Is 420j2 stainless steel good?
It’s a well-known fact that 420j2 stainless steel is low-end steel. Nonetheless, you want to make sure you understand what kind of steel it is before investing in it. You want to know how good the quality and durability of 420jr steel is. Is it good at taking and keeping a fine edge? Does it entertain corrosion? How tough is it? Can I easily sharpen it as a beginner?
This 420j2 steel review below discusses, in detail, all the crucial information about this steel to help you understand what kind of steel it is.
What is 420J2 stainless steel?
420j2 is general-purpose stainless steel that contains little (medium) carbon content and high chromium content. It’s used for a wide range of applications like dive knives and surgical instruments due to its excellent corrosion resistance. You’ll also find it in other cutting tools like hair cutting and domestic scissors, daggers, and knives.
It’s worth noting that this steel wasn’t initially intended for use as blade steel, but it eventually found itself in the hands of knife makers and knife users due to its high affordability.
Contrary to what most knife makers believe, 420j2 is NOT tool steel. The truth is that its good corrosion resistance and easy machinability is the reason behind its use to manufacture surgical tools.
420j2 stainless steel composition
420j2 contains medium quantity carbon but features high chromium content (more than enough to make in stainless). Here’s a list of all the alloying elements that compose buck 420j2 stainless steel:
Percentage composition (%)
0.32% Carbon improves hardness and wear resistance. It also enhances corrosion resistance.
14% Chromium increases the steel’s tensile strength and edge retention while improving wear and corrosion resistance.
1% Manganese increases the steel hardness, wear resistance, and brittleness
1% Nickel for added toughness and improved corrosion resistance.
1% Silicon for improved strength and corrosion resistance.
0.04% Phosphorous increases strength, hardness, and machinability.
0.03% Sulfur is used in low quantities to increase machinability.
420j2 sharpening hardness
With proper heat treatment, the 420j2 stainless steel HRC can go up to 56 RC. This is low hardness and is a result of low carbon content. This explains why the edge retention offered by this steel isn’t the best in the steel world.
420j2 stainless steel properties
From the above 420j2 chemical composition, we can easily discuss what key properties you should expect from a knife blade with this steel.
420j2 edge retention
Sorry to disappoint you but 420j2 performs poorly in this area. Due to low carbon content in its chemical structure (next to zero), bringing down its wear resistance and edge holding ability. That said, there are worse steels than this, so it’s not like you’re getting the steel on the market. Also, the fact that 420j2 was initially intended to make knife blades explains its poor performance in this area.
420j2 sharpening ease
just as it loses its sharp edge quickly, so does it sharpen. This softer steel is much easy to sharpen and lets you attain a sharp edge with just the standard sharpening tools.
420j2 corrosion resistance
420j2 offers excellent corrosion resistance. it contains 14% chromium, which makes it stainless, and increases its corrosion and rust resistance capabilities. For this reason, the steel finds use in making dive knives, surgical tools, and other cutting tools for use in high corrosion vulnerability conditions.
42j2 is incredibly durable steel. Its low hardness significantly increases its toughness. And this means it’s very unlikely that your 420j2 stainless steel knife will break or chip under impact or when put to hard use.
The Chinese-made 3Cr13 is an equivalent for 420-j2 stainless steel. Both steel grades feature a pretty similar chemical composition with low carbon and high chromium contents. They excel in great toughness and corrosion resistance but score poorly in edge retention and wear resistance. Both 3Cr13 and 420j2 also fall in the low-end steels realm and feature affordable price tags.
420j2 steel comparison with other steels
How does 420j2 compare with the other common blade steels in terms of edge retention, corrosion resistance, toughness, and easy sharpening? Let’s find out below.
420j2 vs 420hc
420HC offers slightly better edge retention and wear resistance than 420j2 due to its slightly higher carbon content. 420J2, however, beats it with higher toughness and slightly higher corrosion resistance. Both steels have the same sharpenability.
420j2 vs 8cr13mov
Due to the high carbon content in 8cr13mov, it yields better edge retention and wear resistance than 420j2. The two steels offer similar anti-corrosion properties. 420j2 takes the crown for higher toughness and easier sharpening. Though these two are budget steels, 8cr13mov is more suitable for a budget-friendly knife that performs reliably well.
420j2 vs AUS 8
These two steels are from the same Japanese company. AUS exhibits much better edge retention and hardness than 420j2 and will do a good cutting job due to its thin edge blade geometry. Both steels offer similar toughness, but AUS 8 goes a bit higher than 420j2 in terms of corrosion resistance. All things considered, AUS 8 will be a better option for the knife blades of the two steels, but it will cost you more than 420j2.
Is 420J2 steel good for knives?
420j2 stainless is good for making knives for use in areas with high corrosion vulnerability. This is due to its excellent corrosion resistance. It also offers great toughness and a 420j2 is less likely to chip or break when put under hard use. The steel is loved by knife makers all over because it’s highly affordable, so it’s good knife steel for price.
However, the steel scores poorly when it comes to edge retention. In most cases, every knife user wants a knife that can take and keep its edge for really long. But for the 420j2 steel, we have a perfect case of getting what you pay for.
Best 420j2 stainless steel knives:
1. CRKT Snap Lock Folding Pocket Knife
This CRK folder is a great choice for anyone looking for a good knife for light-duty tasks at a budget-friendly price. The knife comes in a super slim profile, making it compact enough to easily slide in your jean pockets.
At only 2.5oz, this knife is also super lightweight and easy to carry with you everywhere.
It comes with a reliable Snap Lock, which makes it easy and fun to open/close with its satisfying snap sound. Despite the compact design, it features a 2.5-inch blade—big enough to handle your day-to-day cutting tasks. The blade comes razor sharp out of the box and you can easily touch it up as you desire.
Alongside the knife’s handle, you’ll discover a one-position pocket clip that promotes easy and convenient carry. Don’t forget this knife also features a lanyard hole to allow for neck carry.
Overall, this CRKT pocket knife is a great choice for anyone looking for a light-duty knife at a pocket-friendly price.
2. Kershaw 9-inch Curved Fillet Knife
Kershaw filleting knife comes designed to help you break the fish the easy way. It’s designed to handle medium to large fresh and saltwater fish and will help you process your day’s catch into smaller manageable sizes while on the boat, at the dock, or in camp.
It boasts a 9-inch long blade made out of 420j2 stainless steel which offers the much-needed high corrosion resistance in wet and marine fishing environments. Besides, this steel is quite tough and durable to withstand filleting work and re-sharpens pretty easily.
You’ll notice that the blade features a curved design to help provide a full range of motion—letting you make cleaner cuts the entire way and make your filleting work much easier.
The glass-filled nylon handle is not only lightweight but also durable enough to withstand regular use. What’s more, this handle comes covered with rubberized over-mold plus Kershaw’s exclusive K-Texture grip to give you a more secure hold, even in slippery fishing conditions.
If you’re looking for an affordably priced filleting knife that cuts fast and cleanly, this Kershaw will meet your needs. Remember, it features a 9-inch long blade and will comfortably work on medium to large fresh and saltwater fish.
When shopping for a new knife or blade steel on a tight budget, you’ll get 420j2 steel as one of the top options. This low-end steel is highly affordable and is a great choice if you want a knife with good corrosion resistance and high toughness. But keep in mind that it has poor edge retention and wear resistance; if you mind these features, you’d want to move on to other steels. Otherwise, 420j2 is a good steel for the money.