What is 425m steel?
Scanning through websites and forums but can’t find helpful information from experienced users about 425m steel knives? If yes, you’re not alone in this. Many other knife users are looking for information on how 425m steel holds up in terms of edge retention, ease of sharpening, toughness, and corrosion resistance.
425 high carbon steel is one of the most affordable knife steels you can get today. We have scanned through blogs and forum discussions on this knife steel and found lots of useful firsthand info from users who have used this steel before. And we’re going to share all this info with you right below.
What is 425m steel?
425m is a high carbon stainless steel and a modified version of 420 steel (hence the designation “M” in its name 425M). The modified steel appears in the 400 series of steels—which is a popular bunch of steels for knife makers due to its ease of sharpness and high corrosion resistance.
Its predecessor, the 420 has a carbon content ranging between 0.15% and 0.40% and a chromium volume of 12.00 to 14.00%. But the 425M steel features increased carbon (ranging between 0.40 and .054) and Chromium (13.50 to 15.00%), enabling it to deliver even better wear resistance and anti-rust performance.
The most common applications for the 425M high carbon stainless steel include budget knives, blades, and cutting tools that require high corrosion resistance. Knifesmiths also use this steel to make knives due to its high machinability.
425m steel composition
425m steel is high in chromium (with 15% maximum volume), making it stainless steel. It also features high carbon content for great sharpness retention and wear resistance.
Other elements that make up this steel are outlined below:
Percentage composition (%)
0.40-0.54% Carbon raises the tensile strength of this steel while at the same time increasing its wear resistance.
13.50-15.00% Chromium increases tensile strength, hardness, and toughness. And most importantly, it boosts the corrosion resistance of this steel. Since this amount is more than 12%, it makes 425m stainless steel with better stain and rust resistance properties.
0.50% Manganese increases tensile strength and improves hardenability and wear resistance.
0.60-1.00% Molybdenum increases the steel strength hardenability and hardness. This element also works towards improving the alloy’s toughness.
0.10% Vanadium is used in the 425m steel chemistry to increases strength, wear resistance, and toughness.
0.80% Silicon works towards increasing strength and corrosion resistance.
0.04% Phosphorous helps improve strength, hardness, and machinability.
0.03% Sulfur is used in minute quantities to improve steel machinability. The reason why this element is used in small quantities is that too much of it in the steel alloy leads to decreased strength, making the steel weak.
What is 425M steel hardness?
425m stainless steel registers a Rockwell hardness of 57-59 HRC. The high 50s on the Rockwell scale is within what’s considered a suitable range for good knife steel (i.e., high 50s to low 60s). This level of hardness enables the steel to make 425M steel knives with good wear resistance and edge holding ability.
425m steel properties
The 425m properties define the key attributes a knife featuring a 425m high carbon stainless steel blade will deliver. We’ll discuss how this steel delivers terms of edge holding, ease of sharpening, corrosion resistance, and other categories.
425M stainless steel wear resistance
The steel performs decently in the wear resistance department. It features 0.54% carbon content which translates to decent wear resistance levels, not the worst and not the best, but just enough to resist daily tear and wear.
425M steel Edge retention
With a 60 HRC hardness level, this steel delivers decent sharpness retention. With just 0.54% carbon available for forming carbides, most of the 15% chromium volume is used for fighting corrosion. The result is fewer chromium carbides, making the steel, not the best in holding a sharp edge.
425M stainless steel corrosion resistance
425m steel offers you excellent corrosion resistance due to the high volume of chromium. This means it resists rusting well and can make knives for use in humid or saltwater conditions such as kitchen, dive, fishing, and hunting knives. However, this steel is Not 100% rust-resistant. Exposing it to elements for long can result in rust. That’s why you should clean and dry your knife after every use to minimize rust.
425M high carbon steel toughness
The steel offers good toughness since it’s doesn’t feature high hardness. Its toughness level isn’t as high as other steels in its family, however, as it lacks the Nickel element. Nonetheless, it has good toughness and can withstand hard use to some extent.
425M steel Ease of sharpening
Sharpening 425m steel knives is incredibly easy. Unlike high hardness steels (with over 60HRC), 425m doesn’t offer high wear resistance. This enables you to easily sharpen it with standard sharpening tools. This is a great aspect for the steel given that it doesn’t hold an edge for long and requires regular sharpening. The steel also takes a crazy sharp edge.
425m steel equivalent
420HC and 425M feature pretty much the same chemistry, making them equivalent to each other.
For instance, 420HC contains 0.40-0.50% carbon and 12-14% chromium content while 425M contains Carbon 0.40-0.54% and 13.5-15% Chromium volumes. The difference in composition for other elements making up these two steels is also minimal.
While 425M has a hardness of 420HC has a hardness of 56-58 HRC. Again, this isn’t such a huge difference and makes the two steels exhibit a similar performance trend. Both steels are synonymous with budget knives.
425m steel vs other steels:
440c vs 425m steel
Though both steels appear in the same 400-series of steels, 440C has higher carbon content (0. 95-1.20%) and ranks higher on the steel scale than 425M steel. 440C tends to hold its sharp edge for longer and better wear resistance than 425M. Because it’s hard steel, sharpening 440c isn’t as easy as 425m steel. However, both steels offer high corrosion resistance and good toughness levels.
425M steel vs 420
420 also falls in the same family of 400 series as 425M. As we mentioned, 425m is a developed version of 420 stainless steel.
425m has increased carbon and chromium and exhibits slightly better edge retention and corrosion resistance over its predecessor. However, the softness of 420 steel makes it even easier to sharpen and high toughness.
Despite the modification of 425m steel, it still appears in budget knives just like 420 steel.
Is 425m steel good for knives?
425M stainless steel is a good steel for knives but not the best. This steel only excels in corrosion resistance, which makes it good for making kitchen or dive knives.
However, it doesn’t hold its sharpness for long and requires regular sharpening. It compensates for this with easy sharpening. The toughness in this steel isn’t that good and this steel won’t stand up to hard use. This means making a camping, hunting, or survival/wilderness knife out of 425M stainless steel is a bad idea.
You might, however, consider this steel for a budget-friendly EDC knife, though it’s still not the best steel for this use.
425M steel is a modified version of 420 steel and offers great corrosion resistance and high machinability. Sharpening this steel is also easy. But it doesn’t offer the best edge retention properties like the high-end steels. We recommend this steel for anyone looking for a budget knife for use in humid conditions such as the kitchen. The steel is also affordable for bladesmiths and is incredibly easy to work with.