D2 knife steel

D2 vs. CPM S30V Steel: Which is Better for Knives?

D2 knife steel

Both D2 and CPM S30V steel are good choices for knife blades. Each offers some level of corrosion resistance because of high levels of Chromium used in the making of both. If you are debating between one or the other, you choice will probably depend on cost constraints.

How Different are the Two?

D2 steel is less costly than S30V and doesn’t have quite the hardness or toughness of the latter. However, it doesn’t lag by much in those categories. S30V is also considered true stainless steel; D2 only has enough Chromium to be “semi-stainless.”

If money is no object, then you should definitely go with the more expensive one. A number of knife makers say that there isn’t a better blade steel for sale. That would make sense as S30V was developed by a knife craftsman.

On the other hand, if money is a limiting concern, D2 makes a very good blade. Its Chromium content is in the 11% to 13% range, which puts it just a hair under the firm limit of 13% needed to be considered truly stainless.

Separating Qualities

Both steels are hard to sharpen but both steels are also hard to dull.

Both steels are hard to sharpen but both steels are also hard to dull.

Both steels are tough on grinders, but S30V is noticeably more difficult. Remember, when the steel is hard to grind, that means it will hold up exceptionally well in daily usage. Again, both are good choices, but S30V carries the premium price tag.

For example, if you are going to make a knife that’s going to be the ultimate survival tool, it would be wise to make it from the more expensive product. In extreme situations like that, your life may depend on it. The toughness, corrosion resistance, and edge-holding ability of S30V could make the difference between life or death.

Read our guide to finding the best machete.

In a situation like that, the extra cost is justified. Yet, if you are making a folding knife that’s more of an everyday utility tool, D2 steel will be more than serviceable. S30V would make a marginally better blade, yet you may wish to put the extra money into handle coverings or some other decorative inlay.

D2 vs. CPM S30V Conclusion

In conclusion, picking the right steel comes down to cost and corrosion resistance. Need a blade that is almost guaranteed never to rust? Then use S30V steel. What if you are creating a handful of more ordinary knives? D2 steel will do the job and do it well. In the end, weigh the pros and cons against your budget and objectives for the knife. Only then will you be able to make the right choice. D2 is often used by the Benchmade company in butterfly knives. (Read about the $30 folding knife that will outlast any $100+ knife).

Peter Stec
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  1. my dad made a knife for me out of stellite a type of hard faceing. I used that knife for ten years and I cannot ever remember sharpening or the need for sharpening it. I don’t know what the commercial name is for this steel. do you have any idea what it would be?

  2. I am a knife maker SIMSknives Walterboro S.C. I use O1, and A2 as my go to carbon steels, and in stainless if they want a low cost knife (not a cheap knife) I use the old tried and true 440C but in the high end I like 35VN all the way.

  3. Best all around Knife you can get is a Kershaw 1050 / Oregon USA /by Kai Japan. It’s my old buddy. it has the Best folding knife handle ever. You could probably find a used one on E-Bay. I know it is the BEST because I have had one for about 5 decades – it is still my favorite Bait Cutter. Lots of use in Saltwater, & with only “Reasonable” care. I don’t know what the Steel or the Brass or the wood handle are. I wash it off with soap & water. 2 drops machine oil & I like a big smooth ceramic stick to sharpen it, I clean the brass infrequently with a sponge fingernail buffer. It holds it’s edge well enough but not great. For the frequent blade touch up’s, I think using the ceramic stick saves on the loss of steel. Never a speck of rust.

    Point: I doubt my favorite, for reasons, 50 year old knife has the hardest or best steel by todays standards. Get one that is well made that fits your hand & won’t flip – take “Reasonable” care – it will last a lifetime.

  4. Interesting, I was a chef for many years when much younger. Therefore I used knives of different shapes and sizes every day. Different compounds too. But stainless was hard to sharpen and soon lost its edge. Carbon steel, on the other hand was a mild steel, easy to sharpen and retained an edge. Even today I still have a huge cooking knife collection and if I want a sharp knife to get the job done fast and effortless I use a mild carbon steel knife. Yes they will rust in minutes if washed and left wet. To prevent the rust I would rub the blade with a cut of lemon. The acid in lemon made the blade form a film, a black film. Then just wipe off the excess black and the knife will not rust. Just like gun metal blue, but a gun will rust too.

    So, I like pocket knives too, and have quite a few. But some are so much a work of art that I don’t want to damage them. The metal today is more superior for a pocket knife, and they stay sharp with general use. But I also still have a mild steel pocket knife 50 years old and as sharp as any, including D2 and S30V. Let a hard steel knife loose it’s edge and it’s hard to fix.

  5. The sharpest knife in my collection has cheap steel, but it’s the easiest knife to sharpen…
    I’ve picked D2 over S30V for this reason.

  6. I have had s30v rust wat faster then cpmd2 ‘the s30v rusted on the unpolished top of the spine.I would taje d2 over any steel on a knife it just seems to be made for it.imo stainless is for people who dont take care of there tools.if I had to take a stainless I should user s35vn.but ifyou’re maker masters d2 then that is the blade I will take

    1. I have both D2 and S30V. I take care of my knives, but they get hard use, outdoors. Never seen either rust. The only way that happens is when they are not cleaned or left wet for awhile. Otherwise that should never happen.

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