ATS 34 steel is stainless steel produced by Hitachi, a Japanese company. It is high in carbon and chromium hence offering excellent corrosion and wear resistance.

It has the same chemical composition and properties as 154CM produced by Crucible Industries. However, ATS 34 steel contains more Carbon and Chromium.

When Crucible stopped manufacturing 154CM, Hitachi was approached by a renowned knife maker Bob Loveless to produce similar steel, and that is how ATS 34 came into existence. It’s a version of 154CM with boosted characteristics.

ATS 34 steel Chemical composition

  • Carbon C 1.05%: Increases the edge retention, hardness and tensile strength. It also improves steel resistance to wear, abrasion and corrosion.
  • Chromium Cr 14.00%: Increases hardness, tensile strength and corrosion resistance of a blade.
  • Manganese Mn 0.40%: Increases Hardness, and tensile strength but decreases ductility.
  • Molybdenum Mo 4.00%: Increases hardenibility by forming strong carbide
  • Silicon Si 0.35%: Increases strength and heat resistance.
  • Phosphorus P 0.03%: Improves machinability and hardness.
  • Sulfur S 0.02%: Improves machinability.

Properties of ATS 34 steel

ATS 34 Hardness

ATS 34 steel hardness is 60-61 as per the Rockwell hardness scale, which is high hardness found in high-end steel. With such high hardness, you can be sure of excellent edge retention from knives made from this steel, but you will have to put in more effort to get a sharp edge.

ATS 34 Wear resistance

As already stated, ATS 34 is high Carbon steel, and for that, it offers excellent wear resistance. Blades made from this steel will stay in good shape for long irrespective of daily applications that might result from wearing.

In addition to the carbon, the hardness of this steel is boosted by the high chromium elements and extra molybdenum carbides in its composition.

ATS 34 Toughness

Most steels will either give you hardness or toughness. Being hard steel, we would expect ATS 34 to be very brittle. However, this is not the case because it offers decent toughness. ATS 34 steel does not provide the highest level of toughness as other high-end steel, but it is not the worst.

With its level of toughness, ATS 34 can be used for challenging applications without breaking or chipping. This property makes it a good choice for thin and long blades.

ATS 34 Edge retention

Edge retention is another area of excellence for ATS 34 steel. Due to its high hardness, it holds an edge for a long. Knives made from this steel do not require frequent sharpening.

This property is attributed to the high carbon amounts in its composition. Therefore, if you are keen on knives that do not become dull faster, look into the varieties of ATS 34 blades.

ATS 34 Corrosion resistance

ATS 34 steel contains high amounts of chromium, making it stainless steel and, hence, great corrosion resistance. Because of its ability to resist rust, it is suitable for making kitchen and camping knives.

However, it is not entirely corrosive resistant. This steel will still rust if left unattended or used in highly corrosive environments, such as salty water areas.

With that realization, proper care and maintenance are paramount to keep this steel from rusting. Please do not leave it in water overnight. Wash and dry after use, and you will never witness a stain.

ATS 34 Ease of sharpening

We have already indicated that ATS 34 holds an edge for a long, but how long does it take to restore an edge? Being hard steel, sharpening ATS 34 steel is a challenging task.

This is not to say that it will never get sharp after becoming dull, but you require the right sharpening tools and skills.

ATS 34 steel comparison

ATS 34 vs 440C

ATS 34 beats 440C steel in edge retention and wear resistance. On the other hand, 440C shines in corrosion resistance, and it is tougher than its counterpart.

ATS 34 vs. D2

Both are categorized as high-end steels but differ in properties, with D2 tool steel offering better corrosion resistance, wear resistance, and toughness. On the other hand, ATS 34 shines in corrosion resistance, and it is easier to sharpen.

Is ATS 34 steel good knife steel?

ATS 34 has the properties of good knife steel. It offers great edge retention, decent toughness, great wear resistance, and excellent corrosion resistance. The only downside is that it’s hard to sharpen but offers a decent balance between edge retention and ease of sharpening.

There is also an improved version of this steel known as RWL 34 stainless steel, It is a powder metallurgy steel produced by Damasteel.

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