more complex as it involves Crucible Particle metallurgy. It contains high amounts of Carbon, Vanadium, Chromium, and Molybdenum. The combination results in excellent properties, which rank it as high-end steel.

Pros

  • Good corrosion resistance
  • Excellent edge retention
  • High performance
  • Good balance

Cons

  • Hard to sharpen
  • Expensive
  • Average Toughness

How To Choose Between the 420HC and the S30V?

You must consider usage intentions and characteristics to choose the best knife between the 420HC and the S30V. To decide, weigh their toughness, durability, edge retention, ease of sharpening, and price.

420HCS30V
Toughness9/104/10
Edge retention2.5/106/10
Corrosion resistance8/107.5/10
Ease of sharpeningEasyHard
420HC vs S30V

Toughness

420HC offers better Toughness than S30V due to the decreased Rockwell hardness, it is thus less brittle than S30V steel. 420HC knives will withstand high-impact applications compared to 420HC  Knives.

Soft steels like 420HC tend to offer great toughness. On the other hand, S30V is hard steel and delivers decent toughness. Its level of toughness is not the best out there, but it can handle some challenging applications without chipping.

If you are looking for knives that can withstand abuse and hard use without chipping, breaking, or cracking, 420HC is the best option for you.

Durability

S30V is more durable because it contains more vanadium carbides which translate to high hardness and wear resistance. 420HC, on the other hand, has low carbon content, which makes it easy to wear and tear. It loses a lot of material during sharpening and from frequent use; therefore, it will not serve you long enough.

Edge retention

S30V offers better edge retention than 420HC steel because it contains high carbide volume and high Vanadium elements in its composition. S30V steel knives have good edge retention, which is attributed to the Tungsten, vanadium, manganese, and Carbon in their composition.

They hold an edge for a long time, and you do not have to sharpen it regularly. On the other hand, 420HC does not hold an edge for long because it has low Carbon and vanadium carbides, contributing to its low Rockwell hardness, 420HC knives require regular sharpening.

Ease of sharpening

420HC is easier to sharpen than S30V because it is soft steel. Although it becomes dull very fast and requires regular sharpening, you can achieve a razor-sharp edge on your own using simple sharpening tools. 

On the contrary, S30V is hard steel, making it hard to sharpen. Getting a sharp edge will take time, energy, and experience. The trade-off is that it holds an edge for a long time; therefore, you do not have to sharpen it often.

Price

S30V is high-grade Powder metallurgy steel that is hard and durable but expensive. The S30V knife is ideal for you if budget is not an issue. 420HC steel is affordable and still offers high performance. If you buy the 420HC knife, you can be sure it is good enough for everyday work.

What Makes a Good Quality Knife?

420HC vs. S30V Knives: Which Is Better?420HC vs. S30V Knives: Which Is Better?

420HC vs. S30V Knives: Which Is Better?420HC vs. S30V Knives: Which Is Better?

A good quality knife should have the following characteristics, sharpness, ergonomic handle, high-quality blade, and lightweight. 

The sharpness ensures that the knife effortlessly slices through materials; an ergonomic handle offers control and prevents slipping accidents; a high-quality blade does not rust, brown ingredients, or transfer smell or metal taste; and a lightweight knife does not make your hands and arms ache when used for long.

Final Thoughts

420HC and S30V are popular blades known for their high performance. However, they have many differences. S30V is of higher quality, more durable, and more expensive. On the other hand, 420HC is low-end steel, making budget knives ideal for everyday use.

S30V is better in edge retention, and wear resistance, while 420HC offers better toughness and corrosion resistance. 420HC knives are easier to sharpen than S30V knives, this is due to the high wear resistance of S30V steel which makes it hard to sharpen when the need arises.

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My name is Jonathan M, and I’m a passionate Mechanical Engineer, a knife enthusiast, and the author of this website. I have a bachelor's degree in Mechanical engineering with a specialization in material science. I am particularly interested in researching knife steel, knife properties, and brands. I hope you will find value in the articles on this website. Contact me if you have any questions or input!