N690Co Steel Review

N690Co Steel Review

If you're looking at N690Co steel knife and wondering how good is N690Co steel and whether it will serve your requirements, this guide is for you.

Numerous opinions surround N690Co steel. Visit different knife steel forums, websites, or ask your friends. Everyone will have something different to say about this steel.  This can brew a lot of confusion in your mind on whether to get a N690Co steel knife or move to the next steel.

This guide will give you a clear picture of what the N690Co steel is all about: its complete composition, key attributes, how it compares to other steel standards, and so much more.

What is N690cCo?

N690Co is a high carbon stainless steel with the addition of Cobalt to promote structural uniformity. It's fine-grained steel that creates blades that retain their sharpness when subjected to long periods of use.

Developed by the German-based manufacturer Böhler, N690Co finds popular use in the world of technical and outdoor knives. The knife industry's leading names heavily rely on this steel for their folding and fixed blades for outdoor activities like tactical, bush crafting, hunting, to name but a few.

What is N690Co

Some of the top names in the knife world that use this steel for their outdoor knives include Spyderco, Fox Knives, Benchmade, Extreme Ratio, and the French-based brand Wildsteer.

N690Co chemical composition

The easiest way to determine any steel material's capabilities for making reliable blades lies in understanding the individual elements that constitute it. The N690Co steel contains high amounts of chromium, carbon, and Molybdenum—which help strike a good balance between toughness and hardness.

Let's take a look at the complete list of elements making up Bohler's N690Co steel:


Composition (%)















N690Co Steel

Chromium appears with as high as 17.30% composition and helps increase the steel wear resistance, tensile strength, hardness, and corrosion resistance (it's more than 13% needed to make a steel stainless).

1.08% carbon plays the crucial steel hardening role. It also increases tensile strength, edge retention and improves wear and abrasion resistance.

1.50% cobalt allows for higher quenching temperatures during the heat treatment process. It also intensifies the individual effect of all the other elements. Above all, it increases the hardness of this steel.

1.10% molybdenum maintains the strength of this steel at high temperatures and prevents brittleness. It also improves the N690Co machinability and resistance to corrosion.

0.1% Vanadium improves the material hardenability and wear resistance. And, being a carbide former, it contributes to wear resistance.

0.4% Silicon adds to the steel strength.

0.4% Manganese contributes to the N690Co hardenability, strength, and wear resistance.

N690Co properties

What's the N690Co performance in areas like hardness, toughness, edge retention, corrosion resistance, Sharpenability, etc.? Let's find out below.

N690Co properties


N690Co stainless steel scores 59-60 HRC on the Rockwell hardness scale. This makes it hard steel, which is made possible by the high amounts of carbon in its composition. The addition of Cobalt, a super-hard and heat-resistant metal, gives the metal even better wear resistance properties. Due to the high hardness, this steel makes highly reliable knives for tactical use, hunting, bush crafting, and other tough outdoor activities.

Edge retention

Thanks to its hard nature, this steel makes blades with excellent edge retention. The ability to maintain its sharp cutting edge for long periods of time means you can use your N690Co steel knife for long without worrying about frequent sharpening. This further makes it a suitable material for outdoor knives.


You don't always get a steel grade the gives good toughness and hardness at the same time. But this steel is an exception. While N690Co might not offer you superior toughness levels, it does deliver decent levels—good enough to handle outdoor abuse and prevent chipping, breakage.

Corrosion resistance

this is one area N690Co scores highly! It contains 17.30% chromium, which is way more than the 13% required to make a material stainless steel. You can trust this Bohler steel to resist corrosion and damage from exposure to extreme elements like humidity, moisture, and salt. In other words, you can use your knife in all conditions without any issues.

N690Co Steel

Ease of sharpening

N690Co has great edge retention and tends to keep a good cutting edge for pretty long. But this doesn't mean it doesn't dull with time. When the time comes to sharpen it, you'll have an easy time giving it a super-sharp edge as per your requirements. This sets it from other hard steels that will take all your time trying to sharpen.

N690Co vs other steels

There's quite a good number of steels that can be compared to Bohler's n690co. In this part, we'll look at the most popular steels that are close to this steel.

N690Co vs other steels

N690Co vs S30V

The two steels square up in terms of toughness and corrosion resistance. But S30V beats N690Co with better edge retention.

N690Co vs D2

Due to low amounts of chromium in D2, it's labeled as semi-stainless steel. Its corrosion resistance is nothing compared to n690co. However, d2 has very high hardness and better edge retention. But it has low toughness and is harder to sharpen than n690co.

N690Co vs VG10

VG10 has the same level of corrosion resistance as n690co. But it scores slightly lower toughness and higher edge retention than n690co.

N690Co vs M390

The two steels deliver the same toughness. But M390 has better corrosion resistance and edge retention than n690co. But it's harder to sharpen than n690co.

Bohler N690 vs N690Co

Both N690 and N690Co are made by Bohler and are very similar steels, only that N690Co has added Cobalt (Co) in its composition. Both have the same hardness level, offer good corrosion, and make blades with excellent edge retention.

Is N690Co steel good for knives?

N690Co is a very good knife steel made by a wide range of companies. Big names in the knife industries also use it for their knives, making it a quite popular blade steel. With a hardness of 60HRC, it's harder steel with good wear and abrasion resistance. It features high corrosion resistance due to the high levels of chromium in its composition.

Is N690Co steel good for knives

With such properties, this N690Co is great for making reliable outdoor blades for use in various conditions. This explains why N690Co outdoor knives from brands like Benchmade, Spyderco, Extreme Ratio, and others are highly popular among outdoor enthusiasts.

Best N690Co Steel Knives:

1. Spyderco Squeak Non-Locking Knife

Spyderco Squeak Non-Locking Knife

If you're looking for a super-handy everyday carry pocket folder with affordable pricing, you won't go wrong with this Spyderco Squeak knife.

Weighing 1.06 ounces only and with an overall length of 5.05 inches, this is a pocket-friendly knife that you can easily throw in your pocket and forget about it. This small size also makes it perfect for locales where locking folders are prohibited.

The Spyderco's pocket knife comes with a super-sharp, non-locking blade made from the high-performance N690Co stainless steel, which holds an edge and resists corrosion well. The blade features a full flat grind shape. This means you won't have to deal with those overly steep sharpening angles that give you a heck of a time when sharpening your knife.

It's optimized with the traditional slip-joint, allowing you to easily open and close it with just one hand. By positioning your index finger on the deep finger choil, you'll block the blade from accidental closing when cutting.

The handle is fiberglass reinsured nylon and comes engineered for user comfort. It comes with ergonomic handle texturing, which gives you a slip-free, comfortable feel. You'll appreciate the textured jimping machined from the blade spine and choil and offers you increased slip resistance.

A reversible tip-up wire pocket clip comes with this blade to offer you an easy and convenient way to carry it around. You can retain or remove this clip as you wish.

Highlighted Features:

  • 3.05-inch fiberglass reinforced nylon handle
  • Plain blade edge
  • 2-inch N690Co steel blade
  • Includes a wire pocket clip
  • SlipIt locking mechanism

2. Spyderco Urban Leaf Folding Knife

Spyderco Urban Leaf Folding Knife

We also found this folder knife from Spyderco, which will prove to be a handy knife for your everyday carry needs, at a budget-friendly cost.

Like our previous model, this Spyderco is also designed as a non-locking folding knife with a one-handed opening mechanism and pocket clip for comfortable carry. It has the legal permissibility of the non-locking blades. Add to its lightweight, small blade design, and you've got a 100% legal folder pocket knife.

Like most of the Spyderco knives, this model comes with a nicely textured G-10 handle that feels good and slip-free in your hands. The jimping on the finger plus choil for the pointer finger makes the knife feel extremely secure in your hands.

It comes with a blade machined from Böhler N690Co steel, high-performance steel with added Cobalt for excellent edge retention and wear resistance. The blade is full-flat grind and leaf-shaped to offer an exceptional balance of low friction cutting performance, strength, and point utility.

The reversible deep wire pocket clip on the handle offers you versatile positions for carrying your knife in the pocket and taking it anywhere with you without raising eyebrows.

Highlighted Features:

  • High-performance N690Co steel blade
  • 2.61-inch leaf-shaped blade
  • Full flat grind blade bevels
  • Fiberglass reinforced nylon handle
  • 6.06 overall knife length

3. JEO-TEC Nº1 Bushcraft Survival Hunting Camping Knife

JEO-TEC Nº1 Bushcraft Survival Hunting Camping Knife

Whether you're a hunter, fisherman, camper, explorer, or you involve yourself with any other outdoor activity that calls for a high-quality and reliable knife blade, this is it. The knife has a fair price tag and comes optimized with many cool features to suit your needs.

The outdoor knife is powered by a 4.53-inch long blade made from N690 Böhler Steel, whose fine-grained nature gives the blade an excellent cutting edge retention with long periods of use. It's also decently tough and corrosion-free, meaning it will hold up to the tough conditions outdoors.

The handle is made from durable micarta material, which feels really comfortable in your hands and offers high resistance to shocks. It also feels light and will hold up in various conditions, including humidity, corrosion, and extreme temperatures.

Since this is a fixed-blade knife, it's shipped to you with a high-quality (genuine) leather sheath to offer you comfortable carry and fast access. What's more, this is a multi-position sheath and will let you carry your knife in vertical or horizontal positions as you desire.

A sharpener stone and firesteel come included in the box for your own convenience.

Highlighted Features:

  • Blade length: 4.53-inch; overall length: 9.84-inch
  • Bohler N690Co stainless steel blade
  • Sharpener stone, firesteel included
  • High-resistant black micarta handle
  • High-quality, multi-position leather sheath

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Final Verdict

N690Co stainless steel knives deliver great edge retention, toughness, corrosion, and wear resistance. This ranks the German-made steel as one of the best materials for creating reliable knives for outdoor use. Whether you're a fisherman, hunter, bush crafter, camper, etc., we recommend getting N690Co steel blade. Don't forget that N690Co steel knives come at reasonable prices, which means you get really good value for money.

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