Is 5160 Steel Good For Knives? – [Complete Steel Guide]

Knives are made out of lots of different materials because of the manufacturers, the evolution of knives over the centuries, and the different uses that these knives are made for.

5160 steel is a material that is seen throughout the world of knives and many people wonder whether it is a worthy material. Because of how strong steel is, you’d think that it would be a viable option for knife manufacturing.

Is 5160 Steel Good For Knives? – [Complete Steel Guide]

Follow our guide to find out what 5160 steel is, what these knives are good for, and the benefits of using 5160 steel for knives.

5160 Steel – What Is It?

The chemical composition of 5160 steel is 0.64% carbon, 0.9% chromium, and 0.035% of phosphorus. This makes the steel a spring alloy because of the mixture involved.

As previously mentioned, this material is used for different knives with different uses, with many people preferring this metal over other variations of steel.

Does 5160 Steel Rust?

The simple answer is yes, this form of steel will rust. This is because it has a low resistance to corrosion due to the low Chromium in the Alloy itself.

To stop the knife from rusting, you need to make sure that the knife is clean from foreign substances and materials, and by applying oil to the surface of the metal now and then. 

This will allow you to keep the knife for longer without having to pay for a replacement blade. We recommend that you always clean your knife after every use so these foreign substances don’t cause a build-up of rust.

Hardness Of 5160 Steel

With a hardness range of 57 to 58 HRC, 5160 is a very tough and durable material. It has high strength and low ductility, which many think is great for a knife’s blade.

5160 blades are used in many industries such as construction, agriculture, forestry, mining, and power generation.

The hardness ranges from 57 to 58 HRC. Blades made of this steel are used in saws, cutters, and other tools. Temperatures range from 8290 C to 15,250 F during quench and tempering and from 11,490 C to 12,040 C during forging. Annealing occurs at 7880 C and air cooling follows.

Pros Of Using 5160 Steel In Knives

So what are some of the benefits of using 5160 steel in knives? Let’s take a quick look at its pros now!

Decent Edge Retention

One of the biggest pros of 5160 steel is its edge retention. Due to being one of the best steels available, it features high tensile strength, toughness, and high hardness.

The steel can easily hold an edge for a long time. You won’t have to worry about losing the edge on your knife or cutting tool when using this material.

High Strength

Another pro of using 5160 steel in knives is its strength. It can withstand more than most other types of steel. This means that you’ll get a longer-lasting product that won’t break down like cheaper steel, saving you money in the long run.

Sharpens Easily

A large amount of 5160 steel is used in making sharpening stones. Because of this, the blades are easy to sharpen and hold their edges well.

With regular maintenance, you can expect to maintain a sharper edge over a long period of time, which is good when looking for a new knife.

Often Seen In Swords And Other Cutting Tools

Because this steel is often found in swords and other cutting tools, it is seen in a wide array of products. From kitchen knives to farming equipment, there are no limits to where you can use 5160 steel.

People often associate these tools with their sharpness, so you know what you’re getting when you purchase this material.

Cons Of Using 5160 Steel In Knives

And are there any downsides? Here’s a quick look at some of the cons you can expect when using 5160 steel in knives.

Poor Resistance To Rust

5160 isn’t resistant to rust and this can affect the performance of your knife significantly. As mentioned earlier, it is susceptible to corrosion over time, if not cared for properly.

If you have any exposed surfaces, you should apply an anti-rust coating to prevent rust from forming. If not, you might find yourself replacing the blade once it starts rusting.

Easily Dulls After Use

Knife blades made out of 5160 steel are prone to dulling quickly. This happens when they come into contact with certain chemicals, such as acids or oils.

When this happens, you’ll have to replace the blade fairly frequently. On top of this, the material will struggle to retain its sharpness when coming into contact with harder materials.

Hard To Work With

This is another disadvantage of 5160 steel. While it is strong and hard, it also makes working with the steel difficult. Since it is very brittle steel, it’s not the best to try and work with.

This means that you need to be careful while handling the steel. Otherwise, you might end up breaking the blade or blunting the material.

Applications For 5160 Steel Knives

Is 5160 Steel Good For Knives? – [Complete Steel Guide]

Suitable for manufacturing leaf springs, which are used in automotive fields, 5160 steel is suitable for producing many different kinds of steel items. It is also used to make various types of knives.

These include utility knives, pocket knives, hunting knives, folding knives, machetes, and even fixed blades.

What Do You Need From A Good Knife Material?

Good Sharpness

When choosing a knife material, you want to look for good quality steel that has excellent edge retention. 5160 steel is extremely sharp and is used for its strength in the field of blades and machinery.

Long-Lasting Edge

Another thing you look for is how long the knife holds its edge. This means that you don’t have to spend too much time sharpening your knife since the edge lasts for a long time.

5160 holds its edges reasonably well but needs regular maintenance if you need it for regular use.

Easy Maintenance

To keep your knife at its best performance, you need to take care of it regularly. Maintaining a sharp edge requires proper techniques. So, you need steel that takes a lot of effort to blunt or lose its edge.

Every knife needs this and 5160 is no different, performing better when maintained regularly.


Ideally, you’d like your knife to last for years without having to replace it. Therefore, you need a durable blade that can stay at maximum work efficiency for as long as possible.

5160 is good for this but needs regular care to ensure that it doesn’t blunt or dull easily.

Final Thoughts

There you have it, everything you need to know about 5160 steel knives and the pros and cons of the material.

Because of how sharp it is and the edge retention, this material makes a good metal compound to use for knife blades, however, there are lots of different materials out there that can also be used.

Like with any other material used for knife blades, 5160 steel needs to be maintained regularly and kept with good care otherwise you might have to replace the knife before too long.

Hopefully, we have helped you find out whether 5160 steel is a worthy material to use for knives and how to use them.

Tom Bower