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M390 steel is super steel produced by Bohler-Uddeholm following the third-generation powder metallurgy. Knives made from this steel maintain their sharpness for the longest time and are highly priced.
Bohler uddeholm M390 contains high amounts of chromium and vanadium as its main components giving it extreme corrosion resistance and excellent wear resistance.
What’s more, the finish of M390 stainless steel is appealing to the eyes which is associated with its superfine grain structure.
Following its high wear resistance and toughness, M390 is useful in the industrial market in the production of barrels, screws, and for applications like injection molding.
Knifemakers find it suitable for high-end small knives.
M390 steel composition
- Carbon C 1.90%: Increases the edge retention, hardness and tensile strength. It also improves steel resistance to wear, abrasion and corrosion.
- Chromium Cr 20.00%: Formation of Chromium carbide Increases hardness, tensile strength and corrosion resistance of the blade.
- Molybdenum Mo 1.00%: It improves machinability and hardness.
- Vanadium V 4.00%: Increase wear resistance and toughness, it also improves corrosion resistance.
- Tungsten W 0.60% Improves wear resistance and hardness, mostly added to tool steel.
- Manganese Mn 0.30%: Increases Hardness and brittleness.
- Silicon Si 0.70%: Increases strength and heat resistance.
Properties of M390 steel
Bohler M390 steel hardness is 60-62HRC as per the Rockwell hardness scale making it medium hard steel. Hardness varies with the heat treatment technique used during production.
With this high hardness, it offers a perfect balance of toughness, wear resistance, and edge retention making it a perfect choice for knife makers.
M390 Wear resistance
One of the areas where M390 steel scores the highest is in its wear resistance. As already mentioned, it contains high amounts of Chromium and Vanadium.
This means high amounts of Chromium carbide and Vanadium Carbide contributing to extreme wear resistance.
Due to this property, M390 knives will last long even when used regularly for tough applications.
M390 Edge retention
M390steel is a super steel meaning that it remains sharp for a very long time. Excellent edge retention is among the features that make this steel very popular.
The ability to hold an edge forever is associated with the high chromium carbides and Vanadium in its composition.
M390 steel knives do not require frequent sharpening and this contributes to their long lifespan because of reduced exposure to wear and tear.
M390 Corrosion resistance
The amount of chromium in steel determines its corrosion resistance. Having said that M390 contains high amounts of chromium, you can already tell that it offers excellent corrosion resistance.
Being stainless steel, it is suitable for knives to be used in salty, humid, and other corrosive environments.
M390 blade steel makes knives with a great degree of toughness compared to steels with the same level of hardness.
Knives made from this steel are not the toughest out there, but you can trust them for long service without breaking, cracking, or chipping even after regular stressful applications.
Is M390 steel hard to sharpen?
By now you must have concluded that M390 is hard to sharpen because of its hardness and extreme wear resistance.
However, you will be surprised to know that this steel is easy to sharpen, which is associated with more chromium carbides in its composition, which are softer and hence easier to sharpen.
M390 steel comparison
M390 Steel Vs D2
Both steel types are tool steel but differ in performance. M390 beats D2 steel in edge retention, corrosion resistance, and wear resistance, while D2 is easier to sharpen. They offer the same level of toughness.
M390 Steel vs 154CM
154CM steel is manufactured by crucible industries and is a popular choice among knife makers. However, M390 outshines it in edge retention, toughness, and corrosion resistance. On the other hand, you will achieve an edge faster with 154CM.
M390 steel vs CPM 20CV
CPM 20CV steel can be considered M390 and CTS-204P steel equivalent as it matches them in all aspects including, edge retention, sharpening, toughness, and corrosion resistance.
20CV and M390 steel are very durable and are considered essentially the same as their alloy contain similar chemical composition.
The only downside for both steels is how hard it is to sharpen them, they require time and precision to attain a razor-sharp edge during sharpening.
M390 VS S35VN
M390 steel and S35VN steel offer equal corrosion resistance. M390 has better edge retention than S35VN while S35VN is easier to sharpen than M390, they are almost similar on toughness but M390 is a little tougher.
Is M390 Steel Good Knife Steel?
M390 steel is among the very popular super steels because it offers excellent edge retention, extreme wear resistance, high toughness, and high corrosion resistance.
This Bohler steel is suitable for making knives to be used in tough applications and corrosive environments and still lasts long.
The only downside is that M390 knife blade is highly-priced.