What Is CPM S35VN Steel? [Complete Steel Guide]

There are a lot of different factors that go into making a great quality knife, but one of the most important factors is the type of steel used for the blade. 

There are hundreds of different types of steel out there and each one is unique in chemical composition and important properties.

What Is CPM S35VN Steel? [Complete Steel Guide]

This means that some steels are more suited for certain jobs and roles than others, so you have to make sure you know which steel is right for the kind of knife you have in mind.

After all, you don’t want a steel that rusts easily for your fishing knife! 

However, trying to find the right kind of steel can be a huge hassle. Researching can take hours because you have to pull information from lots of different sources – but not anymore! 

Here, we have gathered everything you need to know about CPM S35VN steel so you can quickly work out if this type of steel is worth your consideration or you can dismiss it entirely.

We are going to take a look at what CPM S35VN steel is, its chemical composition and what properties this steel has that could make it the best steel for you. 

So, let’s dive right in! 

What Is CPM S35VN Steel?

CPM S35VN steel is a type of steel first made by the company Crucible, who are responsible for the creation and manufacturing of lots of different types of steel.

CPM S35VN is one of their high-end martensitic steels that features the same fine grain structure that the CPM S30V steel does. 

However, CPM S35VN was made to be a vast improvement on Crucible’s previous CPM S30V steel and over the years, CPM S35VN steel has slowly overtaken its predecessor in use and popularity. 

It’s a fairly popular steel as it is used to make lots of products beyond knives and blades. CPM S35VN steel is also used to make special cutlery, injections, tools and components like screws and nuts for processing machinery. 

So, there must be something special about CPM S35VN steel that makes it so popular with bladesmiths and manufacturers – but what?

Let’s now take a look at CPM S35VN steel’s chemical composition to find out what properties it could inherit. 

CPM S35VN Steel Composition

Understanding a steel’s chemical composition is the key to understanding its properties. This means  that you will be able to understand what the steel is like when it comes to categories like hardness and resistance to corrosion.

This is because there are certain elements in a steel’s chemical composition that are vital to giving it certain features. These elements are carbon and chromium. 

Carbon is an interesting component in a steel’s composition because too much of it can have the reverse effect. Carbon is used to strengthen a steel but if a steel’s composition contains too much carbon, then it can become weak and brittle.

Luckily, CPM S35VN steel features just  the right amount of carbon. Its chemical composition is made up of 1.4% of carbon – which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s enough to harden the steel without making it brittle. 

Carbon is not the only element that can help improve the strength and hardness of a steel.

Nickel, silicon, tungsten, phosphorus, vanadium and molybdenum are all important chemicals that can all help make a steel tougher and harder so it can be used in knives to cut through more difficult materials. 

CPM S35VN steel’s chemical composition features all of these elements.

Molybdenum makes up 2% of its chemical composition, nickel makes up 0.4%, tungsten makes up 0.4%, phosphorus makes up 0.03%, vanadium makes up 3% and silicon makes up 0.5% of its chemical composition.

This all points towards CPM S35VN being a high-end hard steel, especially because it contains such a high amount of vanadium.

Of course, CPM S35VN steel also features a fair amount of chromium in its chemical composition too. It contains 14% of chromium, which means that this steel passes the 12% barrier needed to be classed as a stainless steel. 

There is also another important chemical in CPM S35VN steel’s composition that is worth mentioning – cobalt.

Cobalt is a great addition to any steel’s chemical composition because it is used as a boosting agent that boosts the effects of all the other elements.

Despite its usefulness, cobalt is rarely used in steels due to its cost so its presence in CPM S35VN steel points to it again being a very high quality steel. 

Now that we know what is in CPM S35VN’s composition, we can now take a look at all of its properties to work out if it’s a good type of steel to use for blades and knives. 

CPM S35VN Properties

One of the most important properties to look for in a steel is its hardness.

A soft steel that is not particularly hard can seriously limit its use and versatility as a knife because the steel will not be able to cut through certain materials without being damaged.

So, a lot of people first want to find out how hard a steel is on the Rockwell scale of hardness. 

Using the Rockwell scale of hardness is a great way to compare every type of steel on the same level when it comes to hardness, so just how hard is CPM S35VN steel?

What Is CPM S35VN Steel? [Complete Steel Guide]

On the Rockwell scale of hardness, CPM S35VN steel measures in between 58 and 61 HRC (the variation depends on the manufacturer and the heat treatment the steel has undergone). 

This means that CPM S35VN is a pretty hard steel as most steels sit around the 56 HRC mark. However, there are tougher steels out there, but steels that are between 58 and 61 HRC balance both hardness and sharpness greatly.

This is because the harder the steel, the more difficult it is to sharpen. For a lot of people, they want to get a steel that is as hard as possible but still fairly easy to sharpen.

Luckily, CPM S35VN doesn’t have this issue although there are other softer steels that are way easier to sharpen. 

Despite that, the hardness of CPM S35VN means that it is a pretty tough, durable type of steel. It’s also more resistant to wear, scratches and damage so it is certain to last you a pretty long time before it needs replacing.

Its hardness also means that it is great for edge retention so even though it may take a little longer than usual to sharpen, those sharpening sessions will be few and far in between. 

Another great property of CPM S35VN steel is its resistance to corrosion. Because it features more than 12% of chromium in its chemical composition, CPM S35VN is classed as a stainless steel.

This makes it pretty resistant to rusting that is caused by exposure to water, salt and warm temperatures. This is a great feature to have in a knife.

Is CPM S35VN Steel Good For Knives?

Due to all of its amazing properties, CPM S35VN steel is definitely a great steel to use for knives and blades. 

It’s very hard and tough so it can cut through a range of materials, making it a versatile steel to use for a blade. Its hardness also means it can retain its edge for long periods of time, even though it does take longer to sharpen.

However, these qualities are great for certain hunting and culinary knives that need to cut through tough materials like bone. 

It’s also very durable so if you are after a long-lasting knife that will not need replacing for a very long time, then CPM S35VN steel is definitely a great choice to go with. 

Its resistance to wear and corrosion also makes it a great choice of steel for those seeking a good diving or fishing knife. CPM S35VN steel and work in wet environments with ease without rusting or corroding so it’s definitely an excellent choice for fishing and diving knives.

This is also a handy property for culinary knives too because they often require frequent washing for sanitation purposes. 

So, overall, CPM S35VN steel is definitely a good steel to use for knives – the only drawback is its cost. 

Because it is such a high quality type of steel, it is not as affordable as other types of steel. However, if you don’t want to sacrifice quality, then CPM S35VN steel is definitely a steel you should look into further. 


Overall, CPM S35VN steel is a great steel to use when looking to purchase a knife.

It has many great properties including durability, toughness and hardness which make it one of the best steels on the market today.

If you’re looking for a steel that won’t break easily and will hold up well over time, then CPM steel is definitely worth checking out. 

Tom Bower