Is 1095 CRO Van Steel Good For Knives?

1095 CRO Van Steel is high carbon steel derived from the famous 1095 steel by adding more carbon, nickel, chromium, molybdenum, and vanadium. Other names used to refer to this steel include Sharon Steel 1095CV, 50-110B (named so by Bark River), 50100B (formal name according to American Iron and Steel Institute), Carbon V, 1095CV, and 0170-6 steel.

The added elements make this steel harder and tougher than the original 1095, thus boosting durability and versatility in cutting tasks. The 1095 CRO Van Steel is also easy to sharpen but falls short in resistance to corrosion. It’s popular steel in combat and utility knives, and it’s hardened to the maximum to make wear-resistant parts like ball bearings and dies. But how good is 1095 CRO Van Steel for making knives? Let’s find out below.

At A Glance

If you want to impress an honorably retired service member or an active one, gift them a combat knife. It’s an instant reminiscence. The 1095 CRO Van Steel is an improvement to the famous 1095 and betters its performance while sharing a name. Possibly the marketing gurus who named 1095 CRO Van Steel after 1095 weren’t wrong after all. People could quickly tell the two were related, thus accepting it faster.


  • Reasonably affordable
  • Quite hard
  • It retains an edge nicely
  • Good wear resistance
  • Easy to sharpen
  • Resists chipping well


  • Rusts easily 
  • Not tough and hard as higher-end steel types

1095 CRO-Van Steel Mechanical Properties

PropertiesUnits (metric)
Melting Point1424 C
Density7.81 g/cm3
Yield Strength525 Mpa
UTS685 Mpa
Poisson ratio0.3
Elastic Modulus210 GPa
Hardness (Vicker)55
Hardness (Rockwell C)690
Machinability (According to AISI 1212 steel)0.4
Annealed11.9 (µm/m – C)
Hardened12.5 µm/m – C)
Thermal Conductivity46.6 (W/m. K)
Specific Heat Capacity0.475 J/g – C

Chemical composition of 1095 CRO Van Steel

  • Carbon at 1.1% for enhanced hardness and consequently wear and corrosion resistance.
  • A 0.6% of chromium improves tensile strength, edge retention, and wear resistance.
  • 0.25% vanadium to boost hardness and wear resistance.
  • A 0.06% of molybdenum, which is relatively low but enough to better strength and machinability of 1095 CRO-Van steel.
  • 0.25% of nitrogen to improve strength and edge retention.
  • 0.5% of manganese to increase hardness.
  • Silicon at 0.25% to add strength to this steel.
  • 0.025% phosphorus to strengthen 1095 CRO Van Steel further.
  • 0.025% sulfur to make this steel easier to work with.

Definitely, 1095 CRO Van Steel is not stainless steel as the chromium content falls way below the minimum 10% requirement. Therefore, this steel won’t survive long in wet areas without extra care to keep it rust-free.

1095 CRO Van Steel Hardness

Thanks to more carbon, vanadium, and molybdenum, 1095 CRO Van Steel hardness ranges between 56 and 60HRC. The exact hardness rating depends on the heat treatment process of specific manufacturers, so don’t get alarmed if the ratings vary among brands. But generally, this steel is more rigid than 1095 which has a typical hardness rating of 55HRC.

Machinability of the 1095 CRO Van Steel improves by spheriodizing it at 650°C to 700°C while forging happens in temperatures between 927°C and 1205°C. To release stresses created by machining the steel, normalize at 8720C and then harden at temperatures in the range of 790°c to 900°C.

Physical properties of 1095 CRO Van

  • Reliable edge retention

1095 CRO Van Steel has high hardness thanks to the carbon, chromium, vanadium, and manganese elements in its structure. And with high hardness comes a reliable edge-holding ability for rugged outdoor use.

  • Great wear resistance

The combined vanadium, chromium, and carbon make this steel resist wear and tear well. Be sure 1095 CRO Van steel will serve you for a long with a bit of care to keep it in shape always.

  • Moderately tough

Overall, 1095 CRO Van Steel has moderate toughness and will take low to medium-impact tasks without breaking a sweat. However, the general inverse relation between toughness and hardness applies here. The harder you get the steel, the lower the toughness. So 1095 CRO Van Steel has lower toughness at the highest range of its hardness.

  • Easy to sharpen

Despite 1095 CRO Van Steel having high hardness, it’s relatively straightforward to sharpen. Even absolute beginners get this steel super-sharp fast with standard sharpening tools and methods.

  • Weak corrosion resistance

1095 CRO Van Steel ranks lower than the worst stainless steel in corrosion resistance. It’s understandable given the low chromium composition, and deliberate care plays a huge role in keeping this steel rust-free. Purpose to keep your 1095 CRO Van Steel knife clean and dry, and oil it occasionally.

1095 CRO Van Steel Equivalents and Alternatives

Below is a comparison between 1095 CRO Van Steel and other steels to give you a clearer picture of the suitability of this steel for your next knife.

Check also: Best Knife Handle Material [The Ultimate Guide to Knife Handle Materials]

1095 CRO Van vs. 420HC

1095 CRO Van Steel is harder than 420HC and hence has better edge retention and wear resistance. On the other, the softer 420HC has better toughness and sharpens more easily. Also, the high chromium content in 420HC enables it to beat the 1095 CRO Van Steel on corrosion resistance.

1095 CRO Van vs. D2

D2 is superior to 1095 CRO Van Steel in edge retention, wear resistance, and corrosion resistance. Better performance is expected since D2 is harder, but you will pay more to enjoy the benefits. However, you will need more time and effort to give D2 a sharp edge than 1095 CRO Van Steel.

1095 CRO Van vs. S30V

1095 CRO Van Steel will not chip as quickly as S30V as it’s tougher. But S30V has better edge retention and wear resistance. When it comes to corrosion resistance, 1095 CRO Van Steel can’t stand up to S30V.

1095 CRO Van vs. 1095

As stated earlier, 1095 CRO Van Steel originates from 1095 steel, with the main difference being added elements to boost performance. Below is a chemical composition comparison between these two steels.

Elements1095 plain steel1095 CRO Van steel
Carbon0.950.90 – 1.03
Manganese0.30 – 0.500.25-0.45
Sulphur< 0.050< 0.025
Phosphorus< 0.040< 0.025
SiliconNIL 0.15-0.30
ChromiumNIL 0.40-0.60

How Good is 1095 CRO Van Steel for Knives?

We have looked at many aspects of 1095 CRO Van steel, and it’s fair to say that it’s good knife steel. But how good depends on how and where you want to use a 1095 CRO Van steel blade as it has a low limiting resistance to corrosion. This steel performs exemplarily for indoor tasks away from water, such as electrical works and opening packages.

You don’t want to make this steel your fishing knife or for outdoor wet environment use. Also, this steel knife won’t last long in high-humidity areas with its pathetic anti-rust ability. However, if you diligently keep the 1095 CRO Van steel clean and dry during and after use, then you can use it anywhere confidently. Besides, Ka-Bar uses this steel often in several of its popular knife brands; and such a respected brand won’t use it badly at all.

Popular best 1095 CRO Van steel knives include KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife, KA-BAR BKR7-BRK Combat Utility, and KA-BAR Full Size US Marine Corps Fighting Knife.

Read also: Is 3cr13 Stainless Steel Good For Knives?

Applications of 1095 CRO-Van Steel

You will find 1095 CRO Van steel in:

  • Mills rolls
  • Automotive parts
  • Fasteners
  • Knives
  • Antifriction bearings
  • Dies

User’s Review on Amazon

Overall, users rate 1095 CRO Van steel blades positively on Amazon. Notable high-rated properties include the ease of sharpening, sturdiness, value for money, and the razor-sharpness right out of the box.

Some users have expressed concerns with the fast rusting and blackening of blades, while others have observed quick loss of an edge after constant heavy-impact cutting jobs. Another matter is with the oils manufacturers use on 1095 CRO Van blades to keep them rust-free. Some users have been uncomfortable with the oil odor. Worse, the popular manufacturers of 1095 CRO Van knives such as Ka-Bar don’t offer as good a warranty as that of 1095 steel knives.

Final Word

1095 CRO Van Steel offers reliable edge retention, good hardness, excellent wear resistance, and decent toughness. The major downside of this steel is its low rust resistance, as it contains only 0.6% chromium. To keep this steel rust-free, you will need to regularly oil and keep it clean and dry after use.

Whether it’s suitable for your knife depends on what you want to do with it, as this steel takes hard tasks with ease. For instance, this steel makes great combat and survival knives but would rust if used in wet areas or high-humidity environments. Also, this steel is popular in decorative swords and Japanese katanas.

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