Is 15n20 steel good for knives

Is 15n20 Steel Good for Knives?

You’ve probably landed here because you’re a step away from buying a 15n20 steel knife, or one made from a combination of 15n20 plus 1095 carbon steel or 1080/15N20. If you’re not familiar with the 15n20 steel and its varieties, you’d first want to get more details about it to ensure you’re getting something that satisfies your standards.

Right below, we have dissected the 15N20 steel into key parts like its composition, properties, 15n20 equivalents, and so on. This guide will bring out everything you need to know about in an easy to comprehend language to help you decide whether it’s a good steel for you.

What is 15N20 steel?

15n20 is high carbon-high nickel steel that’s popular for its great toughness and versatility. Keep in mind that this steel is sometimes used in combination with 1075, 1095, and 01 steels from Damascus steel manufacturer. Don’t get surprised if you come across a 1080/15N20 or 1095 and 15n20 steel alloy knife.

Since it has a relatively low degree of difficulty to work with, 15N20 is a great steel for both beginners and professionals who want to use it for knife making.

What is 15N20 steel

So, what is 15n20 steel used for? The 15n20 steel is mainly used for making knives of all sizes. You’ll find it kitchen knives, filleting knives, swords, and woodworking tools. 15n20 is also commonly used with 1095 or 1084 steel to create pattern welded “Damascus” steel.

15n20 steel composition

15n20 steel alloy contains high nickel content, which is the secret behind its extreme toughness. This is how the 15n20 steel composition looks like:


Composition (%)













0.75% Carbon increases hardness and tensile strength while increasing resistance to abrasion and wear.

2% Nickel adds toughness to the steel. It also increases corrosion resistance and reduces hardness. Too much Nickel decreases hardenability.

Manganese increases hardenability, tensile strength, and wear resistance. However, large quantities of Manganese can result in increases hardness and brittleness.

0.03% Silicon increases strength and corrosion resistance.

0.02% Phosphorous improves machinability, strength, and hardness.

0.01% Sulfur added in minute quantities to improve machinability.

As you can see from this composition, 15n20 contains zero chromium, which means it is NOT stainless. And with a carbon content of 0.75%, it’s safe to call it high carbon steel.

From another perspective, we can see that 15N20 is basically 1075 steel, but with the addition of 1.5% Nickel to boost its toughness.

15n20 steel properties

Having outlined the key elements used in this steel alloy, it will be easier to understand the key properties this steel will deliver when used in a knife blade.

15n20 steel properties

15n20 steel hardness

15n20 features a hardness of 65HRC, making it one of the hardest steels available. With such high hardness, this steel offers good abrasion and wear resistance. Blades made with steel don’t deform or scratch easily.

Cutting edge retention

The steel offers high edge retention. The high nickel content in its composition enables this steel to take a keener edge compared to other high carbon steels out there.

15n20 steel corrosion resistance

Before you buy that 15n20 steel knife, you’ll also be asking yourself this: does 15n20 steel rust? The answer is yes, 15N20 can rust. This steel registers poor anti-corrosion performance due to the low chromium volume in its alloy. However, as experienced knife users, explain cleaning and waxing your knife before storing it can help keep away corrosion.


The 15n20 steel also offers good toughness, thanks to the high nickel volume used as part of its alloying elements. The increased toughness explains why this steel finds use in making fishing knives, kitchen knives, and woodworking tools, e.g., band saw blades, where toughness is crucial. It’s also favored in pattern welding practice due to its high toughness.

15n20 steel


15N20 is easy to sharpen and takes a wicked edge easily compared to other high carbon steels available. This means you can easily get the blade black to an ultra-sharp edge if it dulls when you’re out there in the field.

How good is 15n20 steel for knives?

15n20 is outstanding steel for both knifer users and knife makers. The steel makes reliable 15n20 steel knives with excellent toughness and good edge retention—some of the most desirable qualities in a knife.

How good is 15n20 steel for knives

If you’re into making knives, you’ll love how easy this steel is to work with (it’s quite easy to heat and temper) and polishes nicely depending on the temper. You can use it to create a pretty fine kitchen, filleting, or hunting blades. The high 15N20 sharpenability further makes it a darling for knife smiths.

When paired with 1084 or 1095, 15N20 steel will also make great steel for Damascus.

The biggest issue a 15N20 knife may face is low poor corrosion resistance due to low chromium content. However, regular care (cleaning and waxing) will help prevent corrosion and rust from attacking your 15n20 steel fillet knife/kitchen knife.

15n20 steel equivalent

AISI L6 is the closest steel to 15N20. These two grades feature the same chemical composition, with up to 1.75% Nickel and 0.75% Carbon. These two steels also fall in the same price range and offer the same features, including high hardness, great edge retention, wear resistance, and low corrosion resistance.

15n20 comparison with other steels

15n20 steel vs 1095

15n20 outperforms 1095 steel grade with high edge retention, greater toughness due to the added 1.75% nickel, and easier sharpening. 15n20 is also much easier to work with than 1095. Both steels lack chromium element and deliver very low corrosion resistance.

15n20 steel vs 1095

Final Verdict

15N20 is great blade steel for knife users and knife makers alike. It combines high toughness and good edge holding capabilities, which explains why it’s popular with kitchen knives, filleting knives, and woodworking tools. Because it’s easy to work with, this steel is also great for knife makers. The only issue you should be prepared to deal with in a 15n20 steel knife is low corrosion resistance. But with good care, this shouldn’t really be an issue for you.

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