1095 carbon steel is one of the most popular blade steels today and falls in the class of carbon steels. Before you get a 1095 steel knife, you need to know more about this steel to help you make up your mind on whether it’s a good candidate for your knife.
That’s where we come in. We have prepared the following in-depth 1095 steel review to answer all your questions regarding this steel, like does 1095 steel hold an edge? How hard is it to sharpen/maintain? Does the steel chip easily? How good is this steel for your knife? And so much more.
what is 1095 steel?
1095 is simple carbon steel featuring two alloying elements namely carbon and manganese. It appears under the 10xx family of steels which are popular with knives as well as Japanese Katanas. This steel features a high carbon content ranging between 0.90-1.03%, enabling it to take and hold a super-sharp edge.
The steel has been around for quite a long period of time and was popular with old pocket knives as well as kitchen knives. Today, it’s more popular with bushcraft and survival knives due to its great toughness and easy sharpening. 1095 carbon steel is also popular with knife makers today due to its high machinability.
The steel follows the 10-series steel naming process, where the first two digits represent two main elements used in the steel composition and the last two digits indicate the carbon content. In 1095 steel, “1” stands for carbon, “0” means no other main alloying element has been used and “95” shows the carbon content (i.e. 0.95%).
1095 steel chemical composition
If you’re curious as to what is 1095 steel made of, the following table will take you through each of the alloying elements for this steel and its percentage content.
Percentage composition (%)
0.95% Carbon improves hardness and wear resistance. It also increases corrosion resistance.
0.5% Manganese increases hardenability and wear resistance.
0.03% Phosphorous improves strength, hardness, and machinability.
0.05% Sulfur used in minute quantities to improve machinability.
1095 steel properties
What kind of performance do you expect if you use 1095 steel for knife making? In this section, we’ll look at how the steel performs in key areas like edge retention, corrosion resistance, toughness, sharpenability, and wear resistance.
1095 steel hardness
The steel has a hardness lying in the 55-58 HRC range. This is a good hardness for carbon steel and is responsible for the steel’s great edge retention and wear resistance.
1095 steel edge retention
1095 takes a super fine edge and keeps it for long enough. The mixture of carbon and manganese makes it really hard steel and this sees a significant improvement in its ability to keep an edge. For the knife makers in the house, the secret to making your 1095 steel keep its edge longer lies in properly heat treating it.
1095 wear resistance
The carbon steel is a high hardness grade and delivers good wear resistance. It might not be the best wear resistance compared to other steel grades but it’s good enough to withstand outdoor use.
1095 steel corrosion resistance
One of the issues of 1095 steel you’ll have to live with is the fact that it’s not stainless and can easily rust.
That said, you can take some measures to protect your blade from rusting. One such measure involves cleaning and drying your knife after use. oiling your 1095 steel knife after wiping it dry will also help form a protective barrier against rust.
It is also worth noting that most knife manufacturers who use 1095 steel arm their knives with a protective coating to prevent them from catching rust.
1095 steel toughness
The steel has good toughness and can withstand hard use. Bushcrafting and survival knives featuring 1095 steel will hold up well for hard tasks like batoning wood without showing any signs of chipping or breaking.
Ease of sharpening
Another huge plus about this carbon is its ease of sharpening. The steel sharpens easily whether you’re in the field or at work and will take a super-fine edge without a lot of effort. That makes 1095 a great choice for beginners who are yet to master the art of knife sharpening.
1095 steel comparison
In this part, we’ll look at how 1095 steel compares to other popular blade steels. We’ll answer questions like “What is the difference between 1095 and 5160 steel?” and “Is D2 steel better than 1095?”, and so on.
1095 steel vs 5160
5160 is highly popular steel, especially among forgers, and is classified as high-end steel. Unlike 1095, it contains added chromium which improves its hardenability and corrosion resistance. It holds an edge better and offers outstanding toughness compared to 1095 carbon steel. 5160 steel is best used to make swords and hard use knives while 1095 is great for making tough knives at a fair cost.
1095 vs d2
As you already know D2 is a high carbon, high chromium cold worked steel. This means it offers far better hardness, edge retention, corrosion, and wear resistance compared to 1095 steel. 1095 is, however, much easier to sharpen than D2. As for the cost, 1095 is more affordable. But if you want something durable and long-lasting, D2 is the best shot.
1095 vs w2
Although 1095 and W2 have a close chemical composition, they’re NOT similar. Both are carbon steels and differ in terms of performance. W2 steel offers a slightly higher toughness and hardness compared to 1095 steel. Both grades of steel register low corrosion resistance.
1095 vs 1075
The key divergence in the chemical composition of these two steels is that 1095 contains more carbon content. Both are generally great steels for making knives but 1095 beast 1075 with better edge retention and hardenability. 1075, on the other hand, is tougher and much easier to sharpen.
1095 vs 1084
1084 is regarded as the 1095 steel equivalent. They belong to the same family of 10xx steels. But the 1084 carbon steel features a bit high hardness than 1095, which gives it slightly better wear resistance and edge retention than 1095. However, both steel grades offer pretty much the same performance in other areas like easy sharpening, corrosion resistance, and toughness.
How good is 1095 carbon steel for knives?
The reason why 1095 steel has managed to hang around for so long is due to the good performance it offers when used for knife blades. The old steel holds an edge quite well and is reasonably tough. Sharpening 1095 is easy too, adding to its suitability for knife blades.
Beginner knife makers will also find this steel easy to work with. it is easily tempered and sharpening it is a breeze.
The major downside of this steel is that it catches rust easily, but you can take measures to keep it from corroding. In our opinion, 1095 is standard carbon steel that’s fairly priced and performs reliably well.
Best 1095 carbon steel knife reviews:
1. ESEE Knives 6P Fixed Blade Knife
If you’re a high-performance fixed blade knife that can withstand hard use, this ESEE is a good choice. With a 6.5-inch long blade and a total weight of 12 ounces, this knife has what it takes to withstand bushcraft, camping, or survival jobs.
The knife feature 6.5-inch blade made from tough non-nonsense 1095 steel. It comes super-sharp ESEE of the box and will keep the fine cutting edge for long. Sharpening it is super-easy, even when you’re out in the field.
The grey micarta handle on this knife is highly comfortable and offers you a good grip for long working hours. The handle is also to clean in case it gets dirty.
This fixed knife is sent to you with a durable polymer sheath and snugly accommodates your knife. Your knife will be securely locked in this sheath, so it won’t fall off easily. This sheath hooks to your belt with a clip to allow for safe and comfortable carry.
2. Ontario Knife Co. Rat-7 Fixed Blade Knife
This fixed blade knife from Ontario also boasts a 1095 carbon steel which gives it great edge retention and superior toughness, all at a crazily low pricetag. With a 7-inch long, this knife will make a good choice for EDC carry, utility, camping, and anywhere else where high toughness is necessary.
As expected, the blade comes factory razor-sharp and holds an edge for really long. It’s also a breeze to sharpen, even for beginners, and takes a fine edge with just a few passes. And the fact that it comes coated with a tough black layer boosts its rust-resistant properties.
You’ll love that this knife comes with a tough micarta handle which feels quite comfortable. It sits well in your hand and won’t give you hotspots with long hours of use. Even better, this handle doesn’t transfer shock from the knife blade, adding to the overall comfortable feel.
A Kydex sheath is included in the package to offer you a convenient way to carry your knife. it’s easily adaptable to left or right-handed carry, making it suitable for all users. It also features a patch for easy MOLLE attachment.
3. Schrade SCHF9 12.1in Fixed Blade Knife
What is it like to have a knife that gets just about every job done? That’s not easy to tell until you own the knife. And that kind of knife is none other than the Schrade SCHF9 fixed blade. This knife will be your true buddy in all your outdoor adventures including camping, hiking, surviving, and more.
The well-made, reasonably priced survival-style knife features a full-tang design that makes it strong enough to take the abuse that your pocket knife won’t stand. It also features a 6.4-inch blade made from 1095 steel for exceptional toughness and resistance to chipping and breaking.
The knife comes razor sharp out of the box and will do a good job at keeping this edge for a long time. If your knife gets dull, getting the edge back up will be easy, even when out in the field.
The handle itself comes with ring texturing and offers you a beefy grip in different working conditions. And thanks to the included thumb jimping and finger choil, you can rest assured that this knife will give you a slip-free experience.
Despite being a budget knife, this Schrade comes with a well-made, durable ballistic nylon sheath for safe carry and instant access. The sheath is molle compatible and comes with an easily removable pouch where you can carry your sharpening stone.
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Now that you have all the crucial details about 1095 carbon steel from this 1095 steel review, you should be able to easily decide if it’s a good candidate for your knife or not. The old steel is good at holding an edge and offering great toughness needed for hard use. But it rusts easily and needs regular care. The reasonable pricing surrounding 1095 steel knives is another reason to consider this steel.