Is 1095 a Good Knife Steel? (Review & Experience)

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At A Glance
1095 steel is a popular material for knife making due to its good edge retention and easy sharpening. Its high carbon content enhances performance but also makes it susceptible to rust without proper maintenance. Despite this, with proper care, 1095 steel knives can offer long-lasting performance. It strikes a balance between cost, quality, and performance, making it a suitable choice for knife makers.

1095 steel is a popular choice for knife makers and enthusiasts due to its high carbon content and versatile properties. As a member of the 10XX steel series, this material boasts an impressive 0.95% carbon composition, which significantly influences its performance in various applications. Though it may not be the most advanced steel available, it continues to maintain a solid reputation for its ability to hold an edge and ease of sharpening, making it worthwhile for many knife owners.

However, 1095 steel is not without its drawbacks. The high carbon content, while providing excellent edge retention, also makes it prone to rust if not adequately cared for. It is crucial for those utilizing 1095 steel knives to maintain them diligently by cleaning and oiling them to prevent corrosion. Despite this necessary maintenance, many still believe that the advantages of 1095 steel outweigh the risks, making it a suitable choice for knife making.

In summary, the popularity of 1095 steel for knives is rooted in its impressive carbon content and subsequent edge-holding capabilities. While it does require some additional care to prevent rust, these knives often provide a satisfying performance for those who appreciate the balance between cost and quality.

1095 Steel Basics

1095 steel is a popular and versatile high-carbon steel, known for its combination of hardness, strength, and affordability. Its composition consists of approximately 0.95% carbon and small amounts of manganese, making it a simple and straightforward material to work with for knife makers.

Due to its carbon content, 1095 steel has high hardness and wear resistance, which allows it to maintain a long-lasting edge. Additionally, its unique properties make it easy to heat treat, sharpen, and temper, making it a user-friendly option for both beginners and experienced knife makers.

In terms of strength, 1095 steel has been used in various applications, including constant-stress scenarios like kitchen knives and pocket knives. Its relatively hard nature and flexibility make it a popular option for knives as well as for other tools and equipment that require durability.

While it is true that 1095 steel is not the toughest among the 10xx series of carbon steels, it remains an excellent choice because it strikes a fine balance between hardness, strength, and affordability. Additionally, its ease of sharpening makes it a highly desirable choice for consumers who prioritize maintaining their knives’ performance.

Chemical Composition

The 1095 steel is a high carbon steel belonging to the 10XX series. As part of this series, the steel mainly consists of two elements: carbon and manganese. The “95” in 1095 refers to the carbon content of 0.95% by weight, which makes it a high carbon steel. Other elements present in 1095 steel include phosphorus, sulfur, and trace amounts of chromium, though most of these elements contribute very little to the overall properties of the steel.

Performance of 1095 Steel for Knives

Edge Retention

1095 steel is a high carbon steel, which means it has excellent edge retention properties. Its hardness and wear resistance contribute to its ability to maintain a sharp edge for extended periods of time, making it ideal for knives and blades. However, it is important to note that the performance can vary based on the heat treatment and manufacturing processes used.


When it comes to toughness, 1095 steel performs admirably. Its composition allows for great shock absorption and resistance to chipping. This makes it a popular choice for applications that involve constant stress, such as kitchen knives and old pocket knives. But, it is worth mentioning that 1095 steel lacks some of the elements found in modern steel types, which may result in lower overall toughness.

Sharpening Ease

One of the primary advantages of 1095 steel is its ease of sharpening. Due to its relatively simple composition, users can achieve razor-sharpness without too much difficulty. This characteristic makes 1095 a popular choice among knife enthusiasts and professionals alike.

Corrosion Resistance

1095 steel’s corrosion resistance is not its strongest suit. As a high carbon steel, it is more susceptible to rust and corrosion than other types of steel. However, this downside can be mitigated with proper care, maintenance, and protective coatings. It is essential for knife owners to keep their 1095 steel knives clean and dry to prevent rust formation.

In summary, 1095 steel offers many benefits as a knife material, including excellent edge retention, toughness, and ease of sharpening. However, it may require more attentive care to maintain its corrosion resistance. With proper maintenance, knives made from 1095 steel can provide reliable, long-lasting performance.

Popular 1095 Steel Knives

1095 steel is well-known and widely used in knife making due to its impressive combination of toughness, hardness, and edge retention. It’s also relatively easy to heat treat, making it an excellent choice for beginners in knife making. The affordability and user-friendliness of this material have made it a popular choice for various types of knives.

Here are a few examples:

ESEE-6 1095 Carbon Steel, Black Sheath (Dark Earth Blade, Black G10 3D Handle)

ESEE Knives 6P is a prime example of a high-quality 1095 steel knife. This particular model is designed with outdoor enthusiasts and survivalists in mind, providing a durable and sharp blade that is built for heavy-duty tasks. The 6P features a full tang construction, a textured handle for a secure grip, and a versatile drop point blade that can handle a range of cutting jobs, from slicing and chopping to finer tasks. ESEE’s reputation for producing high-quality knives further solidifies the 6P as a popular choice for those seeking a reliable 1095 steel knife.

Ontario Knife Co. 8668 Rat-7 Fixed Blade Knife 7" Drop Point 1095 Black Carbon Steel Blade 5" Tan Micarta Handle for Outdoor, Tactical, Survival, Bushcraft, and EDC

Ontario Knife Company (OKC) RAT-7: This impressive fixed blade knife from OKC is crafted with 1095 steel and boasts a well-rounded performance. Known for its durability and cutting power, the RAT-7 is perfect for outdoor adventurers, hunters, and bushcraft enthusiasts.

KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife, Carbon Steel

KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion: This is another popular fixed blade option known for its toughness and resilience. With a shorter blade than some other 1095 steel knives, the BK2 Companion is designed for versatility, allowing users to navigate a variety of both rough and delicate tasks.

Tops B.O.B. Brothers of Bushcraft Survival Knife - BROS-TAN (Coyote Tan)

Tops Knives B.O.B. (Brothers of Bushcraft) Fieldcraft Knife: This knife not only has a unique design but also offers a versatile tool for those interested in bushcraft and outdoor survival. It features a high-quality 1095 steel blade forged for excellent edge retention, along with a comfortable handle and various built-in tools for added functionality.

Each of these knives showcases the versatility and performance that 1095 steel can provide, making them sought-after choices for a wide range of users. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned knife enthusiast, considering a 1095 steel knife is a confident, knowledgeable choice.

Comparison with Other Knife Steels

1095 steel is a high-carbon steel from the 10XX series featuring excellent hardness and edge retention. This makes it a popular choice for various knife blades, such as kitchen knives and bushcraft knives. However, when considering knife steels, it’s essential to compare 1095 with other popular options.

When comparing 1095 with other high carbon steels like 1075, 1084, and 5160, 1095 tends to have more edge retention and hardness due to its higher carbon content. In contrast, these other carbon steels may offer better toughness or flexibility. For example, 5160 steel, commonly used in sword making, has increased toughness due to chromium addition.

In terms of tool steels, such as D2, O1, and M390, these steels generally have better wear resistance and edge retention than 1095 because of their added alloying elements, such as vanadium, chromium, or molybdenum. However, they can be more challenging to sharpen than 1095 steel.

Stainless steels, including 440A, 440B, 440C, and Sandvik 12C27, offer better corrosion resistance than 1095 due to their higher chromium content. Among these, 440C provides a good balance between edge retention and corrosion resistance. However, some users may find stainless steels to be less versatile when it comes to toughness and ease of sharpening compared to 1095 steel.

For those looking for a precise combination of edge retention, toughness, and corrosion resistance, options like VG-10, S30V, and ELMAX may be preferable. VG-10 is a popular choice for kitchen knives, while S30V is well-suited for pocket knives and outdoor tools. ELMAX, with its high chromium and vanadium content, offers a unique balance of properties for demanding applications.

Other steel options include AUS-8 and 8Cr13MoV, which are budget-friendly alternatives to higher-tier steels. These steels offer a balance between edge retention and corrosion resistance, making them suitable for everyday use. However, they won’t outperform 1095 steel when it comes to hardness and edge retention.


1095 steel is an old high carbon steel from the 10XX steel series, which offers exceptional hardness and edge retention. Due to its properties, 1095 steel is commonly used in different types of knife blades, such as kitchen knives, pocket knives, survival knives, Kukri Knives, and bushcraft knives.

One of the best uses for 1095 steel is in knives that require durability and toughness, as it is affordable, easy to work with, and takes a sharp edge. With a high carbon percentage of 0.95%, this steel is harder than stainless steel, which contains only about 0.2% carbon. This makes it particularly suited for applications where edge retention and strength are crucial.

However, there are some trade-offs to consider when choosing 1095 steel for your knives. While it is highly stain resistant and holds up well to abuse, it is less desirable on large knives and may require more frequent sharpening compared to other types of steel. Additionally, 1095 steel can be more susceptible to corrosion due to its high carbon content.

In comparison to other knife steels, 1095 offers a good balance between performance and affordability. When compared to stainless steel, it provides better edge retention but may require some extra care to prevent rusting. Overall, 1095 steel is a reliable option for those looking for a quality knife at a reasonable price, especially when used in smaller knives and blades where its strengths can truly shine.

When you visit a merchant by clicking a link on this site we may make a commission on anything you buy (at no additional cost to you).   Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to Amazon Associates and the eBay Partner Network.”