14C28N is stainless steel developed by the Swedish company Sandvik. It came about as a request by Kershaw Knives for Sandvik to improve the corrosion resistance of the 13C26 steel. Instead of using the usual carbon to boost steel’s hardness, Sandvik used nitrogen on 14C28N, hence achieving the hardness goal without affecting the microstructure.
Sandvik 14C28N knife steel has optimized chemistry that gives it an outstanding balance in hardness, edge retention, and corrosion resistance while still being very affordable. It has excellent machinability that makes it popular among knife manufacturers. This steel has a hardness of between 55-62 HRC, thus ideal steel for knives whose use demands edge stability and retention, corrosion resistance, and great ease of sharpening. Below are its pros and cons.
- It has a good sharpen-ability and can get razor-sharp
- Excellent edge retention
- Very sharp right out of the box
- Terrific corrosion resistance
- Very flexible for its hardness
- Incredible wear and tear resistance
- Offers excellent value for money
- It lacks the edge-maintenance of high-end steels
- Pricey than low-end steel knives
Sandvik 14C28N knife steel is an alloy made from several chemical elements. It has a 14% chromium component, which technically makes it stainless steel (steel must contain more than 10% to be considered stainless). The following are the elements that give 14C28N steel its unique properties:
- Carbon, 0.62%: The percentage of carbon in steel determines its level of hardness and, to some extent, corrosion resistance. Whereas the ratio of carbon in 14C28N is lower than 13C26, other elements improve its hardness. Besides, more carbon makes the steel very brittle.
- Chromium, 14%: This element is the most abundant in Sandvik 14C28N knife steel. Chromium makes steel highly resistant to corrosion while improving its edge retention, tensile strength, and wear resistance.
- Nitrogen, 0.11%: Sandvik experts found out that mixing nitrogen in steel improves strength, edge retention, and corrosion resistance.
- Manganese, 0.6%: Manganese improves hardness, and its presence in 14C28N steel makes it harder than other upper mid-budget steels.
- Silicon, 0.2%: This is another strength-enhancing component. The minuscule percentage here helps to strengthen 14C28N steel without increasing its brittleness.
- Phosphorus, 0.025%: It also helps balance the strength and toughness in 14C28N steel to keep it hard enough without the risk of brittleness.
- Sulfur, 0.01%: Sulfur improves the machinability of steel. It makes steel production and workings smooth and cost-efficient. The sulfur component is why manufacturers can make 14C28N steel knives very sharp right out of the box.
Sandvik 14C28N Knife Steel Hardness
As mentioned earlier, 14C28N steel has a hardness range of 55-62 HRC. The specific level of hardness of a brand will depend on the heat treatment applied while molding steel to a blade. Sandvik recommends harden-treating the 14C28N steel while it achieves 1050°C (1922°F) and quenching in oil for 5-minute spans. Further, the tempering should happen at 450°C (840°F), as past this temperature, 14C28N loses corrosion resistance and becomes very brittle.
Mostly, the hardness achieved will depend on the intended use of the resulting knife. For instance, most kitchen knives have a hardness range of 52-60 HRC, while EDC knives range at 57-59 HRC.
The hardness range of 14C28N steel makes it applicable to many knife types, while its excellent corrosion resistance extends its versatility. Most manufacturers use it for mid-budget all-weather knives, as they can easily strike a balance between hardness and brittleness.
The following physical properties set 14C28N steel apart from other steel types:
Good Edge Retention
Great machinability allows manufacturers to easily give a new blade a dangerously sharp edge. And true to that, many 18C28N steel knives have wickedly sharp edges right out of the box. Even under heavy cutting tasks, these knives are hard enough to retain sharpness for a long while.
Apart from holding an edge for long, 14C28N steel is easily sharpenable. Changing the edge angle is also easy, with no specialized tools required. Once your blade gets dull, or you want to reshape the edge, a whetstone will suffice.
14C28N steel has an outstanding balance between hardness and toughness. It has impressive flexibility despite being tough steel. You will easily cut through metal tins and do heavy impact cutting without the blade chipping.
Good Wear Resistance
Thanks to its hardness, 14C28N steel holds well to wear and tear. The many hardening components like carbon and manganese ensures 14C28N steel lasts longer than many average steel types.
Corrosion resistance was the main reason why 14C28N steel came into existence as an upgrade to 13C26 steel. So you can bet this steel has very impressive corrosion resistance. This factor is attributable to the chromium composition and nitrogen elements.
Corrosion resistance makes 14C28N steel the most popular in making knives for wet environments like kitchens and high humidity areas.
Read also: Knife Blade Types Guide [What They Are For]
14c28n Knife Steel Vs. Other Steels
Here is how 14c28n steel compares to other steel types.
14c28n vs. D2 Steel
D2 is as rigid as 14c28n, thus has almost equal edge retention abilities. D2 holds it for longer. Both steel types don’t chip easily, but 14c28n steel is easier to sharpen. Also, if you want a fishing knife, 14c28n steel will survive better in wet areas than D2.
14c28n vs. AUS-8 Steel
These two steel types compare in many factors other than in price and upper midrange status. They have almost similar edge retention, with 14c28n beating AUS-8 by a whisker.
In terms of corrosion resistance, 14c28n steel indeed survives better in wet works. Conversely, AUS-8 is easier to sharpen.
14c28n vs S30v Steel
Certainly, 14c28n ranks far behind in primary notable qualities when compared to S30V. S30V belongs to the premium class of steel types, and hence you will like its performance if you can afford it. S30V is awesome in ease of sharpening, edge-retention, corrosion resistance, and durability.
14c28n vs. VG10 Steel
VG10 steel is high-end steel, while 14c28n steel is in the midrange class. Thus, VG10 steel is more expensive, has better edge retention, and will not rust easily. Even so, 14c28n steel performs above average in all those factors. The two steel perform similarly in ease of sharpening.
14c28n vs 8cr13mov Steel
These two steel types are within the same price range, as they both belong to the upper midrange steel class. While both rank high than average in ease of sharpening, 8CR13MoV does better. However, 14c28n steel has better edge-retention and corrosion resistance.
14c28n vs 440c Steel
Both are upper mid-range steels with equal edge retention and sharpening ease. While both are stainless steels, 14c28n steel resists corrosion better, possibly due to added nitrogen.
Sandvik 14C28N knife steel holds well against other upper midrange and premium steel types. And since Sandvik designed it specifically for knife making, it’s a popular steel in mid-budget all-around blades.
Its cost, excellent machinability, and high corrosion resistance make it ideal for chef’s knives, fishing knives, and everyday carries knives. Popular Sandvik 14C28N steel knives include Kershaw Blur (1670BLKST), Kershaw Knockout Olive (1870LBLK), Ruike P801 Tactical Pocket Knife, and STEINBRÜCKE Steinbrucke Pocket Knife.
Read also: 8cr13mov Stainless Steel is a Good Knife?
As with many steel types, the user’s review relates to specific brands rather than the steel itself. And, since a manufacturer’s process of turning steel into knives results in varying hardness, a knife’s performance may be adversely affected. For instance, a user who had bought a Kershaw Blur (1670BLKST) knife reviewed it negatively after it broke from a fall on a wooden floor; others felt the blades looked cheap, while others were dissatisfied with the weight and width of their knives.
All in all, more than half of users of Sandvik 14C28N steel blades on Amazon and Blades Forum expressed great satisfaction. Many gave a five-star rating with reasons like decent edge-retention, excellent ease of sharpening, great corrosion resistance, and outstanding durability.
Sandvik 14C28N knife steel does well in the knife industry. It is common in all-around use knives and is relatively affordable. Be sure it won’t disappoint when you add it to your collection. Its edge performance, re-sharpening ease, corrosion resistance, and durability are excellent for their price.