Is CPM 20CV Steel Good For Knives [Complete Steel Guide]

When you are looking for a new knife or just want to try making your own, it’s important that you get one with the right kind of steel. 

There are hundreds of different types of steel available out there for bladesmithing and knife manufacturing – but finding the best kind of steel for you and your blades can be a hassle.

Is CPM 20CV Steel Good For Knives [Complete Steel Guide]

Instead of spending hours of your precious time jumping from one source to the next, we have a complete steel guide for you so you can check out every type of steel right here at one source. 

Here, we are going to be taking a closer look at CPM 20CV steel so you can check out all of its properties and components in its composition.

Then, you can work out if CPM 20CV steel is the best type of steel for you and your knives. 

So, let’s jump in and check out CPM 20CV steel! 

What Is CPM 20CV Steel?

CPM 20CV steel is a premium type of steel known as Super Steel. It was first made by the company Crucible, and is a martensitic stainless steel that is used for more products than just knives and blades.

CPM 20CV steel is also used to create screws, molds, machinery equipment and, of course, high quality premium knives. 

The CPM part of this steel’s name stands for Crucible Particle Metallurgy. Crucible first made CPM 20CV as a response to another popular type of steel that was taking the market by storm at the time – Bohler’s M390 stainless steel.

Seeing their competition’s success, Crucible made their own version of the same steel and created the CPM 20CV.

However, another company had the same idea as Carpenter then took Crucible’s CPM 20CV and made their own steel, CTS-204P. 

However, Crucible’s CPM 20CV remains to be one of the most popular steels used in premium knives.

Just like the other steels mentioned above, it is also a powder metallurgy type of steel with an additional high volume of the element vanadium – but how high is this volume of vanadium and how does it affect the steel when used as a blade?

Let’s take a closer look at CPM 20CV steel’s composition to understand its properties better! 

CPM 20CV Steel Composition

CPM 20CV is a very high quality type of steel and the reason behind its premium steel status can be found in its composition. 

Two of the most important components in the composition are carbon and chromium. These two elements are key to making a steel high end and premium, and CPM 20CV makes great use of both in its composition. 

Carbon makes up 1.9% of the composition of CPM 20CV steel. That’s a huge amount of carbon, especially when compared to other types of steel.

Unfortunately, too much carbon can have a negative effect on the steel and turn it brittle but luckily, this is not the case with CPM 20CV. 

As for chromium, there is definitely a very high amount of chromium in the composition of CPM 20CV.

It accounts for 20% of its composition, meaning that it far surpasses the minimum level needed for a steel to be classed as stainless steel.

This high level of chromium found in CPM 20CV means that it has all the benefits related to stainless steels. 

Another important feature in CPM 20CV’s composition is the high amount of vanadium present there. Vanadium is an important element when it comes to enhancing a steel’s hardness, and CPM 20CV has quite a lot.

Most steels feature a vanadium level of between 0.5% to 1.5% but CPM 20CV has a vanadium level of 4%. This means that the vanadium level is key to what makes CPM 20CV such a high end, premium  type of steel. 

There are also other important components in the composition of CPM 20CV. It also contains a fair amount of tungsten with a level at 0.6%.

There is also 1% molybdenum found in CPM 20CV’s chemical composition, which helps make the steel more machine-friendly for manufacturers and bladesmiths. 

Overall, CPM 20CV has a very interesting composition – but how do these components affect its qualities and properties? Let’s find out! 

CPM 20CV Steel Properties

To its impressive composition, CPM 20CV steel has a lot of interesting properties that make it desirable. 

One such quality is its high resistance to corrosion. Thanks to the very high level of chromium in its composition, CPM 20CV steel is a stainless steel that is very effective at resisting rust and corrosion from water.

This is why CPM 20CV steel is not just a premium material for making blades and knives, but also for other parts and components related to plumbing and piping.

It’s an impervious steel that will work well in wet areas and environments for years and years. 

Not only that, but CPM 20CV is also very highly resistant to wear. This means that even after repeated use, CPM 20CV products are less likely to be damaged and scratched.

This kind of resistance coupled with its resistance to corrosion makes it one of the most durable steels available. 

However, one of the most important qualities when it comes to steel and knives is the hardness of the steel. Most people want a knife that is strong and tough to cut  through all sorts of materials and objects, including bones for hunting and fishing use.

A great way to check the hardness of a knife is to find out its Rockwell hardness rating. This is a universal scale used to measure the hardness of objects, and it also applies to steels. CPM 20CV measures between 58-61 on the Rockwell scale of hardness.

That’s not a bad score. In fact, it easily outstrips a lot of soft steels but there are other steels available that are just a little more tougher. 

This could be a side effect of the high amount of carbon found in CPM 20CV’s composition – but this steel is still pretty tough and will cut through a lot of difficult materials. 

This kind of strength also means that CPM 20CV is great at retaining its edge.

Instead of having to sharpen your knife every time you want to use it, a blade made with CPM 20CV steel will keep its sharpness for longer periods of time over more uses.

However, its strength also means that it is tricky to sharpen to the right kind of edge that you want – so expect a long sharpening session with a CPM 20CV blade when the time for some maintenance comes. 

Overall, CPM 20CV is considered to be an all round type of high end steel because it balances all of its properties very well. This is why CPM 20CV is often considered to be a super steel – because it’s hard, tough, and resistant to damage and corrosion. 

But does this mean that it’s a good choice of steel for a knife?

Is CPM 20CV A Good Steel To Use For Knives?

Yes, CPM 20CV is definitely a great choice of steel if you want a high quality knife. 

It’s no surprise that so many people opt for this steel when choosing their own knives. It’s hard, tough, and super durable against a lot of common issues like scratching and rusting.

This means that a knife made from CPM 20CV steel is sure to last you a long time no matter how you use it. 

Is CPM 20CV Steel Good For Knives [Complete Steel Guide]

However, there is one drawback that you may not have considered – the cost. 

Because CPM 20CV is a premium steel, this means that companies and manufacturers like to slap on a premium price tag too.

Knives and blades made using CPM 20CV steel will cost you a lot more than a knife that uses a low end steel, so it’s important to think about how you are going to use your knife.

If you are looking for a basic cutlery knife, then CPM 20CV will be over qualified for the job. If you want an all purpose knife you can also take hunting and fishing, then CPM 20CV is definitely a worthy contender. 

You don’t want to end up paying for a type of steel that you will not get the most out of so it’s perfectly fine to lower the quality of your steel so you can lower the cost too. 

CPM 20CV Steel Alternatives

If CPM 20CV is the steel you want to go for but you can’t get your hands on any, then here are some alternatives you can try out. 

The M390 steel from Bohler and the CTS 204P steel from Carpenter are two of the closest alternatives to CPM 20CV steel – because they are all basically based on one another. 

Crucible made CPM 20CV to be their version of the M390, and Carpenter made CTS 204P to be their version of the CPM 20CV.

So, if you are looking for an alternative to CPM 20CV, then it makes sense to check out these two other types of steel. 

Overall, all three of them have very close compositions and thus they have very similar properties. So, if you want CPM 20CV but you need an alternative, then M390 and CTS 204P are the best alternatives you can go for. 


In conclusion, we’ve covered everything you need to know about CPM 20CV steel. We’ve talked about what it is, checked out its composition and how each element affects its properties.

We’ve also discussed whether or not it’s a good choice for knives, and looked at some of the alternatives available. 

So, read back through the qualities of CPM 20CV and decide on if it’s the best steel for you!

Tom Bower