CPM154 vs S35VN – Knife Steel Review (Save Your Money)

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At A Glance
CPM 154, a high-quality stainless steel resulting from particle metallurgy, is lauded for its balance of edge retention, corrosion resistance, and toughness. Conversely, CPM S35VN, co-developed by acclaimed knifemaker Chris Reeve, is a martensitic stainless steel known for its superior toughness and wear resistance, thanks to its distinctive chemical composition, which includes niobium and vanadium. While both types of steel are pricier than average due to their exceptional properties and manufacturing processes, the final choice between CPM 154 and CPM S35VN largely hinges on the knife’s intended use and the user’s personal preference.

Top Rated Knives

Blade steel is the heart of any quality knife, impacting its performance, longevity, and functionality. Two outstanding blade steels often weighed against each other are Crucible Particle Metallurgy’s CPM 154 and CPM S35VN. This article will pit CPM 154 against CPM S35VN, comparing their composition, hardness, toughness, corrosion resistance, edge retention, and sharpening ease. The goal is to help you understand which steel is the superior choice for knives.

The jargon and details surrounding knife-making materials can seem intimidating. To help you navigate these waters, we’re going to dive deep into an extensive comparison between the two highly sought-after knife steel types, CPM 154 and CPM S35VN.

Steel Background

Having some background knowledge on these two types of steel is key before we move on to the comparison.

CPM 154

CPM 154 is a powder metallurgy version of 154CM that benefits from the particle metallurgy process, resulting in a more consistent distribution of carbides across the steel. It is a high-quality stainless steel with excellent all-around characteristics, highly admired for its excellent balance of edge retention, corrosion resistance, and toughness.


This is a martensitic stainless steel that was co-developed by famous knifemaker Chris Reeve to provide enhanced toughness over CPM S30V. It is viewed as a premium-grade knife steel made via Crucible Industries’ proprietary Crucible Particle Metallurgy process, producing very homogeneous, high-quality steel.

Read More: S35VN Knife Steel Review

Steel Composition

First, let’s delve into the chemical makeup of each steel.

CPM 154

  • Carbon: 1.05%
  • Chromium: 14.00%
  • Molybdenum: 4.00%
  • Manganese: 0.50%
  • Silicon: 0.30%


  • Carbon: 1.4%
  • Chromium: 14%
  • Molybdenum: 2%
  • Vanadium: 3%
  • Niobium: .5%
  • Manganese: .5%
  • Silicon: .5%
  • Phosphorus: .02%
  • Sulfur: .02%

From this composition comparison, we note that both steels have comparable carbon and chromium contents. CPM S35VN, however, stands out for its inclusion of niobium, vanadium, and higher molybdenum, which enhance its toughness and wear resistance.

CPM 154 vs CPM S35VN – Complete Comparison


The hardness of knife steel has a direct effect on its edge retention and wear resistance.

CPM 154 has a Rockwell hardness (HRC) of 58-61, meaning it strikes a balance between toughness and edge retention. It is a reliable steel that can bear intensive use without chipping or snapping.

CPM S35VN has an HRC of 58-61, a hardness range that promotes excellent edge retention and toughness. It is a robust steel that endures heavy use without compromising its structure.


Toughness implies a steel’s capability to withstand chips and cracks under use.

CPM 154 is a tough steel, resistant to chipping and breaking. The excellent toughness makes it ideal for knives meant for challenging tasks or conditions.

CPM S35VN was specifically formulated to improve toughness over its predecessor, S30V. Its superior toughness and chip resistance stem from the Crucible Particle Metallurgy process, which results in a fine grain structure.

Corrosion Resistance

Corrosion resistance shows how well the steel can resist rust and oxidation.

CPM 154, containing 14% Chromium, has outstanding corrosion resistance, making it a fantastic choice for knives that might be exposed to wet or humid environments.

CPM S35VN also shines in corrosion resistance, owing to its 14% Chromium content. It is a brilliant option for knives designed for wet conditions or high humidity.

Ease of Sharpening

Edge retention is the steel’s ability to retain its edge during use. Harder steels maintain their edge better but are more challenging to sharpen.

Sharpening CPM 154 is reasonably straightforward, making it a good option for everyday knives that need regular sharpening.

CPM S35VN is also relatively easy to sharpen. Despite its fine grain structure and hardness, it can be sharpened to a keen edge with standard sharpening tools.

Edge Retention

Edge retention gauges how well the steel maintains its sharp edge with use.

CPM 154 boasts great edge retention due to its balanced composition and hardness. It is perfect for knives designed for slicing or cutting tasks.

CPM S35VN also excels in edge retention. Its balance of hardness and toughness allows it to maintain a sharp edge even after heavy use, making it ideal for demanding cutting or chopping tasks.


CPM 154, being a high-end knife steel, carries a higher price tag compared to many common steels. Its cost is a reflection of its superior characteristics and the complex production process.

CPM S35VN is also a premium knife steel, and its price is higher than average, justified by its excellent performance attributes and the high-quality particle metallurgy process involved in its production.


In conclusion, both CPM 154 and CPM S35VN are remarkable blade steels, each with their respective strengths and weaknesses. CPM 154 boasts excellent all-around performance, with great edge retention, corrosion resistance, and toughness, making it an excellent choice for all-purpose knives. On the other hand, CPM S35VN stands out for its increased toughness and wear resistance, which is ideal for knives expected to endure heavy-duty tasks.

Ultimately, the choice between CPM 154 and CPM S35VN depends on the knife’s intended use and the user’s personal preferences. Both are excellent choices for knives and are favored by numerous knife makers and manufacturers. Remember, the brand and manufacturer’s reputation should also factor into your decision, as they influence how well the potential of the chosen steel is realized.

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.”