SR101 steel is high carbon steel, a modification of 52100 steel. BUSSCOMBAT Company did this modification to create steel that will make harder knives for use in combat. The modification made to 52100 was not that big, and therefore, SR101 is very similar to 52100. The only notable difference is that the SR101 steel grain structure has been improved to improve the toughness of the steel over its counterpart 52100 steel.
In the knife industry, this steel is mainly used in making knives and swords. Companies like Swap Rat Knife Works and Busse Combat knife Company modestly price knives made from SR101 steel, however, they are not cheap.
SR101 Steel Chemical composition
- Carbon C 1.00%: Increases edge retention, hardness, and tensile strength. It also improves steel resistance to wear, abrasion, and corrosion.
- Chromium Cr 1.46%: Formation of Chromium carbides. Increases the blade’s hardness, tensile strength, and corrosion resistance.
- Phosphorous P 0.03%: Increases the strength and improves machinability of steel
- Manganese Mn 0.69%: improves the strength and hardness of steel. When the steel is heat-treated, hardenability is improved with increased manganese.
- Silicon Si 0.22%: Increases strength and heat resistance.
- Sulfur S 0.03%: Improves machinability but is regarded as an impurity in high quantities.
- Copper Cu: 0.27% added to steel alloy in small amounts, it enhances the chemical properties of steel by increasing its corrosion resistance.
Properties of SR101 Steel
SR101 Steel Hardness
The hardness of SR101 is 58-60HRC as per the Rockwell hardness scale. This hardness level is not very high, but it is enough to give this steel great edge retention and wear resistance capabilities.
SR101 Edge retention
The steel offers great edge retention, attributed to the high hardness of 60HRC and high carbon content in its composition. With its level of hardness, this steel remains sharp for a long. It can get through the different cutting applications without requiring you to stop for sharpening.
SR101 Steel Corrosion resistance
One of the shortcomings of this steel is its poor corrosion resistance. It contains low amounts of Chromium, which does not make it stainless steel. For that reason, if you are keen on knives with excellent corrosion resistance, stay away from SR101 blades.
However, you can help keep corrosion at bay through proper care and maintenance. This involves simple and basic practices like washing and drying the blades after use. Also, you can apply a coat of oil during storage.
SR101 Wear resistance
The wear resistance of SR101 can be described as great, attributed to its hardness level. While not the best out there, the edge retention of this steel allows it to withstand normal wear and tear.
What’s more, proper care is paramount to keep this steel in good shape. Do not expose it to applications beyond its ability if you want it to last for a long time.
SR101 Steel Toughness
This steel offers great toughness considering that it is not very hard steel. What’s more, the fine mixture of carbon, manganese, silicon, and Chromium components boost its toughness. With the toughness offered by this steel, it does not break or chip easily when used for tough applications.
The high toughness of this steel makes it suitable for the manufacture of large blades used in sword making.
Sharpening SR101 Steel
Sharpening steel with high hardness is not easy, and this is the case with SR101 steel. However, while it will be challenging to get an edge with this steel, it cannot be compared with high-end steel with a hardness of more than 61HRC.
Its sharpen ability is somewhere in the middle, and beginners can quickly get a sharp edge using simple sharpening tools.
SR101 Steel Comparison
SR101 vs. 52100
SR101 steel is a modification of 52100, therefore their features and abilities are very close. Both steel grades offer high hardness, low corrosion resistance, and great strength. However, 52100 contains more carbon making it harder and better in edge retention and wear resistance than SR101.
SR101 vs. S30V
S30V is a premium stainless steel hence offers better corrosion resistance, edge retention, and wear resistance than its counterpart. On the other hand, SR101 shines in toughness, and it is easier to sharpen than the premium hard steel.
SR101 vs. 440C
SR101 beats 440C in edge retention, wear resistance, and toughness. On the contrary, 440C shines in corrosion resistance because it is stainless steel and contains more Chromium in its composition. SR101 knives are suitable for hard use, while 440C knives are what you need for corrosive environments.
Is SR101 good steel for knives?
SR101 has great toughness, wear resistance, edge retention, and is easy to sharpen, attributes for good knife steels. However, it fails in corrosion resistance, meaning that SR101 knives are unsuitable for wet environments and require regular care. SR101 knives are competitively priced in the market but are not cheap as other mainstream steels.