EN45 High Carbon Steel – Depth Review

Peter Stec
September 23, 2021
EN45 High Carbon Steel

For ages, sword manufacturers have tested out dozens of materials in their designs. One popular material that’s still used to this day is EN45 high carbon steel.

If you’re a sword enthusiast, you’ve probably come across a sword made of this material at least a few times. Similar to other high-carbon steels, EN45 is hard and strong. It also holds its shape pretty well even when subject to high force.

But is it really a good material for swords? And how does it stack up against similar materials? That’s exactly what we’re going to shed light on in this guide, so stick around.

What Is EN45 High Carbon Steel? 

EN45 high carbon steel is a grade of steel that’s commonly used in manufacturing sword blades. It’s also used in making heavy spring parts and automotive leaf springs.

EN45 High Carbon Steel Composition 

Now, let’s take a quick glimpse at the EN45 high carbon steel chemical composition:

  • 0.64% Carbon: For high hardness and wear resistance. It also improves tensile strength and edge retention. It makes the material a bit more brittle, too.
  • 0.4% Nickel: Makes the material tougher.
  • 1% Manganese: Enhances the material’s hardness. For every 0.1% of manganese present in an alloy, the hardness increases by 1.5%.
  • 0.4% Chromium: For rust and corrosion resistance. It also provides more control over the grain structure.
  • 0.035% Phosphorus: For enhanced strength.
  • 2.2% Silicon: Can significantly boost the material’s shock-absorption and crack-resistance properties. However, for a sword, impact resistance doesn’t make much of a difference, unless you’re using it to chop wood or something.
  • 0.1% Molybdenum and 0.04% Sulfur: For better machinability.

EN45 High Carbon Steel Properties

How does the EN45 high carbon steel fair when it comes to properties? Let’s find out in the following section.

Toughness

EN45 High Carbon Steel

The harder a material, the less tough it is, but since EN45 high carbon steel is moderately hard, it’s one of the toughest materials used in making swords. Its silicon and manganese content contributes greatly to its toughness rating, too. Because of that, EN45 steel can be quite challenging to break, deform, or even chip during day-to-day usage.

Plus, it can hold its ground pretty well when subject to extreme heat.

Wear Resistance

Wear resistance is where EN45 shines. Because of its high carbon content, EN45 alloy steel won’t show any signs of wear no matter what you throw at it. Even materials like cement and sand won’t impact its appearance or performance. 

Sharpness

EN45 High Carbon Steel - Sharpen

Sharpening EN45 high carbon steel isn’t that difficult compared to other grades of carbon steel. You can use any stone to sharpen it and get a good result quickly.

Corrosion Resistance

EN45 alloy steel has limited chromium content, which provides some level of protection against rust and corrosion. However, it may still rust in the long term, especially if you don’t take care of it.

Edge Retention

Since EN45 high carbon steel isn’t that hard, its edge retention is pretty much average. You’ll probably need it to sharpen your sword frequently.

EN45 High Carbon Steel Heat Treatment 

EN45 High Carbon Steel Heat Treatment

Heat treating EN45 high carbon steel can drastically improve its hardness. When done right, you can boost the hardness rating of EN45 from 48-50HRC to 58HRC. To heat treat EN45 steel, raise the temperature to 550 – 660 degrees Celsius and wait for it to be uniform across the whole metal slab. For every 25mm of a section, soak for 60 minutes and let it cool down in still air.

EN45 High Carbon Steel Hardness

Based on the Rockwell Hardness test, EN45 high carbon steel has a hardness rating of 48-50HRC. While other grades of steel may have a hardness score of over 56HRC, EN45’s rating is considered good for swords. 

Is EN45 High Carbon Steel Good for Swords?

EN45 high carbon steel is an excellent material for swords thanks to its top-notch wear resistance, high strength, and hardness.

Is EN45 High Carbon Steel Stainless?

EN45 high carbon steel isn’t classified as stainless steel. For steel to be considered stainless, it must have a minimum chromium content of 10.5%, and EN45 has only 0.4% chromium.

EN45 High Carbon Steel Equivalent

Generally speaking, the 5160 steel is the closest steel to EN45 high carbon steel. It’s very strong and has good wear resistance. It also has a Rockwell hardness of 57-58HRC, making it harder than 5160 steel.

EN45 High Carbon Steel Alternatives 

EN45 vs. 1095

FeaturesEN451095
Edge Retention7/109/10
Ease of Sharpness9/107/10
Corrosion Resistance7/102/10
Toughness8/107/10

1095 steel beats EN45 in terms of edge retention. However, EN45 steel is still tougher, easier to sharpen, and more corrosion-resistant.

Conclusion

To recap, EN45 steel sword blades are pretty reliable. With a high strength-to-weight ratio and unmatched wear resistance, it’s hard not to recommend this material for swords.

So, if you’re looking for a battle-ready sword, choosing one made of EN45 steel seems like a pretty solid choice. It might be lacking a bit in terms of corrosion resistance, but that shouldn’t stop you from owning one.

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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