CPM S110V Steel Review

CPM S110V Steel Review

Do you want to buy a CPM S110V stainless steel knife but finding it hard to decide how good this steel is? Or are you looking for more information on how CPM S110V stacks up on edge stability, strength, toughness, and ease of sharpening? If yes, this is the guide for you.

As knife enthusiasts, we were also curious as to how good is the S110V steel and how it compares with other popular steels. And so we did lots of research about and we discovered plenty of helpful information that we have shared with you right below.

What is CPM S110V Steel?

CPM S110V, commonly referred to as S110V, is a premium tier stainless steel developed in 2005 by US-based Crucible Industries. The steel is created following Crucible Particle Metallurgy (CPM) and contains high carbon and high vanadium amounts.

The addition of Niobium element in its alloy results in the formation of extremely small, super-hard carbides which are harder than vanadium carbides. The carbides also tend to form in substantial amounts.

What is CPM S110V Steel

The S110V has a reputation for offering extreme wear resistance and exceptional edge retention. It finds use in making industrial knives, circular cutters, slitters, screw elements, to name but a few.

However, this steel has little popularity in knife makers’ circles because it’s not easy to work with and requires you to arm yourself with good quality abrasives.

S110V steel chemical composition:

In the following table, we have outlined the alloying elements for S110V. As you can clearly see below this steel is high in carbon, vanadium, molybdenum, and Niobium elements.


Percentage composition (%)













S110V steel properties

Each of these S110V alloying elements has a role to play as explained below:

2.80% Carbon improves hardness and resistance to wear and corrosion.

15.25% Chromium makes S110V stainless. For a steel to be stainless, it must contain more than 12% chromium in its chemical composition. Additional roles of chromium included increase tensile strength, edge retention, and enhanced wear and corrosion resistance.

2.25% Molybdenum increases strength and machinability.

9.00% Vanadium improves hardenability and wear resistance.

3.00% Niobium increases the steel hardness and resistance to wear and corrosion.

2.50% Cobalt plays a crucial role in boosting the individual effects of all the other alloying elements.

What is S110V steel hardness?

The steel attains a high hardness; it can get as high as 64HRC. However, the hardness can vary from sample to sample due to the varying heat-treatment process. You can expect the hardness of the s110v blade to run from 58 to 66HRC.

S110V steel properties

S110V steel properties

Wear resistance

This is another area where the CPM S110V passes with flying colors. It offers extremely high wear resistance, thanks to its unique chemical composition which features Niobium, Chromium, and Vanadium. This is a great feature to have as it means your knife won’t get easily damaged from normal wear or usage.

Exceptional edge retention

One area where S100v excel is offering exceptional edge retention for significantly longer than most of the steels out there. Firstly, the higher hardness range this steel lies in is responsible for this kind of edge stability. Secondly, it contains high levels of vanadium which further ensures a long-lasting cutting edge.

S110V steel sharpening

This is one area where S110V will really disappoint you. Sharpening it is a hell of a task. And this is quite understandable given that it’s one of the hardest steels you can get in the market today. Some users even claim that this is the most difficult steel they’ve ever tried to sharpen, and won’t take a sharp edge even with diamond stones. Once the steel takes a fine edge, however, it can last a really long time without requiring re-sharpening.

S110V steel toughness

The American steel also delivers ridiculously good toughness, but not the best. It has good enough toughness to hold up to hard use and keeps away chipping on your knife. Again, this is pretty much the case you expect for hard steel with high anti-corrosion properties: the toughness goes down.

Corrosion resistance

The steel features over 15% chromium, making it stainless and enabling it to offer high corrosion and rust resistance. That said, s110v stainless steel knife is not 100% rust-free and will need some extra to keep away corrosion. This can be as simple as cleaning and drying the blade after every use. If you can follow this simple maintenance routine, then you can use your knife in wet conditions without worries of rusting.

S110V steel comparison

S110V steel comparison

S110V vs S90V

S90V is regarded as the equivalent for S110V as they exhibit very close performance in terms of edge retention, corrosion resistance, and easy sharpening.  But CPM S90V goes above the CPM S110V with better toughness.

S110V vs M390

If you don’t like the low toughness offered by s110v, M390 will offer you a higher toughness. Other than that, the two steels offer pretty similar performance, with only slight differences, in other areas like edge retention, corrosion resistance, and easy sharpening.

CPM s110v steel

S110V vs Maxamet

These two are premium steels and are awesome to have in your knife.  But they tend to perform differently. Maxamet steel beats S110V when it comes to edge retention. S110V offers you high corrosion resistance, however, and would be more suitable for use in wet conditions. Maxamet has also proved even harder to sharpen than S110V. However, both steels offer low toughness levels.

S110V vs S30V

S110V outperforms S30V with better edge retention and toughness. S30V, on the other hand, is easier to sharpen and has slightly better corrosion resistance than s110V.

We have a detailed comparison of the CPM S110V here, for a deeper understanding of the material.

Is CPM s110v steel good for knives?

CPM s110v steel is definitely good for knives. This steel commands respect in the consumer knife market as the ultimate steel when it comes to wear resistance and edge retention. Yes, you heard that right, not many steels can hold an edge as good as the Crucible’s S110V steel. It also offers great corrosion resistance and decent toughness.

But you got to keep in mind that this steel is costly. This isn’t really surprising for American-made, premium-grade steel.

Is CPM s110v steel good for knives

Knife makers, both seasoned and beginners, are not enthusiastic about this steel, though. Reason? It is extremely hard to work with. Priming up its edge can also drive you nuts. And it’s not something you shouldn’t do with those cheaply made abrasive belts.

But once you do it correctly, this steel will keep its shape for longer than you’ve seen in any steel and will take in tons of abuse without rolling or chipping an inch.

Best CPM S110V Steel Knives:

1. Spyderco Manix 2 Signature Folding Knife

Spyderco Manix 2 Signature Folding Knife

Made in the USA by Spyderco, this is one of the most popular folders on the market right now. It’s made using CPM S110V, the high-performance super steel with exceptional edge holding capability, and comes ultra-sharp out of the box.

The knife features a lightweight design and comes in just the right size for an all-around EDC carry. The dark blue G10 handle feels good in your hands and is optimized with a checkered texture to offer you non-slip handling. Additionally, the knife comes with a textured finger choil plus thumb ramp which facilitates forward grip.

You’ll love the great locking mechanism—the Spyderco’s patented Ball Bearing Lock mechanism—which offers you smooth and swift closing action. The lock also acts as a deterrent for the blade when in the open position, assuring you of your own safety. The Spyderco’s trademark hole is present on this knife and facilitates easy one-handed opening.

Keep in mind that the Manix 2 comes equipped with a reversible hourglass clip that supports left or right carry, allowing you to comfortably carry your knife anywhere and instantly access it.

Highlighted Features:

  • 3.37-inch CPM S110V steel blade
  • 8.03-inch overall length
  • Dark blue G10 handle
  • Full-flat grind blade shape
  • One-handed opening capability

2. Spyderco Para 3 Signature Folding Knife

Spyderco Para 3 Signature Folding Knife

The Para 3 is a more compact, pocket-friendly version of Spyderco’s Para 2, but it retains all the features and benefits of its predecessor. This Para 3 comes in a lightweight, open-backed construction and has its stainless steel liners nested into the G10 handle to help reduce handle thickness and offer excellent support for compression lock.

It comes with a 2.95-inch s110v blade that looks thicker than most EDCs on the lower end of the price ladder. It also comes in a flat grind shape which does a fantastic slicing job than the competition. The blade comes ridiculously sharp out of the box and will keep its good cutting edge for significantly longer.

As expected, the knife is armed with a 4-position carry clip to offer you an easy way to carry it in your pocket and instant access. And if you don’t like this factory clip, you can always replace it with the one you prefer.

The dark blue textured G-10 handle is super-grippy and nicely fits in your hands to offer you a comfortable feel in multiple grips. You’ll like that the knife action is fast and smooth. And the compression lock is smooth and secure to operate.

Highlighted Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • 7.24-inch overall length
  • 2.95-inch cpm s110v blade
  • Textured G-10 handle
  • Smooth and secure compression lock
  • Four-position hourglass clip

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Final Verdict

Premium steels are considered the bread and the butter of blade steels and no true knife user would turn down a knife made from such steel. CPM S110V speaks for itself in this regard. Its exceptional edge holding ability and excellent wear resistance qualify CPM S110V as premium steel. It also scores well in terms of corrosion resistance. But it’s a bit low on toughness and sharpening it isn’t an easy job. If you won’t mind spending more for a knife with such qualities, then S110V steel is worth giving a shot.

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