Is D2 steel Good for knives [The Complete Steel Guide for Beginners]

Knives have a wide array of purposes. Whether you want a knife for hunting, survival, or day-to-day house chores, a reliable steel knife can make a world of difference.

D2 steel knives are among the most popular types of knives you can find on the market. But how good are they? Will a D2 steel knife fulfill your needs? Stick around to find out in our review.

D2 Steel Knives Review: At a Glance

D2 steel is undoubtedly an excellent choice for knife blades. A D2 blade is durable, wear-resistant, and hard. Sharpening it can be a daunting task, though.


  • Impressive wear resistance
  • High hardness
  • Great edge retention
  • Tougher than many other steel grades
  • Good corrosion resistance


  • May rust if exposed to improper conditions
  • Can take a while to sharpen

Chemical Composition

Here’s a quick overview of the chemical composition of D2 steel:

  • Carbon – 1.5%
  • Chromium 12%
  • Molybdenum – 0.9%
  • Vanadium – 1.10%
  • Manganese – 0.45%
  • Silicon – 0.40%
  • Phosphorus – 0.03%
  • Sulfur – 0.02%

The carbon content is responsible for increasing the steel’s hardness and wear resistance, while chromium boosts its rust and corrosion resistance. As for silicon, it makes D2 steel sturdier and corrosion-free, while molybdenum improves hardenability and overall strength.

It’s also worth mentioning that sulfur content makes D2 steel easier to the machine.


Based on the Rockwell Hardness test results, D2 steel has a hardness rating of 55-62 HRC, making it one of the hardest tool steels used in knife manufacturing.


Hard materials are usually not that tough, but compared to other steels used in making knives, D2 steel is considered pretty tough. Some heavy-duty tasks will definitely benefit from a tough blade that’s hard to break or bend, and D2 steel can provide just that.

Wear Resistance

D2 steel has excellent wear resistance. Compared to other grades of steel, D2 steel is pretty much undisputed in this category. No matter how you use your D2 knife, abrasion shouldn’t be a problem.


Because of its high resistance to wear, D2 steel is a lot harder to sharpen than many other types of steel.

We’re not saying that you’ll have to live with a dull blade if you opt for a D2 steel knife, though; you’ll just need more time to get a sharper blade. You can get better results if you use ceramic stones. Diamond stones are highly recommended too.

Edge Retention

Since D2 steel scores high in terms of hardness, it does a great job when it comes to edge retention too. You’ll rarely have to sharpen the blade of a D2 knife, thanks to its high carbon content.

Corrosion Resistance

Thanks to its chromium content, D2 steel has good rust and corrosion resistance. It’s not 100% invincible to corrosion, but it has enough resistance to keep the knife in good condition. Just keep in mind that you can’t leave it soaked in water and expect it not to rust.

The Best D2 Steel Knives in 2021

Now, let’s take a quick look at some of the most promising D2 steel knives you can find on the market:

1. Cold Steel Leatherneck SF

Cold Steel Leatherneck SF is a large D2 knife that’s designed for some heavy-duty usage. With a total length of 11.75” and a blade length of 6.75”, this is one of the largest D2 knives out there.

The all-black design gives the Leatherneck SF knife a cool look, with a powder coat finish that’s made to last.

There’s a steel finger guard that protects your finger from getting hurt when cutting with the knife. We also like the textured handle that provides a comfortably strong grip.


  • Long blade
  • Sleek design
  • Comfortable handle
  • Has a finger guard


  • Not foldable

2. Ontario Rat II

Ontario Rat II

If you’re on a tight budget, then the Ontario Rat II D2 steel knife should be at the top of your list. It boasts a thin profile that makes it easy for you to fit it in the pocket without compromising performance.

The 7” D2 blade is super sharp, slicing anything that comes in its way. In addition, the textured nylon 6 scales handle integrates a sophisticated lock frame so you can safely store or carry the knife without hurting yourself.

What’s more, the handle has a series of notches and an index finger groove for ergonomic handling.


  • Sharp blade
  • Reasonable price
  • Ergonomic handle with lock frame


  • Sharpening requires some effort

3. KATSU Handmade D2

KATSU Handmade D2

Are you into Japanese knives? Then you should definitely take a look at the KATSU Handmade D2. It looks plain beautiful with the bamboo-style handle, making it suitable as a gift for Japanese knife collectors.

You can easily carry the knife in your pocket thanks to the lock frame that houses the 3” blade when you fold it. And since this is a Japanese-styled knife, you can easily open the blade with one hand using the thumb lever.

On top of that, the KATSU Handmade knife comes with a cute pocket clip that you can use to carry it around.


  • One-hand opening
  • Beautiful Japanese-styled design
  • Double bevel blade


  • The screws may loosen up after a while

Frequently Asked Questions

Is D2 Steel Better Than 1095?

D2 steel can hold an edge much better than 1095 steel. And although D2 knives are harder to sharpen, you won’t need to sharpen your D2 knife as frequently as a 1095 one.

Is D2 Steel Good for Pocket Knives?

Yes! D2 knives have great edge retention and wear resistance, two of the most important criteria when deciding on a pocket knife. D2 steel knives are also quite sturdy.

Is D2 Better Than 440?

D2 steel is harder than 440 steel because of its higher carbon content. However, 440 steel has more chromium content, giving it a higher level of protection against rusting than D2 steel. It’s also worth noting that D2 steel has the upper hand when it comes to wear resistance.

How Does D2 Steel Fare Against VG10?

VG10 boosts more corrosion resistance and better edge retention than D2 steel. It’s also a bit easier to sharpen. However, VG10 isn’t quite as tough as D2 steel.

How Easy Is It to Sharpen a D2 Steel Knife?

Sharpening a D2 steel knife can be a bit challenging. While you can sharpen D2 steel with pretty much any hard stone you can get your hands on, you might want to consider using a diamond stone for the fastest result.

Final Thoughts

To recap, D2 steel knives are among the best pocket knives you can get. They’re tough, can hold an edge pretty well, and scores high when it comes to hardness.

If you need a large knife, the Cold Steel Leatherneck SF D2 knife would be your best bet. On the other hand, if a low price point is your priority, you won’t find anything better than the Ontario Rat II knife. Finally, the KATSU Handmade D2 knife would be a great choice for Japanese-styled knives enthusiasts.

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