15N20 Steel is a steel alloy manufactured by European brand Bohler with carbon and nickel as its main components.
It is also used together with 1095, 1075, and 01 steel by Damascus steel manufacturers. For that matter, do not be confused when you come across 15N20/1080 steel alloy knives.
What’s more, this steel is easy to work with making it suitable for beginners in knife making who want to practice.
Due to its characteristics, 15N20 is used to make knives of different sizes including kitchen knives, swords, filleting knives, band saw blades and woodworking tools. In addition, it is used to make pattern welded Damascus blades.
15N20 Steel composition
- Carbon C 0.75%: Increases the edge retention, hardness and tensile strength. It also improves steel resistance to wear, abrasion and corrosion.
- Nickel 2.00%: Increases toughness.
- Manganese Mn 0.4%: Increases hardness of the steel
- Silicon Si 0.03%: Increases strength and heat resistance.
- Sulfur S 0.01%: Improves machinability
- Phosphorous P 0.02% : Improves machinability and hardness
15N20 Steel Hardness
15N20 hardness is 61-62HRC as per the Rockwell hardness, but it can vary depending on the heat treatment used by the brand.
With some manufactures, 15N20 can achieve hardness as high as 65HRC depending on the heat treating techniques, making it one of the hardest steels out there.
15N20 Steel Edge retention
Being hard steel with nickel in its composition, 15N20 offers amazing edge retention features.
We cannot say that it is the best edge retention out there, but it is better than most carbon steel knives. The high Nickel content is the main reason to 15N20 steel amazing edge retention.
15N20 Steel Toughness
15N20 steel is well known for its toughness, one of the reasons why it is used to make band saw blades and in pattern welding.
The toughness level in this steel is associated with high amounts of nickel in its composition. It is unlikely to chip or break even on tough applications.
15N20 Steel Corrosion resistance
One of the downsides of 15N20 steel is its low corrosion resistance as it contains no amounts of chromium in its composition. 15N20 alloy steel is not a stainless steel.
Therefore, if you were wondering if this steel rusts, yes it does. However, Experts advise you to clean, wipe dry, and apply a coat of oil or wax on your 15N20 knives before storage to protect them from rusting.
15N20 Steel Wear resistance
Another natural consequence of the hardness of 15N20 steel is good to wear resistance. The Manganese and Silicone in its composition greatly contribute to the good wear resistance
With proper care and a quality blade, 15N20 knives will serve you for a long.
15N20 steel is hard steel, but not too hard to sharpen. Compared to other high carbon steel out there, you will be able to get a razor-sharp edge with this steel easily.
This feature makes 15N20 knife blade suitable for outdoor use because, they remain sharp for long, and even if they get dull, you are able to get a sharp edge with the available sharpening tools.
Easy to work with
15N20 is a great steel to work with and this property benefits both the manufacturer and the user.
Knife makers and especially those starting out can use this steel to practice and perfect their skills without a lot of trouble.
On the other hand, consumers enjoy lower-priced quality knives because it is easy to manufacture and does not come with too much cost.
15N20 vs 1095 Steel
Both types of steel are carbon but 1095 steel has more carbon in its composition making it harder, and better in edge retention. On the other hand, 15N20 is tougher and easier to sharpen 1095 carbon steel.
Both steel types are poor in corrosion resistance because they contain low amounts of Chromium.
15N20 vs 1080 Steel
1080 steel is popularly used in combination with 15N20 to make Damascus blade for swords and knives. It is also mostly used by custom knife makers because it is easy to work with just like 15N20.
On the difference, 1080 blade steel contains more carbon making it harder, 15N20 steel on the other hand is much tougher than 1080.
Is 15N20 Steel good for Knives?
15N20 is good steel for knives. A Knife maker will love this steel because it is easy to work with and offers terrific toughness and good edge retention. The only downside is its poor corrosion resistance which can be managed through proper care and maintenance.
If you would like a Stainless Damascus steel that does not rust check Damasteel DS93X Damascus stainless 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!