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 is 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 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 for making scissors, knives, food machines, and medical equipment. This article discusses the properties, chemical composition, and suitability of AUS 8 for making knives.
AUS 8 Overview
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.
- Good resistance to wear
- Impressive corrosion resistance
- It holds sharp edges fairly
- Sharpens easily
- Decent toughness
- Good machinability
- 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 machinability but reduces the strength if used in large quantities.
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 or 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 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
AUS -8 and 8Cr13MoV are two plates of steel that have almost identical properties. However, when comparing the two plates of steel, AUS -8 has a slight advantage in toughness and corrosion resistance.
In addition, AUS -8 contains three times the amount of molybdenum and vanadium as 8Cr13MoV, making it more impact-resistant and retaining good sharpness for longer.
Ultimately, the differences between the two plates of steel are minor, but if you’re looking for a steel that can better withstand extreme conditions and retain its sharpness longer, AUS -8 is the better choice.
AUS-8 vs. D2
If you’re looking for a knife made of steel, two of the most popular options are the AUS -8 and D2. These two sheets of steel have similar properties in terms of edge retention and corrosion resistance.
AUS -however, 8 is easier to sharpen than D2, while D2 AUS outperforms 8 by offering greater wear resistance and toughness. D2 is also a tool steel, making it ideal for cutting tools. On the other hand, AUS -8 is semi-stainless and therefore has poorer corrosion resistance than D2.
If you’re looking for a knife that will hold its sharpness better, then D2 is definitely worth the premium over AUS -8. It’s important to note that sharpening D2 steel knives is more difficult.
AUS-8 vs. VG10
AUS-8 and VG10 are popular stainless steel grades commonly found in knives, particularly in the realm of Japanese cutlery. Here’s a brief comparison of their characteristics:
- Carbon Content and Hardness:
- AUS-8: Typically contains around 0.7-0.75% carbon. It’s considered a high-carbon stainless steel but falls on the lower end of the high-carbon spectrum. Its hardness is usually in the range of 57-58 HRC (Rockwell Hardness).
- VG10: Contains about 1% carbon. It has a slightly higher carbon content than AUS-8, making it harder, often ranging between 59-61 HRC.
- Edge Retention:
- AUS-8: Offers decent edge retention, but not on par with more premium steels. It’s often praised for being easy to sharpen.
- VG10: Known for its excellent edge retention due to its hardness. It retains a sharp edge longer than AUS-8.
- Corrosion Resistance:
- AUS-8: Has good corrosion resistance, especially when properly maintained, but it is less resistant compared to VG10.
- VG10: Boasts superior corrosion resistance due to the presence of molybdenum and cobalt, making it especially suitable for kitchen knives.
- Toughness and Durability:
- AUS-8: While not the toughest steel, it offers a balance between hardness and toughness. The slightly softer nature of AUS-8 allows it to be more resistant to chipping.
- VG10: Although harder, VG10 still maintains good toughness. It’s less prone to chipping than other steels of similar hardness.
while both AUS-8 and VG10 are reputable choices for knives, the decision between them often hinges on the desired balance between edge retention, toughness, corrosion resistance, and budget.
AUS-8 vs. 440C
AUS -8 and 440C are two popular stainless sheets of steel used for knife blades. Both sheets of steel have good corrosion resistance, with 440C having slightly better resistance due to its higher chromium content.
In terms of edge retention, 440C is the better choice because it is harder than AUS -8, making an AUS -8 edge easier to sharpen than 440C, although both plates of steel are relatively easy to sharpen. In terms of toughness, both plates of steel are a good choice, but 440C is slightly tougher than AUS -8.
Both sheets of steel are good choices for knife blades because of their excellent corrosion resistance and edge retention. However, if you are looking for steel that will hold its edge longer and is slightly more corrosion-resistant, 440C is the better choice.
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?
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 steel 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 a 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
2. CRKT Shenanigan Z
CRKT Shenanigan Z is a 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
Pros and Cons of AUS 8 Steel
Now that we’ve compared AUS 8 steel to other knife-making steels, let’s discuss the pros and cons of AUS 8 steel:
- Affordability: AUS 8 steel is less expensive than higher-end steels like S30V or M390.
- Corrosion resistance: AUS 8 steel is known for its resistance to corrosion, which makes it a great option for knives that may be used in wet or humid environments.
- Ease of sharpening: AUS 8 steel is easy to sharpen, which means that you can maintain a sharp edge on your knife without too much effort.
- Lower edge retention: AUS 8 steel has lower edge retention compared to higher-end steels, which means that you may need to sharpen your knife more often.
- Not as hard as higher-end steels: AUS 8 steel is not as hard as higher-end steels like S30V or M390, which means that it may not hold an edge as well as those steels.
Frequently Asked Questions
AUS -8-Steel is roughly equivalent to 440B stainless steel, although it may have slightly different compositions and properties depending on the manufacturer and heat treatment process.
Some knife enthusiasts also compare AUS -8 to 8Cr13MoV steel, another low-cost steel often used for inexpensive knives. In terms of performance, AUS -8 steel is generally considered to provide a good balance of corrosion resistance, edge retention, and ease of sharpening for its price.
D2 steel is generally considered to be a higher quality steel than AUS-8 due to its superior edge retention and hardness. However, it may be more difficult to sharpen and is also more expensive. So, it depends on your needs and budget.
No, AUS -8 steel is generally considered easy to sharpen because of its lower hardness compared to some other steels. Its lower hardness also means that it will not hold its sharpness as long as some higher-grade steels, but it can be sharpened with simple sharpening tools and techniques.
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 highly humid areas, AUS 8 steel offers excellent performance.