You’re looking at a knife with good reviews and features. And it features a blade made from D2 steel. Because you’re no metallurgist or you simply haven’t had any personal experience with kind of steel before, you start wondering if it’s any good for your knife blade.
The truth about D2 is it’s one of the oldest steel grades that have been used for decades in making knives. But that’s not enough to convenience you that it is good steel for knives.
In the following D2 steel review, we’ll dig deeper into what exactly this steel is made of and answer the questions racing your mind right now like: Is D2 good knife steel? Is D2 steel easy to sharpen? Does it hold an edge for long? How will hold up against corrosion? Is it tough for chopping and batoning? And more…
What is D2 steel?
D2 is air-hardening tool steel high in carbon, chromium, vanadium, and molybdenum elements. It’s a die type of tool steel, hence the designation “D.” It boasts excellent edge retention and features extremely high wear resistance properties.
The high percentage of chromium also gives it decent anti-corrosion properties when in the hardened state. However, it features low grindability and machinability and is challenging to work with for knife makers.
D2 is not stainless steel because it only contains 12% chromium, making it fall 1% short of the Chromium content needed to make it stainless. As such, this steel is semi-stainless.
The plain D2 shouldn’t be confused with CPM-D2. The former has been around for decades while the latter was introduced recently (in 2007) following crucible’s CPM technology. CPM-D2 was created to help reduce the size of carbides in D2, thus improving toughness, corrosion resistance, and heat treatment.
D2 tool steel mostly finds use in high wear resistance applications like steel cutting dies. It’s also a highly popular knife blade steel among knife makers and knife users. Mark you, D2 has been around for quite a long and knives made from this steel were popularized by Jimmy Lile and Bob Dozier.
D2 steel chemical composition
Percentage composition (%)
1.50% Carbon increases hardness and improves corrosion and wear resistance
12.00% Chromium increases tensile strength, hardness, and toughness. it also increases corrosion resistance. Because it’s less than 13%, it makes D2 steel semi-stainless.
0.90% Molybdenum increases hardenability, hardness, strength, and toughness.
1.10% Vanadium increases strength, toughness, and wear resistance. It also improves corrosion resistance.
0.45% Manganese increases hardenability and wear resistance. However, larger quantities of Manganese increases hardness and brittleness.
0.40% Silicon increases strength and corrosion resistance.
0.02% Sulfur is added in small quantities to help improve machinability.
What is D2 steel hardness?
D2 steel hardness 57-61 HRC. Such a high hardness degree results in increases wear resistance and edge holding capabilities.
D2 steel properties
What are the top attributes of a knife blade made from D2 steel? Let’s discuss how a knife made using this tool steel performs in key areas below.
This is one area where D2 performs excellently, to the point of being crowned the king of wear resistance among knife users. The steel delivers extremely high wear resistance which enables d2 steel knives to offer high abrasion resistance, unlike most of the standard carbon and stainless steels used for knife making today.
High hardness is a perfect recipe for great edge retention in the world of steel. This is the case with the D2 tool steel. It contains high carbon content that increases its hardness and enables it to keep a sharp edge for quite longer than most budget-friendly steels. So, if you want a knife that doesn’t bother you with sharpening, go for D2 and you won’t regret it.
D2 steel toughness
Because D2 is quite hard, it scores low in terms of toughness. but it’s not the worst; it offers adequate toughness which enables it to withstand many heavy-duty cutting tasks, e.g. light chopping, without chipping or breaking. If you want a knife for heavy-duty tasks like chopping, batoning, and so on, we would advise you to look into other steels with better toughness than D2.
D2 steel is not easy to sharpen. Blame it on the high wear resistance. But that doesn’t mean you can’t sharpen a d2 steel knife when it gets dull. You’ll just have to spend more time achieving an ultra-sharp edge than you’d do with easy to sharpen steel grades. Experienced knife users also suggest using di among or ceramic sharpeners for D2 steel for the best sharpening results.
D2 steel corrosion resistance
So, des D2 steel rust? Yes, d2 tool steel can catch rust, but not easily. If you leave it in wet conditions for a long time, that’s when you’re likely to see rust signs. Making sure you clean and dry your d2 steel knife after every use is a good measure to keep it rust-free.
D2 steel comparison
In this part, we’ll discuss how D2 stacks up against other popular knife steels to help you decide if it’s better than the other steel grades.
D2 steel vs 440C: Is D2 steel better than 440C?
These two steels are great and offer excellent performance when used in knife blades. Both contain high carbon and chromium but offer varying performance. While 440C offers excellent wear resistance due to high chromium (17.5%), D2 steel is less resistant to corrosion. However, D2 outperforms 440C with greater wear resistance.
D2 steel vs s30v: Is D2 steel better than S30V?
CPM S30V is premium-grade steel and offers premium features for an s30v steel knife. It has better edge retention and corrosion resistance than D2. It’s also much easier to sharpen compared to D2. However, both D2 and S30V steel offer the same level of toughness and chip resistance.
D2 steel vs 8Cr13MoV
8Cr13MoV, the Chinese steel, has higher chromium content than D2 (high enough to make it stainless) and offers better corrosion resistance than D2. it also offers you an easier sharpening experience than D2. However, D2 blows 8Cr13MoV out of the water with superior wear resistance and edge holding capability. the two steels score similarly in toughness.
D2 steel vs 1095: Is D2 steel better than 1095?
D2, being tool steel, is harder and more wear-resistant than 1095. It’s also challenging to sharpen and takes longer to get a sharp edge than 1095 but will hold the edge for way longer than 1095. Because of its high chromium content, D2 will also high corrosion resistance of these two steels. The carbon steel 1095, on the other hand, is easy to sharpen and comes at a more affordable cost. Overall, D2 steel is a better performer than 1095 carbon steel.
D2 steel vs VG10: Is VG 10 better than D2?
Both Vg10 and D2 are awesome steels. D2 is better than VG10 in terms of easy sharpening and holding an edge for longer. It also offers better toughness and can hold up to hard use like chopping, wood batoning, and so on However, VG10 is better than D2 in terms of rust resistance. If you live in wet/humid areas or want a knife for food preparation, you should go for VG10 over D2.
Is D2 steel good for knives?
D2 is a good choice for making knives due to its extremely high wear resistance and excellent edge retention. Plus, it offers good hardness and adequate toughness. With its high chromium content, it also offers good resistance to corrosion and will survive use in wet and humid conditions.
However, the steel is pretty hard to sharpen due to its extremely high abrasion resistance. But a good diamond sharpener will do the trick. It also doesn’t offer the best toughness and will not hold up well to heavy-duty use like chopping, batoning, and so on.
Overall, if you’re looking for a knife with good performance and offers you value for money, you can’t go wrong with a d2 steel knife. If you want a good choice for a working knife, D2 steel is worth considering.
Best D2 steel knives:
1. Cold Steel Leatherneck Sf Tool Knife
If you’re looking to expand your Cold Steel knives collection or simply want a good fixed blade for tactical use, get this Leatherneck knife from Cold Steel. It comes with an amazing set of features at an amazing price. It also has got great looks and feels good in your hands.
The knife features a D2 steel blade, awesome steel that offers you high abrasion resistance while taking and holding an edge for longer than other steels in the same price range. The blade comes razor sharp out of the box and cuts beautifully without you having to struggle.
Don’t forget that this blade features a non-reflective black powder coating to boost the corrosion-resistant capabilities of the blade steel and at the same time keep your location low profile.
Ergonomics are on another level for this Cold Steel knife. It features a deeply checkered Kray-Ex handle which offers high grip-ability and feels good in your hands. With the solid steel double quillon guard in place, your fingers will not slide into the sharp edge when using this knife, assuring you of maximum safety.
The Cold Steel also comes with a sturdy and versatile secure X-sheath which enables you to carry your knife safely and conveniently. Integrated into the sheath is a fully detectable, ambidextrous belt loop for even easier use.
2. Kershaw Natrix Copper Pocketknife
This is a great everyday carry knife proudly made by Kershaw. It comes in a compact design that easily fits in your pocket and its 2.75-inch drop-point blade will perform just any daily cutting task you throw its way. This knife comes at an affordable price and will give you value for money.
The knife is made from d2 steel which has great wear resistance and edge retention. it also offers you decent toughness and good corrosion resistance, making it a suitable choice for an everyday carry knife. The knife is super-sharp right out of the box and has its blade perfectly centered.
With the patented sub-frame lock, this pocket knife keeps a slim profile while offering exceptional lockup, with no lock-stick issues. The knife action is smooth, swift, and incredible!
Probably the center of attraction in this knife is the copper handle which is not only tough as nails but also comes optimized with scales to offer good grip. The copper will earn patina over time, making it even more gorgeous. Due to this copper handle, this knife has a good solid weight to it, further improving its cutting performance.
Keep in mind that this pocket knife comes armed with a reversible, deep-carry pocket clip to let you easily attach it to your jacket, coat, backpack, day pack, duffel, or even gear bag.
3. Ontario Rat II Linerlock
The Ontario Rat II has become a favorite EDC for many knife enthusiasts all over the globe. The fancy-looking knife has a great build quality and comes with a 3-inch d2 steel blade and will hold a good cutting edge for quite a long time. As with the previously discussed knives, this model also features a great price point.
The blade is perfectly centered, has a nice, even grind, so it will deliver great cutting performance. It also comes ultra-sharp right out of the box, which is a plus given that D2 steel can be hard to sharpen.
The green G10 handle looks great and is unique as most EDCs come in the color black. With this handle, you can stay assured that it will feel comfortable and secure in your hand.
Action is butter-smooth and the blade flies out like the opening is assisted. the lock-up is tight and secure and leaves no room for play when the blade is in the open position.
The Rat II measures 4 inches when closed and will fit in your pocket nicely. Its lightweight feel makes it comfortable for everyday carry. Because the knife is sent to you with a pocket clip, you’ll also have no problems carrying it in your pocket. The included lanyard hole allows for neck carry.
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Now that you have read through this D2 steel review guide, you fully understand the D2 steel pros and cons and can easily decide if it’s an ideal steel for your knife. The steel highlights include excellent wear resistance and the ability to maintain a great cutting edge. It also has decent toughness and will stand up to some hard use. Due to its high chromium content, it will offer good corrosion resistance. But remember that sharpening this steel is a hard task and will take you longer to achieve a sharp edge.