5cr15MoV Steel Review: Is it Good for Stainless Steel Knives?

Peter Stec
September 22, 2021
5cr15MoV Steel Review

5cr15MoV is in the MoV or Cr series of Chinese manufactured stainless steel. This grade of stainless steel falls in midrange to high-range quality and is quite durable. In terms of price, you won’t find any other stainless steel at such an affordable price with competitive quality.

This makes 5cr15MoV quite a versatile knife steel since it has decent toughness and corrosion resistance. That being said, you must know that 5cr15MoV is not exactly a steel high in hardness. This makes it an excellent choice for kitchen knives, as it won’t damage your cutting board. As long as you’re prepared to sharpen your knives often, 5cr15MoV could also be a great knife for the big outdoors. Not to mention, it is one of the best budget knives in the market.

What is 5cr15MoV? 

5cr15MoV is a Chinese manufactured stainless steel. Like other stainless steels in the Cr and MoV series, 5cr15MoV is martensitic. Martensitic refers to stainless steel like 5cr15MoV that’s tempered and quenched using heat treatment for a high level of hardness. Since 5cr15MoV doesn’t have a high hardness on its own, quantities of molybdenum (Mo) and vanadium are added for higher hardness and edge resistance. This makes it an alloy stainless steel. Molybdenum and Vanadium are mainly responsible for making up for the lack of carbon content and adding hardness to the steel. 

5cr15MoV is commonly used in pocket knives, Swiss knives, kitchen knives, and even scissors because of its properties. You’ll also find 5cr15MoV steel used for medical equipment since it’s corrosion-resistant and has a high-quality build. Most commonly, we find 5cr15mov used in kitchen knives. 

What is the 5cr15MoV Steel Composition?

It’s easy to understand what 5cr15MoV has to offer once you look at the different steels that make up its composition. 5cr15MoV is fortified with lots of other metals so that its properties improve. Let’s look at the detailed composition information of 5cr15MoV stainless steel: 

  1. Carbon 0.5% – ‘5cr’ in 5cr15mov stands for the amount of Carbon. 0.5% is less carbon and doesn’t allow much hardness in the steel itself. This makes 5cr15mov a low-carbide steel. Of course, all stainless steel needs to have a considerable amount of carbon in it. But here the higher amount of carbon also means that the stainless steel blend isn’t that high on hardness. 
  2. Chromium 15% – The 15mov in 5cr15MoV stands for 15% of Chromium. However, for stainless steel to be categorized as 5cr15MoV, it can have anywhere between 14-15% of Chromium. Chromium contributes towards the high corrosion resistance in the stainless steel, but also adds to the strength and hardness. That’s because Chromium is actually the second hardest metal in the world. The bit of Chromium definitely contributes to the hardness for 5cr15mov.
  3. Manganese 0.6% – Manganese is an important component of 5cr15MoV since it helps with hardness. Due to the higher amounts of carbon, 5cr15MoV is not one of the hardest stainless steels, but manganese helps to improve the hardness and brittleness both. 
  4. Molybdenum 0.4% – This amount of Molybdenum greatly boosts the hardness and brittle properties of 5cr15MoV making it suitable for a variety of applications. 
  5. Vanadium 0.1% – Vanadium, along with molybdenum is added to 5cr15MoV so that it can be harder. However, the percentage of vanadium varies between 0.10% to 0.20% but serves the same purpose. 

As you can see, there are very few alloys that come together to make 5cr15mov the steel that it is. This makes 5cr15mov a very straightforward steel. The Molybdenum and Vanadium, like the other steels in the Cr or Mov series, provide much needed hardness.

What is the Heat Treatment for 5cr15MoV Stainless Steel? 

The heat treatment that a grade of stainless steel goes through is what gives it its strength. However, not all stainless steel is made equally. Even if two stainless steels have the exact same composition, having a different heat treatment process will finally affect the end product and give you a much different knife. That’s why we look into the standardized heat treatment for the Chinese martensitic steel 5cr15MoV to better understand its performance and capabilities. 

Even though 5cr15MoV is traditionally not a very hard stainless steel, through the fortification of molybdenum and vanadium, it can reach up to 68.0 HRC. This is quite hard as stainless steel and is more than enough for outdoor knives as well as kitchen knives. 

The heat treatment involves two processes: quenching and tempering. 

For the quenching, 5cr15MoV undergoes heating and cooling in either oil or water at 1070 °C. Only then does the hardness reach up to 58.0 HRC. The second phase of the heat treatment is tempering. In Tempering, the stainless steel is heated and cooled without the use of water or oil, or any other liquid. The tempering temperatures that 5cr15MoV is exposed to are 160-180℃. This improves the internal strength and makes it much more resilient to different kinds of situations and extreme weather conditions. 

5cr15MoV Stainless Steel Properties

Now that we understand the composition and heat treatment of 5cr15MoV, let’s look at its different properties. 

5cr15MoV Hardness

5cr15MoV is traditionally not very high on hardness, but with the addition of fortifying elements like Molybdenum and Vanadium, the hardness is further increased and improved. The hardness of 5cr15MoV is 58.0 HRC on the Rockwell Hardness Testing scale. 

If you happen to see a 5cr15mov knife that has lower than 50HRC or is exactly 50HRC, there’s a good chance that you’re looking at a 5cr15 knife, without the addition of MoV (Molybdenum and Vanadium). That’s because without these two alloying agents, the knife has very low carbide content and low hardness. We recommend that you choose a 5cr15mov knife with higher HRC and Molybdenum and Vanadium content. 

5cr15MoV Toughness

Toughness and hardness are inversely proportional properties. A knife made out of stainless steel that is too hard can also be too brittle, which means that it’s not tough enough to handle difficult situations (such as being stuck in the wild and having to hack away at the wood!).

5cr15mov is no exception to this rule — it has pretty impressive toughness considering that the hardness is lower. A knife made from 5cr15mov has much more flexibility and is less at risk of breaking or chipping off. 

5cr15MoV Edge Retention

You’ll find that the edge retention of the 5cr15MoV is pretty decent, and will last you a relatively long time. This doesn’t mean that you can sharpen your knife once and completely forget about it! It is still important to sharpen your knife every once in a while. How often you need to sharpen your knife completely depends on the usage and applications, but when we compare the 5cr15MoV edge retention to other knives in the same price category, it performs on average.

5cr15MoV Corrosion Resistance

Like other knives in the MoV and Cr range, there is great corrosion resistance with the 5cr15MoV knife. That’s because of the very high level of chromium present in it. Chromium is directly responsible for corrosion resistance. In fact, you’ll find chromium on kitchen utensils that are non-stick since it provides a protective coating against rust, corrosion, and grease. The added bits of Silicon in the 5cr15MoV also contribute towards corrosion resistance. 

In fact, we’d go so far as to say that this is the best quality of 5cr15mov. Even though the hardness and toughness are decent, the corrosion resistance is something you can definitely rely on when it comes to 5cr15mov. 

5cr15MoV Ease of Sharpening

Since the 5cr15MoV is a very hard stainless steel with a lower toughness property, it’s easy to sharpen it. This means that you don’t need to spend too much time sharpening the knife and you can quickly brush it against your knife sharpener to get it right back to new!

Is 5cr15MoV Good for Knives? 

5cr15MoV is the stainless steel of choice for a lot of knives because of its composition and properties. 5cr15MoV Knives are known for being high on hardness and brittleness and also corrosion-resistant. Because of this, 5cr15MoV is more commonly used for Kitchen knives for chopping and carving purposes. You will still find 5cr15MoV used for outdoor pocket knives, but they cannot hold up to any kind of challenge, and run the risk of breaking if you attempt to cut a substance much harder or thicker than the knife (such as trying to cut wood). 

Does 5cr15MoV Form Rust? 

One of the best things about knives made from 5cr15MoV is that they are highly corrosion resistant. This is because they are made with a very high percentage of chromium in them, which makes them completely resistant to rust and corrosion. Of course, it’s still recommended that you carefully protect your knives from extreme weather conditions and always store them dry whenever possible, but 5cr15MoV still has a great corrosion-resistant capability.

The added silicon inside 5cr15MoV also contributes towards the property of corrosion resistance, particularly if you happen to bring your knife in contact with Sulfur. 

How Does 5cr15MoV Compare to Other Steels? 

While 5cr15MoV is a popular choice for budget-friendly knives, there are a few other common choices for stainless steel knives in the same price range. Let’s take a look at what some of your other options are. You might find that 5cr15MoV is exactly what you’re looking for, or another stainless steel from the Cr or MoV series can meet your requirements better. The bottom line is that 5cr15MoV is high-quality stainless steel for its price point. 

5cr15MoV Vs 8cr13MoV

5cr15MoV  Vs  8cr13MoV  steel comparison chart
Properties5cr15MoV8cr13mov
Edge Retention4/101/10
Ease of Sharpening9/108/10
Corrosion Resistance7/106/10
Toughness 6/106/10
Hardness5/104/10

The 8cr13MoV is a much tougher stainless steel and can be a better option for someone looking for an outdoor knife. However, the 5cr15MoV has higher Chromium and offers better corrosion resistance. 

5cr15MoV Vs 420hc

5cr15MoV Vs  420hc steel comparison chart
Properties5cr15MoV420hc
Edge Retention4/103/10
Ease of Sharpening9/108/10
Corrosion Resistance7/105/10
Toughness 6/106/10
Hardness5/104/10

While both the 420c and 5cr15MoV are affordable options for stainless steel knives, the 420c is lower hardness and higher toughness. Since 5cr15MoV has more Chromium, it is more corrosion resistant than the 420c. The 420c also has less carbon and is less hard with less edge retention. 

5cr15MoV Vs S30V

 5cr15MoV  Vs  S30V  steel comparison chart
Properties5cr15MoVS30V
Edge Retention4/108/10
Ease of Sharpening9/107/10
Corrosion Resistance7/108/10
Toughness 6/106/10
Hardness5/109/10

S30V is a premium steel that doesn’t compare to the 5cr15MoV in terms of price and performance since it is a much more expensive stainless steel and is higher in performance and capabilities. The 5cr15MoV performs really well for a budget knife but you will undoubtedly receive a much higher performance with the S30V. 

Best 5cr15MoV Knives in the Market

There are two aspects of what makes a good knife: the composition of the material, and the geometry of the knife design. Even if you use the best stainless steel in the world, the cut of your knife’s geometry needs to be top-notch for good performance and durability. 

We’ve looked for the top 5cr15MoV knives in the market and compiled the highest quality and best knife design products for you to choose from. This steel is also suited for a hunting knife due to the resistance and hardness that a hunting knife calls for. 

Best Outdoor Knife:

LI JIU Pocket knife Folding knife Tactical knife EDC knife, 3.8 mm 5Cr15MOV Blade, Steel Handle, Sheath, 7.5”, For Everyday Carrying, Outdoor Survival, Hunting, Camping

LI JIU has come out with this incredible pocket knife that does it all.  It’s the perfect size and can be carried around easily on all your adventures. Survival knives are often made out of this steel. 
There’s also a stunning Damascus steel pattern on the blade. This rotating blade will be crucial for your protection, with its safety lock technology. 


If you’re looking for an affordable survival knife that can accompany you on your outdoor adventures, this can prove especially useful with a length of 8.46 inches that can be carried around easily. 

Best Kitchen Knife:

Bread Knife 10 inch - STEINBRÜCKE UltraSharp Serrated Knife Made of German 5Cr15Mov Stainless Steel

Finally, the search for the perfect serrated knife comes to an end. 5cr15mov works perfectly in this bread knife, giving it enough flexibility and impact resistance for any kind of ingredient. Unlike chopping knives, a serrated knife doesn’t need too much hardness since it generally comes in contact with softer ingredients like bread, cakes, and tomatoes. Furthermore, the design of the serrated edge is such that you rarely need to sharpen your knife. 

We have to give the design a special mention — the knife is beautiful and will no doubt be the pride and joy of your kitchen knife collection. 

Conclusion

5cr15MoV steel is one of the best options out there for knives. If you’ve been on the lookout for a knife with high hardness and fortified strength, then this is one of the best options in a budget price range. We recommend that you go ahead and get yourself one of the many 5cr15MoV steel knives, it won’t let you down, and will last you a long time. 

About The Author
Hey Knife Up gang! I'm Pete, and I'm just another man like you in a small rural town who loves the outdoors as much as the other million internet users that cruise sites like KnifeUp.com every day. The difference is that I like to share what I know and research what I don't totally know so that YOU can have all the info you need to feel confident and prepared for all things outdoors-related! And, for those who care, I have 42 years of wilderness canoeing and bushcraft experience in Northern Ontario and spend most of my Summers covered in mosquitos and fish slime, but hey, it's a lifestyle choice, eh?

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