Finding the right kind of knife for you all comes down to one core feature – the steel used for the blade.
The type of steel used to make the blade of a knife is the major difference between the right kind of knife for you and one that is totally unusable.
However, not everyone has enough time to go researching every single type of steel out there. That can take hours – but that’s where we come in.
Here is a complete steel guide to the 4034 steel. Here, we have compiled all the important information you need to know about this type of steel including its chemical composition and properties.
This way, you can quickly find out if 4034 steel is the best type of steel for your knives or if it is completely inappropriate for the kind of knife you need.
So, let’s check out 4034 steel to see if it’s any good!
What Is 4034 Steel?
4034 steel is a low-end steel that was first manufactured by the German steel manufacturing company Thyssen-Krupp.
It is not a widely common type of steel nor is it a popular one. A lot of bladesmiths compare this type of steel to 420HC, in which most knives made using 4034 steel are usually fixed blades or folding knives.
It’s considered to be a good alternative to 420HC but often falls short of meeting the same standard.
Because of this, most bladesmiths opt to use 420HC steel instead but 4034 steel is still worth considering if you are looking for a close alternative to 420HC steel.
So, what about 4034 steel makes it so rarely used? Let’s take a closer look at this steel’s chemical composition to see what it’s made of and the qualities each element brings to this steel.
4034 Steel Composition
There are two main important chemicals used in the composition of steel that influences its qualities and properties more than any other – chromium and carbon.
Carbon plays a very important part in the composition of all types of steel because it’s a big deciding factor on how strong or brittle the steel is.
The more carbon used in the chemical composition of a piece of steel, the stronger it will be – unless you use too much carbon and then the steel becomes more brittle.
4034 steel does not feature a lot of carbon in its chemical composition. It only has 0.5% of carbon in its composition, making 4034 steel a fairly soft steel that is not very strong.
This is why 4034 steel is often compared to other soft steels like 420HC.
Another important chemical used in the composition of steel is chromium. Chromium is a great part of steel’s chemical composition as it brings so many positive aspects to the steel.
It helps improve its tensile strength, enhances its ability to retain its edge, and also helps improve the steel’s resistance to common issues like scratches, nicks and rust.
So, the more chromium used in a steel’s composition, the better. Steel that features more than 12% of chromium in its chemical composition gets the title of being a stainless steel – one of the most durable and versatile types of steel out there.
Luckily, 4034 fits into this category. Chromium makes up 14% of its chemical composition, so it is classed as a stainless steel and has all the benefits that stainless steels have to offer.
And finally, the other important chemical used in the chemical composition of 4034 steel is manganese.
Manganese is great for helping steels become stronger, but it’s only used in very minor amounts. In 4034 steel, it only makes up 0.1% of its chemical composition.
Noticeably, there are many other important chemicals that are missing from the chemical composition of 4034 steel like vanadium or silicon.
These elements and a bunch of others are very useful when used to make up the chemical composition of steel as they all work together to increase its hardness, machinability and resistance to wear and corrosion.
However, their lack of presence in the composition of 4034 steel can only be a bad sign.
So now that we know more about the chemical composition of 4034 steel, let’s take a look at how this translates over to its properties and qualities.
4034 Steel Properties
The lack of carbon in the chemical composition of 4034 steel is a huge factor into why this steel is so rarely used. It lacks the strength and toughness needed to be able to function as a useful and versatile knife.
In fact, on the Rockwell scale of hardness, 4034 steel only measures at 54 to 55 HRC.
That is seriously low even compared to some other steels. For example, 420HC steel has a hardness rating of 56 to 59 HRC – so 4034 steel is seriously outstripped by some of its closest competition when it comes to hardness.
Being a soft steel does lead to other issues. Not only does it seriously limit the use and versatility of the knife, but it also means that edge retention is out the window.
Not only will you be seriously limited with when and where you can use your 4034 steel knife, but you will constantly need to sharpen it before every use.
Luckily, they are not difficult to sharpen but having to sharpen your knife every time you want to use it can be seriously annoying.
It’s also very easy to scratch and damage 4034 steel due to its lack of hardness and toughness. So, you should expect to replace or fix your 4034 steel knife if you choose to get one.
There are some upsides to 4034 steel, however. It is pretty resistant to corrosion which means it can last for ages in wet environments and can be used for activities like fishing or diving. However, it’s lack of strength limits you to what you can use your knife for.
Cutting up fishing wires? 4034 can handle that but deboning a fish? You will need a different kind of steel.
Is 4034 Steel Any Good?
Honestly, 4034 steel is not a great choice of steel when it comes to knives.
It’s just not strong enough to compete with other soft steels like 420HC. It’s easily outshone by some of its closest competition and even when it comes to affordability and machinability, there are other better options of steel out there.
Even though 4034 steel is great when it comes to resistance to corrosion, so are every other single type of stainless steel – and some of them are harder and more wear resistant than 4034 steel!
So, we wouldn’t recommend you opt for 4034 steel when it comes to looking for your knife. There are lots of other better steels out there that you can get for a similar price and with more versatility and durability.
If 4034 steel had more chemicals in its composition, then perhaps it could improve – but this version is just not what a lot of people want.
In conclusion, 4034 steel is not a great steel to use when making a knife. It is cheap to buy and easy to cut and form with a machine. However, it doesn’t have the strength and toughness to make it a good all-rounder.
Because of this, there are lots of better suited steels out there for you to choose from instead.
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