What is N690Co Steel?
N690Co steel is high-end stainless steel manufactured by Bohler, a company in Austria. It is high carbon steel and contains Cobalt to promote structural consistency. This steel is an iteration of Bohler N690 steel.
Knifemakers love N690Co steel because it is affordable and easy to use, translating to affordable knives and other end products. It is popularly used to make sharp knives and surgical instruments.
Bohler N690Co steel is used in the knife industry to make camping knives, bush crafts knives, and tactical knives, to mention a few. It is suitable for outdoor knives because it contains high amounts of Carbon and Cobalt hence the production of blades to handle tough applications.
Bohler N690Co Steel Chemical Composition
- Carbon C 1.07%: Increases the edge retention, hardness and tensile strength. It also improves steel resistance to wear, abrasion and corrosion.
- Chromium Cr 17.30%: The formation of Chromium carbide Increases the hardness, tensile strength, and corrosion resistance of the blade.
- Molybdenum Mo 1.10%: It improves corrosion resistance, machinability, and hardness.
- Vanadium V 0.10%: inhibits grain growth during elevated temperature processing and heat treatment, which enhances the strength and toughness of steel. It also forms carbides that increase wear resistance.
- 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.
- Cobalt Co 1.65%: Forms hard carbide in combination with other elements.
Properties of N690Co steel
N690Co Steel Hardness
The carbon and Cobalt in Bohler N690Co steel make it very hard steel. Manufacturers control the heat treatment during production so that it does not become extra hard making it very brittle.
N690Co has a Rockwell hardness of 61 HRC. With this hardness level, this steel offers good edge retention and excellent wear resistance, making it a good choice for outdoor knives.
N690Co Steel Edge retention
N690Co steel provides excellent edge retention because of its hard nature. You can trust N690Co Stainless steel knives for long-term service without the need for frequent sharpening.
Blades made from this steel have a consistently fine edge due to the added Cobalt hence the ability to remain sharp longer. Cobalt elements improve the strength of steel and hence increasing edge holding capabilities.
N690Co Steel Toughness
Due to its hardness, N690Co does not offer the best toughness out there. However, it delivers decent toughness to withstand tough applications for outdoor knife use, including batoning.
It may not have superior toughness like other high-end steels, but it will not break or chip when subjected to stressful activities.
N690Co Steel Wear resistance
N690Co steel offers excellent wear resistance associated with the Vanadium and Chromium in its composition. What’s more, the added Cobalt, which is a hard metal makes this steel harder than other knife steels on the market.
N690Co knives will serve you for years even with frequent use and sharpening without wearing them out.
N690Co Steel Corrosion resistance
N690Co Stainless Steel shines in corrosion resistance because of the high levels of chromium in its composition. Knives made from this steel will not rust even when used in humid, wet, or salty environments.
Because of this feature, N690Co blade steel is good for surgical instruments and outdoor knife blades.
Sharpening N690Co Steel
As already stated, N690Co steel keeps a sharp edge for a long. However, it gets dull over time and requires sharpening.
Unlike other hard steels, N690Co blade steel is easy to sharpen. You will be able to get a sharp edge with convectional sharpening tools at home or in the wild.
Machinability of N690Co
N690Co Knife steel contains Molybdenum in its composition, which helps in machinability. Knife makers love this steel because it is easy to use and cut, and it is not hard on their tools.
N690Co steel equivalents
N690Co VS S30V
N690Co knife steel and S30V steel offer the same level of corrosion resistance and hardness. However, S30V has better edge retention, and it is more expensive, while N690Co is easier to sharpen.
N690Co vs. D2
D2 steel is a high-end tool steel offering a higher Rockwell hardness and better edge retention than N690Co Stainless Steel. D2 steel edge retention is in the range of S35V steel and Magnacut steel.
On the other hand, N690Co beats D2 in corrosion resistance because D2 is not stainless steel while N690Co is a stainless steel. However, D2 steel is more challenging to sharpen due to the increased wear resistance.
N690Co vs. 154CM
154CM steel offers proper hardness, corrosion resistance, and it is easy to sharpen. However, N690Co Stainless steel offers better corrosion resistance and edge retention than 154CM.
N690Co vs VG10
Bohler N690Co and VG10 are hugely similar because of the added cobalt in their alloy composition. However, N690Co contains a higher amount of chromium elements hence offering better corrosion resistance than VG 10 steel.
N690Co and VG10 steel offer identical level of Rockwell hardness, hence offering the same level of edge retention and wear resistance. The difference in edge retention is negligible and will hugely depend on the heat treatment and blade geometry.
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!