S30V vs. S90V Knives: Which Is Better?

S30V vs. S90V Knives

S90V steel knives offer better edge retention than S30V steel knives meaning you can use them for a long time without sharpening. However, S30V steel is much easier to sharpen, and it is the best option for people who intend to sharpen themselves.

S30V vs. S90V Knives
S30V vs. S90V Knives

Are S30V and S90V Knives the Same?

S30V and S90V knives might appear the same when you compare them using your physical eyes. Moreover, some of the properties of the SxxV steel family might be the same, which can confuse you further.

S30V and S90V knives are not the same. They differ in hardness, corrosion resistance, edge retention, and ease of sharpening. Their physical appearance might be the same, but they vary in many ways.

To help you differentiate between S30V and S90V, let us look at their characteristics, pros, and cons in depth. Here is a table showing the difference in S30V and S90V primary alloy compositions.

Carbon Chromium Vanadium Molybdenum
S30V Steel 1.45% 14.00% 4.00% 2.00%
S90V Steel 2.30% 14.00% 9.0% 1.00%
S30V steel composition vs S90V steel composition

S30V Knife Characteristics

S30V vs. S90V Knives: Which Is Better?

CPM S30V is premium martensitic stainless steel manufactured by US Crucible Industries following the Crucible CPM process (Crucible). It offers a good balance of toughness, corrosion resistance, and wear resistance.

S30V Steel contains high amounts of Carbon, Vanadium, Chromium, and Molybdenum. The combination results in excellent properties, which rank it as high-end steel.

It contains 14% chromium, making it stainless steel; this permits you to use S30V knives in corrosive environments. Also, the blades hold a sharp edge for a long time which is attributed to the blend of Vanadium, Carbon, and Tungsten. 

The 4% vanadium also contributes to its decent toughness. It is not the toughest high-end steel on the market, but the knives will not break or chip easily when used for challenging applications.

S30V is also easy to sharpen compared to other premium steels. If you are a newbie in knife sharpening, it is good steel to practice with. However, being high-end steel, S30V knives are expensive. Because of its high cost, S30V is used to make premium kitchen knives, high-end pocket knives, scout knives, and custom knives.


  • High corrosion resistance
  • The blades offer decent toughness
  • Hold an edge for a long time; therefore, it does not need frequent sharpening
  • Easier to sharpen than S90V steel
  • Balanced in terms of practicality


  • Expensive
  • Prolonged exposure to corrosive elements can cause it to rust

S90V Knife Characteristics

S30V vs. S90V Knives: Which Is Better?

S90V Steel is high-end stainless steel produced by crucible industries following the Particle Metallurgy process. It contains high amounts of Carbon (2.30%), Vanadium (9%), and Chromium (14%). The blend of these elements bears excellent edge retention, outstanding wear resistance, and high corrosion resistance.

If you are looking for a knife that stays sharp for a very long time with frequent use, look into the varieties of S90V knives. The blades score 9/10 in edge retention thanks to the high amounts of Carbon and Vanadium.

The high volumes of Carbon and Vanadium also give S90V knives extreme wear resistance. The blades are very durable and will serve you across generations.

S90V knives are also corrosion-resistant. It contains 14% chromium which is more than the 13% required to make stainless steel. Apart from chromium it also contains Molybdenum 1% which aids in corrosion resistance.

However, S90V has its downsides too. The 9% Vanadium and 2.30% Carbon make it extremely hard. This hardness makes the steel brittle and very hard to sharpen. Newbies find it very challenging to get a sharp edge on S90V blades. You can take the knives for professional sharpening or send them back to the manufacturer, but it will cost you money.

Moreover, knives made from S30V are very brittle. This means that they break and chip easily when used for challenging applications. S90V is also costly steel and is used to make high-end knives for various applications.


  • Knives remain sharp for a very long time
  • Knives a durable
  • High corrosion resistant
  • Excellent performance


  • Knives are brittle
  • Hard to sharpen
  • Expensive

How to Choose Between the S30V and S90V

S30V S90V
Edge retention  6/10 9/10
Toughness 4/10 3.5/10
Corrosion resistance 7.5/10 7.5/10
Ease of sharpening Moderate Hard
S30V vs S90V

Edge retention

S90V offers better edge retention than S30V because it contains more Carbon and Vanadium in its composition. If your main priority is a knife that does not require frequent sharpening, go for S90V. On the other hand, S30V will require you to reach out to a sharpener often.


S30V and S90V are both hard steel, making them brittle, which means they can crack, break and chip easily when used for demanding applications. If your primary requirement for a knife is toughness, look for knives made from tougher steel.

Ease of sharpening

S90V is very hard steel due to the high amounts of Carbon and Vanadium in its composition, making it very hard to sharpen. It will take a lot of time, energy, skill, and sophisticated sharpening tools to get a sharp edge.

The relief is that it holds the edge for a very long time. On the other hand, S30V is easier to sharpen with simple sharpening tools and minimal or no sharpening skills

Intention of Use

To choose between S30V and S90V knives, you must consider how you intend to use them. S90V makes all-around knives because they hold an edge for a long time, are durable, and can be used in corrosive environments.

S30V knives, on the other hand, can be used for fishing and camping because they offer a balanced performance. They are easy to sharpen, corrosion resistant, and offer decent toughness.


S30V and S90V are expensive steel, but S90V is made of high-grade steel, making it more expensive. Therefore, if you are looking for high-end knives on a budget, S30V is the best option.

What Makes a Good Quality Knife?

S30V vs. S90V Knives: Which Is Better?

S30V vs. S90V Knives: Which Is Better?

The features that make a good quality knife include excellent sharpness, great edge retention, durability, good toughness, easy cutting through materials, corrosion resistance, and a sturdy handle. 

The definition of quality differs among knife users because of different needs. The bottom line is that a quality knife should be able to perform without breaking the blade or causing accidents and give you value for your money.

Final Thoughts

S30V and S90V have significant differences, which make them ideal for different users. S90V is a premium steel with excellent edge retention, very difficult to sharpen, and costly. On the other hand, S30V is a premium steel that is easier to sharpen, dulls very fast, and is more affordable.

Besides edge retention, ease of sharpening, and price, both blades have the same ratings with corrosion resistance and come close in toughness. S90V makes the best knives, but S30V can still get the job done. The choice between the two depends on your preference and budget.

Explore Categories
improve knife sharpness
Damascus knife steel kitchen set