S35VN vs S45VN – Choosing The Right Knife Steel

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At A Glance
CPM S35VN, a martensitic stainless steel, offers robust toughness, good edge retention, corrosion resistance, and is relatively easy to sharpen, making it suitable for general-purpose knives. CPM S45VN, an enhanced version of S35VN, improves upon these traits, offering better edge retention, toughness, and corrosion resistance, while remaining easy to sharpen, justifying its higher price. These characteristics make it ideal for high-end cutlery. The decision between CPM S35VN and CPM S45VN hinges on the intended use of the knife and individual preferences.

Top Rated Knives

Blade steel plays an integral part in the overall performance of a knife, impacting its longevity, usage, and maintenance. Two high-performing blade steels often examined side by side are CPM S35VN and CPM S45VN. This article will delve into a comprehensive comparison of these two steels, looking at their composition, hardness, toughness, corrosion resistance, edge retention, and sharpening ease to ascertain their suitability for knives.

The realm of knife-making materials can be a labyrinth for both seasoned knife users and those new to the knife world. To help shed light on this subject, we will conduct a thorough comparison between two prevalent knife steel types: Crucible Particle Metallurgy’s S35VN (CPM S35VN) and S45VN (CPM S45VN).

Steel Background

Before we delve into the comparison, it’s crucial to understand what each steel type entails and how they’re crafted.


This is a martensitic stainless steel formulated to offer superior toughness compared to CPM S30V. It’s co-developed by famous knifemaker Chris Reeve, making it a high-grade knife steel. The term ‘CPM’ refers to Crucible Industries’ unique Crucible Particle Metallurgy process, which results in highly consistent, top-tier steel.

Read More: S35VN Knife Steel Review


This is an advanced version of S35VN designed by Crucible Industries with improved toughness and edge retention without sacrificing the ease of sharpening. It’s formulated to offer even better balance between hardness, toughness, and corrosion resistance, making it a popular choice for high-end cutlery.

Steel Composition

The initial point of comparison is the chemical composition of both steels.


  • Carbon: 1.4%
  • Chromium: 14%
  • Molybdenum: 2%
  • Vanadium: 3%
  • Niobium: 0.5%
  • Manganese: 0.5%
  • Silicon: 0.5%
  • Phosphorus: 0.02%
  • Sulfur: 0.02%


  • Carbon: 1.5%
  • Chromium: 14.5%
  • Molybdenum: 2%
  • Vanadium: 3%
  • Niobium: 0.15%
  • Manganese: 0.3%
  • Silicon: 0.5%
  • Phosphorus: 0.03%
  • Sulfur: 0.03%

From the above composition, we can see that the CPM S45VN contains slightly more Carbon, Chromium, and less Niobium than CPM S35VN. These factors contribute to its enhanced edge retention, wear resistance, and corrosion resistance.

CPM S35VN vs. CPM S45VN – Complete Comparison


Hardness directly impacts a knife steel’s edge retention and wear resistance.

CPM S35VN has a Rockwell hardness (HRC) of 58-61, an excellent balance between toughness and edge retention. Its hardy nature allows it to withstand intense usage without chipping or breaking.

CPM S45VN, on the other hand, also ranges in hardness from 58-62 HRC. This allows it to maintain an edge exceptionally well and withstand intense use. However, it still maintains a good toughness level, meaning it’s less likely to chip or break.


Toughness refers to the ability of the steel to resist chipping and cracking during use.

CPM S35VN is known for its toughness. It can endure heavy usage, making it an ideal choice for knives intended for harsh conditions. Its fine grain structure, a result of the Crucible Particle Metallurgy process, aids in its resistance against chipping and breaking.

CPM S45VN, designed as an enhancement of S35VN, has greater toughness and resistance to chipping, making it an excellent choice for heavy-duty knife applications.

Corrosion Resistance

Corrosion resistance pertains to a steel’s capacity to resist rust and oxidation.

With 14% Chromium, CPM S35VN offers commendable corrosion resistance. It’s suitable for knives meant for use in damp or humid conditions.

CPM S45VN, containing 14.5% Chromium, offers slightly better corrosion resistance compared to S35VN, adding to its appeal as an all-rounder knife steel.

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.

CPM S35VN is reasonably easy to sharpen, albeit achieving a razor-sharp edge might require more effort compared to other steels. It’s a suitable choice for knives meant for general-purpose tasks.

CPM S45VN, despite its enhanced hardness and edge retention, remains quite easy to sharpen. This quality makes it a preferred choice for those who need excellent performance but also value ease of maintenance.

Edge Retention

Edge retention refers to the steel’s ability to maintain its sharpness during use.

Both CPM S35VN and CPM S45VN excel in this area. CPM S45VN, due to its optimized composition, offers slightly improved edge retention compared to S35VN.


CPM S35VN, being a premium knife steel, can be quite costly, justified by its high-quality characteristics and production process.

CPM S45VN, as an improved and more advanced version of S35VN, is understandably more expensive. However, its cost is validated by its superior performance attributes and the promise of longevity.


Both CPM S35VN and CPM S45VN are premium blade steels, each with its own set of advantages. CPM S35VN is a tough, corrosion-resistant steel that can hold a sharp edge for an extended period and is relatively easy to sharpen. It’s an ideal choice for general-purpose knives.

CPM S45VN takes these benefits a step further, providing enhanced edge retention, toughness, and corrosion resistance. It is a great choice for high-end cutlery, and for those who desire excellent performance coupled with ease of maintenance.

The ultimate choice between CPM S35VN and CPM S45VN will largely depend on the intended knife use and individual preference. Both are outstanding choices for knife steel and are favored by many knife manufacturers for their quality. When purchasing a knife, always opt for a reputable brand and manufacturer to guarantee the quality of the steel and craftsmanship.

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.”