What is CTS XHP Steel?
CTS XHP steel is a stainless steel high in carbon and Chromium. It is air-hardening steel manufactured by Carpenter, a US company under the CTS steel series. XHP is produced following the powder metallurgy process and is known to deliver high corrosion resistance and edge retention compared to other steel types in the CTS family.
When it comes to high-end knives, cutting tools, and surgical blades I am a huge fan of CTS XHP steel. Not only is its chemical composition almost similar to other great steels like D2 tool steel or Grade 440C but also has an equal level of hardness as those two grades while possessing excellent corrosion resistance.
CTS XHP steel composition
- Carbon C 1.60%: Increases the edge retention, hardness and tensile strength. It also improves steel resistance to wear, abrasion and corrosion resistance.
- Chromium Cr 16.00%: Chromium Increases hardness, tensile strength and corrosion resistance of the steel.
- Molybdenum Mo 0.80%: It improves machinability and hardening property.
- Manganese Mn 0.50%: Increases Hardness and but in high quantities can increase brittleness of the steel.
- Vanadium V 0.45%: Improves hardness by restricting grain growth and refining grain size.
- Nickel Ni 0.35% : Increases Corrosion resistance of steel and hardenability.
- Silicon Si 0.40% : Improves grain structure for better hardness in steel alloy, however like Manganese it can increase brittleness.
Properties of CTS-XHP steel
CTS XHP Steel Hardness
CTS-XHP stainless steel hardness is 60-62HRC, as per the Rockwell hardness scale with a maximum hardness of 64HRC. The hardness of this steel varies depending on the heat treatment used by different knife makers and it is associated with high carbon in its composition, which is more than 1%.
CTS XHP Steel Wear resistance
CTS XHP blade steel offers superb wear resistance, expected from steel with the same hardness as D2 tool steel. With this hardness level, CTS XHP knives can withstand daily applications that would result in wearing and tearing without deformity.
What’s more, CTS XHP steel does not bow to abrasion effects caused by regular sharpening. This can be attributed to the high volume of chromium carbides in its alloy.
Knives made from this steel will serve you for a long time despite the regular challenging applications.
CTS XHP Stainless Steel Edge retention
Being hard steel, CTS-XHP stainless steel offers great edge retention. You can use CTS-XHP steel knives for cutting items for a long time without becoming blunt.
It will never occur that you need to stop and sharpen knives made this steel in the middle of cutting. Therefore, if you have been disappointed by knife steels that become dull very fast, you are in the right place because the varieties of CTS XHP will never disappoint you.
CTS XHP steel Toughness
One of the unspoken rules about steel is that hard steels are less tough, which applies to CTS XHP stainless steel. Being hard steel, it is more brittle meaning that, it will break and chip easily on challenging applications. However, the level of toughness offered by CTS-XHP steel is more than what is expected from steel of the same hardness.
It is ideal for making knives with short blades. If you are keen on toughness, knives made from this steel are not the best choice for you.
CTS XHP Corrosion resistance
CTS XHP is stainless steel, thus CTS-XHP stainless steel shines is in its ability to resist rusting and corrosion. As already mentioned, this steel offers the same level of corrosion resistance as 440C, which is high and associated with the high Chromium in its composition.
Sharpening CTS-XHP Steel
CTS-XHP steel is hard to sharpen and this is because hard steels like CTS XHP offer exceptional properties, as discussed above, but suffer from one main challenge; they are hard to sharpen due to their wear resistance property. However, there are more difficult steels to sharpen out there, so sharpening CTS XHP stainless steel should not worry you a lot.
With the right sharpening skills and advanced sharpening tools, you will be able to get a sharp edge without a challenge.
CTS-XHP steel comparison with other knife steels
CTS XHP vs S30V
Both CTS-XHP stainless steel and S30V stainless steel fall under the high-end category but differ in properties, with CTS-XHP offering better edge retention and toughness. On the other hand, S30V shines in corrosion resistance and is easier to sharpen.
CTS XHP vs S35VN
So is CTS-XHP steel better than S35VN steel? CTS XHP offers slightly better edge retention than S35VN steel but S35VN offers slightly better corrosion resistance. In other aspects such as Toughness and ease of sharpening they offer equal performance. The choice of the knife steel should be based on the price and application of the knife.
CTS-XHP vs D2 steel
CTS XHP is high-end steel while D2 tool steel is mid-range steel. They offer the same level of toughness but CTS XHP stainless steel is better than D2 tool steel in edge retention, ease of sharpening, and corrosion resistance. CTS-XHP steel is better knife steel than D2 tool steel. Crucible-made CPM D2 steel is however highly comparable to XHP only that XHP has better corrosion resistance due to increased Chromium content.
Is CTS-XHP steel good for knives?
The properties of CTS-XHP steel make it good knife steel. It offers excellent edge retention, superb wear resistance, great corrosion resistance, and decent toughness.
Also, despite being high-end steel, knives made from this steel are available at affordable prices. The only challenge is that it is hard to sharpen, which is easily solvable by using advanced sharpening tools.
Is CTS-XHP steel good for knives?
The properties of CTS XHP steel make it good knife steel. It offers excellent edge retention, superb wear resistance, great corrosion resistance, and decent toughness. Also, despite being high-end steel, knives made from this steel are available at affordable prices.
The only challenge is that it is hard to sharpen, which is easily solvable by using advanced sharpening tools.
Best CTS-XHP steel Knife
Spyderco Chaparral Prestige EDC Knife
Of all the Spyderco folding knives, Chaparral is one of their most innocent-looking. The 2.80-inch blade is perfect for daily use and hacking away at things like boxes or any other general cutting tasks that come your way.
Don’t be fooled by its look; the blade on this little knife comes ridiculously sharp and is made using CTS XHP steel we just discussed. It has fantastic edge retention and great corrosion resistance.
It is a badass folding knife with the perfect size. Yes, the blade is visually appealing, but what’s really spectacular about it is its solid construction! It locks up in place to ensure safety when you’re using it, meaning no more worries about accidentally closing on your fingers.
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!