M390 vs S30V: Which Is Better?

M390 vs S30V

S30V knives are more popular than M390 knives. However, M390 knives offer better performance than S30V knives because they have better edge retention, wear resistance, and corrosion resistance. Both M390 and S30V feature almost the same level of toughness.

When choosing between M390 steel and S30V steel, you must consider all their properties, including toughness, edge retention, corrosion resistance, and ease of sharpening.

M390 vs S30V
M390 vs S30V: Which Is Better?

This article will discuss factors that will help you decide between M390 steel and S30V steel knives. We will look at the features, pros, cons, and differences in detail.

Are M390 And S30V Knives The Same?

If you are starting out in the steel knife industry, you might wonder if there are significant differences between M390 and S30V knives. Some of their characteristics might be similar or close, confusing first-time buyers.

M390 and S30V knives are not the same. The materials used to make them differ in toughness, edge retention, corrosion resistance, and ease of sharpening. You might not be able to differentiate the blades when placed side by side, but their steel grades differ in most factors.

  M390 S30V
Toughness 3.5 4
Edge retention 6.5 6
Corrosion resistance 9 7.5
Ease of sharpening Hard Easy
M390 vs S30V

To help you understand the differences further, let us look at the knife characteristics, pros, and cons of each knife in the next section.

M390 Knife Characteristics

M390 steel is popular knife steel, it is made by Bohler Industry following the Powder metallurgy process. The M390 knife is constructed from premium steel with good performance because it offers great edge retention, excellent corrosion resistance, and decent toughness.

M390 vs S30V: Which Is Better?M390 vs S30V: Which Is Better?

The knife is a good choice for everyday and outdoor uses because it does not require frequent sharpening, is highly resistant to water, and can withstand tough applications.

Because of the premium quality of the steel, which entails a high Rockwell hardness and wear resistance, the M390 knife will be harder to sharpen and pricier than the S30V.


  • Excellent corrosion resistance
  • Good edge retention
  • Good performance
  • Made of premium-grade steel


  • Expensive
  • Hard to sharpen
  • Not Tough

S30V Knife Characteristics

S30V steel is popular knife steel, it is made by Crucible Industry following the Crucible Particle Metallurgy process, S30V is also referred to as CPM S30V stainless steel.

The S30V knife steel is a favorite choice for many knife users because it offers a good balance between toughness, edge retention, and corrosion resistance. The knife is also easy to sharpen and comes at an affordable price.

M390 vs S30V: Which Is Better?M390 vs S30V: Which Is Better?


  • Good corrosion resistance
  • Great edge retention
  • Easy to sharpen
  • Good balance
  • Relatively Affordable


  • Moderately Tough

How to Choose Between the M390 and the S30V

To choose the best knife for you between M390 and S30V options, you must be sure of how you want to use the knife and consider if the knife characteristics suit your needs. Here are the major factors to consider.

  M390 S30V
Toughness 3.5 4
Edge retention 6.5 6
Corrosion resistance 9 7.5
Ease of sharpening Hard Easy
M390 vs S30V


The S30V steel knife offers better toughness than the M390 steel knife. According to Crucible Industry, the improved toughness of S30V steel is due to the CPM process that produces a very homogeneous grain structure.

The toughness of the M390 and S30V is almost the same, but it is not the best on the market because they are made from hard steel thus offering low ductility. However, you can still trust them to handle many tough and stressful applications without chipping, breaking, or cracking. See how M390 steel and S30V steel compares with the superior strength of Super Knife Steel.

Edge Retention

M390 knives offer better edge retention than S30V knives. According to Bohler, the improved edge retention is due to several factors including powder metallurgy production, higher Rockwell hardness, and higher Vanadium Carbide Contents.

M390 and S30V knives offer good edge retention because they are hard steels. The ability to stay sharp for a long time is associated with high vanadium and chromium carbides in their composition. The varieties of M390 and S30V knives will not disappoint you if you want a knife that does not require regular sharpening.

Corrosion Resistance

M390 and S30V knives can be used in corrosive environments, but M390 is more water resistant because it contains higher amounts of chromium elements. It will therefore last longer when used in highly corrosive environments.

However, any steel can rust when neglected. Consequently, you must ensure proper care and maintenance, ensure to wash and dry the knives after use.

Ease of Sharpening

Sharpening S30V knife is easier than M390 because it has a fine-grain structure. It will take less time and energy to get a sharp edge, even with standard sharpening tools. However, you need sharpening tools with higher hardness than steel itself.

If you are a newbie in knife sharpening and you are looking for a knife that is easy to sharpen and holds an edge longer, the options of S30V will not disappoint you.

Intention of Use

S30V is ideal for outdoor and everyday use because it offers good edge retention, does not rust easily, and is easy to sharpen. However, it is only ideal when used sparingly because it loses edge faster compared to M390 and will require frequent sharpening.

On the other hand, the M390 is ideal for outdoor use because it offers great edge retention, excellent corrosion resistance, and is durable. It is not ideal for kitchen knives due to high wear resistance making it hard to sharpen


M390 is premium steel; therefore, its knives come at a higher price tag than S30V varieties. If you are out for a high-performance knife and money is not a challenge, go for M390 knives. On the other hand, if you are shopping on a budget, S30V knives are priced lower and still offer good performance.

What Makes A Good Quality Knife?

A good quality knife has the following characteristics, sharpness, good edge retention, and a high-quality handle. With good sharpness, the blade can easily cut through materials; a long-lasting edge ensures reduced frequency of sharpening, and an ergonomic handle offers comfort and prevents slipping accidents.

Final Thoughts

In general, M390 steel is more premium steel than S30V steel, M390 offers better edge retention and corrosion resistance. On the other hand, S30V is much easier to sharpen than M390 and offers better toughness.

Check out all the S30V Steel Knives on Sale at Amazon

In terms of price, knives made with M390 steel are more expensive than those made of S30V steel. S30V knives are more popular than M390 knives because of the great balance of toughness, edge retention, corrosion resistance, and affordable price.

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