Home Knife Life How Good is 1095 Steel?

How Good is 1095 Steel?

1095 Stainless Steel knife

Steel comes in a variety of forms. This is because steel needs to serve a variety of functions. It is alloyed with many different kinds of metals for a myriad of different purposes. The different types of metals used in the creation of steel gives it different properties, which is why there are different kinds of steel available. Common to all types of steel is carbon, which can be found in varying quantities, depending upon the intended use of the steel being processed.

Properties of 1095 Steel

1095 Steel is a basic form of carbon steel and is most commonly used in the construction of various kinds of knives. It has a carbon content of .95% which serves to harden the steel and reduce the amount of wear that a blade will experience over time. Despite the reduction in wear created by the high presence of carbon, 1095 steel is not as tough as other types of steel due to the lower levels of manganese, which serves to harden the steel. Yet, although manganese hardens steel when used in certain levels, in higher levels it makes for a more brittle blade overall.

1095 is a decent steel that can have varying qualities depending on manufacturing variables (like most steel) but it typically has a Rockwell Hardness Value of around 55 which is a smidge on the soft side.

1095 Steel for Knives

1095 steel, when used in knives, holds a great edge and is very easy to sharpen. However, the properties of this type of steel give it a tendency to easily rust if not oiled and deliberately cared for. These kinds of blades will usually have some kind of coating to combat rusting, but so long as the blade is properly cared for, rust should not be too great a problem for anyone.

Because 1095 steel can be considered more brittle than other types of steel, it is generally good for blades that are not too thin. It is easy to sharpen, but if a blade made with this type of steel doesn’t have a decent amount of thickness behind it, it is liable to break easily. For example, it is not an appropriate grade of steel for tools, folding knives, or sushi knives.

1095 can be heat treated to increase its overall strength, but if 1095 steel gets brittle after that point, there is not much that can be done about it and it may break on you. Though it can be used in tools such as chopping knives, it is not necessarily the most effective choice. It shines, but there are other steels out there which are better formulated to be used in such objects. 1095, though not alloyed with chromium like stainless steel, takes a great polish very easily.

Our Favorite Knife Made with 1095 Steel

TOPS Knives Steel Eagle Delta Class is no slouch when it comes to performance, but it gets top marks for looks!   Its “Rambo-esque” features make it look exceptionally aggressive, and while it is that, it’s also as practical as most knives in its class.  It features a 7.5″ clip point blade with a full tang.  The Acid Rain finish and sawback spine add to the sweet looks, while the toughness of the black and brown layered linen Micarta handle finishes the knife with superb looks and durable toughness.  Lest you think this knife is all bark and no bite (metaphorically speaking of course), you’ll want to take note that it has been tested for over 10 years in a row within the military and special ops communities and has not been found lacking!

Top Knives Steel Eagle
The Steel Eagle Delta Class has been tested for over a decade in the harsh environment of military special ops with excellent results

This Steel Eagle Delta Class series fixed blade has been outfitted with a 7.5″ clip point blade in an Acid Rain finish and brown micarta handle scales.

The Steel Eagle series has been time-tested over 10 continuous years in the field. In every terrain and in all conditions, the Steel Eagle knife has proven its strength, durability, versatility and dependability within the Special Operations Community. This Steel Eagle knife features a full tang clip point blade with a durable acid rain coating and a sawback spine. The handle is made of brown and black layered linen Micarta. Item includes a brown kydex sheath with a belt clip attachment.

How to care for 1095 Steel

To keep your 1095 knife rust free and working for the longest time possible, rinse it off after every use, wipe it clean, and oil it once a week. The oil forms a barrier that prevents moisture from reaching the steel. It also gives your knife a very shiny look.

Good uses for 1095

1095 steel would be perfect for functional show swords, such as those found throughout military ceremonies. It would also function very well in replica swords and blades, as well as daggers. Though other types of steel, especially stainless, would be more useful and efficient for a variety of utensil uses, 1095 is still very useful for a number of dining tools. Other uses for 1095 grade steel include any of the general functions that any kind of knife could perform. It is also a very good metal for blades used in ritual, or religious purposes. It is often used in some types of machetes.



    • But your observations are those of the majority of users. Those who “strip” their 1095 knives as soon as they buy them are making a really silly mistake. The coatings are not going to change the ability of the steel from throwing a spark if hit by hard stone, such as flint or chert. Stripping the coating of a small portion of the spine would, theoretically, cover all bases. Using a stainless steel for scraping a ferro-cerium rod is excellent.

  1. Well, wingrider, how about you give us YOUR rendition of the pros & cons of 1095? I came here to get good info, I’m waiting…

    Thank you in advance.

  2. What? 1095 Brittle? There is a reason that machetes, swords and the like use 1095, because its very tough and durable compared to many other steels. Dnot believe everything you believe on the net, do your homework

  3. 1095 is used in the La-bar USMC knives today, the standard fighting knife the MI bayonet was carbon steel and the pilots knife by Camillus is carbon steel and none of there were for parades. It is was good enough for soldiers in war, then it ought to be possible for the average citizen. By the way, files are made of 1095 steel, axes, cross cut saws chisels and a host of other tools. If 1095 steel is so is so bad about rusting, why are there so many civil war swords still around, because the wner had the fore sight to wipe then down and take care of them.

  4. I love 1095 high carbon blades!! They are easy to sharpen and hold the edge! Ohhh
    and they FREAKING CUT! I even like the way it darkens up over the years, it really sets off the razor edge! All the fuss about the other steels is 100% marketing! In my mind, it’s the only way to go!

  5. This article doesn’t mirror my experience with 1095. I have never found it to be brittle, and any knife blade can potentially snap if it is used as a pry bar regardless of the thickness or steel used. 1095 is a terrific folding knife blade steel, it easily takes a super sharp edge, but it has to be touched up frequently to maintain it.

  6. I bought a custom made kukri combat knife made out of 1095 high carbon steel and I’ve put it through some very rigorous tests, chopping on dead oak trees, even bricks!! And my knife was completely undamaged. And this knife is 13 3/4″ long and weighs 2lbs 8oz. This type of steel is high quality.

  7. The author’s article about 1095 is completely wrong and off base. I have no idea from where he gets his info. 1095 is a wonderful knife steel heat when treated to 58-60 on the Rockwell scale. Generally it is superior to stainless steel, will hold an edge longer and is easier to sharpen. As to it’s care, if one dries 1095 it will generally be in good shape. As it gains a grey patina through use, this oxidation will actually protect the blade against rust. Some of my favorite Scandi knives are 1095. This author knows nothing of knife alloys and steels.

  8. It’s an early development in carbon steels, so is not as sophisticated as many newer ones. Nevertheless (me being a Luddite, who LIKES doing things the old way), it is more than adequate for most knife applications that don’t put large shocks or stresses on the blade, and it is relatively cheap to buy. A useage not mentioned here is that it combines very well with a mild steel in Damascus blades, the costruction of which make 1095 effectively much tougher.

    • 1095 steel is highly respected by sword makers. 1095 is common for Katana swords. The sword are differentially hardened using a clay temper. The blade edge is harder than the rest of the blade. Choji oil is used to treat the blade to prevent corrosion. As an added bonus Choji oil has a lovely clove smell do to this natural addative.

  9. Hey, thanks for your helpful and encouraging comments! The author of this article is long gone and I have never met him. The site is under new ownership as of May 2018, and I’ll review this article and its accuracy and relevancy soon. The knife laws need updating as well. Blessings,

  10. I own an Ontario brand knife. I read I should oil my blade weekly, but what kind of oil is best to prevent my blade from rusting?

  11. ASTM 1095 Steel has some Very Good Qualities – The problems DO NOT come from this specific alloy – The Issues, Problems, and the Wide Variance, is due to the heat treating processes that it May have been exposed to. Just like the HSS Steels and the “Tool Steels” that I worked with for 40 years. Aging, Oven “Draw-Back”, Annealing, Oil Quenching, Saline Quenching, and “Shock” (Cold) Tempering All Result in Widely varying Properties. Results Should be a Hardness of Rockwell C-54 to C-62, Tensile of 270 to 350 KIPS, Bending Moment of 7% S.B. (Spring-back) or less, and a Section Modulus of ~ .325. Just treat it like quality “Tool Steel”. Bill – Trained Metallurgist

  12. Most all of the knives I own are 1095 steel. It’s my preferred steel. Most are vintage knives that I also use everyday. I live in a part of the US where the humidity is usually high but these old knives do not require that much attention to prevent the bad rust. The best advice I can offer is get a good patina on your blades. That alone will prevent most of your bad rust. (A good patina would be the good rust.)

    Store fixed blade knives with leather sheath outside their sheaths as leather absorbs moisture and breed mold and more. There isn’t much need to lay on a thick film of oil or grease or vasiline on your knife either. Just sharpen your blades, then clean them with a clean cloth and a little mineral oil (3 in One oil with knives not used for food prep) wipe clean and store them wrapped in a cloth, or in plastic ziplock bags if you’re still paranoid. Lol

    Remember, a little mineral oil, wipe clean and a nice patina will pretty much take care of the rest!

  13. Yeah, the writer of this article is pretty far off base with 1095 steel. It’s one of the oldest blade steels around, and lends itself to a wide range of heat treatment. It can be taken to springy to stone hard. It is cheap, holds an edge and is easily sharpened, and in the hands of a good maker that knows how to do the proper heat treating, it’s an outstanding knife steel not only on fixed blades, but on folders as well. Some of the 1095 steels from Solingen Germany were spectacular. Use it and let it patina, and the upkeep is minimal. Get it wet and stick it in a drawer for months, and it’ll rust. Common sense and minimum care and it’ll outlast the owner. I have a few 1095 folders that are decades old and absolutely fine.

    • Hey Dave;
      Thanks for the message and thanks for checking out knifeup.com. I re-checked the article on 1095 steel and cross-referenced it with your comments. The only thing I found that you might disagree with is the comment one of our writers made regarding the use of 1095 with folder knives. Otherwise, it looks like you didn’t really disagree with very much, so I’m guessing that we’re not exactly “pretty far off base” as you mentioned. In doing a bit more research I’ve decided not to change that comment since some of the more reputable knives made with 1095 are fixed blades.
      Thanks again for bothering to comment!

    • I believe you are absolutely right in your comment, the general impression left by the article doesn’t give the steel the credit that it deserves. Wich is what i understand by your comment ‘far of base’ it’s an old and extremely useful steel. In my restaurant we use handmade 1095 knives, easy to maintain with a little care and always super sharp, because they are so easy to sharpen and hold an edge well. Compared to HAP (hrc 70+)steel or zdp 189 the experience is that, because of the time consuming sharpening of the exotic steel, that the 1095 knifes are the sharpest – not in theory but in the real world. If time and sharpening skill is not an issue the exotic steel outperforms the traditional, or if the knives never get sharpened, the exotic steels would hold an kind of useful edge longest. Anyway the article doesn’t do the steel justice.

  14. 1095 steel makes a very good knife lot of saw Mills a round here used to use 15n20 glove it not thick enough went to 1095 lever looked back make your self a peanut samwch wipe off good to go

  15. I once had a set of kitchen knives made of 1095. I loved their performance but eventually gave them up for the rust issues ( my lack of care to blame ). During the past few years, after buying and/or inheriting cheap stainless steel cutlery that were hard work to sharpen and held an edge no better, I missed my old carbon steel which were so easily sharpened. I wish I hadn’t tossed them, I didn’t know what I had.

    • I have a tops b. o. b in 1095 and I find it to be very durable… holds its edge for a decent time too…. whatever tops do in their forging and hardening their 1095, it works great.
      I oil it ofen so no rust issues

  16. Clean it with alcohol. Soak it in vinegar or blue it. Wipe it dry and use it. I have a 50 year old K Bar survival knife hanging in the sheath from a nail in my garage in humid washington state that simply does not rust. Great camp knives. If you want to play with this steel get an old hickory small butcher or boning knife dropped on your door step for less than $20. Make your own sheath. Learn to use a stone and leave the knife to your grand kids.

  17. My father’s 1938 Fishtail pick lock automatic had a 1095 clip point blade (from Latama of Italy). I am having the knife duplicated. If he could carry it on the deck of a Destroyer or Mine Sweep without having it corrode away to nothing I’m pretty certain that I can carry it in a friction pouch and us it much as he did.
    Dad’s old switchblade held a razor’s edge, saving his arm (and life) on the docks of the Bremerton Naval Shipyards. When you can cut a thick, hemp line at a moments notice to avoid being pulled under the dock at the last second, the old auto came through in the clutch.

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