Is Grade 440C steel good knife steel? Details 440C Steel Review

What is 440C steel?

440C stainless steel is a 440A and 440B stainless steel. The 440 alloy series grades are distinguished by the carbon and chromium contents in the alloy composition.

AISI 440C Steel has the highest carbon content. It contains 440A (0.7%), 440B (0.85%), and 440C (1.5% C). The Rockwell hardness increases with carbon, but the resistance to corrosion decreases.

Because it has more than enough chromium (18%), 440C carbon steel is a true type of stainless steel. The softer 440A, 440B and 440B are more resistant to stains and better suited for saltwater applications.

Around 20 years ago, 440C was popularized as a good steel for knife making. It is still a top choice for making expensive knives, mid-range and budget knives. It can also be used in ball bearings or needle valves.

440C steel composition

  • Carbon 1.10%: Enhances edge retention, hardness and tensile strengths. It increases steel resistance to wear and abrasion as well as corrosion.
  • Chromium Cro 18.00%: This is the formation of Chromium caride, which increases the hardness, tensile and corrosion resistance of the blade.
  • Molybdenum Mo 0.75: This improves machinability.
  • Manganese Mn 1.0%: Increases steel’s strength and hardness. The steel’s hardenability can be improved by adding more manganese to it after it has been heat-treated.
  • Phosphorus P 0.04%: Improves hardness.
  • Sulphur S 0.03%: This improves machinability, but it is considered an impurity when used in large quantities.
  • Silicon Si 1.00%: Enhances grain structure for greater hardness. However, it can also increase brittleness like Manganese.

440C Steel properties

440C Steel Hardness

The Rockwell hardness of AISI 440C steel is between 58-60 HRC. This steel is the hardest in the 440 series. This 440C steel is hardened by high levels of Carbon (1.05% C), and Chromium (18.0% C) in its composition.

It is the heat treatment stage that will determine whether it will attain the highest hardness and characteristic high strength. The temperature at which the heat is applied should be the right temperature to ensure maximum hardness.

440C Steel Edge retention

The edge retention properties of Grade 440C stainless Steel are excellent, which is common for steels with high Rockwell hardness. Its high carbon content contributes to its edge-holding abilities.

The edge retention of 440C knife steel is comparable to other stainless steels such as 154CM steel and ATS 34 steel. It is superior to 8Cr13MoV and AUS 8 Steel.

440C Steel Toughness

The 440C stainless steel’s toughness is average. However, the 440C knife-steel’s toughness is affected by the high chromium content of its alloy composition. This results in the formation of brittle carbides, which are good for edge retention but less tough.

The toughness of 440C is comparable to other knife steels like S60V, S90V, and CTS-BD1N steel. It is superior to other steels such as German 1.4116 and X50CrMoV15 and Maxamet steel.

440C Steel Corrosion Resistance

440C stainless steel has high levels of chromium (18.0% Cr) which gives it excellent corrosion resistance properties. Your 440C blade steel knife won’t rust or stain, regardless of the use and climate.

The corrosion resistance of 440C stainlesssteel is superior to most knives steel. Its corrosion resistance matches that of premium powder metallurgy metals such as S30V and S35VN. This makes knives made of this steel a great choice for wet environments.

440C steel Wear resistance

Another reason 440C steel is still in demand for knife-making is its wear resistance. The blades of knives made of this steel are durable and will not wear even after repeated use.

Sharpening of 440C Steel

440C is a hard steel, so sharpening a knife made of 440C steel might be difficult for those who don’t have the right tools and skills. This steel is able to retain its sharpness for a longer time than other steels, which helps reduce the need for frequent sharpening.

440C Polished Steel Finish Look

Mirror-like finishes are another reason you will love knives made of 440C. The mirror polish gives the blades a beautiful look and is easy to clean. The 154CM steel from Crucible is another steel that has an attractive texture.

440C Steel Equivalent

In terms of performance, such as edge retention and toughness, and resistance to corrosion, ATS 34 and 154CM knife steel are equivalent. These two knife steels will give you similar performance as 440C steel.

440C Steel vs 1095

440C is stainless steel that has 18% chromium, while 1095 steel is low alloy non-stainless with no Chromium in its alloy composition. The enhanced alloy composition makes 440C steel more resistant to corrosion and retains its edge better than 1095 steel.

1095 Steel is a low-alloy steel that is easy to use by bladesmiths. Its heat treatment is simple and forgiving. The toughness of 1095 steel is higher than that of steel 440C, making it more suitable to make outdoor knives. However, 440C steel is better suited for use in kitchen knives because it has a greater stain resistance.

440C Steel vs 440B

The 440C knifesteel is an upgrade to the 440B knifesteel. It contains a higher carbon content (1.05% C) than the 440B steel (0.85%C). 440C has a higher carbon content, which allows it to attain a higher Rockwell hardness. This gives it better edge retention and wear resistance.

The 440C and the 440B blade steels have almost equal corrosion resistance due to their equal amounts of chromium (18%Cr). Due to the lower percentage of brittle chrome carbides, 440B is slightly more tough than 440C.

Because of the lower wear resistance and Rockwell hardness, sharpening 440B stainless steel is easier than sharpening it.

440C and D2

440C steel is stainless with 17% to 18% of chromium, while D2 steel non-stainless steel has 11% to 12% chromium. It has a higher resistance to corrosion due to its high Chromium content.

D2 steel is higher in carbon at 1.6% than AISI 440C’s 1.05%. This carbon increases its hardness, wear resistance, and edge retention. Sharpening 440C steel is much easier.

Is 440C good knife steel?

The 440C knife steel is still a great choice. It has excellent edge retention, wear resistance and corrosion resistance. It is also a mid-range knife stainless steel which makes 440C knives more affordable than premium knife steels. Its attractive feature is its ability to achieve a mirror finish.


AISI 440C blades were a popular choice before the advent of new technology steels. While some might argue that it isn’t the best option on the market, the 440C knife blades are still a popular choice for professionals in cutlery.

It is still used by knifemakers and users as an all-purpose knife-making tool. The 440C heat treatment allows it to achieve high Rockwell hardness, which makes it more wear-resistant. It is still used in knifemaking and blade making.

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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