Is AUS 8 Stainless Steel Good for Knives?

Japan has a history of making high-quality steel. And the Aichi Foundry-made AUS 8 steel carries on the legacy. Its mid-level stainless steel, very popular among manufacturers and users worldwide for its good properties. The AUS 8, also known as AUS-8A or 8A, has almost similar performance to 440C steel. And yes, the AUS 8 stainless steel is good for knives.

While AUS 8 is a quality steel, the standard improves further when it undergoes the appropriate heat treatment and hardening process. The steel contains high amounts of vanadium, molybdenum, and carbon, which make it excellent in making scissors, knives, food machines, and medical equipment. This article discusses the properties, chemical composition, and suitability of AUS 8 for making knives.

At A Glance

AUS-8 represents two things in the world of steel- quality, and affordability. This steel holds an edge decently but not as long as higher carbon or premium steel. However, softness in steel implies higher toughness, which makes AUS 8 hold to impact cutting well. It has outstanding corrosion resistance thanks to its high chromium content.

Depending on the cutting tasks, you may need to re-sharpen AUS 8 blades frequently. But luckily, this steel is straightforward to sharpen and takes an incredibly sharp edge. So, go ahead and give your AUS 8 blade some abuse without worrying about spending as much effort sharpening as you would with hard steels. And this steel is very affordable. If you’re on a budget and still want some quality, AUS 8 is your steel.

Pros

  • Good resistance to wear
  • Impressive corrosion resistance
  • It holds sharp edges fairly
  • Sharpens easily
  • Decent toughness
  • Good machinability
  • Affordable

 Cons

  • Dulls easily under constant use

AUS 8 Chemical Composition

Below is the chemical composition of AUS 8:

  • Chromium, 13-14.5%: This more than 10% chromium composition makes AUS 8 stainless steel with good corrosion resistance.  It also improves hardness, edge retention, wear and abrasion resistance, and tensile strength of AUS 8.
  • Carbon, 0.70-0.75%: Improves hardness, edge retention, and corrosion resistance of steel.
  • Manganese, 0.5%: Improves the hardness and brittleness of the steel.
  • Silicon, 1%: Enhances the strength of AUS 8.
  • Molybdenum at 0.3%: Improves strength and machinability of this steel.
  • Phosphorus, 0.04%: Improves the overall strength of steel.
  • Vanadium, 0.25%: Boosts the hardness and wear resistance of steel.
  • Nickel, 0.49%: Makes the steel tougher to handle impact jobs without chipping.
  • Sulfur, 0.04%: It improves the machinability but reduces the strength if used in large quantities.

AUS 8 Steel Hardness

The hardness of AUS 8 steel ranges from 57-59 HRC, with most blades having 59HRC hardness. 

AUS 8 Steel Physical Properties

1. Good Durability and Wear Resistance

At 59 HRC, AUS 8 steel is harder than most everyday carry knife steels (54-56 HRC). And hardness in steel implies better wear resistance and durability. The impressive durability and wear resistance result from the carbon, vanadium, and chromium elements in AUS 8 steel.

2. Great Corrosion Resistance

Stainless steels typically have good corrosion resistance. With a 13-14.5% chromium composition, AUS 8 steel holds to rust and corrosion impressively. These steel blades are all-weather but are not rust-proof. To better the corrosion resistance, keep your blade clean and dry after use always.

3. Very Easy To Sharpen

Blades made with AUS 8 steel are very easy to sharpen and get to razor-sharpness fast. You don’t need specialized tools nor tons of experience to sharpen AUS 8. A whetstone with some lubricant yields incredible results and is easy to learn how to use.

4. Great Toughness

For steels, more hardness means less toughness. AUS 8 steel isn’t that hard and hence has a considerable toughness. This steel can handle low to mid-impact cutting tasks well without chipping or breaking.

5. Excellent Machinability

The molybdenum and sulfur make AUS 8 steel very easy to machine. This steel has excellent machinability and takes different shapes and designs quickly and cheaply. This property has enhanced AUS 8 popularity among knife manufacturers, and the low manufacturing costs translate to affordable knives. Consumers save some dollars on purchases and still enjoy the remarkable properties of AUS 8.

AUS 8 Vs. Other Steels

Below is a side-by-side comparison of AUS 8 and other steels.

AUS-8 vs. 8Cr13MoV

The Chinese-made 8Cr13MoV is almost in development to the Japanese AUS 8. They offer the same degree of toughness and are within the same price range. However, AUS 8 is superior in edge retention and resistance to corrosion and abrasion.

AUS-8 vs. D2

The two steel types share some similarities in their chemical compositions. They offer the same degrees of edge retention and resistance to corrosion. While AUS 8 is easier to sharpen, D2 does better in toughness.

AUS-8 vs. VG10

AUS 8 and VG10 offer similar levels of corrosion resistance. While VG10 holds an edge better, AUS 8 is more arduous. Also, you’ll take longer sharpening AUS 8 steel.

AUS-8 vs. 440C

These two steel types have a similar chemical composition and almost similar performance. There is no difference in their toughness, edge retention, hardness, and corrosion resistance. However, AUS 8 is more straightforward to sharpen than 440C.

Is AUS 8 Steel Good for Knives?

Absolutely. AUS 8 is not good but excellent for knives. It’s affordable and has great attributes. It makes excellent beginner knives that are very versatile for all-purpose use. Blades with this steel are easy to sharpen, corrosion-resistant, and very tough but lack premium steels’ edge retention. AUS 8 steel is prevalent in folding, outdoor/survival, and hunting knives.

And manufacturers love AUS 8. Apart from excellent machinability, knives from this steel are stamped rather than forged. Stamping means a machine cuts out knives from a large sheet of AUS 8, which directly go to polishing and adding handles. Stamping allows for cheap and convenient mass production of knives. Among the many manufacturers that prefer AUS 8 to other steels in the same category include:

  • SOG for specialty knives
  • Ontario Knife Company for the RAT series
  • Cold Steel for the SRK series
  • Columbia River Knife and Tool for the Van Hoy series

Best AUS 8 Steel Knives

  1. Ontario RAT-2

If you were after a folder knife that fits well in your pocket and performs excellently as survival and tactical blade, then Ontario RAT-2 is all yours. The rigid and usable design is hard to ignore and is available in other versions like D2. But I prefer AUS 8 version for the added corrosion resistance. Ontario RAT-2 offers:

  • Overall Length: 7.0 inches
  • Blade Length: 3.0 inches
  • Drop Point Blade Style
  • Full flat grind
  • Handle Material: Nylon 6
  • Open System: Manual thumb stud
  • Carry System: multi-direction pocket clip
  • Lock Type: Liner
  1. CRKT Shenanigan Z

CRKT Shenanigan Z is Ken Onion Made workhorse knife designed for performance. It features a light handle material and a simple blade edge. If you like comfy knives, then you will undoubtedly fall for the Shenanigan Z. Below are its main features:

  • Overall Length: 8.25 inches
  • Blade Length: 3.25 inches
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle Material: GRN
  • Open System: Manual flipper
  • Carry System: pocket clip
  • Lock Type: Liner

Users’ Review on Amazon

More than 71% of users on Amazon show overall satisfaction with AUS 8 knives. Among the high-rated attributes include the strength, corrosion resistance, and sharpen-ability of AUS 8 steel blades. Users were also happy with the razor-sharpness right out of the box of their buys.

However, some users aren’t satisfied with the low edge retention of AUS 8 steel. Also, a good number expressed concerns with the stiffness of the lock mechanisms, non-centered blades, and other issues related to the handle designs. But luckily, the knives are under warranty, and users confirmed they got replacements from manufacturers.

Conclusion

AUS 8 steel offers excellent attributes for an affordable price. This steel has decent edge retention, resists corrosion well, and has a good balance in hardness and toughness. It also has excellent machinability; thus, manufacturers make awesome designs cheaply and make knives very sharp right out of the box.

If you are after a budget knife for all-weather use, then AUS 8 steel blades are your best choice. Whether for use outdoors or in wet and high humid areas, AUS 8 steel offers excellent performance.

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