What is Niolox Steel?
Niolox steel is stainless steel with tool properties like D2 steel and Sleipner steel, it is produced by Lohmann. It features a unique composition that contains Niobium which gives it excellent wear-resistant properties.
Also, this high-quality steel is very fine-grained, which helps with resharpening and edge retention. The properties of Niolox make it good steel in the manufacture of industrial knives, camping knives, and sports knives.
Niolox Steel Composition
- Carbon C 0.80%: Increases the edge retention, hardness and tensile strength. It also improves steel resistance to wear, abrasion and corrosion.
- Chromium Cr 12.7% – 14.50%: Formation of Chromium carbides Increases hardness, tensile strength and toughness of the blade.
- Molybdenum Mo 1.10%: It improves machinability and hardness.
- Vanadium V 0.90%: Increase wear resistance and toughness, it also improves corrosion resistance. High vanadium content enables formation of Vanadium Carbides.
- Niobium Nb 0.7%: This is what makes Niolox unique. It is added to form carbides like vanadium. It forms hard carbides that improve wear resistance.
Properties of Niolox stainless steel
Niolox Steel Hardness
The hardness of Niolox ranges from 59-62HRC as per the Rockwell hardness scale, which varies with the heat treatment used. This high hardness level increases this steel’s wear resistance and edge retention capabilities.
Niolox Steel Wear resistance
Niolox offers excellent wear resistance because of the high hardness and Niobium in its composition. Niobium forms very hard carbides and hence the excellent abrasion resistance.
Niolox knives will serve you for a long time without losing shape, even with frequent use and sharpening. The wear resistance of blades made from this steel is better than regular stainless steel and carbon steel.
Niolox Steel Edge retention
Any steel with high hardness almost always automatically passes the edge retention test, which is the case with Niolox steel. It contains high amounts of carbon that contribute to the high hardness, which translates to excellent edge retention.
Being high-end steel, knives made from Niolox are more expensive, but the price is worth it because you do not have to sharpen the blades after every use.
With that said, if you are in the market for a knife that will not bother you with frequent sharpening, dig deeper into your pockets and get the varieties of Niolox.
Niolox Steel Toughness
In the steel world, the toughness of steel reduces with increased hardness, which is valid with Niolox. It contains Niobium which is excellent in informing very hard carbides. This makes this steel excellent in wear resistance but brittle.
The toughness of Niolox is not the best. Still, it is enough to withstand challenging applications without chipping and breaking at the first cut.
If your goal is to purchase a knife with excellent toughness for heavy-duty cutting, look for knives made from other types of steel with better toughness than Niolox. In context, steels like CPM 154, D2 steel, and Bohler N690, which are similarly priced, will offer better toughness than Niolox.
Sharpening Niolox Steel
The ease of sharpens of steel is determined by its wear resistance, and you can already tell that Niolox is hard to sharpen because of its excellent wear resistance.
However, this is not to say that you cannot sharpen this steel, but it takes you more time and effort to get a razor-sharp edge.
Experienced sharpeners will advise you to use whetstones to sharpen Niolox. The good news is, the steel holds a sharp edge for long, and therefore, you do not have to go through the challenging sharpening now and then.
Niolox Steel Corrosion resistance
By now, you must be dying to know if Niolox steel rusts. The simple answer is yes, but not very quickly. Being stainless steel, Niolox offers excellent corrosion resistance. However, it will rust if left in a corrosive environment. For example, do not leave the knives in water overnight or dirty.
To enhance the corrosion resistance of Niolox blade steel, proper care, which is as simple as cleaning and drying the knives after use, is a must. Niolox will still offer better corrosion resistance than other tool steels like D2 steel.
Niolox steel equivalent and Niolox steel comparison
Niolox steel vs D2 steel
Niolox is comparable to D2 steel, it can be termed as Niolox equivalent in performance. Both steels have the same hardness range and wear resistance. However, the hardness of D2 is a result of hard vanadium carbides, while Niolox contains hard niobium carbides. Niolox steel will maintain an edge slightly more than D2 steel. It is also stainless steel with high chromium content.
D2 steel, on the other hand, is semi-stainless steel and will rust faster in a corrosive environment than Niolox steel. The addition of Niobium gives Niolox an overall better performance over D2 steel in hardness and edge retention. Still, it loses to D2 steel when it comes to toughness.
Sleipner vs Niolox steel
Sleipner steel and Niolox give almost similar performance. What you should note is Sleipner steel is an upgraded version of D2 steel in terms of toughness and corrosion resistance. Having this in mind, you should be sure that Sleipner steel will outperform Niolox Steel in toughness but not corrosion resistance.
Sleipner steel has relatively small carbides compared to Niolox steel. This improves its toughness over Niolox steel at the expense of a lowered hardness and edge retention. Niolox will likely outperform Sleipner steel in terms of edge retention. However, it will be easier to get a sharp edge on Sleipner steel than on Niolox steel.
Niolox steel vs M390
Niolox and M390 are two steel in different levels and are produced differently. While Niolox is more of mid-range steel, Bohler M390 steel is a premium steel that outperforms Niolox steel in almost all aspects. M390 steel beats Niolox in hardness, edge retention, Toughness, Corrosion resistance, and wear resistance.
Niolox will beat M390 steel in ease of sharpness and price. It is affordable steel and easy to work with in terms of forging than M390 steel.
Niolox steel vs Elmax
Elmax steel will outperform Niolox steel in most aspects. Firstly Elmax steel offers excellent toughness over Niolox; its toughness is comparable to high-end S45VN steel. Elmax will also beat Niolox steel in corrosion resistance. They both offer comparable edge retention, and the only thing that can separate them on this is how much hardened each steel is.
Both steel also offers comparable wear resistance properties due to their almost similar hardness range. It will be easy to get a sharp edge with any steel with minimal effort. Rolls and bending caused by tough cutting will quickly grind out when sharpening either steel.
Is Niolox steel good for knives?
Niolox is a good steel for knife making because of its excellent wear resistance, edge retention, good corrosion resistance, and decent toughness. However, it is relatively hard to sharpen compared to D2 and Sleipner.
Lionsteel Knife Company heavily uses Sleipner, D2, or Niolox in mid-range and lower-end knives. The performance of these three steel is almost identical, and all of them will offer good edge retention.
Check out this Lion Steel Niolox Hunting Fixed blade
Lion Steel Fixed Blade With NIOLOX Steel
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!