Is 7Cr17MoV a good knife steel?
If you're considering a 7Cr17MoV stainless steel knife, you need to read this guide first to discover the good and the bad sides of this steel.
More and more knife users are shifting to the Chinese made steel for knives not only because they exist in the low-cost realm but also make good, functional knives that meet most of your needs. 7Cr17MoV is one such steel. And having been used by popular brands, like Gerber, knives made from this steel seem to have become the go-to choice for budget-minded buyers.
Now, before you invest in that budget-friendly 7Cr17MoV steel knife, read this in-depth guide to discover whether this steel has got what it takes to make the perfect knife for your needs.
What is 7cr17MoV steel?
7Cr17 is stainless steel produced in China and a modified version of the 440A stainless steel. It comes with added vanadium content to give it additional strength and wear resistance. It also boasts high levels of carbon and chromium, which increase its hardness and anti-corrosion properties.
Due to its high toughness and corrosion resistance, this steel is usually used to make survival knives. Though you can also find it in some larger chef knives and cleavers.
Despite the many desirable aspects of this steel exhibit, it's budget-friendly (typical of all Chinese steel grades). And, unlike the high-end steels, you don't need to sell your kidney to get a good 7Cr17MoV knife. In other words, this steel can give you good value for money.
7cr17Mov steel composition
As we have already said before, 7Cr17MoV is a modified version of the Japanese 440A stainless steel. The two steels have almost similar chemical properties. But the 7Cr17MoV contains more vanadium elements to boost its toughness and anti-wear aspects.
The table below gives you a clear picture of the full 7Cr17MoV chemical composition:
The 0.60-0.75% Carbon in 7Cr17MoV helps improve its hardness and make it more resistant to corrosion.
Chromium appears in 16-18.5% to boost the seek tensile strength and edge retention. Most importantly, it helps give the metal excellent corrosion resistance.
1% Silicon improves strength
1% Manganese enhances the steel hardness and brittleness.
Molybdenum increases the steel strength plus machinability.
Up to 0.6% Nitrogen improves edge retention and strength of this steel.
Vanadium in 7Cr17MoV steel is 0.1-0.2% and is crucial in increasing its strength, wear-resistance and durability.
7cr17MoV steel properties
Now that we know what individual elements constitute this steel, it's easy to determine its properties and how a knife made of the same will copes in terms of keeping a good cutting edge, resisting corrosion, ease of sharpening, for how long it holds up, and more.
7cr17MoV has 60 HRC hardness rating, which is considered a high hardness as per the Rockwell hardness chart. This high hardness can be attributed to the high amounts of carbon, vanadium, and chromium in its composition. Due to the high hardness score, you can trust 7cr17MoV to make reliable blades for tough outdoor use.
Though hardness and toughness might sound like the same thing to you, they have completely different meanings in the world of steels. Steel with high hardness will be less tough. The flipside is also true. Because of its high hardness, this steel has low toughness, but it's decently tough for the price. It will hold up well to abuse, unlike most low-end steels.
The truth about 7cr17MoV's ability to keep a good edge is that it's not that good. The presence of sulfur and phosphorus elements in its composition increases brittleness, which causes poor edge retention.
However, high amounts of carbon and vanadium increase the steel hardness, which translates to high abrasion resistance and a boost in edge retention.
That said, you can expect this steel to make blades with good edge retention. But don't expect it to give you a premium-level edge retention performance.
One area where the 7Cr17MoV really shines is the corrosion restate. It has a lot of chromium, up to 17%, which raises its bar quite high when it comes to fighting staining, rusting, and corrosion. The high corrosion resistance enables these knives to hold up for longer than other blades.
Ease of sharpening
Because of the low hardness, 7cr17MoV sharpening is super-easy. For a beginner knife user who has little or no sharpening skills, you'll be able to achieve a super-sharp edge with a 7cr17MoV stainless steel knife easily and quickly. But keep in mind that the softer the steel, the faster it dulls quickly. This means you'll need to sharpen it more often.
7Cr17MoV vs other steels:
Here are some other steels that are comparable to the 7cr17MoV
7cr17MoV vs 440A
440A is the most similar steel to 7cr17MoV. Remember what we said earlier? 7cr17MoV is a modified version of the 440A. They have a similar composition, with the only difference being additional vanadium elements in 7cr17MoV to boost its toughness and wear resistance.
7Cr17MoV vs 5CrMoV15
The two steels are also closely related in nearly all areas, but the 5CrMoV15 contains lower chromium and carbon levels.
7Cr17MoV vs 9Cr18MoV
9Cr18MoV is also similar to 7Cr17MoV, but it has less hardness and more toughness. This gives it better edge retention and sharpening it wouldn't be as easy as it's the case with 7Cr17MoV. Both steels deliver great corrosion resistance.
Is 7cr17MoV steel good for Knives?
7cr17MoV is a good steel for knives if you're looking for a budget-friendly knife for outdoor or general use.
Key features that make this steel a top choice for folks looking for a good knife at an affordable price include excellent corrosion resistance and high hardness. These attributes qualify 7cr17MoV as low-end stainless steel for making highly reliable surviving or hunting knives that can withstand abuse and harsh conditions. The edge retention is good too for the price.
All things considered, 7cr17MoV steel is good for anyone looking for a high-performance, budget-friendly knife. Likewise, this steel is great for a beginner/entry-level knife.
Best 7cr17MoV steel knives
1. Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops SWA24S Folding Knife
If you're looking for a good quality folder for everyday carry at a low price point, this knife from Smith & Wesson is a good choice. The knife comes in a handheld size and comfortably fits in your pocket, making it ideal for everyday carry. A lightweight design (at only 3.5oz) makes it even more portable for everyday carry.
You'll like the comfortable grip offered by this little knife. Its handle features a textured material plus finger indentions, which offer you a more secure and solid grip. This is quite rare for pocket knives in this price range.
The blade is made of 7cr17mov, with black oxide coating for excellent corrosion resistance and toughness. It comes with a razor-sharp edge. It features a serrated part for added cutting power.
Thanks to the ambidextrous thumb knobs, deploying this knife is easy as pie. The jimping and index flipper add to the overall ease of operating this knife. And don't forget, it comes with a pocket clip for easy carry and fast access.
2. CIMA-1 Full-Tang Outdoor Survival Fixed Blade Hunting Knife
The CIMA comes with a versatile design to suit campers' needs and other outdoor enthusiasts on a tight budget. This knife comes with a full-tang design comprised of 7cr17mov steel construction to ensure it's as tough as the outdoor tasks it's made to handle
The 8.46-long hunting knife features a 3.34-inch 7cr17mov blade that's razor-sharp right out of the box. The steel is pretty tough and holds its edge pretty well. Sharpening it, too, is a breeze.
Another plus for this knife is the handle part. It comes with a flax-textured micarta handle, which feels really good in your hand while offering you a true non-slip grip in harsh working conditions. What's more, the handle has high wear resistance and will stay in top condition for longer.
A sturdy ABS plastic sheath comes with this knife to offer you a safe and secure way to carry it with you. The sheath is so good that it won't let go of the knife until you take it out yourself. Plus, the sheath has a clip to it, which allows you to easily hang it on your belt for easy carry.
3. Gerber Flatiron - Folding Cleaver Pocket Knife
The Fatiron pocket knife comes designed for utility with a unique cleaver style blade in a folding application. It features a robust 3.6-inch 7cr17mov blade that cuts like a dream. It's great for cutting fruits, meat, boxes, lazy bar backs, and so much more.
As it's common with all the Gerber knives, this pocket knife comes stupid sharp right out of the box. And unlike most inexpensive cleavers out there, it doesn't show any blade wobble when you extend it.
You'll quickly notice the knife's spine reverse curvature, which keeps off your knuckles from the cutting surface, allowing you to cut and chop with unmatched precision. The large finger choil gives you solid hand placement for total control when choking up.
As for the opening mechanism, the knife is equipped with a sturdy frame lock design and opens easily with just a flick of your wrist plus thumb.
You can deploy the blade with just one hand. The sleek thumb-hole opening on this knife grants you what other knives in the low price range can't offer—a smooth one-handed engagement for the opening part.
The Bottom Line
7Cr17MoV is low-end Chinese steel. It's easy to sharpen, budget-friendly, resists corrosion well and has decent cutting edge keeping ability. The only drawback to this steel is that it's softer, and you'll need to sharpen it more often. This material is a perfect case of "you get what you pay for."
For the budget-minded users and beginners looking for a good, functional, low-cost knife, you won't go wrong with 7Cr17MoV stainless steel.