5Cr15MoV is a Chinese copy of the German X50CrMoV15 steel, sharing similar chemical properties, and both are low-end class stainless steel. The 5Cr15MoV design favors the production of kitchen knives meant for light cutting duties. This steel is cheap to produce and has high chromium content for improved anti-corrosion.
5Cr15MoV steel is very similar to 420hc but has more chromium, added molybdenum, and has less vanadium. Apart from being softer than other high carbon steels, 5Cr15MoV steel is straightforward to sharpen, thus suitable for beginner knife owners. Besides, this steel is easy to machine and hence popular with manufacturers. Let’s look closer at the properties of this steel, user reviews, and available knives made from it.
At A Glance
Typically, a knife’s performance on factors like blade strength, wear and corrosion resistance, edge retention, and overall suitability to the cutting tasks depend on steel used. 5Cr15MoV steel performs averagely in most properties, apart from its low edge retention ability.
- It has excellent ease of shareability
- Excellent machinability
- Very affordable
- Great anti-corrosion abilities
- Relatively hard (55-57 HRC)
- Reasonably tough to handle low-mid demanding cutting tasks
- Poor edge retention abilities
- The edge curves in easily under challenging cutting tasks
The following are the chemicals used to make 5Cr15MoV stainless steel.
- Chromium, 15%: The vast amounts of chromium in 5Cr15MoV steel make it stainless and excellent in corrosion resistance. Chromium also contributes to the tensile strength and edge retention properties of this steel.
- Carbon, 0.5%: Carbon hardens steel to make it wear and tear-resistant while improving the corrosion resistance abilities. The 0.5% in 5Cr15MoV steel is relatively high, but not as in mid-range and high-end stainless steels.
- Molybdenum, 0.6%: At that percentage composition, molybdenum makes this steel easy to machine and increases its strength.
- Manganese, 0.4%: Manganese adds to the overall hardness of steel.
- Vanadium appears at 0.1% to increase the 5Cr15MoV steel’s hardness and resistance to wear and tear.
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Physical Properties of 5Cr15MoV
The 5Cr15MoV steel has a hardness range of 55-57 HRC on the Rockwell HRC scale. The actual knife hardness depends on the heat treatment process the manufacturer uses when molding this steel to blades. In some instances, some knives made from 5Cr15MoV steel may have a high hardness of 58HRC.
This hardness range makes 5Cr15MoV steel resist regular wear and tear pretty well. Hence expect good durability from knives made from this steel. Also, this steel is easy to sharpen, with even beginner sharpeners getting it to razor-sharp fast. But a downside to this moderate hardness is the low edge retention ability.
The toughness of steel correlates to its hardness. This property determines the kind of abuse steel can take without chipping. This Chinese-made steel is reasonably tough and endures low to mid-complex cutting tasks well. Blades made with this steel perform better in chopping than in cutting tasks.
Poor Edge Retention
Edge retention determines how frequently steel needs sharpening before finishing a cutting job. As stated above, 5Cr15MoV steel isn’t that hard, and hence expect relatively low edge retention from it. The carbon and vanadium low compositions keep this steel out of the ultra-hard class of steel, and hence its edge retention is nothing compared to what hard steels offer. This steel compensates for this inability with easy shareability.
Excellent Corrosion Resistance
This factor is where the 5Cr15MoV steel excels very well, thanks to its high chromium content. Its anti-corrosion abilities are awe-inspiring at its price, which favors it as good steel for kitchen knives.
Good Ease of Sharpening
5Cr15MoV steel is straightforward to sharpen and gets to razor-sharp fast. Many users expressed satisfaction with the ease of sharpening this steel in their reviews on Amazon. The good thing, you don’t need any specialized tool as even a basic whetstone gives this steel a razor-sharp edge quickly.
Check also: Knife Blade Types Guide [What They Are For]
Equivalents: 5Cr15MoV vs. other steels
To decide the suitability of this steel for your next blade, it’s essential to know how it compares with other steels within its class and others. Below is how 5Cr15MoV steel compares to other steels.
5Cr15MoV vs. X50CrMoV15
These two steel types share the same chemical composition, but 5Cr15MoV is Chinese-made while X50CrMoV15 is from Germany. Experts believe the Chinese copied the Germans. They have excellent corrosion resistance, decently tough, share the same class of relatively soft steels, and are very easy to sharpen.
5Cr15MoV vs. 7Cr17MoV
The 7Cr17Mov steel contains more carbon and chromium than 5Cr15MoV, thus harder and with better edge retention ability. It also has better corrosion resistance than 5Cr15Mov. Consequently, the higher hardness reduces its shareability, hence harder to sharpen than 5Cr15MoV. Also, 5Cr15MoV is cheaper than 7Cr17MoV.
5Cr15MoV vs. 3Cr13
These two steel types fall within the same price range and have almost similar chemical compositions. Both have relatively decent hardness and edge retention and make highly sharpenable blades. However, 5Cr15MoV is more corrosion resistant, while 3CR13 has better machinability.
5Cr15MoV vs. 420HC
The 5Cr15MoV steel has more chromium and less vanadium than 420HC. The difference in composition makes 5Cr15MoV better in anti-corrosion but lesser abrasion resistance compared to the 420HC. However, they have similar carbon content, hence almost similar hardness levels.
Is 5Cr15MoV Steel Good For Knives?
Overall, this steel is decent for knives, and it’s a knife steel by design. However, the low edge retention and medium hardness limit its use in heavy-cutting and outdoor use knives. But this steel compensates its inabilities with decent toughness and incredible ease of sharpening.
It also has excellent anti-corrosion and good machinability. Thus, it’s popular in kitchen and hunting knives meant for low to mid-tough cutting jobs. Some popular 5Cr15MoV steel knives include:
Gerber Freeman Guide Knife
This fixed blade knife is a great outdoor activity like hunting and hiking. The following are its properties:
- 5Cr15MoV stainless steel 4-inch blade with glass bead finish
- Full tang design
- Wooden grooved handle with TacHide Onlay for firm grips in all conditions
- Provided with a nylon sheath for easy carry
- Features a lanyard slot
- Large finger grooves on the handle
SHAN ZU Multipurpose Chef Knife
SHAN ZU is a 5Cr15MoV steel knife favorite for chefs and other lovers of cooking. It offers the following:
- 8-inch blade length and 13.5 inches in total length
- Great design for both right and left-handed users
- 15 degrees edged ultra-sharp blade
- Ergonomically shaped pakka wood handle
- Full-tang design
SOG Small Fixed Blade Knife
Do you want an everyday carry knife or a backup blade that is budget-friendly? SOG fixed blade knife is the best choice on a 5Cr15MoV steel, with the following features.
- 5.9-inches overall length
- Compact design and lightweight (0.14 pounds)
- Durable satin-polished blade for durability
- G10 grooved handle for excellent grips
- It comes with a sheath hard-molded for durability
Users’ Review On Amazon
The reviews on this steel are brand specific, and though the heat-treatment may make a considerable difference in knife hardness, the reviews show a general feel of using 5Cr15MoV.
Overall, users rate 5Cr15MoV steel blades positively on Amazon. Among the highest-rated properties include the ease of sharpening, affordability, versatility in cutting soft meat and vegetables, and the razor-sharp edge right out of the box.
Significant concerns are on the low edge holding ability and the edge curving-in when subjected to demanding cutting tasks. Some users indicated that this steel is too soft for cutting tasks, with one user including photos of a curved-in blade after an attempt to cut a frozen chicken leg.
The 5Cr15MoV is low-end steel designed for knife making. It has superb corrosion resistance, is very easy to sharpen, with considerable hardness, edge retention, and toughness. The properties of this steel may not be the best but are relatively decent for its price.
Whether on a tight budget or you want a pocket-friendly knife, then 5Cr15MoV steel may be a good choice. The durability of this steel largely depends on how you use it, with its chopping performance better than its cutting. When you finally settle for this steel, be prepared for frequent sharpening.