If you’re new to the knife world, or simply less knowledgeable about blade steels, and you come across a 4034 stainless steel with a good price point, you’ll instantly get curious about this steel grade and want to know more about its performance.
If that’s what you’re going through right now, we have done lots of research and prepared this 4034 steel review to offer you important information about the 4034 Krupp steel like its edge stability, corrosion resistance, toughness, how it resharpens, and so much more.
What is 4034 steel?
4034 is a low steel alloy produced by Krupp, the German-based Steel manufacturers. It features average carbon content and is considered a softer steel grade compared to most of the high-end steels available for knives.
The low alloy steel hangs on the lower end of the knife steel scale and is usually associated with budget fixed blades and folding knives.
4034 steel delivers relative hardness and corrosion resistance which makes it popular for kitchen knives, diving knives, and utility knives. You can get decent quality 4034 stainless steel knives from top manufacturers like Smith & Wesson, Cold Steel, Schrade, and Booker.
4034 steel composition
4034 is a low alloy steel with a pretty simple chemical composition. It compromises 3 elements ONLY as outlined in the following table.
Percentage composition (%)
0.50% Carbon increases hardness and wear resistance. It also improves corrosion resistance.
14.00% Chromium is more than the 13% volume needed to make 4034 stainless. High chromium content increases tensile strength, edge retention. It also improves wear and corrosion resistance.
0.10% Manganese increases brittleness and hardness.
NOTE that some manufacturers tend to add 1% silicon to their 4034 steel composition.
What is 4034 stainless steel hardness?
The 4034 steel hardness ranges from 54 to 58 HRC. This is perfectly in line with what we stated earlier that the 4034 steel is considered softer steel. High-hardness steels have Rockwell hardness of 60RC and above, so you can easily the “soft” nature of this steel grade.
4034 steel properties
Owing to its simplistic 3-element chemical composition, you don’t expect 4034 steel to offer the same list of attributes as other top blade steels.
Let’s see what a 4034 stainless steel knife has in store for you…
4034 steel wear resistance
the steel has good wear resistance, but not the best. remember hardness and wear resistance ego hand in hand. And low hardness means low wear resistance. With that being said, this steel isn’t the worst. It still offers decent wear resistance and can put up with normal wear and tear and still perform reliably.
This is one department where 4034 steel excels. A quick look at its chemical composition, you’ll notice that this steel doesn’t feature many elements that contribute to high toughness as in other super-tough steels out there. But it contains high chromium levels which give it adequate toughness to stand up to heavy-duty use. 4034 steel blades can handle a good amount of abuse without giving in to chipping or breaking.
4034 corrosion resistance
Another department where 4034s performs well is resisting corrosion and rusting. Remember, this steel features 14% chromium which makes it stainless. As such, it can withstand humid and marine conditions—the reason it finds favor in making diving and kitchen knives. That said, we still urge you to give it simple maintenance like cleaning and drying the blade after every use to ensure maximum resistance to corrosion.
Since 4034 lies on the softer side of the steel spectrum, it should take an edge easily and without any issues. And when sharpened correctly, it can take an ultra-sharp edge that makes it a reliable cutting tool. However, keep in mind that your sharpening skill will determine how easy this steel sharpens. If you’re a newbie sharpener, you might struggle to give it a sharp edge. In this case, try changing the angle to see if the experience gets easier.
4034 edge retention
Soft steels don’t hold an edge for long. 4034 is one such and won’t hold a sharp edge as long as a super-steel with high hardness will do. But the good news is that it doesn’t lose its sharp edge right away. It offers decent edge retention, so you won’t have to worry about the edge dulling in the middle of a cutting job. The steel compensates for this by being incredibly easy to sharpen than the harder steels.
What is 4034 steel equivalent?
Going by the chemical composition, 4034 stainless steel is closer to 420HC and 420J2. All three steels fall in the low-end steel realm. But 420HC and 420J2 have more alloying and tend to perform better in key areas compared to 4034 steel.
4034 steel comparison with other steels
How does steel compare with other popular knife steel grades? This is exactly what we’ll be looking at in this section. We’ll do a quick comparison between Krupp 4034 steel and a handful of popular steels in key features like edge retention, corrosion resistance, and ease of sharpening.
4034 steel vs 440C
440C is standard stainless steel with higher chromium content, making it more rust and corrosion-resistant. The steel also contains double the volume of carbon in 4034, making it harder and stronger than 4034. The only reason you should get a 4034 steel knife over the 440c steel knife is affordability.
4034 vs AUS 8
AUS is higher-grade steel from Japan and comes with a well-thought-out chemical composition to ensure it balances good hardness, toughness, corrosion resistance, and machinability. In comparison to our steel, AUS 8 has higher hardness, better edge retention, wear resistance, and corrosion resistance, and is generally offers better performance than 4034 stainless steel.
4034 vs 4116
4116 is also a low-end steel grade found in budget-friendly knives. It contains slightly higher chromium (15%) than 4034 and offers excellent corrosion resistance, making it synonymous with knives used in humid and marine conditions. It features a more elaborate composition of elements and will beat 4034 in terms of edge retention and toughness.
Is 4034 steel good for knives?
4034 stainless steel is good if you’re looking for an entry-level or budget-friendly knife with decent quality and performance. Keep in mind that this steel is nothing compared to high-end steels. Nonetheless, it can offer good corrosion resistance, decent toughness, and sharpening it is a breeze.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly knife for use in wet conditions, 4034 steel knives are a great option. Also, if you want a great EDC carry knife with a good price point, consider the 4034 steel.
But if you’re looking for tremendous wear resistance, excellent edge retention, and great toughness, 4034 is NOT the steel for you.
Best 4034 steel knives:
Before we close our 4034 steel review, we’d like to share with you our top picks for some of the top-rated 4034 steel knives you can find on the market today.
1. Smith & Wesson SWMP4LS Assisted Folding Knife
Designed in the US by Smith & Wesson, this is one of the most popular folding knives on the market today featuring 4034 steel.
As expected, it comes at a great price and offers reliable performance for the price. It features great looks characterized by a gorgeous black coated blade and handle.
The solid folding knife features a 3.6-inch long blade that can handle a wide range of day-to-day cutting tasks. The blade is sharp out of the box, and you can easily sharpen the edge to your preferences. The black oxide coating on the knife enhances the 4034 stainless steel corrosion resistance.
With the M.A.G.I.C (spring) assisted opening, this knife is quite handy and super-easy to deploy. You’ll also like that this knife comes with a liner lock and safety lock which ensure your own safety.
At 7.6 ounces, this knife has a nice heft and will substantial in your hands. It features a durable aluminum handle that not only keeps the weight low but features rubber inlays to offer you a comfortable and secure grip in various conditions.
Despite the low pricing, this knife offers you extras like the partial blade serration, ambidextrous thumb plate, and grass breaker—making it an all-around knife that you can use in just any situation.
2. Cold Steel Crawford Model 1 Folding Knife
Cold Steel collaborated with Wes Crawford, the custom knifemaker, to come up with a more affordable version of his high-end custom flipper. And the result? They have come up with this Crawford Model 1.
This model strongly resembles Wes’ custom pricey flipper and comes with a blade featuring a wider saber grind plus a strong, sharp point with plenty of belly to ensure excellent cutting and slashing performance.
As you already know, this knife’s blade is made from 4034, stainless steel with great corrosion resistance and easy sharpening. The blade comes sharp out of the box and features a hollow ground, a thin edge that cuts at the slightest touch.
Since Wes integrated his custom flipper into this knife, opening it is smooth and lighting fast! As for the handle, Crawford features a strong glass-reinforced nylon handle traction rubber inlays for a good and comfortable grip.
The folding knife comes equipped with a leaf spring lock to keep your fingers from potential harm. Plus, it features a secondary safety mechanism (patent pending) that offers extremely high resistance to impact and shock.
3. Boker 120547 Bowie Boot Knife
This classic style bowie knife from Boker USA presents you with a massive 7 ¾-inch long, ¼-inch thick stainless steel blade. It weighs 17.5 ounces which means it has a nice heft. The size and weight make it a great survival knife for camping, hunting, or self-defense use.
With a 4034 steel blade, this knife will offer great corrosion resistance when used in marine or humid conditions. It also comes sharp out of the box and decently holds an edge while offering you an incredibly easy sharpening experience.
Don’t forget this knife is full tang and means serious performance!
You’ll be impressed by the beautiful European walnut handle that comes with this boot knife (FYI, you may also checkout these reviews on the best boot knife for cowboy boots). This handle not only enhances the overall looks of this knife but also gives you a comfortable grip. towards the end of this handle, you’ll find a lanyard hole that lets you easily attach a cord if you worry about losing your knife in the woods.
A brass “S” shaped guard completes the looks of this bowie knife While keeping your fingers from slipping onto the cutting edge and injuring yourself.
Above all, the fixed blade knife comes with a high-quality leather sheath to offer you easy, comfortable carry and easy access to your knife.
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That’s all about 4034. From this guide, we can easily conclude that this steel is not among the best steels for knife blades. But it’s not among the worst. It lies on the low-end side of steel scale and offers decent quality characterized with great corrosion resistance, decent wear resistance, good edge retention, and adequate toughness. The best part about it is that 4034 knives are highly affordable and will meet the needs of budget-conscious users looking for a pocket or kitchen knife with decent quality. Does 4034 stainless steel sound like steel you’d want for your knife?