Is 440A Good Knife Steel?
So you just ran across a 440A stainless steel knife and you feel it could be a potential choice for you. But you haven’t used this steel before and not sure it will meet your needs. You’re wondering how strong is 440 stainless steel, how is its edge retention, corrosion resistance, and if it can be easily re-sharpened.
If that sounds like you, the following 440a steel review is for you. This guide will furnish you with all the information about 440a stainless steel for knives to help you decide whether it’s really good steel for knives.
We’ve covered everything from the chemical composition to Rockwell hardness, key properties, comparison with other grades of steel, and some of the top-rated 440A stainless steel knives available today.
What is 440a steel?
440A is a martensitic high carbon stainless steel that comes from the family of 400 series of steels (other steels in this family include 440B, 440C, and a less common 440F). 440A is known for its exceptional corrosion resistance.
Just like all the other steels in the 400 series, 440A is stainless. Mind you, 440A has the best corrosion resistance performance since it contains the least amount of carbon than its brothers.
440A is also popular for being a budget knife steel. It comes at a relatively cheaper cost compared to the high-end steel grades.
The most common uses of 440A stainless steel include surgical blades, dental instruments, razor blades, and shaving equipment, kitchen knives, dive knives, and other cutlery. Because this steel is magnetic, it’s also used by people who work with electronics, say to make tools for lifting screws.
440a stainless steel chemical composition
The 440A stainless steel contains high levels of carbon (0.7%) and chromium (17%) which gives it its characteristic hardness and excellent corrosion resistance, respectively.
Discover the full list of elements used in the 440a stainless steel composition below:
Percentage composition (%)
0.70% Carbon increases hardness and improves wear and corrosion resistance.
17.00% Chromium increases tensile strength, hardness, and toughness. It also increases corrosion resistance. With up to 17% chromium, this is more than what’s needed to make a steel stainless.
1.00% Manganese increases the steel strength, hardenability, and hardness. It also improves the steel tensile strength.
0.75% Molybdenum increases strength, hardenability, hardness, and toughness. It also improves machinability and corrosion resistance.
1.00% Silicon increases strength and corrosion resistance.
0.50% Nickel adds to the steel toughness and improves corrosion resistance.
0.04% Phosphorous increases strength, hardness, and machinability.
0.03% Sulfur is used in minute quantities to help improve steel machinability without decreasing the strength.
What is 440a stainless steel hardness?
When subject to a suitable heat treatment process, 440A stainless steel Rockwell hardness is 55-58 HRC. This indicates it’s a soft steel that’s easy to machine and sharpen. This lower hardness is attributed to the 0.7% carbon in its chemical composition.
Keep in mind that 440A is the softest of its siblings, the 440B, and 440C, as they contain higher levels of carbon.
440a stainless steel properties
With information about the alloying elements and hardness of 440A steel, it’s now easy to discuss the key features you should expect from a 440A stainless steel knife.
440A Wear resistance
You’ll get a good level of wear resistance with this steel—good enough to stand up to everyday tear and wear. Hardness and wear resistance properties are relative. Because this steel tends to lean on the softer side of the steel scare, it has nothing like superior wear resistance. You should, therefore, not subject your 440A steel knife to uses that might end up deforming it.
440A Edge retention
Thanks to the decent amount of carbon that comes with this steel, it will offer you decent hardness which enables a 440A knife steel to keep its cutting edge for relatively longer than softer steels. However, the 440B and 440C steels will offer you better edge retention due to their increased carbon volumes.
440A steel Toughness
This steel might not be the toughest grade available, but you got to appreciate that it delivers a fair amount of toughness and won’t chip or break easily under lateral pressure. The 1% Manganese and 0.5% Nickel are responsible for the decent toughness you get with this steel.
440A Corrosion resistance
This is one department where 440a steel performs exceptionally well. It even beats its siblings with higher corrosion resistance. And this is due to the high chromium content. Being stainless steel, it won’t easily catch rust or stains. The lower carbon content also gives it superior corrosion resistance over its siblings in the 400 steel family. For a knife meant for outdoor use or in wet conditions, you can’t go wrong with 440a stainless steel.
440A Ease of sharpening
The hardness of given steel directly determines its sharpenability. With 440A stainless featuring a hardness of 55-58 HRC, it is soft steel, and sharpening it is fairly easy. You’ll be surprised to discover that 440 steel knives will attain a sharp edge pretty easily with standard sharpening methods. You won’t be needing those high-end diamond abrasives for this job.
440A steel equivalent
440A is identical to 440B. These two steels feature almost similar chemical composition with the only difference being higher carbon content in 440B. Another steel close to 440A is the Japanese AUS-8 steel. It shares the content of elements Manganese, nickel, Phosphorous, and sulfur. They only differ in carbon and chromium contents.
While still at it, it’s worth noting that the Chinese 7Cr17MoV is a modified version of 440A. These two steels have an almost similar chemical composition, except for the addition of Vanadium in 7Cr17MoV steel.
440a steel comparison
To help you further understand whether 440A stainless steel is good blade steel, we will also compare it side by side with other popular knife steels available today.
440A VS 440C
Comparing two steels from the same family of steel is a fair game, right? 440A and 440C are from the 400 steel series. The key difference between these two steel grades is that 440C contains higher carbon content and will hold an edge better than 440A. 440A, on the other hand, resists corrosion better than its sibling. As you can easily guess, sharpening 440A would be easier than 440C.
440a steel vs 8Cr13MoV
The Chinese 8Cr13MoV is similar to AUS-8. And AUS-8 is close to 440A. The 440A contains higher chromium content, making it more corrosion resistant and giving it a more polished look than 8Cr13MoV. The higher carbon content in 8Cr13MoV makes it less corrosion resistant compared to 440A. Because 8Cr13MoV contains Vanadium, it has better toughness than 440A and will resist deformation better.
440a steel vs d2
440A has less carbon content than D2, making it softer steel. For this reason, D2 will beat it in terms of edge retention and wear resistance. D2 is also tougher than 440A due to the inclusion of vanadium in its chemistry. But 440A will be much easier to sharpen than D2. One particular thing that will make you favor 440A over D2 is the excellent corrosion resistance as D2 is known for catching rust easily and requires maintenance.
440a steel vs 420hc
As you can easily tell, these two steels also come from the 400 steel family. 420HC contains lower carbon content than 440A, meaning will 440A will offer you better edge retention and wear resistance. 420HC is also much easier to sharpen than 440A. However, both steels share an almost similar degree of toughness and corrosion resistance.
Is 440A stainless steel good for knives?
“Good” is relative when it comes to blade steel. 440A steel is a good steel blade in that it offers excellent corrosion resistance. And as soft steel, it has high machinability (easy to work with) and is also easy to sharpen, making it good steel for knife makers.
keeping in mind that 440A is low-end steel, it will make a good choice for those looking for budget-friendly knives for use in conditions that require high corrosion resistance, e.g. camping knives, kitchen knives, diving knives, etc.
The steel might not offer you premium performance, but it will deliver decent levels of edge retention, wear resistance, and toughness. 440A is NOT junk like some folks tend to portray it. There are worse steels out there and 440A isn’t among them.
Best 440A stainless steel knives
1. Boker 01LG318 Rainbow Mermaid Folding Knife
Great looks meet performance! Boker folding knife is an imaginative knife with a design dedicated to the mystical ocean creatures. Both the blade and handle feature the rainbow color design, making this entire knife eye-grabbing.
But this knife isn’t just about the looks! It will also offer you affordable performance. It features a highly corrosion-free 440A stainless steel blade (3 ¼-inch long) that comes sharp out of the box. The metal spring holds the blade securely in the open position for maximum user safety.
At 6.4oz, this knife has a nice weight to it. Add to the adequate toughness offered by the blade and it will enable you to carry out a wide range of tough tasks without fail.
The cool knife features a flipper featuring the mermaid’s fin design and allows for easy, swift one-handed opening. The ergonomic stainless steel knife feels good in your hands and comes in just the right size for most hands.
If you know anyone fascinated by mermaids and everything about ocean life or rainbow, why not surprise them with this beautiful and affordably priced knife?
2. Camillus CamLite Folding Knife
This little knife from Camillus is also among the most popular 440A stainless steel knives you can find on the market today. With an overall 5-inch length plus lightweight design, this knife will fit your pocket quite well and make a great EDC knife that won’t threaten your co-workers or friends.
The 2-inch blade is made from 440A stainless steel and comes razor sharp out of the box. It holds the sharp edge fairly well and will sharpen easily in case it dulls down. It also delivers adequate toughness and won't easily chip or break due to tough tasks or if accidentally dropped.
The blade has a smooth opening and locks tight with the integrated robust lock back mechanism. This will give you peace of mind knowing that the sharp blade won't accidentally close in on your fingers.
The awesome little knife comes with a good fit and finish and will feel great in your hands. The glass-filled nylon handle features grippy textured which gives you a more secure and solid grip when using your knife in various conditions.
3. MIKI Pocket Folding Kitchen Knife
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly folding kitchen knife for outdoor camping or your home kitchen, you just found the Miki folding kitchen knife. This small knife will let you efficiently do a wide range of kitchen tasks including cutting fruits, veggies, meats, and more.
It comes with a Japanese Nakiri-style blade that smoothly and quickly cuts veggies, boneless foods, etc. without dragging other sides of your food. Since this is a 440A stainless steel blade, it’s perfectly durable and sharp and will hold up really well to outdoor camping or kitchen cooking.
Whenever you deploy the knife’s blade, it gets securely held in place by the liner lock mechanism, ensuring your fingers remain safe during the entire knife use.
You’ll also be amazed by the ergonomically designed G10 handle that comes with this knife. This handle material not only gives you a comfortable grip with a non-slip effect but is also moisture and oil resistant, skid-proof, and has excellent insulation properties.
You’ll find a lanyard hole along with the handle that lets you attach a cord to your knife so that you don’t easily lose it.
Hopefully, this 440A steel review has answered whether 440A stainless steel is a good steel for knives and any other question you might have been asking yourself about this steel. The 440A steel will give you a decent quality knife that falls within an affordable price range. It offers high corrosion resistance performance and will make a great choice for knives used outdoor or in humid/wet conditions. If corrosion resistance and cost are your utmost concerns in a knife, 440A is a perfect choice for you!