steel making

N690 Steel Properties

steel making

The N690 Cobalt Stainless Steel is made in Austria by a company known for making steel that can be made into sharp knives and surgical instruments. This steel is very similar to 440C steel, and it has 1.07% carbon content. N440C steel has a carbon content ranging from .95 – 1.07 percent. The N690 is a high-end stainless steel with an alloy that is common in many good knives. It is a durable knife steel that is wear-resistant. It is also a very hard steel.

This steel contains the important martensitic chromium steel with cobalt, molybdenum, and vanadium. This steel can be hardened to a very desirable hardness level. The surface finish is finely ground or polished.

How N690 Compares

N690 is sometimes compared to 440C steel. Many knifemakers do not believe that 440C is the best steel for comparison to the N690. The 440C steel is high-chromium stainless steel. Knives made of 440C steel are easy to resharpen, and it is an excellent steel for its price and performance. (See the top 3 dive knives).

The N690 is a good steel and it is very similar to the VG10 from. One prominent knife maker gave the steel a variety of knife makers’ tests. The results were good. They now have access to large sheets. Knife makers consider the VG10 from Japan to be better steel for comparison than the 440C. Its overall performance and ability to hold an edge is superior. (Read our machete review).

Manufacturing N690 Steel

The N690 grade of steel is produced by a small Austrian steel plant that also provides steel for surgical instruments. The Austrian Bohler Company says that the N690 can be made into hardened cutting tools with excellent edge-holding property, such as knife blades. (See how Balisong Knives are rated).

Favorite Knife Using Bohler N690

Spyderco knife

The Spyderco Urban Lightweight folder is our hands-down favorite using N690 steel.  The unique thing about this knife is that it is one of a few on the market that DO NOT LOCK open!  Why would you want that?  Well, as knife laws (especially in population centers) continues to tighten, knives that lock open are often seen as more “aggressive” or dangerous, while non-locking knives are still permissible.  

The great looks of this knife are very “spydero-ish” with that leaf-shaped blade and textured FRN handle.  It has a plain edge with a full flat grind and lots of jimping for your thumb and index finger.  There’s a reversible tip-up carry clip.

Check Latest Pricing : Amazon | BladeHQ 


The N690 steel is so good for making knives that one prominent knife manufacturer uses only N690 steel. This steel has the right carbon content and the right cobalt content. An Austrian steel manufacturer, who is the current source for N690, is considered to be a worldwide leader in their production of N690 steel. Their steel composition is as follows: carbon 1.07%, chromium 17%, cobalt 1.5%, manganese .40%, molybdenum 1.10%, silicon .40% and vanadium .10%. The key to the hardness of N690 is the addition of cobalt in the steel matrix. The cobalt creates uniformity in the structure within the steel. The value of cobalt in a knife blade is it produces a fine edge with excellent edge retention.


Peter Stec
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  1. Last year I bought my first Boker hunter knife. It never seemed to dull with heavy use. after about a year, I tried to sharpen it to no avail. It only came out 1/2 sharp! Or should I say Kinda sharp. I took it to the Smoky Mountain knife works near my home in east Tennessee. $2 later, It had it’s original sharpness back!!!! I then went home and ordered another knife exactly like the first one. Boker rocks!!!!!!! Even though its price doubled in a year, it was well worth it!!

  2. I purchased a knife from Extreme Ratio. I liked the hardness of this blade and gave it to a friend who was going to Afghanistan. He came back a year later and bear-=hugged me saying “this knife saved my life”. Anyway, he had to use deadly force, the knife was handy and a terrorist was killed. He could not thank me enough…we went out to dinner…he paid we went out for a couple of drinks..he insisted on paying. I told him he better drive me home because I didn’t feel too good. When we got inside all the people we worked with were there to give him a welcome home party. Thank you N690.

    1. Spielbierg has nothing on you! I’m shooting this movie as we speak!

  3. I have 3 knives made with this steel. The gunhammer (tanto tip) from fox knives, the fulcrum c from Extrema Ratio and the Dobermann IV also from Extrema Ratio. The steel is excellent at keeping edge retention, with easy sharpening. It has also excellent resistance against corrosion and as said in the article, with proper heat treatment it could be hardened to 58-60 HRC.

  4. Also used in Steel Will Gekko knives. They’re very overpriced, but the steel is decent.

  5. Boker is the knife maker this article is referring to but won’t name. Higher end Boker knives are some of the best knives made in my humble opinion. My blade for my Titan Defender is made from cannons from WWII though, not N690. My Boker Merlin is N690 and is terrific after 8 years of use.
    I’ve had no issues with either unless you include having to tighten the titanium torx screws on my clip of the Titan.

  6. Browning knives use this steel in tactical knives. Steel made in Austria but knives Made In U.S.A , they cut fences and blade is BadAss. Only Browning does these things… Leader of Guns and knives of the world all time. Remember what Bonnie and Clyde were killed with? The U.S. Government had to get what Clyde was using to kill them. Clyde stole some Automatic Browning Safari 30-06 rifles and was kicking the worlds ASS til he was set up by a relative to be assassinated by the government. When they finally got what he was beating them all along with, then And not until then, that’s what we know happened to Bonnie @ Clyde. All of them against Bonnie N Clyde as the 2 of them pulled up to help the relative n blowed the HELL out of the car as Bonnie n Clyde were tricked to be massacred with the best gun ever made. The gun that Clyde was a using all along to get by as long as possible. The Browning Automatic Safari Rifle 30-06 caliber Made In The U.S. of A………. It took all of them now and the best ???? ever made to this day to take out Bonnie and Clyde. BROWNING ARMS Rules the world… Made in America…. Back then.. Now made in Belgium and assembled in Portugal, that’s the automatics, bolt action in Japan, other places also. But the new tactical knives made in our beloved United States of America. got to get you one.

    1. Is this an autotranslation? The syntax keeps changing, yet never is right.

    2. I have been using a Boker knife since 1970 and have never had problems with any of mine. Even the USA made Bokers in the Maplewood New Jersey plant where they made Valley Forge knives.

  7. 20 degrees should be fine, as long as the edge isn’t abused. A 15 degree angle is normally used on stuff like kitchen use knives, some japanese style knives, and other fine use knives.

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