CPM S110V Steel is a premium high-alloy steel with extremely high performance. This martensitic tool steel is known for having great wear resistance and exceptional corrosion resistance. The ‘CPM’ stands for Crucible Particle Metallurgy which refers to the process under which this steel is manufactured. The CPM S110V was initially used for injection molding in the medical industry because of its high corrosion and wear resistance. Now, steel is used for some of the best knives in the market.
Let’s find out how CPM S110V is made, it’s chemical composition, and how it compares to other competitive steels in the market!
What is CPM S110V Steel?
CPM S110V is a high-alloy steel that’s been fortified with high quantities of Vanadium and Niobium. CPM S110V is a martensitic tool. This means that it is a very hard crystalline stainless steel that’s high in carbon and has been made with two phases of heat treatment.
Apart from being used for premium high-performing and durable knives, you’ll also find CPM S110V being used in slitters, cutters, parts of screws and bolts, and even in the medical industry. Because of its high corrosion resistance, it is also safe for wear components for food.
CPM S110V Steel received a patent a few years ago, back in 2006. It was one of the more unique steels with lesser carbide quantity and fortified with vanadium for hardness and toughness. What makes it so unique is that despite being a high-alloy steel, there’s no compromise on toughness. The carbide distribution is even throughout the steel, lending to decent toughness at the degree of hardness.
Composition of CPM S110V
Let’s look at all the different materials that come together in the composition of the premium high-alloy martensitic steel CPM S110V. It has a very unique blend of materials that contribute to the steel’s capabilities and properties.
- 2.8% Carbon – CPM S110V has a lower content of carbon compared to other stainless steels. If it wasn’t fortified with other alloys, it would be very low on hardness with this quantity of carbon.
- 15.25% Chromium – The extremely high percentage of chromium is why CPM S110V is so corrosion resistant. Chromium is the substance that’s put on metal parts as an external coating to ensure there’s no rust formation. You’ll also find chromium on non-stick kitchen appliances as a protective layer. But it’s not just the corrosion resistance that Chromium helps with. Chromium also contributes towards wear resistance, by increasing the tensile strength of the steel itself.
- 2.25% Molybdenum – Molybdenum has an important role in increasing the machinability of this steel. Machinability refers to how easy it is to shape and cut the steel. CPM S110V has decent machinability because of the molybdenum content present in it.
- 9% Vanadium – Vanadium is one of the alloys that is added to CPM S110V in order to fortify it and make it stronger. Vanadium particularly helps with increasing the toughness of the steel. With a very low percentage of carbon, CPM S110V would have been very hard and brittle, and vanadium helps with strengthening it.
- 2.5% Cobalt – Cobalt is an interesting addition to CPM S110V since not all steels have Cobalt added to them. In CPM S110V’s case, Cobalt improves the heat treatment conditions of this martensitic steel.
- 3% Niobium – Niobium also contributes towards corrosion resistance, just like Chromium. Additionally, Niobium helps with wear resistance and by increasing the hardness of CPM S110V.
When we call CPM S110V high-alloy steel, we’re referring to the added quantities of Vanadium, Cobalt, Molybdenum, and Niobium. These added elements tend to be quite rare in steel, especially in low-carbon steel like CPM S110V. These unique elements are responsible for a very unique steel with impressive properties.
What is the Heat Treatment of CPM S110V?
CPM S110V is a martensitic steel, which means it undergoes two-fold heat treatment in tempering and quenching. Tempering refers to the high heating and cooling of the steel without any other mediums, while in quenching, the steel is heated and cooled through water or any other liquid such as saline water or oil.
Both these processes contribute towards increasing the tensile strength of the steel and making it more resistant to different kinds of internal stresses.
The most common tempering temperature range for CPM S110V is 400-750°F (200-400°C). This increases its strength and toughness while also increases corrosion resistance.
Some manufacturers choose to increase this temperature for better stability, compression yield, but this can have an adverse effect on the corrosion resistance capabilities of CPM S110V. The maximum heat that it can be brought to in an effort to increase the tensile strength is 1025-1050° F (550-565°C).
The method that is typically followed for the tempering heat treatment is holding the cooling temperature for 2 hours before repeating the process three times for maximum results.
Quenching is typically done in a salt quench, or even in an interrupted oil quench. The temperature range in which this process is carried out is 250°F/min (140°C/min), at the minimum but can be increased even further. For a gas quench, a 4 bar quench is typically carried out.
Apart from tempering and quenching, CPM S110V can also undergo annealing, austenitizing, and deep freezing.
CPM S110V Steel Properties
We’ve spoken a lot about how CPM S110V is a unique high-alloy steel. Let’s find out what’s so great about CPM S110V, and why its properties perform better than its competitors in the market. There’s a reason why CPM S110V is considered a premium high-alloy steel and has such a wide range of applications.
CPM S110V Hardness
CPM S110V has a Rockwell hardness scale of 63.5. 63.5 HRC is a moderately high score and means that this steel is high in hardness without actually being brittle. There are a couple of factors that contribute towards CPM S110V having high hardness: the low amount of carbon, fortifying of vanadium, and molybdenum.
CPM S110V Toughness
CPM S110V is not extremely high on toughness, but it’s still pretty decent compared to other steels with comparable properties. Since it’s high on hardness and corrosion resistance, you’d expect it to be very low on toughness (which is the case with other steels) but the toughness is still good in the CPM S110V.
CPM S110V Edge Retention
Edge retention is a really important property of steel, particularly when you’re considering if it will be a good material for knives. No one wants to be constantly sharpening their knives after every use.
The CPM S110V possibly the best edge retention out of other knives in the market. That’s because it has a high percentage of Vanadium, which plays an important role in hardness and edge retention. You won’t have to keep sharpening a knife that’s made out of CPM S110V, making it a great choice for outdoor knives.
CPM S110V Corrosion Resistance
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: CPM S110V has some of the best corrosion resistance that steel can offer. This is because of the really high amounts of Chromium as well as the addition of Niobium.
While it’s always a good idea to take care of your knife, you don’t have to worry about your CPM S110V dying an early death due to rust formation. The corrosion resistance means that your knife will be as sparkling new as the day you bought it.
CPM S110V Ease of Sharpening
Honestly, you won’t spend much time worrying about how and when to sharpen your CPM S110V knife since it has such great edge retention. You might have to sharpen it once in a blue moon, for specific requirements that need your knife extra sharp. Since the CPM S110V is so hard, it’s also quite difficult to sharpen.
This is the only possible caveat of owning a CPM S110V knife — but with the right knife sharpening tools, you can still get the job done. If it’s any reassurance, you’ll spend very little time trying to sharpen your CPM S110V knife at all!
Is CPM S110V Good for Knives?
It’s clear that CPM S110V is an excellent choice for knives, with high hardness, exceptional corrosion resistance, long edge retention, and decent toughness. This is the kind of knife that needs minimal care and is worth the investment since it stays in much the same shape and condition from the day you purchased it. It’s particularly great for outdoor adventures where you can’t carry sharpening tools with you.
Does CPM S110V Form Rust?
You will probably never see rust forming on your CPM S110V, due to its high content of Chromium, Niobium, and extremely high corrosion resistance. Of course, it’s a good idea to take care of your knives all the same.
We recommend keeping your knives clean and dry, and never soaking them in water unnecessarily. This will ensure that your CPM S110V knife stays in brand new condition and remains rust-free forever.
How Does CPM S110V Compare to Other Steels?
CPM S110V is a premium high-alloy steel, and is a great choice for someone looking for an extremely durable and reliable knife to last them a long time. Since it isn’t exactly considered a budget knife, you might want to check out CPM S110V’s competitors before you finalize your decision.
Here we’ve rounded up the closest competitors to CPM S110V so that you can see how it compares and holds up to different steels in terms of five different properties: Edge Retention, Ease of Sharpening, Corrosion Resistance, Toughness, and Hardness.
CPM S110V vs. S90V
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CPM S110V and S90V are very close competitors, while also being very similar in their properties. The main difference is that you get higher corrosion resistance with CPM S110V, but higher toughness with S90V.
CPM S110V vs. S30V
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S30V has less Hardness than the CPM S110V, making it easier to sharpen, but with lesser edge retention. However, CPM S110V is still superior in terms of corrosion resistance.
CPM S110V vs Maxamet Steel
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Maxamet Steel is another premium steel with great hardness and edge retention, making it a great outdoor knife. However, Maxamet Steel is not stainless steel and clearly has very poor corrosion resistance, making it prone to rust. They’re both very hard steels with low toughness, and difficult to sharpen.
Best CPM S110V Knives in the Market
Now that we’ve established that CPM S110V is a great premium steel perfect for knives, let’s get into which knives you should purchase! We all know that great material is only half the ball game of a good knife — it’s also important to look at the blade geometry and build. A poorly designed knife can compromise on the great properties of premium steel, and the opposite is true as well. That’s why it’s so important to choose a knife that has both — premium steel and great design.
Since CPM S110V is a premium high-end steel with high quality, you won’t find lots of budget knives made out of it. A CPM S110V is a knife that will last you a really long time, so it’s worth putting in the effort to choose your investment.
Best CPM S110V Pocket Knife: Spyderco Para 3 Signature Folding Utility Pocket Knife
Spyderco Para 3 Signature Folding Utility Pocket Knife
CPM S110V is a great material for pocket knives, and we find that Spyderco’s Para 3 Signature Folding Utility Pocket Knife is one of the best pocket knives in the market.
With a 2.95” inch blade and easy-to-grip blue fiberglass handle, this knife has a Paramilitary-inspired design and can easily be flipped and closed open with one hand.
We especially like how lightweight this pocket knife is, it’s not going to weigh down your pants in your pocket! This knife will be a trusty companion in all of your outdoor adventures and is easy to carry as well.
Best CPM S110V Budget Knife: Spyderco UK Penknife Non-Locking Folding Knife with 2.95″
Spyderco UK Penknife Non-Locking Folding Knife
It’s difficult to find a budget knife made out of premium CPM S110V steel, so this Spyderco Penknife is an absolute steal steel (get it?). This Spyderco UK penknife has a lightweight blade with open-back construction that measures 2.95”.
The construction deserves a special mention — the flat bevels really reduce drag during the cutting experience, making this knife a wonder to behold!
If you’re looking for a trusty outdoor or survival knife to accompany you on all of your escapades, it makes sense to invest in a knife made from CPM S110V. You’ll enjoy the incredible edge retention, as well as never having to worry about it forming rust.