9Cr18MoV Steel: Full Details and Review

9Cr18MoV is a modified 440B stainless steel that is high in chromium and mid-high in carbon. It contains ample amounts of other elements like vanadium, nickel, and molybdenum. That mix results in an alloy with a hardness range of 58-60HRC that holds an edge well and is excellent in corrosion resistance.

It’s popular steel in making parts for use in high abrasion and corrosive environments such as surgical blades, cutlery, mechanical cutting equipment, and high-wear components. The popularity stems from its affordability despite being high-end stainless steel. However, this steel is relatively tricky to sharpen and not challenging enough for high-impact cutting tasks. Below are the full details and review of 9Cr18MoV steel.

At A Glance

When it comes to steel, hardness equals good edge holding but difficulty in sharpenability. Consequently, less sharpening implies durability. The 9Cr18MoV steel is relatively hard and gives even seasoned knife sharpeners a hard time getting a sharp edge.

Despite having a low score on toughness, this steel guarantees performance and durability. You will undoubtedly hear of it frequently while knife-shopping as it’s trendy in EDC and hunting knives. And you can’t go wrong in acquiring a 9Cr18MoV steel knife as they are all-rounded with good durability. As long as you avoid high-impact cutting tasks, this steel will serve you for a long before any need to replace it.

Pros 

  • Exceptional resistance to corrosion
  • Excellent hardness (58-60 HRC)
  • Decent toughness, unlike in other hard steel types
  • It resists wearing effectively thus durable
  • Awesome edge retention
  • Achieves superb sharpness
  • Fairly affordable

Cons

  • Hard to sharpen
  • Not tough enough for high impact cutting tasks

Chemical composition

9Cr18MoV steel derives its great qualities from the following chemical elements.

  • Carbon, 0.95%: 9Cr18MoV steel is hard thanks to the mid-high carbon content. The hardness makes it wear and tear-resistant while improving anti-corrosion. Sadly, the high carbon content makes this steel brittle, reducing its resistance to chipping under high impact.
  • Chromium, 18%: This is the main reason why 9Cr18MoV steel has awesome anti-corrosion. Apart from that, chromium increases the wear resistance, tensile strength, and edge retention abilities of this steel.
  • Molybdenum, 1.3%: This element makes 9Cr18MoV steel popular among manufacturers as it is behind the excellent machinability. Also, molybdenum strengthens the steel further.
  • Silicon, 0.8%: This also adds to the strength of the 9Cr18MoV steel.
  • Manganese, 0.8%: Manganese enhances the hardness of steel.
  • Nickel, 0.6%: This element also increases the strength and edge retention of this steel.
  • Vanadium, 0.12%: Vanadium improves resistance to wear through added hardening to the steel.
  • Phosphorus, 0.04%: Also, for strength.
  • Sulfur, 0.03%: Adds to the machinability of the metal.

Summary 9Cr18MoV Steel Properties

PropertiesUnits (metric)
Specific Heat Capacity460 J/kg – K
Hardness58-60 HRC
Thermal Conductivity29.3 /m-K
Electrical Resistivity at 20 C0.65
Density7.70 g/cm3

Physical Properties

Hardness

Hardness in steel refers to its resistance to wear and tear, while toughness means resistance to chipping or breaking under impact. Hardness and toughness have an inverse relation, meaning the harder the steel, the lower its toughness.

At a hardness range of 58-60 HRC, 9Cr18MoV steel falls under the class of mid-hard steel. Although, every brand will have a specific hardness within this range depending on the heat treatment process used to alter the martensitic concentration. But, irrespective of the exact hardness, 9Cr18MoV steel has the disadvantage of brittleness and can’t make axes and machetes.

Resistance To Corrosion

All stainless steels have corrosion resistance, but how well it depends on the chromium content and other anti-corrosion elements. At 18% chromium, 9Cr18MoV steel has excellent corrosion resistance. The ability gets better with the added nickel and molybdenum elements in the alloy.

Excellent anti-corrosion makes steel ideal for use in wet environments and high humidity areas. If you work in such conditions, you can’t go wrong with having a 9Cr18MoV steel blade.

Durability

As noted earlier, 9Cr18MoV steel is hard steel; thus, it naturally has good wear resistance. The chromium and vanadium elements add to the wear resistance, further improving the durability.

Tough Enough

A major pro for this steel is balancing hardness and toughness; it’s hard but tough enough. The balance comes from the included elements that boost its tensile strength, such as manganese, nickel, and chromium. The good thing with these elements is they raise the toughness without significantly affecting the hardness.

Sharpness and Edge Retention

9Cr18MoV steel achieves an impressive sharpness, making it ideal for everyday carry and cutlery knives. Also, the high carbon content coupled with vanadium makes this steel retain an edge for a long. Meaningless frequent sharpening even with regular cutting tasks.

A downside, though, that is shared by all hard steels is the difficulty in sharpenability. Prepare to spend considerable time and effort sharpening a dull 9Cr18MoV steel edge, especially if you are using a primary tool like a sharpening stone. Lucky for you, nowadays, many sharpening systems available give this steel a sharp edge faster with less effort. They are costly, though.

Read also: 5cr15mov Stainless Steel [Full Detailed Review]

9Cr18MoV Steel Equivalents or Alternatives

How do 9Cr18MoV steel size up to other similar or other steel types? Let’s have a look. You may be lucky to find another steel alloy that fits your needs better.

9Cr18MoV vs. D2

D2 is more rigid than 9Cr18MoV due to its carbon content of 1.5-1.6%. Surprisingly, D2 resists chipping better than most stainless steel types but slightly lesser than 9Cr18MoV.

Accordingly, D2 has better edge retention but more difficult to sharpen than 9Cr18MoV. It’s also tough to mirror polish.

9Cr18MoV vs. 440B

9Cr18MoV steel is a modified version of 440B, with almost the same chemical composition. The exact difference being the added vanadium increased molybdenum from 0.75% to 1-1.3% and reduced manganese and silicon components from 1% to 0.8%.

9Cr18MoV and 440B have comparable hardness and tensile strength and thus possible to use interchangeably.

9Cr18MoV vs. 440C

440C and 9Cr18MoV steel has proximate chemical compositions and is within the same price range. The main differences are 440C has a higher carbon content (1.2%), and 9Cr18MoV has more molybdenum. However, both offer good value for money due to excellent corrosion resistance and edge retention.

9Cr18MoV vs. 8Cr13MoV

These two steel types share a similar class in the CR steel series. However, 9Cr18MoV ranks higher due to its higher carbon and chromium composition. It’s thus stiffer and more corrosion resistant.

8Cr13MoV is cheaper than 9Cr18MoV and easier to sharpen but less durable. If you keep 8Cr13MoV dry often and avoid high-impact cutting tasks, it will also offer some good value for money.

Is 9Cr18MoV Steel Suitable For Knives?

A big yes here, and for most knives. A better answer would be it’s ideal for knives that handle low to medium-impact cutting. It has good hardness and decent resistance to chipping, and you will like its edge retention. These properties are perfect for EDC and kitchen knives as they aren’t for high-impact cutting. One of the best 9Cr18MoV steel knives is the Civivi Praxis Folding Pocket Knife.

Civivi Praxis Folding Pocket Knife

Civivi Praxis is an ideal hunting and outdoor use knife featuring a flipper lock and a satin-finish blade.

Summary specifications:

  • Overall Length: 8.45″
  • Blade Length: 3.75″
  • Closed Length: 4.70″
  • Blade Thickness: 0.12″
  • Handle Thickness: 0.51″
  • Weight: 4.42oz / 125.4g
  • Blade Hardness: 58-60HRC
  • Handle Material: G10
  • Handle Color/Finish: Orange

Pros

  • Terrific slicing ability
  • Smooth flipper action
  • Lightweight
  • Textured handle
  • Very shiny thus easy to find even in low light conditions
  • Have a clip for easy carry

Cons

  • Some users find it a rather large knife for an EDC
  • Too thin for demanding cutting tasks

Users’ Review on Amazon

The overall positive reviews on Amazon for 9Cr18MoV steel knives should not be a surprise given its high-end steel. Most users expressed great satisfaction in the edge retention, razor-sharpness right out of the box, and fair pricing.

A primary concern is in the difficulty of sharpening for beginners, but most manufacturers offer free sharpening within the warranty period. Another somewhat awkward review originates from manufacturers making too thin blades that break easily under moderately challenging cutting tasks.

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