K390 Steel Review – [Complete Steel Guide]

Trying to find the perfect steel knife can be a difficult task. There are many types of steel out there, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. This can result in a lot of confusion and decision fatigue. 

Luckily, we are here to help! 

K390 Steel Review – [Complete Steel Guide]

In this article, we will break down everything you need to know about k390 steel, so you can decide if this is the type of steel knife that suits you best! Read on for our complete steel guide and review of k390 steel.   

What Is K390 Steel? 

K390 steel is a high-strength, low alloyed steel. It is high in vanadium, which gives it excellent wear resistance and toughness. K390 steel is used to make high-end, premium knives, as well as cold forming operations and cutting tools. 

What Is K390 Steel Composed Of? 

K390 steel is composed of the following elements: 

  • Vanadium (9%). Vanadium improves the hardenability and wear resistance of the k390 steel. 
  • Chromium (4.25%). Chromium is excellent for improving the edge retention and tensile strength of k390 steel. It also improves its wear and corrosion resistance.
  • Molybdenum (3.8%). Molybdenum helps to increase the strength and machinability of k390 steel. 
  • Carbon (2.47%). Carbon works to improve the corrosion and wear resistance of k390 steel. It will also work to improve its hardness. 
  • Cobalt (2%). Cobalt is used in k390 steel to improve the effects of all the other components. 
  • Tungsten (1%). Tungsten works to increase the hardness and wear resistance in k390 steel. 
  • Silicon (0.55%). Silicon improves the strength of the steel. 
  • Manganese (0.4%). Manganese works to increase the hardness of k390 steel. It will also increase its brittleness. 

What Are The Pros And Cons Of K390 Steel?

K390 steel has many pros and cons. Let’s take a look at a few examples! 

Pros Of K390 Steel

Here are the pros of k390 steel!

Wear Resistance

K390 steel has excellent wear resistance, thanks to the presence of vanadium. It is a durable and hard steel, which is important to consider when deciding on what steel is best for your knives. 

Edge Retention 

Thanks to the levels of vanadium, chromium, molybdenum, and carbon in k390 steel, it has a maximum HRC of 65 and therefore, excellent edge retention as well as hardness. 


K390 has a good impact resistance because of its hardness, giving it a good toughness level compared to other knives. 


Because of its uniform mechanical properties, k390 steel has a good machinability level. 

Cons Of K390 Steel 

Here are the cons of k390 steel!


Because k390 steel is a hard steel, it can be very difficult to sharpen and grind. This makes sharpening more time-consuming than with softer steels like 440C or ATS-34.


K390 is a fairly brittle material. Because of this, it may chip easily if you do not have the right equipment. If you plan to use your knife for woodcarving, this could cause problems. 

High Cost

K390 steel is expensive, costing about $20 per pound. However, many knife enthusiasts consider it to be worth every penny because of its superior performance over cheaper types of steel.

Corrosion Resistance 

K390 had a decent level of corrosion resistance, but it is definitely not the most resistant steel out there! K390 is semi-stainless steel (it does not contain enough chromium to be considered stainless steel.)

Is K390 Steel A Good Quality Steel For Knives? 

Yes! K390 steel is great for knives. It is high-end steel that has excellent wear resistance, edge retention, hardness, and toughness, as well as good corrosion resistance.

Experienced knife users know that this is a great quality knife that you will want in your kitchen. 

However, k390 also comes with disadvantages that make it less suitable for knives. While its corrosion resistance is good, other types of steel do much better in this regard. Additionally, k390 steel is difficult to sharpen and grind.

So, while it will retain its sharpness for a long period of time, it is difficult to re-sharpen it once it becomes blunt. Finally, k390 steel is quite brittle and has the potential to break a lot more easily than other types of steel. 

Is There An Equivalent To K390 Steel?

The most comparable steel to k390 steel would be s90v steel. This steel offers excellent edge retention and hardness thanks to the presence of vanadium in both types of steel.

They both also have excellent wear resistance. However, sv90 steel offers great corrosion resistance, too, which is something that k390 steel lacks. 

Let’s take a look at steel comparisons in more detail! 

How Does K390 Steel Compare To Other Types Of Steel? 

How Does K390 Steel Compare To Other Types Of Steel

Let’s take a look at how k390 compares to other types of steel, so you can decide if it is the best steel for you! 

K390 Steel Vs M390 Steel

Corrosion Resistance 

When it comes to corrosion resistance, m390 steel is much better than k390 steel. M390 steel has excellent corrosion resistance, while k390 steel’s corrosion resistance levels are decent, but pale in comparison. 

Edge Retention 

The edge retention of k390 steel and m390 steel is around the same in terms of quality. 


When it comes to the toughness of steel, both types of steel produce the same results. They both have great levels of toughness that customers would be satisfied with. 


Neither types of steel are easy to sharpen or grind, but m390 steel is slightly easier to sharpen than its k390 counterpart. 

K390 Steel VS S90v Steel 

Corrosion Resistance 

S90v steel is much more resistant to corrosion than k390 steel.

Edge Retention 

When it comes to the edge retention, both k390 steel, and s90v steel are about the same. Both have excellent edge retention, so you will not lose out by picking one or the other here.


K390 steel is much tougher than s90v steel, which is an important factor to consider when picking out steel knives.


K390 is slightly easier to sharpen and grind compared to s90v steel, but there is not much of a difference between the two. 

K390 Steel VS S35N Steel

Corrosion Resistance 

S35n steel is much more corrosion resistant than k390 steel, as is the case with most steels. 

Edge Retention 

When it comes to edge retention, k390 steel takes the lead. It is much better for edge retention than s35n steel. 


Both k390 steel and s35n steel have the same quality of toughness. 


On the whole, s35n steel is easier to sharpen and grind compared to k390 steel.

Is K390 Steel Worth It?

We certainly think so! K390 Steel is high-end steel that offers excellent levels of wear resistance, hardness, edge retention, and toughness.

This is thanks to the presence of chromium and vanadium in the steel. These are all very important factors to consider when purchasing a steel knife. 

However, also important is the ease of sharpness and resistance to performance. On that front, k390 steel is slightly worse off than its steel counterparts.

Although other types of steel, like s90v steel, are difficult to sharpen, they offer better resistance to corrosion than k390 steel, and so may make better steel knives for long-term use. 

Our Verdict 

K390 is an excellent steel for knives! It has many qualities necessary for a great steel knife, and users would be happy with its performance.

However, other steel knives, such as s90v, are better when it comes to factors like corrosion resistance, so it comes down to the individual to decide what steel-knife properties would suit them best. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is K390 Steel Corrosion-Resistant?

Yes. Because k390 steel is made using chromium, it has a certain level of resistance to corrosion. However, k390 steel is not as resistant to corrosion compared to other types of steel.

This is because it has a low chromium content in its composition, especially compared to steels like s90v steel. 

However, many k390 steel knives come with an anti-rust coating that protects them from corrosion, and there are many measures to take to ensure your k390 knife stays resistant to corrosion for as long as possible. 

Does K390 Steel Rust Easily?

Yes.  K390 steel is not stainless and therefore rusts more easily than its stainless steel counterparts. The only way to prevent this is through regular maintenance.

You should clean your steel regularly, and keep it away from moisture and saltwater. If you do these things, then you will be able to enjoy a long lifespan for your steel knife. 

Tom Bower