What is CTS BD1N steel?

CTS BD1N steel

What is CTS BD1N Steel?

CTS BD1N steel is nitrogen-based, high-carbon chromium, and vacuum-melted stainless steel produced by Carpenter, an American company. Because of the carbon and chromium blend, the steel offers superior hardness.

CTS BD1N is not the same steel as CTS-BD1 steel; CTS BD1N is nitrogen-based stainless steel which is denoted by the N at the end.

Knifemakers love this steel because of its composition, qualities, and machinability. The chromium in its composition increases its corrosion resistance, while Nitrogen mitigates the possibility of chipping and cracking.

What’s more, the superior hardness gives it excellent edge retention and wear resistance, making it a favorite for both knife makers and users.

CTS BD1N steel is used in the knife industry to make camping knives, pocket knives, and general knives. In other industries, it is used to make ball bearing and small machinery parts to mention a few.

CTS BD1N Steel Composition (CTS-BD1N Steel Chart)

  • Carbon C 0.95%: Increases edge retention, hardness, and tensile strength. It also improves steel resistance to wear, abrasion, and corrosion.
  • Chromium Cr 17.00%: Formation of Chromium carbides. Increases the blade’s hardness, tensile strength, and corrosion resistance.
  • Nitrogen N 0.15%: Improves the hardness of steel while also refining the grain structure to prevent chipping and cracking.
  • Molybdenum Mo 0.50%: It improves machinability and hardness.
  • Phosphorous P 0.03%: Increases the strength and improves machinability of steel
  • 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 1.00%: Increases strength and heat resistance.
  • Sulfur S 0.03%: Improves machinability but is regarded as an impurity in high quantities.

CTS BD1N steel properties

CTS BD1N Steel Hardness

The Rockwell hardness of CTS BD1N is 60-63 HRC. The high hardness results from the high amounts of carbon and chromium in its composition. The presence of Nitrogen also gives it a super-refined grain structure.

CTS BD1N Steel Toughness

CTS BD1N steel offers decent toughness. This is associated with the small-sized Nitrogen elements in its composition, which gives it a fine grain structure.

Like any other Nitrogen-based steel, CTS BD1N offers a perfect balance between hardness and toughness. With that said, knives made from this steel do not break or chip easily.

The toughness of CTS BD1N is not the best out there, it is just decent. You will get better toughness and edge retention with other steels like CPM 154 steel, Elmax steel and S35VN steel. 

CTS BD1N Steel Edge retention

CTS BD1N steel shines in edge retention, which is associated with its high hardness. Compared to other steel types in the same category, CTS BD1N is a great choice in making knives with edges that remain sharp for long.

The edge retention of CTS BD1N stainless steel is comparable to most knife steels but better than the likes of AUS 8 steel, 8Cr13MoV steel, 14C28N steel, and German made  1.4116 stainless steel.

Therefore, if you are on the market for a knife that will not require you to sharpen all the time, look into the varieties of CTS BD1N knives.

CTS BD1N Steel Corrosion resistance

CTS BD1N is stainless steel; it contains high amounts of Chromium and Nitrogen. You would expect the nitrogen in its composition to affect its corrosion resistance, but this is not the case as it improves it.

CTS BD1N does not rust or stain easily. However, knives made from this steel still require care to protect them from rusting. You cannot leave them in a corrosive environment and expect them not to rust.

The ideal maintenance involves washing and wiping the blades dry after use. Applying a coat of oil for storage is another strategy to keep stains at bay.

CTS BD1N Steel Wear resistance

Blades of CTS BD1N steel last for a long time. This is associated with the chemical composition and the great edge retention properties.

This steel is durable, and the blades can withstand daily applications without wearing out faster. This explains why knives made from CTS BD1N are expensive.

Ease of sharpening CTS BD1N

You would expect this BD1N steel to be hard to sharpen because of the hardness level. However, it is very easy to sharpen. The fine-grained Nitrogen elements give it a fine grain edge that is easy to sharpen.

Knife users love this steel because it keeps an edge for long and is easy to sharpen. It will take less effort and time to achieve a razor-sharp edge, even with simple sharpening tools.

CTS-BD1N Steel Comparison


The main difference between CTS BD1N and CTS BD1 is the N at the end of CTS BD1N. BD1N stainless steel contains nitrogen and is better because it belongs to the high-end steel category. BD1N steel offers more hardness giving it better edge retention and wear resistance.

The added nitrogen also significantly improves the corrosion resistance of CTS BD1N steel over that of regular CTS BD1 steel. In general BD1N steel is better steel as it is an improved version of the former CTS BD1 steel.

Besides, CTS BD1N is not very common, making it more expensive. Therefore, you are more likely to find knives made of CTS BD1, which are more affordable.

CTS BD1N vs S30V

The chemical composition of BD1N steel and S30V steel is very different. CPM S30V steel is a more complex steel with refined alloy and powder metallurgy production processes that produces finer grain structure.

S30V steel is better than CTS BD1N steel in edge retention and toughness. BD1N nitrogen-based alloy, on the other hand, offers better Rockwell hardness and corrosion resistance and may offer slightly better wear resistance.

CTS BD1N vs VG10 Steel

CTS BD1N steel is better than VG-10 Steel in corrosion resistance due to the presence of Nitrogen elements in its alloy composition. BD1N steel is also tougher than VG10 steel and is less prone to chipping and breaking.  

The alloy of VG-10 steel gives it excessive hardness from the presence of high chromium content and Vanadium content but also brings the undesired effect of cracking and chipping.

CTS BD1N Nitrogen-based steel also offers superior edge retention than that of VG-10 stainless steel. They are relatively the same in terms of price, but CTS BD1N stainless steel is the better steel.

See Also: S45VN steel review, a new nitrogen-based steel. I have reviewed in detail why S45VN steel is slightly better than CTS BD1N steel.


The main difference between CTS BD1N steel and D2 steel is that CTS BD1N steel is stainless steel, while D2 steel does not contain enough chromium elements in its composition to make it stainless steel.

D2 steel is tool steel; it offers a higher Rockwell hardness than CTS BD1N; this directly translates to better edge retention and wear resistance; it thus beats CTS BD1N steel in wear resistance and edge retention.

Both D2 knife steel and CTS BD1N knife steel will offer the same amount of toughness. They provide below-average toughness; they are not suitable for long blades or knives that will be subjected to extreme toughness. 

Better steel that will offer you better edge retention, toughness, and corrosion than both CTS BD1N stainless steel and D2 will be the Powder metallurgy produced MagnaCut steel. It offers twice the toughness of CTS BD1N knife steel, the same edge retention as D2 knife steel, and better corrosion resistance than BD1N steel.


M390 steel is better than CTS BD1N steel; the main difference between CTS BD1N steel and M390 steel is in edge retention. Bohler M390 is more premium steel, and it delivers as much as twice the edge retention of CTS BD1N steel. 

Another notable difference between M390 and BD1N stainless steel is in wear resistance. M390 steel offers exceptional wear resistance as it was designed to offer incredible wear resistance while still maintaining stainless steel properties. 

Both steels offer below-average toughness, and they do not excel in demanding or tough applications. You will also get excellent corrosion resistance with either steel, but M390 knife steel is slightly better than BD1N knife steel due to the higher chromium content. 

CTS-BD1N is easier to sharpen than M390 when the need arises; however, with the incredible edge retention of M390 steel, you will not require to sharpen it as often as you will require to sharpen CTS-BD1N.

Is CTS BD1N good knife steel?

Yes! CTS BD1N steel is good knife steel at all relevant factors. It offers excellent edge retention, great wear retention, decent toughness, great corrosion resistance, and is easy to sharpen. The only downside of this steel is that it is costly and therefore, its knives are more expensive.

How good is CTS-BD1N steel?

CTS BD1N steel is better than most knife steels in the market; it stands out over other steels due to its incredible corrosion resistance properties. Only a few steels can better the corrosion resistance of BD1N, and these include the likes of LC200N, M390, 20CV, CTS 204P, and Magnacut.

CTS-BD1N stainless steel toughness and edge retention are not that good but it still beats most steels used in knife making. You will get better toughness and edge retention with other steel but at the expense of corrosion resistance.

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