It is not easy to tell how good blade steel is just by looking at it. And CPM 154 steel blade is no exception. To understand how good steel the CPM 154 is, you'll first need to know its origin, chemical composition, properties, and its comparison to other steels. This information is key to uncovering whether the steel is a good candidate for your knife. Discover more about this steel and its performance in the following in-depth CPM 154 review.
What is CPM 154 Steel?
CMP 154 refers to martensitic stainless steel made by US-based Crucible Industries. Introduced back in 2006, this steel is made using Crucible Particle Metallurgy (CPM) process.
This method results in steel material with a finer grain structure. This process also helps in easy grindability and polishability while improving the steel's corrosion resistance, wear resistance, higher toughness, and better hot-hardness.
CPM 154 shouldn't be confused with 154CM. While both steel grades come from the same manufacturer, Crucible, the 154 exist as the CPM version of the 154CM. In other words, CPM 154 is made using Crucible's CPM process while 154CM falls in the 400 steel series.
CPM 154 steel composition
CPM153 steel composition features high Carbon, chromium, and molybdenum content. This steel combination is the secret to increased corrosion and wear resistance.
The following is the complete list of elements and their corresponding quantities that Crucible Industries uses to create their CPM 154 steel alloy.
1.05% Carbon improves the hardness and corrosion/wear resistance.
14% Chromium enhances edge retention and tensile strength. It also enhances the steel wear resistance and corrosion resistance.
4% Molybdenum increases the steel strength and machinability.
4% Tungsten improves wear resistance and hardness.
0.8% Silicon improves the steel strength.
0.03% Phosphorous adds strength to the steel.
0.03% Sulfur increases machinability.
0.5% Manganese increases the hardness and brittleness of this metal.
CPM 154 steel properties
CPM 154 hardness
The CMP 154 hardness is 58-59 HRC, as shown in this datasheet from Crucible. This is a good degree of sharpness and is the same level you're likely to find in quality knives from some top-rated knife brands.
One of the key areas where this steel excels is offering you excellent edge retention. This is expected of the steel grade, given the high chromium levels and Carbon in its composition, which give it high hardness.
With up to 1% carbon volume, you can rest assured that this steel will offer you great wear resistance.
Chromium is present in CPM 154 in up to 14%, making this steel stainless and corrosion-resistant. While it might not offer you the best anti-corrosion properties than the high-end steels, this Crucible steel will still put a good fight against corrosion.
Sharpening CPM 154 steel is a really hard task owning to its high hardness degree. But the good thing is that it retains a sharp cutting edge for a long period of time, so you only need to do the sharpening task once in a long while.
This grade of steel offers decent toughness. It has a good hardness that isn't too high, enabling it to balance hardness and toughness.
CPM 154 vs other steels
We came across some questions about this steel, such as "Is 154CM steel better than S30V?" "Is 154cpm better than m390?" and so on. In this section, we'll discuss how steel compares to other popular steels.
CPM 154 steel vs s30v
S30V is equivalent to CPM-154 in hardness, wear resistance, corrosion resistance, and toughness. But s30v offers better edge retention and corrosion resistance than CPM 154.
CPM 154 steel vs 154cm
154cm is another equivalent of CPM 154. It will also offer you relative edge retention, toughness to what you get with CPM 154. However, it has lower corrosion resistance compares to 154CM steel.
CPM 154 steel vs m390
M390 outperforms CPM 154 with higher edge retention, corrosion resistance, and better toughness. Both grades of steel offer the same level of sharpenability, though.
CPM 154 vs s35vn
S35VN is better than CPM-154 in edge retention, ease of sharpness, corrosion resistance, and toughness.
CPM 154 vs vg10
The Japanese VG10, too, offers you better edge retention, toughness, and corrosion resistance than 154CM steel.
Is CPM 154 a good knife steel?
The perfect balance of excellent strength, corrosion resistance, and good toughness make CPM 154 a good steel for making knife blades. These key attributes prove that the steel ticks all the boxes for a reliable, high-performance blade. CPM 154 EDC, kitchen, hunting, skinning, and bushcraft knives are great performers.
Don't forget that the knives made from this steel take a fine (crazy sharp!) edge and hold it for really long.
Above all, the knives in CPM 154 come with reasonable pricing. This is probably the reason they've gained more favor among knife users and knife makers alike.
Bets CPM 154 Knives
1. Kershaw Leek Assisted Opening Carbon Fiber Knife
Kershaw is one of the big brands in the US knife community and uses CPM 154 steel for a handful of their knives, like this Kershaw Leek. This knife is rated as one of the most popular everyday carry models and comes in a classy design that makes it unique from most of the competition.
The knife comes with a handsome carbon fiber handle, which gives it great looks. But most importantly, Kershaw uses it to help reduce this knife's overall weight and offer you a good grip, making it an incredibly comfortable EDC.
It also comes with a razor-sharp blade developed from high-performance CPM 154 steel, which offers great toughness, wear, and corrosion resistance. This steel also holds an excellent edge and comes ready to handle a wide range of cutting tasks.
Since the blade comes in a drop-point shape, it will deliver excellent slicing performance. And its slip tip will give it great piercing capability.
With Kershaw's patented SpeedSafe technology, you'll enjoy a smooth and fast one-handed experience deploying this knife's blade. Plus, it features a tip safety lock that ensures the blade won't fire by accident when in a closed position.
The included reversible pocket clip grants you a comfortable way to carry your knife.
2. Kershaw Leek Pocket Knife
This is another great knife from Kershaw for everyday carry! The knife looks beautiful out of the box. And unlike its sister above, it sports a good-looking, solid copper handle, which gives you a comfortable, solid feel. Over time, this copper handle with patina and give your knife a unique, custom look.
The knife features a 3-inch blade, making it a good-sized knife and an ideal EDC for your everyday carry needs. This blade is made from razor-sharp, high-performance CPM 154 steel that holds an edge really well. It also resists wear and corrosion and offers good toughness. It will do a great job when faced with different cutting tasks.
The Stonewash finish on the blade gives it an attractive look and helps hide any scratches that form after you use your knife.
As it's standard across the Kershaw folders, this Leek comes with SpeedSafe assisted opening in offering you a smooth and fast, one-handed blade deployment. Moreover, it's armed with a tip-lock slider, which keeps the blade locked for your own safety.
The included reversible pocket clip enables you to carry your knife on either side (tip-up or down) as per your preferences.
3. KATSU Folding Pocket Japanese Knife
If you're a big fan of Japanese knives, this Katsu folding pocket knife is a good choice for you. The folder is beautifully made and screams high-quality right from the CPM 154 steel blade to the handle, everything!
This knife opens hassle-freely, with just a flick of your wrist, thanks to the integrated Japanese style thumb opening lever.
The blade is made out of CPM 154 stainless steel and comes razor sharp out of the box. It holds an edge quite well and excellent resist wear and corrosion, making it suitable for various conditions.
You'll be pleased to note that this knife features a carbon fiber handle, which offers it good looks while keeping its weight pretty low and making it comfortable to carry every day. The handle feels great in your hand provides you with a good, secure grip. It's also just the right size—not too big and not too small for your hands.
When you order this folder, you'll also get a high-quality (genuine) leather sheath that looks really nice and will comfortably accommodate your blade.
Though this folder hangs high on the price spectrum, it's high-quality and totally worth its price tag. If you're looking for a Japanese made pocket knife with good performance and functionality, get this Katsu today!
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We hope you have grasped all the necessary info you need to decide whether CPM 154 steel from Crucible is the ideal grade for your new knife. Good hardness, corrosion, resistance, toughness, and edge retention are the key attributes you get from this steel. This makes it highly suitable steel for EDC, hunting, bushcrafting, and skinning knives.