CPM 3V steel is a high carbon tool steel produced by crucible industries following the Crucible Powder Metallurgy technology.
It is commendable for its extreme toughness and wear resistance, and it is categorized in the same class as other tool steels belonging to the Crucible Killer-V’s that include CPM 3V, CPM 9V, CPM 10V, CPM 15V, as well as CPM M4
Its properties make it suitable for the manufacture of dies, stamping tools, scrap choppers, knives, shearing blades, and punches, to mention a few.
In the knife industry, it is used to make swords, large blades, and fixed blade knives because of their excellent ability to resist chipping and breaking when subjected to tough tasks.
Note that CPM 3V is not stainless steel because it does not have enough chromium to make it stainless steel.
CPM 3V steel composition
- Carbon C 0.80%: Increases the edge retention, hardness and tensile strength. It also improves steel resistance to wear, abrasion and corrosion.
- Chromium Cr 7.50%: Formation of Chromium carbide Increases hardness, tensile strength and corrosion resistance of the blade.
- Molybdenum Mo 1.30%: It improves machinability and hardness.
- Vanadium V 3.00%: Increase wear resistance and toughness, it also improves corrosion resistance.
- Tungsten W 0.40% Improves wear resistance and hardness, mostly added to tool steel.
- Manganese Mn 0.40%: Increases Hardness and brittleness.
- Silicon Si 0.90%: Increases strength and heat resistance.
- Phosphorous P 0.03%: Improves steel strength and resistance to corrosion but is generally consider detrimental when added in plenty.
- Sulfur S 0.03%: Sulphur improves machinability but is normally regarded as an impurity it is thus added in low quantities.
CPM 3V steel properties
CPM 3V Steel Hardness
CPM 3V steel hardness ranges from 58 to 60 HRC as per the Rockwell hardness scale. This hardness range is considered perfect for knife steels.
However, the steel can attain a higher hardness of up to 64 HRC depending on the heat treatment.
Note that toughness reduces with such high hardness. Most steels will offer you high hardness at the expense of toughness but not the case with CPM 3V steel.
CPM 3V Steel Toughness
The ability to withstand breakage and chipping during use is essential when determining if steel is suitable for knife making.
CPM 3V offers excellent toughness, and you can be sure that knives made from this steel will not break as a result of impacts from tough applications like batoning or chopping.
CPM 3V Steel Wear resistance
Another area of excellence of this steel is its wear resistance which is first associated with the CPM production technology.
Also, CPM 3V is high in carbon and vanadium, which leads to the formation of hard vanadium carbides, which boosts its wear resistance capabilities.
If you are searching for a knife that will serve you across generations despite the applications, look into options of CPM 3V knives.
CPM 3V Steel Edge retention
Hardness influences the edge retention of steel; the higher the hardness, the better edge retention capabilities.
With this steel offering high hardness, its edge retention features are commendable. It remains sharp longer than other tool steels out there, but it is not as good as premium steels.
CPM 3V Steel Corrosion resistance
So is CPM 3V steel stainless? CPM 3V is not stainless steel, but the chromium elements in its composition give it good corrosion resistance properties. Since this steel is not optimized for corrosion resistance, proper care is vital to keep it from rusting. Proper care involves cleaning and drying it after use.
To improve the corrosion resistance, manufacturers apply tough anti-corrosion coatings. CPM 3V corrosion resistance is at par with that of CPM CruWear steel.
Ease of Sharpening CPM 3V Steel
Being hard steel, sharpening CPM 3V steel will take some time and effort. To ease the struggle, users are advised to use harder abrasives.
Getting a sharp edge with this steel will be a daunting task if you do not have the right sharpening skills and tools.
The good news is blades made with this steel hold an edge for a long. Therefore, you will not be required to go through the hustle of sharpening now and then.
CPM 3V Steel comparison
CPM 3V steel vs S35VN
Both 3v steel and S35VN steel offer almost the same edge retention. But S35VN steel offers better edge retention, corrosion resistance, and it is easier to sharpen than 3V. On the other hand, 3V shines in toughness. When it comes to price, CPM 3V is cheaper than S35VN.
CPM 3V vs CPM 10V Steel
Both 3V and 10V steel belong to the crucible family of high vanadium steel. CPM 10V steel is harder than 3V. It offers excellent wear resistance and edge retention over 3V. One unique feature of 10V over 3V is its incredible toughness even at the high hardness of about 64HRC.
CPM 3V steel vs CPM M4
Both 3V steel and M4 steel are produced following the CPM technology but differ in properties. 3V steel tops in toughness, corrosion resistance, and it is easier to sharpen, while M4 steel offers better edge retention.
CPM 3V steel vs D2 Steel
Both 3V steel and D2 steel are tool steels, they there have almost similar performance. However, CPM 3V can be considered the better of the two as it offers better Toughness, better edge retention, and Matches D2 Steel in corrosion resistance.
CPM 3V steel vs S30V
CPM 3V steel offers better Edge retention and toughness over S30V steel. On the hand S30V steel beats CPM 3V steel in corrosion resistance as it is stainless steel. They both perform similarly on ease of sharpening.
Is CPM 3V the perfect knife steel?
CPM 3V has all the properties that make good knife steel, including excellent toughness, great edge retention, and good wear resistance.
Its major downside is poor corrosion resistance, which is easily handled by anticorrosive coating and proper care.
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!