Is Sandvik 12C27 a Good Knife Steel? (Pros & Cons)

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At A Glance
Sandvik 12C27, a martensitic stainless chromium steel originating from Swedish manufacturer Sandvik, is considered a good choice for knife steel. It offers a balance of excellent wear resistance, corrosion resistance, and high hardness, making it popular in the knife-making industry. While it might not measure up to some high-end steels, it is a cost-effective option for those seeking a reliable blade for everyday use. The steel is also notable for its enhanced edge retention due to its higher carbon content (0.6%) compared to other alloys, making it comparable or even superior to some premium alloys like AUS 8 and ATS 34.

Sandvik 12C27 steel has gained popularity in the knife-making industry due to its various beneficial properties. Originating from a Swedish steel manufacturer, Sandvik, this martensitic stainless chromium steel is commonly used for crafting kitchen knives, hunting knives, fishing knives, as well as ice drills and skate blades. Its low-end but optimized nature makes it an attractive choice for those seeking a reliable and efficient steel for their knives.

One of the key features of Sandvik 12C27 steel is its impressive corrosion resistance, allowing it to maintain its integrity even when exposed to wear and tear. Additionally, the steel possesses a considerable hardness that ensures good edge retention, making it ideal for heavy-duty tasks. As such, many knife enthusiasts have come to appreciate this steel for its ability to withstand normal usage while maintaining a sharp edge over time.

In summary, Sandvik 12C27 can be considered a good knife steel thanks to its corrosion resistance and edge retention properties. While it may not compare to some high-end steels, it is an affordable and efficient option for those seeking a dependable blade for everyday usage.

Sandvik 12C27 Steel Overview


Sandvik 12C27 is a high-quality Swedish stainless steel developed by Sandvik AB, a multinational engineering company.

The steel’s chemical composition includes:

  • Carbon (C): 0.6%
  • Chromium (Cr): 13.5%
  • Manganese (Mn): 0.4%
  • Silicon (Si): 0.2%
  • Sulfur (S): 0.010%
  • Phosphorous (P): 0.025%


This martensitic stainless steel alloy offers a balance of excellent wear resistance, corrosion resistance, and high hardness, making it a popular choice in the knife industry. Sandvik 12C27 steel attains an edge very quickly compared to other high chromium steels that can be difficult to sharpen due to hard chromium carbides.

The enhanced edge retention of Sandvik 12C27 can be attributed to its higher carbon content compared to other widely-used alloys like AUS4, 420J, 1.4116, and 3Cr13. Furthermore, the steel’s performance is on par with or even better than well-known premium alloys such as AUS 8 and ATS 34.

In conclusion, Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel’s balanced composition and impressive properties make it a popular choice for knife makers and users alike, offering a combination of excellent wear resistance, corrosion resistance, and sharpness.

Performance Traits


Sandvik 12C27 steel has a high level of hardness due to its chemical composition. The steel contains 0.60% carbon, which increases edge retention, hardness, and tensile strength. The hardness of this steel also contributes to its excellent wear resistance, making it suitable for daily use without concern for wear and tear.

Edge Retention

With a higher carbon content than several widely used alloys, Sandvik 12C27 steel possesses enhanced edge retention. Its performance compares favorably to AUS 8 and ATS-34, both well-known premium alloys. The steel’s hardness and high chromium content (13.5%) work together to maintain the sharpness of the knife edge during prolonged use.


Sandvik 12C27 steel has an impressive level of toughness, thanks to 13.5% chromium in its composition. This element boosts tensile strength, hardness, and toughness, making the steel capable of withstanding impact and resisting chipping when used in various cutting tasks.

Corrosion Resistance

The high chromium content in Sandvik 12C27 steel plays a significant role in increasing its corrosion resistance. When the chromium content is more than 12%, it ensures the steel maintains its stainless properties. Consequently, this steel is highly resistant to rust and other forms of corrosion, making it suitable for use in humid or wet environments.


Even though Sandvik 12C27 steel has excellent edge retention, it is still relatively easy to sharpen when required. This attribute is helpful for knife users who need to maintain the sharpness of their knives frequently. The steel’s high corrosion resistance also ensures that the sharpening process does not lead to unintended surface damage.


Sandvik 12C27 steel possesses good machinability, due in part to its 0.25% phosphorous content. This element increases the steel’s strength and machinability, making it easier to shape and work with during the manufacturing process. As a result, knives made from Sandvik 12C27 steel have clean and precise lines, enhancing their overall aesthetic appeal.

Comparison with Other Steels


420HC steel is a budget-friendly option that offers decent corrosion resistance but has relatively low hardness. Compared to Sandvik 12C27, 420HC steel is less wear-resistant and may require more frequent sharpening.


440C steel is another type of stainless steel known for its high chromium content, which provides good corrosion resistance. However, Sandvik 12C27 offers a finer carbide structure, resulting in greater toughness, higher sharpness, and better edge stability, while 440C has slightly better wear resistance.


8Cr13MoV steel is a popular Chinese stainless steel known for its affordability and decent performance. While both Sandvik 12C27 and 8Cr13MoV offer good corrosion resistance, the Sandvik 12C27 has better edge retention and sharpness.


D2 steel is a high-carbon, high-chromium tool steel known for its excellent wear resistance. It is a non-stainless steel with great edge retention but may be more prone to corrosion. Sandvik 12C27, on the other hand, offers a balance of corrosion resistance and edge retention, making it more versatile for a variety of applications.


14C28N steel is another Sandvik stainless steel and is a direct upgrade of 12C27. It offers improved corrosion resistance, increased hardness, and slightly better edge retention compared to 12C27, but may be a bit more challenging to sharpen.


VG10 steel is a high-performance stainless steel from Japan, typically found in premium knives. It provides excellent edge retention, hardness, and corrosion resistance. However, it may be more challenging to sharpen compared to Sandvik 12C27.


S30V steel is a premium stainless steel developed by Crucible Industries. It is known for its excellent edge retention, hardness, and corrosion resistance. Although Sandvik 12C27 offers good performance, S30V steel outperforms it in terms of edge retention and corrosion resistance.


AEB-L steel is another stainless steel used in knife making. Its main advantage is its ability to achieve a fine, mirror-like finish and excellent sharpenability. While Sandvik 12C27 offers comparable performance in terms of hardness, corrosion resistance, and edge retention, AEB-L excels in achieving a sharper edge and better polish.

Common Applications

Sandvik 12c27 steel is a popular choice for a variety of knife types due to its excellent combination of corrosion resistance, edge retention, toughness, and ease of sharpening. This versatile steel is used in a range of applications, providing strength and durability for different types of blades.

Fishing knives made from Sandvik 12c27 steel are known for their corrosion resistance and sharp edges, which are essential when working with fish. The steel’s toughness ensures that the blade can withstand the rigors of fishing environments, from cutting through fish scales to filleting tasks.

When it comes to hunting knives, Sandvik 12c27 offers both a sharp edge and the toughness required for field dressing game. Hunters rely on their knives for a variety of tasks, and this steel’s combination of edge retention and corrosion resistance ensures that the blade remains sharp even in harsh outdoor conditions.

Camping knives and pocket knives also benefit from the properties of Sandvik 12c27 steel. These knives are often exposed to moisture and dirt, making corrosion resistance an important factor. The steel’s ease of sharpening is another advantage, as users can quickly hone their blades while out on an excursion.

In the realm of tactical knives, Sandvik 12c27 provides a reliable performance, with its hardness, edge retention, and corrosion resistance meeting the demands of both military and law enforcement personnel. These knives require a blade that can hold up under a variety of high-stress situations and maintain its sharp edge.

Skate blades and ice drills are other noteworthy applications of Sandvik 12c27 steel. The steel’s hardness and ability to resist wear make it an ideal choice for skate blades, which require durability and edge-holding capabilities. Ice drill blades similarly need to withstand the rigors of cutting through ice, and Sandvik 12c27’s hardness and edge retention make it a suitable material for these demanding tasks.

Manufacturing and Brands

Sandvik 12C27 is a popular Swedish steel manufactured by Sandvik AB, renowned for its balance of edge sharpness, corrosion resistance, and toughness. As a martensitic stainless chromium steel, it is commonly utilized in various types of knives, including kitchen, hunting, and fishing knives.

CRKT Ritual Assisted Pocket Knife: Everyday Carry Utility Folder, Sandvik 12C27 Steel Recurve Blade with Satin Finish, Liner Lock, Flipper Open, Ivory Resin Infused Fiber Handles 7471

Several prominent knife brands make use of Sandvik 12C27 steel in their products. For example, Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT) is known for incorporating this steel in some of their offerings, garnering positive reviews for the corrosion resistance and superior edge retention of their knives.

When comparing Sandvik 12C27 to other blade steels, it’s essential to consider its chemical composition. The steel contains 0.6% carbon, which increases its hardness and resistance to wear, as well as 13.5% chromium for improved tensile strength and toughness.

In addition, Sandvik’s 12C27 steel competes with other budget-friendly knife steels like AUS-8 and 440A. While AUS-8 is known for being easy to sharpen and having good edge retention, 12C27 steel is thought to have slightly better corrosion resistance and hardness due to its higher chromium and carbon content. However, it is worth noting that Sandvik also produces the upgraded version, 14C28N steel, which contains nitrogen for improved hardness and corrosion resistance.

As a result, Sandvik 12C27 steel knives are a popular choice for those seeking budget-friendly options without sacrificing quality. Overall, this type of steel provides a balanced combination of edge performance, toughness, and resistance to stress, breaking, and chipping, making it suitable for a wide variety of cutting tasks and knife applications.

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