If you're looking for a new, fairly priced knife to add to your collection, then you have most likely come across AUS 8 stainless steel made varieties. This knife steel is quite popular across the planet. And the fact that it's Japanese makes it even better. Why? Because the Japanese steels are known for their incredible toughness, sharpness, and edge quality.
But does AUS-8 stainless steel offer the same high performance as its Japanese steel counterparts? In the following guide, we'll leave no stone unturned in discussing every single detail you need to know about this popular steel grade to help you decide if it's a good choice for knives.
What Is AUS 8 steel?
The AUS 8 or AUS-8 falls under the classification of stainless steel, and is made by the Aichi Foundry in Japan. The steel also goes by the name AUS-8A or simply 8A and boasts its position as one of the best-selling steel grades in the AUS series.
AUS 8 steel Composition
The AUS 8 is a highly refined stainless steel and features high carbon content in its composition than what you get in low-end steel grades. This high carbon content places the steel in the mid-range steel category.
The steel also features additional elements found in premium steels such as nickel, Vanadium, and molybdenum.
Here's the complete AUS 8 steel Composition:
Percentage composition (%)
Carbon constitutes up to 0.75% of the AUS-8 steel composition. This is a high amount of carbon, no doubt. And enables the steel to deliver better edge retention, making any knife made with this steel more dependable for you.
For any steel to qualify as stainless steel, it should feature at least 10.5% Chromium content. The AUS 8 contains up to 14% Chromium. This element's key benefits in stainless steel include increased toughness and hardness, enhanced tensile strength, and better wear and corrosion resistance.
Also appearing in the composition is Manganese, which facilitates the steel grindability and hardenability. This makes AUS-8 easy for knife makers to work with. It also makes the AUS 8 knives easy to sharpen.
Adding molybdenum to the steel promotes its weldability and resistance to wear and corrosion.
Nickel also enhances the steel's weldability, making the AUS-8 steel a darling among knife makers.
Silicone increases the metal tensile strength for higher maximum stress resistance. Using silicone in stainless steel also makes it more rugged and durable.
Then there's Vanadium, which dramatically boosts the steel's tensile strength. It also works in conjunction with the other elements to deliver increased hardenability and corrosion resistance.
AUS 8 Stainless steel properties
As you can see from the composition table above, the Japanese steel has a well-rounded composition that enables it to exhibit high levels of hardness, toughness, wear, and corrosion resistance, and great edge retention.
It also registers a hardness of 59 HRC, which is within what is considered hard steel for a knife meant for everyday carry.
The KEY properties of AUS 8 steel when used for knife blade are:
AUS 8 steel vs other steels in its class
In this section, we'll look at how AUS-8 stainless steel compares to other grades of steel in its class, such as 440C, 8Cr13MoV, VG10, D2, and others.
AUS-8 steel vs 440C
There aren't any significant differences between these two steels in terms of toughness, edge retention, and toughness. AUS 8 is, however, a bit easier to sharpen than 440C.
AUS-8 steel vs VG10
These two grades of steel have the same level of corrosion resistance. But VG10 has better edge retention and lower toughness than AUS 8. It's also harder to sharpen than AUS 8 steel.
AUS-8 steel vs S30V
The S30V to offer better hardness and wear resistance than AUS-8. This means knives made using s30v tend to last longer than the aus 8 ones. Sharpening the s30v will, however, be more challenging than aus-8 stainless steel.
AUS-8 steel vs D2
AUS-8 has the same edge retention capability and corrosion resistance as the D2. AUS is easier to sharpen than D2. D2 beats AUS 8 with a higher level of toughness.
AUS-8 steel vs 8Cr13MoV
These two grades of steels are said to be similar in many aspects. The Chinese 8Cr13MoV is said to be developed in a similar way to the Japanese AUS-8 stainless steel. AUS 8 delivers slightly better edge retention and corrosion resistance than the Chinese8Cr13MoV steel. However, both metals share the same degree of toughness.
How good is AUS 8 steel?
AUS-8 is a good mid-level steel for making good quality knives. While it might not match premier steel grades' performance, it has got decent edge retention, hardness, toughness, and corrosion, and wear resistance for the price range.
The Japanese-made stainless steel features high chromium content, which increases its hardness and toughness. It's also rust and corrosion-resistant. Sharpening a knife made using this steel is easy, and you can acquire a razor-sharp edge that meets your cutting needs for longer.
Its great machinability makes it a great choice for knife makers who want steel that's easy to work with.
Whether you're an outdoorsman, hunter, or any other knife user and want a quality blade within an affordable price range, the Japanese AUS 8 is a cool choice for you.
Top AUS 8 Steel Knives:
1. Ontario Knife Company 8848 Rat I Folding Knife
If you're looking for a great EDC knife at a wallet-friendly cost, get yourself this folding knife from Ontario. This knife comes equipped with a razor-sharp 3.4-inch long blade AUS-8 stainless steel, which will handle nearly any cutting task you throw at it.
The knife has an open post construction to allow for easy cleaning and hassle-free maintenance. It comes equipped with a textured nylon-6 handle, which gives you a tight and secure grip.
The RAT I knife is also known for quick and easy access, thanks to the convenient and removable pocket clip it comes with. The included thumb stud flipper allows for easy, fast, one-handed blade deployment with either hand.
A liner lock integrated into this knife keeps the blade securely open. This assures you that the knife won't accidentally close during use and cause you injuries. The lanyard on the handle offers you an alternative carrying option to that of a pocket clip.
2. SOG SEAL Pup Elite Fixed Blade Tactical Knife
The SOG's Seal Pup Elite knife is affordably priced and suitable for tactical use and general utility. It presents you with a partially serrated full-tang 4.85" blade crafted from cryogenically hardened AUS steel.
The knife is armed with a glass-reinforced nylon handle with deeper finger grooves to offer you a non-slip, comfortable grip. This handle will fit great in your hand. It remains non-slip regardless of the conditions you are in.
Since this is a fixed blade knife, SOG sends it to you with a hard-molded Kydex sheath for safe and comfortable carry. The knife securely fits in this sheath with a snap and won't accidentally get out until you draw it yourself.
The handle has a lanyard hole for attaching a lanyard for versatile carrying options. The knife itself comes with a lightweight design and won't weigh you down. It comes razor sharp out of box, and the fact that it has undergone SOG's cryogenic treatment enables it to holds its edge for longer.
3. CRKT Hissatsu EDC Folding Pocket Knife
The CRKT makes a great knife for self-defense at a reasonable price or for everyday carry. It boasts a 3.875-inch blade made from AUS stainless steel for optimal strength and great edge retention ability. This blade length is 100% under most jurisdictions, though you might still want to check with your local laws.
The blade has a classic samurai shape and features a black non-reflective coating to dampen light reflections in dark conditions to keep your position low profile.
It comes equipped with CRKT's patented OutBurst assisted opening mechanism, which allows for smooth and fast deployment. It then locks automatically into an open position, thanks to the built-in automated liner safety.
The handle features black glass-reinforced nylon scales, which are well textured to offer you a more secure grip. A thumb disc lets you open this knife with either hand. Thanks to the black stainless steel pocket clip, you can comfortably mount this knife in right or left-handed positions.
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AUS is great steel from Japan for making quality knives. It's considered mid-range performance steel and offers just the right hardness, toughness, edge retention, wear resistance, and corrosion resistance for the price range. It has great machinability, which makes it a good choice for knife makers.