Updated: December 22, 2020

How Good is CPM 20CV Knife Steel?

CPM 20CV knife steel

CPM 20CV Steel


CPM 20CV Steel is Crucible’s answer to Bohler’s M390 stainless steel. It also helped Carpenter to create CTS-204P, which is also quite similar. These facts alone should tell you something. CPM stands for, “Crucible Particle Metallurgy” and is one of the single most coveted stainless “super steels” for knife enthusiasts in the world at this moment in time. Few other steels can invoke the visceral reactions that are exhibited from this metal. As with the aforementioned steels, 20CV is a powder metallurgy tool steel. According to Crucible, CPM 20CV is, “a Martensitic stainless steel with a high volume of vanadium carbides for exceptionally good wear resistance.” It is used in industrial applications for granulator knives, pelletizing equipment, and wear components for food and chemical processing. The uniform carbide distribution provides toughness for high alloy steels. The chemical composition for CPM 20CV is as follows:

  • Iron – 72.5%
  • Carbon – 1.9%
  • Chromium – 20%
  • Molybdenum – 1%
  • Vanadium – 4%
  • Tungsten 0.6%

With an HRC rating of around 61, wear and corrosion have met their match! … sort of.



The Rockwell hardness of CPM 20CV is 59 – 61 HRC. That is just slightly harder, and has the same toughness as 440C, which is a benchmark steel for knives. 20CV has five times the wear resistance of 440C, and has 30% more corrosion resistance. 440C has a cutting edge retention score of 100 on the CATRA test, while 20CV has a score of 180.

Favorites using CPM 20CV Stainless Steel

Benchmade knife

This week I have TWO favorites for CPM 20CV steel bladed knives.  The first utilizing CPM 20CV stainless steel is the Benchmade 928 Proxy, This folder exceeds all expectations of what a folding knife can be. The 928 was designed by Warren Osborne and features a 3.87″ drop point blade that has a thickness of 0.15.” The blade is plain ground with thrust bearing washers and a flipper for easy one-handed operation. The handle is made of titanium and utilizes a monolock mechanism with an adjustable lock face and tan G-10 wrap around scales. Finishing off the 5.08″ handle is the tip-up, reversible pocket clip. The design is perfect and the knife seems to almost melt into the hand. Benchmade really broke the mold on this knife and shows that their capabilities go far beyond the more standard knives in their lineup, such as the Griptilian. It is as pleasing to the eye as it is to the hand.

My second favorite is the Benchmade Mini Griptillian Axis Lock knife.  I’ve reviewed Griptillians before, but this is a member of the 550 series (555-1 actually) and it has all the features of any Griptillian (with the Sheepsfoot blade) and because it uses the AXIS lock system, it’s easy to open for both lefties and righties!

See Latest Prices : Amazon | BladeHQ 


The key to a great knife is, obviously the steel. We enjoy a vast array of knife steels today. From yesterday’s carbon steels have come today’s stainless and “super” stainless steels. The average knife customer isn’t concerned as much with the type of steel as they are with the look, the usefulness, and more importantly, the price. It is with keeping that in mind that when we, the “knife junkies” look at the knives currently using the latest iconic stainless steels, we look for something different. We want something that stands out among the pack. CPM 20CV does just that.  It is tough enough to take whatever you throw at it, and it takes only a few laps on the leather strop to bring back the edge to almost scary sharpness. 20CV is at the head of the pack in many respects, but more importantly, it is a steel good enough to belong there.


Jeremy Dodd
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