CPM 3V Steel Review – Is It The Best For Knives?

There are a myriad of steels out on the market currently but very few quite like CPM 3V, renowned for its toughness and versatility, CPM 3V is an excellent material for several tools and knives. 

The steel is forged using a more complex and innovative manufacturing process, whereby a more even distribution of carbides is produced, making the steel more resistant to breaking or chipping.

This process is known as Crucible Particle Metallurgy or CMP. It originates from Syracuse, New York, USA, and is another name for MP steel, MP steel is manufactured in an identical process and used all over the globe. 

It is exactly this toughness that makes CPM 3V steel ideal for hunting and survival knives, it is the preferred steel for Navy Seals and trusted by many other Military organizations.

So today, let’s take a closer look at CPM SV steel to see if it is as good for knives as everyone says it is! 

How Is CPM Steel Different From Conventional Steel?

The difference between CPM and conventional steel lies in the manufacturing process. 

With conventional steel, the molten metal is poured from the furnace bath into individual inglot molds and allowed to cool slowly.

During this cooling process, the individual ingredients separate and it is this separation that causes the carbides to form a coarser, intergranular network; they no longer have a uniform structure.

Essentially, this means that the steel weakens as it cools due to the segregation of alloy particles.

On the other hand, the process of Crucible Particle Metallurgy (CPM) eliminates this segregation.

This is due to the powder particles cooling rapidly, so the alloy does not have time to separate like in conventional steel. Any gain growth is also prevented by the uniform distribution of fine carbides. 

The Chemical Composition Of CPM 3V

Let’s take a brief look now at the composition of CPM 3V to learn even more about it!

  • 0.8% carbon - This increases hardness and improves wear and tear resistance.
  • 7.5% of chromium - Provides tensile strength and edge retention.
  • 0.4% manganese - Increases the hardness and brittleness of the metal.
  • 0.03% phosphorus - Increases overall strength
  • 0.03% sulfur - Makes the metal much more machinable.
  • 1.3% Molybdenum - Increases the machinability and strength of CPM V3.
  • 2.75% Vanadium - Improves wear resistance and hardness.
  • 0.4% Tungsten - Improves wear and tear resistance and hardness of the steel.
  • 0.9% Silicon - Improves the strength of the metal.

The composition of CPM 3V steel means it is a tough tool with decent corrosion resistance. The combination of Chromium, Vanadium, and Silicon makes for an astonishingly strong blade. 

The Pros Of CPM 3V

  • Its Versatility - CPM 3V can be used for a range of different tools and knives, including blanking and stamping tools, knives, slitters, and scrap choppers.
  • Edge Retention - The steel is incredibly hard, sitting at about 58-60 on the Rockwell Hardness Scale, so it has really good edge retention, meaning the edge of the blade will resist becoming dulled by chemical, mechanical or thermal influences. 
  • Corrosion Resistance - Despite not being stainless steel, CPM 3V steel has more than 7% Chromium, meaning it does have some corrosion resistance. 
  • Machinability - CPM 3V is very machinable and easy to grind and shape. 
  • Toughness - CPM is very tough and break-resistant, it is possibly one of the toughest steels available on the market today. 
  • Stable Substrate - The process used to make CPM steel leaves the substrate material incredibly stable so it will react well with any coatings that may need to be applied to protect the metal from wear and tear or discoloration.

The Cons Of CPM 3V

  • It Is Not Stainless Steel - Though CPM has corrosion resistance, it can not be considered stainless steel as it only has 7.5% Chromium. Any metal would need a minimum requirement of 12% Chromium to be officially classed as stainless Steel. This means it is likely the metal would become oxidized or discolored over time, unless a protective coating, like hard PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition), is applied. 
  • Sharpness - The harder steel is (the CPM 3V is incredibly hard) the tougher it is to sharpen, so it's going to be quite the feat to get a knife made of this extremely sharp steel. It may take a great deal of time and require a professional blade saw.
  • Difficult to Polish - The extremely fine grain of the CPM 3V means that it is very difficult to polish, even with professional-grade equipment. 

CPM 3V Knives You Can Purchase 

Before you leave us today, let’s take a quick look at some fantastic options of CPM 3V knives that you can purchase.

These knives would all make wonderful additions to your life, so if you are considering purchasing one, we recommend checking out the products listed below.

A fixed blade camping knife, the M5 is ideal for outdoor activities as the CPM 3V steel blade is very tough and wear-resistant, so able to cut through rugged materials without chipping or breaking.

It has a 4.5-inch blade and a fiberglass handle, making it very light and comfortable to hold.

It comes with three different color options for the handle. These include; Olivewood, Santos wood, or Black G10.

This is a fixed blade survival knife, it is a standard issue for Navy Seals and is trusted by other military organizations. It is great for tactical and outdoor use.

It has a comfortable and secure grip, with a quillion finger guard and a deeply checkered Kray-ex grip for the ultimate safe and secure hold.
It has a blade length of 5 inches and a steel alloy handle.

The Gerber LMF 2 is an infantry knife designed to perform well under high impact and adapt to any scenario thrown at it.

A break between the tang and butt cap provides insulated protection against stray wires and absorbs any shock from hammering.

It has a MOLLE-compatible sheath with a built-in sharpener. The overall length is 10.59 inches. It is the heaviest of the three knives at 1.35 pounds. 

Summary - Is CPM 3V The Best Steel For Knives?

CPM 3V Steel Review - Is It The Best For Knives

There can be no doubt that the CPM 3V is incredible steel, with engineered strength, edge retention, and toughness, the blade excels in outdoor and tactical use.

It is no wonder that it is the trusted and preferred blade in standard military operations.

The newer, innovative manufacturing process ensures it is one of the leading edge steels available. Though the CPM process is more expensive, it is well worth the cost for the results seen in blades made from its steel.

It should be noted that CPM 3V is not perfect, it does have some pitfalls; the steel is not completely stainless, and while it is corrosion-resistant, it cannot be classed as corrosion-proof.

This means, to keep it from dulling or discoloration, a protective coating should be applied and it will require some upkeep and care.

But despite these few flaws, the CPM 3V remains one of the best on the market and outperforms older, more conventional steels in its durability, machinability, and pure strength.

In summary, yes, the CPM 3V is one of the best steels out there for knives and can be counted on to perform with every use.

Tom Bower