What is 12C27 Steel?
12C27 steel is low-end high Chromium steel manufactured by Sandvik AB, a Swedish company. It is one of the steel grades under the Sandvik family consisting of 14C28N steel and 13C26 Steel.
12C27 martensitic stainless steel is popular in the knife industry because it offers excellent wear resistance, corrosion resistance, and high hardness, all properties that make good knife steel.
What’s more, unlike other high chromium steels that are difficult to sharpen because of the hard chromium carbides, 12C27 steel attains an edge very fast. Sandvik 12C27 steel is used in making hunting knives, pocket knives, fishing knives, camping knives, tactical knives, skate blades, and ice drills.
12C27 Steel Chemical composition
- Carbon C 0.60%: Increases edge retention, hardness, and tensile strength. It also improves steel resistance to wear, abrasion, and corrosion.
- Chromium Cr 13.50%: Formation of Chromium carbides. Increases the blade’s hardness, tensile strength, and corrosion resistance.
- Phosphorous P 0.03%: Increases the strength and improves the machinability of steel
- Manganese Mn 0.40%: improves the strength and hardness of steel. When the steel is heat-treated, hardenability is improved with increased manganese.
- Silicon Si 0.40%: Increases strength and heat resistance.
- Sulfur S 0.01%: Improves machinability but is regarded as an impurity in high quantities.
Properties of 12C27 Steel
12C27 Steel Hardness
Sandvik 12C27 steel hardness ranges 54-61HRC on the Rockwell hardness scale. The exact hardness of this steel depends on the heat treatment and other variants used by the manufacturer. With the ability to achieve 61HRC, it is considered hard steel.
Sandvik quotes that too high a hardening temperature will result in low hardness and bad wear resistance, while too low hardening temperature will result in low hardness and low corrosion resistance.
12C27 Steel Wear resistance
The wear resistance of steel is directly related to its hardness. Looking at the hardness of 12C27 steel, it is evident that it offers excellent wear resistance. It does not offer the same level of wear resistance as premium knife steels but keeps you assured that your knives will pull through normal wear and tear.
What’s more, even with frequent sharpening, the blade will maintain its original shape even with frequent sharpening and be less likely to exhibit rolling on the edges.
12C27 Steel Edge Retention
With high hardness, it is given that this Sandvik 12C27 will remain sharp for long because it will resist becoming dull. The steel remains sharp longer than popular steels out there, known for edge retention. This feature is attributed to the carbon and high chromium in its composition
12C27 stainless steel edge retention is not the best out there; it falls short of some other steels like crucible’s CPM 154 stainless steel and most high alloy nonstainless steels like CPM CruWear steel.
12C27 Steel Corrosion resistant
12C27 steel does not rust easily; being high chromium steel, 12C27 resists corrosion and rust easily. What’s more, it is stainless steel, meaning that it also resists stains. Because of these properties, knife makers love this steel to make fishing and hunting knives. However, this steel is not 100% corrosion resistant. Therefore, it requires proper care and maintenance.
However, you cannot leave knives made from this steel in water for days and expect them not to rust. Taking care of this Steel involves drying and oiling the blades after use if you want them to last decades.
12C27 Steel Toughness
It is a rule of thumb that hard steel is brittle, but 12C27 breaks this rule. Even with a hardness of 61HRC, Sandvik 12C27 steel offers excellent toughness. The credit for the toughness of this steel goes to its fine carbide structure. High toughness can resist chipping, breaking, and cracking when used for tough applications.
12C27 steel toughness is among the best in stainless steel blades. Its toughness is highly comparable but slightly lower to AEB-L steel, 14C28N steel, and 420HC stainless steel.
Sharpening 12C27 steel
Since this 12C27 is not super hard, it is easy to sharpen even with the simplest sharpening tools like a whetstone. We must note that this is a unique feature with 12C27 considering that most high chromium steels are hard to sharpen.
12C27 Steel Comparison
Sandvik 12C27 vs D2 steel
The main difference between Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel and D2 steel is that 12C27 steel is stainless steel with over 13% chromium elements in its composition, while D2 steel is a tool steel that is nonstainless.
D2 stands out in the steel world for its excellent wear resistance. Although 12C27 offers great wear resistance, it cannot beat D2. 12C27, on the other hand, shines in ease of sharpening, machinability, toughness, and 12C27 knives are cheaper than D2 knives.
12C27 vs 14C28N
The main difference between Sandvik 14C28N steel and Sandvik 12C27 steel is that Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel is an upgraded version of 12C27 steel and has additional chromium and nitrogen in its alloy.
These additional elements improve corrosion resistance and increase its toughness slightly over Sandvik 12C27 Stainless steel. 12C27 was a precursor to the development of AEB-L steel and 14C28N steel.
12c27 vs 440C
The main difference between Sandvik 12C27 steel and 440C steel is that Sandvik 12C27 steel offers close to twice the toughness of 440C blade steel. 440C stainless steel, on the other hand, offers slightly better edge retention than 12C27 Stainless steel, but they both exhibit an almost similar level of rust and corrosion resistance.
Both 12C27 steel and 440C steel composition mainly contain chromium and carbon. 440C steel has a bit more carbon which enables the formation of much more carbides than 12C27 steel. These carbides are effective in edge retention and wear resistance of 440C blade steel.
Sandvik 12C27 vs AUS 8
The main difference between Sandvik 12C27 steel and Japanese AUS 8 steel is that Sandvik 12C27 steel offers slightly better toughness. You will get almost similar edge retention on these two knife steels. Both will also provide similar performance when it comes to corrosion and rust resistance.
Despite offering similar performance in terms of edge retention and corrosion resistance. The composition of 12C27 steel and AUS 8 steel is very different. 12C27 steel composition is purer with mainly carbon and chromium. AUS 8 steel, on the other hand, contains additional elements like vanadium.
While the additional elements like vanadium improve the edge retention and wear resistance of AUS 8 steel, they affect the toughness by forming hard, brittle carbides. This is precisely where Sandvik 12C27 purity comes in place to beat AUS 8 steel in toughness.
Sandvik 12C27 vs VG10
VG10 offers higher hardness than its counterpart, making it better in edge retention, wear resistance, and corrosion resistance. 12C27 shines in toughness, and it is easier to sharpen. Also, 12C27 is more affordable, meaning that its knives are cheaper than the more expensive Japanese VG10 steel knives.
The higher hardness in VG10 steel is attributed to additional elements like vanadium and cobalt. 12C27 steel composition, on the other hand, is purer with mostly carbon and chromium. This enables 12C27 steel to maintain high toughness.
Sandvik 12C27 vs 420HC
420HC contains lower carbon amounts than 12C27. This means that 12C27 offers better edge retention. However, 420HC outshines 12C27 in wear resistance because it has Vanadium. They offer similar corrosion resistance and make budget knives.
12C27 steel is sometimes considered very high carbon 420 steel. For this reason, you will find 12C27 with almost similar toughness to the high-end 420HC steel but with improved edge retention.
12C27 Vs 8Cr13MoV
Sandvik 12C27 steel is Swedish low-end steel often compared to Chinese 8Cr13MoV. Both steels offer almost similar properties, but the Chinese 8Cr13MoV steel variant has higher hardness due to the addition of Vanadium, Molybdenum, and Nickel in its alloy.
The additional elements give 8Cr13MoV better edge retention and wear resistance. 12C27 stainless steel, on the other hand, offers better toughness due to its alloy purity and lower hardness.
Morakniv 12C27 Stainless Steel Outdoor Knife.
Is 12C27 good knife steel?
Yes! 12C27 steel is budget-friendly steel that offers excellent wear resistance, corrosion resistance, and outstanding toughness. Additionally, it holds an edge for a long and is easy to sharpen. All these properties are dependent on the heat treatment used.
Sandvik has clear indications on how to heat treat this steel to get the best out of it. Considering all the listed properties, we can conclude that 12C27 steel is good knife steel for knife users and knifemakers.
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!