Is 154cm A Good Knife Steel?
154CM comes from US-based manufacturer Crucible and is one of the oldest steels available. Today, this steel ranks among the most popular knife steels for making all kinds of knives, from small folders to larger hunting, filet knives, etc.
Before getting a knife made from this steel, you'd want to first know the depth of performance that 154cm steel delivers is in key areas like sharpenability, keeping an edge, resisting corrosion and chipping, and so on.
This guide takes you deeper into the finest details of 154CM knife steel to ensure you're well informed before investing your money in a knife made from this steel.
What is 154cm Steel?
154CM is stainless steel produced in the United States by Crucible Industries. The steel was developed as a result of the modification of 440C martensitic stainless steel. It features three key components—chromium, Carbon, and Molybdenum.
Initially, this steel was designed for making jet engine turbine components, so you can guess it packs some good toughness. After some time, Crucible stopped producing this steel. Japanese Hitachi manufacturer grabbed the opportunity and started producing their own equivalent of 154CM, known as ATS-34. Later on, Crucible started producing it again and later came up with a CPM version of the CPM 154.
What does 154cm steel mean? The letters CM stands for Climax Molybdenum, the company's name that first produced this steel and later sold it to Crucible Industries. The number 154 really has no meaning.
154CM steel composition
As we have just said before, 154CM is a modification of 440C stainless steel. This means the two steels have a similar composition, but with the addition of Molybdenum in 154CM. This is what the composition looks like:
1.05% of Carbon improves the steel hardness and wear/corrosion resistance.
14% chromium increases tensile strength and edge retention. It also enhances wear and corrosion resistance.
4% Molybdenum increases the steel strength and machinability.
0.5% Manganese increases hardness and brittleness.
0.03% Phosphorous increases strength.
0.3% Silicon improves strength.
0.03% Sulfur increases machinability.
0.4% Vanadium improves hardenability and wear resistance.
0.4% Tungsten improves hardness and wear resistance.
154CM steel properties
Now that we know what elements make up this steel, let's look at how they come together to give it the desired properties you look for in a steel blade.
154CM steel hardness
154CM features a Rockwell hardness rating of 60-61 HRC, making it harder steel than most of the currently available stainless steels.
The harder the steel, the better it gets at retaining a sharp edge. This steel registers high HRC hardness due to the Chromium, Carbon, and Manganese in its structure. They result in high carbide volume, which amplifies its ability to keep its edge perfectly well, letting you use your 154cm knife for days without minding sharpening.
One of the most asked questions about this steel is: "Does 154CM steel rust?" Firstly, this steel features 14% chromium, which means it's stainless and will offer a good fight against rust and corrosion.
However, the steel can get attacked by rust if left uncared for. For instance, the frequently touched areas like near your knife thumb stud (if present) can accumulate dirt, sweat, grime, etc., over time, which can result in rust. To avoid this, we suggest that you wipe your blade dry and clean after every use.
154CM steel toughness
The steel is quite tough, especially when double-tempered, and this elevates the overall 154cm stainless steel quality. This separates it from other steels, which only offer you high hardness and low toughness and vice versa; this steel perfectly balances these key properties.
Remember that this steel was initially designed for tough applications, explaining why it delivers a high level of toughness. A knife made from this steel won't easily give in to chipping or breaking.
Is 154CM hard to sharpen? 154CM is pretty easy to sharpen and takes a razor-sharp edge in no time than most of the steels within its level of hardness. It also sharpens with standard sharpening systems, so you won't need to invest in a high-end sharpener to make your knife sharp.
If you're not well versed in sharpening skills, a 154cm knife will be a good starting point for you. But don't let your knife get knife butter dull before you can re-sharpen, as this might make the sharpening a bit tough.
154CM steel comparison with other steels
154CM steel vs S30V
Is 154CM steel better than S30V? If we could point out one steel grade that's equivalent to our 154cm, then it'd be s30v steel. Both 154cm and s30v deliver a good balance of hardness, wear resistance, and toughness and are found in the high-end steels realm. The only difference is that s30v offers slightly better edge retention and hardness while 154cm is easier to sharpen.
154cm steel vs 420HC
154CM holds a sharp edge a bit longer and offers better corrosion resistance than 420HC. 420HC is a bit easier to sharpen and is slightly tougher than 154CM.
154cm steel vs VG10
The Japanese VG10 steel is also a close companion to 154CM. But it offers slightly better edge retention, sharpenability, and sharpness. 154CM beats this steel with higher level of toughness.
154cm steel vs 1095
If you thought 154CM is tough, you haven't met 1095 steel. This steel is way tougher compared to 154cm. But that comes at a price: the lower corrosion resistance and edge retention compared to 154CM.
154CM steel vs D2
There are slight differences between these two steels, though they've got a generally similar performance. D2 beats 154CM with slightly better toughness. And 154CM beats D2 with slightly better edge retention, easy sharpening, and corrosion resistance.
Is 154CM steel good for knives?
Stainless steel that gives you excellent edge retention is definitely good steel for knives. The 154CM excels at keeping its sharp edge so well that it beats most of the stainless steels available. This specific attribute makes the steel ideal for making blades for use in heavier cutting applications.
Additional aspects that qualify 154CM as good knife steel include easy sharpening, great toughness, and excellent corrosion resistance. If you're looking for a high-end EDC, hunting, diving, kitchen, or fishing knife, we assure you that a knife made from 154CM steel will not disappoint you.
Best 154CM steel knives
Due to the good reputation, 154CM has created for itself over the years, many knife manufacturers warm up to it, and you'll be spoilt for choices when looking for the best 154CM steel knife.
We researched some of the best knives made from this steel and found up to 3 cool knives below:
1. Benchmade - Mini Barrage 585 Knife
Benchmade is one of the BIG names in the US knife market. They use 154CM to produce some of their everyday carry knives like this Mini Barrage 585 knife, which enjoys explosive popularity among EDC enthusiasts.
This knife comes in a perfect size for daily carry; its small size comfortably fits in your pocket. To be more precise, it has a closed length of 4 inches. And it weighs just 3.4oz, making it one of the easiest to carry EDC knives.
It boasts a 2.91-inch blade made from 154CM stainless steel. The blade comes super-sharp out of the box. It's also extremely easy to sharpen and holds the sharp edge for a really long and handles heavier tasks like cutting thicker ropes without rolling or getting nicks. It has good corrosion resistance and a high level of toughness that can withstand various forms of abuse.
It offers you a manual assisted opening mechanism to let you quickly deploy the blade with just one hand. A lock to hold the blade open and another to keep it in the closed position is integrated into this knife, assuring you of your own safety when using this knife.
The knife handle feels comfortable in your hand, and the texturing offers you a secure grip when using the knife. With the included pocket clip with a reversible tip-up clip position, carrying this knife in your pocket will be a breeze.
2. KIZER Knives Sheepdog Pocket Knife
This is a budget-friendly pocket knife that will offer you more than what its price tag says. This Sheepdog has a handful of all the coolness you need in a folding knife, from an overall solid construction to fantastic action and eye-grabbing, stylish looks.
The flipper comes with a high-end 154CM stainless steel blade, which comes with superior sharpness out of the box. Its great edge retention, wear resistance, and corrosion resistance makes for the perfect knife for daily carry.
It boasts superb flipping action, which involves a smooth ball-bearing pivot. The blade smoothly rolls on to offer you swift, responsive blade deployment.
Remember, this budget-friendly pocket knife also comes with a comfortable G-10 handle with well-outlined scales to offer you a secure grip in various conditions. It also sports a tip-up pocket clip to provide you with convenient everyday carry.
You can trust this good-looking knife to perfectly carry out a wide range of tasks, including opening packages, removing splinters, stripping wires, cutting zip-ties, and more. Its small size and lightweight feel make it easy to carry every day.
If you're looking for a wallet-friendly high-performance flipper, you can't go wrong with this Kizer pocket knife.
3. Gerber Gator 154CM Folding Knife
If you're looking for a great folder for hunting, camping, bushcrafting at a great price, this Gerber Gator is a viable option. This knife has been around for many years. It has gained the trust of hunters, campers, and other outdoor enthusiasts as a reliable knife.
Gerber uses high-end 154Cm stainless steel for this knife's 3.6-inch blade, hard to find for knives in this price range. The steel comes super sharp out of the box and keeps its sharpness for really long making it a high-grade knife steel. And it's drop-point shape makes it a versatile blade for a wide range of cutting tasks.
The Gator also comes with an ergonomically designed rubberized handle with the same size as what you get in most fixed knives for hunting or camping. This makes it feel extremely comfortable in your hands.
This Gerber knife has a compact closed length of 4.96 inches and has an incredibly lightweight feel, making it easy for everyday carry at home or in the woods. It also comes with a sturdy nylon sheath, which lets you wear it on your belt for easy carry and quick access.
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After reading this guide, you'll be in a better position to gauge the 154CM steel quality and easily decide if it's the right blade for your knife. The steel has great edge retention and sharpens easily. It's also quite tough and has excellent corrosion resistance. If these are the key features you need in a knife, then a 154CM stainless steel knife is a viable choice for you.