What is 4Cr14 Steel?
4Cr14 steel is a low carbon high Chromium steel and, as a result, offers a moderate hardness level and good corrosion resistance. Blades made from this steel are perfect for simple cutting jobs or opening packages.
4Cr14 is popular in the knife-making industry and is mainly used to make folding, tactical, and kitchen knives. Knifemakers like this steel because it offers good corrosion resistance, is easy to work with, and is highly affordable.
To learn more about the 4rc14 steel, come with us to the next section as we look deeper into its properties.
4Cr14 Steel Composition
- Carbon C 0.48%: Increases the edge retention, hardness and tensile strength. It also improves steel resistance to wear, abrasion and corrosion.
- Chromium Cr 14.60%: Chromium Increases hardness, tensile strength and corrosion resistance of a blade.
- Molybdenum Mo 0.55%: Improves machinability and corrosion resistance.
- Vanadium V 0.10%: Forms hard vanadium carbide in combination with other elements that improve wear resistance.
- Manganese Mn 1.00%: improves the strength and hardness of steel. When the steel is heat-treated, hardenability is improved with increased manganese.
- Silicon Si 0.80%: Increases strength and heat resistance.
- Phosphorus P 0.04%: Improves machinability and hardness.
- Sulfur S 0.03%: Improves machinability.
Properties of 4Cr14 Steel
4Cr14 Steel Hardness
The hardness of 4Cr14 steel ranges between 55 to 57HRC as per the Rockwell hardness scale. While it is not the worst hardness steel can offer, this hardness level is not the best either, and it is associated with the low Carbon in its composition.
Carbon is the determinant component on the hardness level of steel. Steel should have at least 1% carbon in its composition for proper hardness. With 0.38% carbon, 4Cr14 does not have much to offer on hardness and cutting performance. On a positive note, you are assured of good toughness with reduced hardness.
4Cr14 Steel Corrosion resistance
4Cr14 offers good corrosion resistance because it contains enough Chromium content in its composition to make it stainless steel. This means that you can use it in wet environments like the kitchen without the fear of stains and rust.
But does the steel ever rust? 4Cr14 steel is not the best stainless steel out there; therefore, it requires proper care to keep rust and stains at bay. Good care for this steel is as simple as washing the knives and drying them for storage.
4Cr14 Steel Toughness
Another advantage of 4Cr14 steel is that it offers decent toughness. As a rule of thumb, the toughness of steel increases with reduced hardness, which is valid with our steel of the day. You are assured that 4Cr14 knives do not break or chip easily.
4Cr14 Steel Edge retention
One of the significant downsides of 4Cr14 steel knives is that their blades do not hold an edge long enough. This is associated with the low carbon content that results in low hardness level and, therefore, poor edge retention.
With simple jobs like cutting kitchen ingredients and mail opening, a knife made from this steel will lose its edge by the end of the day. Therefore, if you are majoring in a knife that does not require regular sharpening, stay away from 4Cr14 blades.
One thing that can impact the edge retention of this steel is the edge geometry and the type of grind used. A hollow grind, for example, will significantly lengthen the edge retention of the blade, mainly if used for easy tasks that do not require toughness while still maintaining a sharp edge.
Sharpening blades made from 4Cr14 is an easy task because it is not hard steel. Therefore, even if you must sharpen the blades every day, as discussed above, getting a razor-sharp edge with the blades takes minimal effort and time.
Sharpening 4Cr14 knives do not require sophisticated sharpening tools. Also, if you are learning knife sharpening, this is good steel to use for practice. Any sharpening tool with aluminum oxide will be enough to get an edge of this blade steel.
4Cr14 Steel Comparison
4Cr14 steel vs 3Cr13
3Cr13 stainless steel contains lower amounts of Carbon and chromium than 4Cr14 stainless steel. The alloy composition directly affects its Rockwell hardness and corrosion resistance. This means that 4Cr14 offers better hardness, which translates to better edge retention and wear resistance. The added chromium elements also increase the corrosion resistance of 4Cr14 stainless steel over 3Cr13.
On the other hand, 3cr13 stainless steel offers higher toughness due to the reduced hardness; it is also easier to sharpen due to low wear resistance. 3Cr13 steel is much cheaper and a more popular option in budget kitchen knives.
4Cr14 vs 8Cr13MoV
8Cr13MoV Steel is harder than 4Cr14 steel due to increased Carbon in its composition. The high carbon content translates to higher Rockwell Hardness which in turn boosts edge retention and cutting performance. On the other hand, 4Cr14 offers higher toughness due to relatively low hardness.
Both steels are stainless; however, 8Cr13MoV steel is more likely to offer slightly better corrosion resistance than 4Cr14 steel due to the addition of Nickel in its composition. Nickel addition in 8Cr13MoV Steel guarantees better corrosion resistance even when the blade is used in places with elevated temperatures.
4Cr14 vs 7Cr17MoV
Both 4Cr14 and 7Cr17MoV are Chinese-made low-budget Stainless Steel. However, they are better than the popular 3Cr13 since their composition has much more Carbon and chromium. 7Cr17MoV, in particular, has higher Carbon, chromium and also contains Nickel in its alloy. These additional elements translate to better performance in terms of hardness, edge retention, and corrosion resistance.
A 7Cr17MoV steel knife will offer better corrosion resistance than a 4Cr14 steel knife. It contains about 3% more chromium in its alloy. The addition of Nickel also improves its corrosion resistance when the blade is used in an elevated temperature environment
A 4Cr14 knife will, on the other hand, offer better toughness due to low hardness and low chromium carbides which tend to be brittle. Due to reduced hardness, a 4Cr14 knife will also be much easier to sharpen.
4Cr14 vs. D2
D2 Steel is tool steel intended to offer high wear resistance and toughness. It has higher hardness than 4Cr14 stainless steel and provides better edge retention and wear resistance. D2 Steel contains a low amount of chromium in its alloy and does not qualify as stainless steel. It’s thus prone to rusting quicker than 4Cr14 stainless steel.
D2 Steel is also expensive than 4Cr14 steel due to its outstanding capabilities in edge retention; it is a more popular choice for mid-range knives. D2 Steel beats 4Cr14 steel in almost all performance-based aspects apart from corrosion resistance and ease of sharpening.
Is 4Cr14 Steel good knife steel?
Yes! 4Cr14 stainless steel is good budget knife steel, but it depends on how you plan to use the knives. If you stick to simple tasks like cutting simple ingredients in the kitchen and package opening, 4Cr14 knives will work well. The blades are super cheap and offer you value for your money.
Are Kershaw 4Cr14 steel knives any good?
Kershaw constantly produces knives with 4Cr14 steel in their lineup; in their 2021 Catalog, about 14 different affordable knives were made with 4Cr14 blade steel. I believe Kershaw’s offering is a good purchase at that price point. Despite being cheap, Kershaw hasn’t cheap out on the build quality.
Most of these knives will offer premium handles and different finish types like Powder coats found in their most expensive knife lineup. Kershaw will also provide you with a limited lifetime warranty on their knives that might have manufacturing defects. While not the best warranty out there, it’s decent.
I have had a few experiences with some Kershaw 4Cr14 Knives; If you are thinking of picking one, I mainly recommend these two due to their excellent build quality.