How good is 5160 steel? Details 5160 Steel Review

What is 5160 steel?

5160 steel is also known as AISI 5160, 5160 spring steel or 5160 alloy. It is a low-end steel that contains high levels of carbon and fair amounts of chromium.

5160 alloy steel is tougher than stainless steel knives due to its high carbon content and chemical makeup. However, 5160 alloy steel is less hard than other high-carbon steels.

This steel is tough, but also has high ductility and hardness. It can be used to make large knives.

Knifemakers use 5160 carbon steel for knives that are used in difficult applications such as survival knives, camping knives and long knives.

5160 Steel Composition

Element Percentage composition Function
Carbon C 0.56%-0.64% It increases edge retention, hardness, tensile strength, and hardness. It increases steel resistance to wear and abrasion as well as corrosion.
Chromium Cr 0.70%-0.90% The formation of Chromium carbonide increases the hardness, tensile and corrosion resistance of the blade.
Manganese Mn 0.75%-1.00% This improves steel’s strength and hardness. The steel’s hardenability can be improved by adding more manganese to it after it has been heat-treated.
Silicon Si 0.15%-0.30% It increases strength and resistance to heat.
Sulfur S 0.04% It improves machinability, but it is considered an impurity when used in large quantities.
Phosphorus P 0.035% It improves machinability, hardness, and is considered an impurity when used in large quantities.
5160 Steel Composition

5160 Steel Properties


5160 steel hardness is 57 to 58 HRC according to Rockwell toughness. The tempering stage and the temperature at which the heat treatment is performed as directed by the manufacturer determine the hardness of the steel.

The 5160 high-carbon steel knife has a hardness level of 58 HRC. It will retain sharp edges and have excellent toughness properties. It isn’t as hard as other carbon-steel, but it is more durable and is easier to sharpen than the rest.


5160 steel is a spring steel that offers exceptional toughness. This is due to the low amount of carbide in its composition, compared with other carbon steels.

Knives made from 5160 spring steel are ideal for camping and other outdoor activities because they can perform hard tasks such as batoning and wood cutting without breaking, chipping or losing their form.

Wear resistance

This steel is not known for its wear resistance due to the low carbon content.

It is also more durable than other soft steels. You can use 5160 knife steels for a long time, even with regular sharpening and usage.

Edge retention

Low carbon steel 5160 steel has an impact on its edge retention. It has a good edge retention, but it doesn’t hold an edge for long enough.

A 5160 steel knife will need to be sharpened frequently.

Corrosion resistance

Because of its low levels of chromium, 5160 high carbon is not corrosion resistant. This steel will rust quickly if it is not taken care of properly, even under normal conditions.

Knives made of this steel are still safe. However, you can make sure they don’t rust by keeping them dry and clean. Apply a coat of oil or lubricant after drying to protect against rust.


5160 high-carbon steel is easy to cut, due to its low chromium or carbon content.

High-end stainless steel knives can be difficult to sharpen. This is due to high levels of carbon, chromium and other elements.

You can quickly achieve an edge with soft steels like AISI5160 steel without much effort. This is a great advantage as the steel will dull quicker. This makes it easier to sharpen your steel quickly.

5160 equivalent

52100 steel and have 5160 steel equivalents in terms of performance, such as toughness and edge retention. These blade steels have very low corrosion resistance and are not as tough as the others.

5160 vs 420HC steel

5160 steel Steel with 420HC
Toughness 9.5/10 9/10
Edge Retention 1.5/10 2.5/10
Corrosion resistance 0.5/10 8/10
5160 vs. 420HC

420HC Steel is more corrosion resistant than 5160 steel because it’s stainless steel with over 13% of chromium, while 5160 steel has 0.90%. 420HC blades are therefore more resistant to rust then 5160 blades.

Edge retention is poor for both 5160 and 5420HC, but 5160 and 5160 steels are slightly better than 420HC steels. The 5160 knife steel is easier to sharpen than the 420HC, but this can be explained by the lower hard carbide content.

5160 carbon steel is slightly tougher than or 420HC stainless steel. It is preferred by most bladesmiths as it is easy forge and machine. It is a great choice for swords, katanas, and other applications that require tough steel.

5160 steel vs S30V

5160 steel Steel S30V
Toughness 9.5/10 4/10
Edge Retention 1.5/10 6/10
Corrosion resistance 0.5/10 7.5/10
5160 vs. S30V

S30V Steel is a stainless steel that has 14% chromium. It offers greater corrosion resistance than 5160 steel knife steel. The carbon content of S30V steel is higher at 1.48%, compared to the 0.56% in 5160 steel. This carbon element provides steel with a higher hardness, wear resistance, and enhanced edge retention properties.

S30V steel is a steel metallurgy that has a better alloy composition and performs better than 5160 steel. Because of its balance performance in terms corrosion resistance, edge retention and toughness, S30V steel can be used for most knives.

5160 carbon steel is more durable than S30V steel and will therefore be less likely to crack or chip on impact. 5160 steel can be used for long blades such as swords or katanas, while S30V steel is best for small blades such as pocket knives. Edge retention and corrosion resistance are the most important characteristics of S30V steel.

5160 steel vs D2

5160 steel D2 steel
Toughness 9.5/10 3.5/10
Edge Retention 1.5/10 5/10
Corrosion resistance 0.5/10 4.5/10

HTML2 steel is semi-stainless with 12% chrome content. It offers greater corrosion resistance than 5160 steel, which has 0.9% chromium. D2 steel has a higher carbon content than 5160, which allows D2 blades to retain their edges and resist wear better than 516o blades.

5160 steel, on the other side, is more tough than D2 steel. 5160 knife steel’s toughness is ideal for long blades such as Katanas and swords. D2 is good for pocket knives because of its excellent edge retention and enhanced resistance to corrosion.

Are 5160-grade steels good for knives?

The 5160 steel’s outstanding toughness and wear resistance make it an excellent choice for blades that require high toughness such as survival knives, Kukri knives and bushcraft knives.
If you want a knife that is extremely resistant to corrosion, stain, and edges retention, 5160 alloy steel will not be the right choice.

Is 5160 steel suitable for swords?

5160 steel is a great steel for swords. It has exceptional toughness, so it can withstand high-impact applications. 5160 sword steel can be forge with good heat treatment. This will not only give you excellent toughness, but it also retains your edge much better.


5160 alloy steel is a popular steel because of its toughness. It’s loved by both knife makers and users. This steel was originally intended for leaf spring, but it soon found a home in knife-making and became a well-known knife steel.

It is important to maintain it like other low-chromium alloys of carbon steel. If the knife is left unattended for a prolonged period of time, mineral oil can prevent oxidation.

About the author

Hi, my name is Jaba Ray. I'm a knife expert and researcher. I am the creator of, your one-stop site for everything related to knives. I love people who need suitable steel or knife for their cook because I'm also a food lover. I work with a team of people who've always had a passion for knives and blades on this site.

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