Victorinox Outrider Swiss Army Knife

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Anatomy of a Knife: What is the Blade Material?

Nearly every knife blade is made of some variation of steel and they’re nearly all stainless steel. However, there are some differences in the quality of steel used for knife blades.

Why do the differences matter? Because it affects the way your blade will perform. The way you intend to use the blade will help you decide what kind of steel you should look for.

Stainless Steel:

Stainless steel is a popular choice because of its durability and corrosion resistance, like for diving knives. The thing with stainless steel is that it’s very broad and refers to a lot of different types – 420, 440A, 440C, ATS-34, etc. Take a look at this handy chart for details on a wide variety of blade material.

Carbon Steel:

Stainless steel has mostly beaten out carbon steel in popularity. Carbon steel makes extremely sharp edges and is easy to sharpen but where it lacks is in corrosion resistance. This means the knife requires maintenance to stay in great shape.


Titanium is valued for things like mountain bike frames because it’s lightweight, durable and strong. Some knives also take advantage of titanium’s strength and corrosion resistance. When it comes to knife blades, it’s usually coated in another material to add hardness and hold an edge better. Titanium is sometimes used for diving knives and pocket knives.


Ceramic knives are primarily reserved for the kitchen. Although some companies make self-defense blades out of ceramic.

High-Quality Steel:

  • D2 is a premium, high carbon steel that is used in high-quality blades.
  • S30V is a premium steel that holds a nice edge and is very corrosion resistant.
  • Damascus is a nice, but expensive, steel that is mostly used for it’s artistic look.

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