Guide to N690 Knife Steel: Durability and Edge Retention


In the realm of knife enthusiasts, one name that frequently rises to the surface is N690. Renowned for its exceptional blend of strength, corrosion resistance, edge retention, and ease of sharpening, this steel has carved its path as a go-to choice for knife connoisseurs and professionals alike. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the unique properties, manufacturing processes, heat treatment, applications, and care of N690 steel, showcasing why it stands out from the competition.

N690 Steel: Is N690 A Good Blade Steel?

The History of N690 Steel

The history of N690 steel can be traced back to the efforts of Bohler, an Austrian steel manufacturer renowned for producing high-quality steels. Thiss steel was developed as a stainless steel alloy specifically tailored for knife making.

Bohler aimed to create a steel that excelled in corrosion resistance, hardness, toughness, and edge retention. Through careful alloying, this steel’s composition was optimized with elements such as carbon, chromium, molybdenum, vanadium, and cobalt.


Since its introduction, N690 steel has gained widespread recognition and acceptance among knife manufacturers and users worldwide. Its exceptional properties and ease of sharpening have made it a preferred choice for various knife applications.

Prominent knife brands like Fox Knives, LionSteel, Extrema Ratio, and Boker incorporate this steel into their product lines, showcasing its outstanding performance and meeting the demands of knife enthusiasts and professionals.

The success of this steel highlights the advancements in modern metallurgy and reflects Bohler’s commitment to innovation. It stands as a testament to the dedication and expertise of the steel manufacturer and remains an enduring choice for exceptional knife steel.

Exceptional Properties of N690 Steel

Hardness and Edge Retention

N690 steel is renowned for its impressive hardness, typically ranging from 58 to 60 HRC on the Rockwell hardness scale. We will delve into the reasons behind its hardness and discuss how it contributes to the steel’s exceptional edge retention, allowing knives made from this steel to maintain their sharpness even through demanding tasks.


Corrosion Resistance

One of the standout features of this steel is its excellent resistance to corrosion. The high chromium content in the steel forms a protective layer that guards against rust and other forms of oxidation. We will explore how this steel’s composition makes it highly resistant to corrosion, making it suitable for outdoor and maritime applications.

Toughness and Durability

N690 steel exhibits remarkable toughness, allowing it to withstand high impact and resist chipping or breaking under strenuous use. We will discuss the factors that contribute to its toughness, including the presence of molybdenum, vanadium, and cobalt, and explain how these elements enhance the steel’s durability and reliability.


Ease of Sharpening

Despite its exceptional hardness, N690 steel is relatively easy to sharpen compared to other high-end steels. We will explore the reasons behind this attribute, discussing the steel’s fine-grained structure and the impact of its composition on the sharpening process. Additionally, we will provide tips on sharpening this steel knives effectively.

Survival and Outdoor

N690 steel’s exceptional properties make it well-suited for survival and outdoor applications. We will explore how the steel’s corrosion resistance, toughness, and edge retention contribute to its effectiveness in various outdoor tasks, such as bushcraft, camping, and survival situations.

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Hunting and Camping

Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts value knives that can withstand rigorous use and perform reliably. We will discuss how this steel’s properties make it an excellent choice for hunting and camping knives, highlighting its ability to retain a sharp edge, resist corrosion, and withstand the demands of field dressing, game processing, and general outdoor tasks.

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Everyday Carry (EDC) Knives

EDC knives are designed for everyday use and carry. We will explore how N690 steel’s balance of hardness, corrosion resistance, and ease of sharpening makes it a popular choice for EDC knives, allowing users to rely on their blades for various day-to-day cutting needs.

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Tactical and Military Knives

N690 steel’s exceptional properties have also found favor among military and law enforcement personnel. We will discuss how the steel’s hardness, corrosion resistance, toughness, and ease of sharpening make it well-suited for tactical knives, where reliability and performance are crucial.

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Care For N690 Knives

Cleaning and Drying

Proper cleaning and drying are essential to maintain the longevity and performance of knives made from N690 steel. We will provide guidelines on how to effectively clean and dry N690 steel knives, particularly after exposure to moisture or harsh environments.

Corrosion Protection

Although N690 steel exhibits excellent corrosion resistance, additional measures can be taken to provide further protection. We will discuss the use of protective coatings and corrosion inhibitors to enhance the steel’s resistance to rust and oxidation.


Proper Handling and Storage

Proper handling and storage practices contribute to the longevity of N690 steel knives. We will provide tips on handling knives to prevent unnecessary wear and damage, as well as guidelines for proper storage to maintain the steel’s performance and appearance.

Sharpening Techniques

To ensure optimal cutting performance, periodic sharpening is necessary. We will discuss different sharpening techniques suitable for this steel, including the use of sharpening stones, honing rods, and guided sharpening systems. Additionally, we will provide tips on maintaining the correct angle and using appropriate grits for effective sharpening.


In conclusion, N690 steel stands as a testament to the advancements in modern metallurgy. Its exceptional combination of strength, corrosion resistance, edge retention, and ease of sharpening makes it a top choice among knife enthusiasts and professionals. With its broad range of applications and the support of renowned knife manufacturers, this steel continues to carve its path as a cut above the rest, delivering unrivaled cutting performance, durability, and longevity.

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