What is AUS-8A Steel?

If you are shopping for a new knife, you will see that there are tons and tons of steel types on the market. What makes one type of steel better than the other? What is AUS-8a steel and how does it differ from other steels in the market? This post will cover these questions.

Stainless vs. Carbon Steel

There are two broad categories of steel: stainless and carbon. Stainless steel resists rust very well but it can dull easily. Carbon steel keeps an edge really well but it rusts easily. Most mass-produced steels are somewhere in between.

However, if you read the marketing on knives, it’ll talk about how the steel used to make a certain knife is very “special” compared to others on the market. Don’t be fool. Almost all steel used for knives come from a handful of steel suppliers. This rule applies to the US as well as foreign knives. Most knife makers temper the steel to added additional qualities but it won’t drastically change the steel’s properties.

(See our review of Balisong knives).

What is AUS-8A steel

AUS-8a is almost the same thing as AUS-8. It is often called 8a steel as well. What differs AUS-8a from AUS-8 is that it has been heat-treated. They are the same steel with the same makeup of metals, however. Both AUS8 and AUS8a are very similar to the 440 line of steels. The 440 line is made by an American company whereas the AUS line is made by a Japanese company. Some AUS steel is made in China.

Strengths and Weaknesses of AUS-8A Steel

AUS-8 Steel is similar to 440 steel. It has Vanadium to give the steel more hardness. AUS-8a steel is very easy to sharpen to a razor edge but it will dull fast. Some reviewers online say that it’ll dull by just being out in oxygen. Others say that they have used it daily at work and only sharpen it once a week. The quality of the blade does depend a lot on use and tempering techniques from the manufacturer. AUS-8a will withstand rust very well. It is similar to 440 steel in this regard as well.

Knives that Commonly Use AUS-8A Steel

The SOG Knife company uses AUS-8 steel regularly. Kabar uses it in their dozer series of knives. Cold Steel uses it in the SRK series. CRKT uses in their Van Hoy series as well as many other knives. Some Gerber knives use AUS-8a as well.

Conclusion on AUS-8 Steel

8a steel is great if you are looking for a good quality knife. It won’t perform as well as high-end tool steel and you won’t find it from knife makers like Benchmade. However, it does give you a great bang for your buck. It is very similar to 440 steel and is often used in many mass produced knives. 440 steel is also used in machetes.

Do you have any other questions about steel types? Ask it in the comment box below. One of our knife experts will be glad to assist you.

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  1. I am holding a Benchmade knife made with AUS-8 made in Taiwan. It is a big knife designed by Mel Pardue and it takes a razor sharp edge and holds it well enough for me. I prefer Carbon steel like 1095-CV that Case used to use on their knives, so I don’t mind sharpening the blade or keeping it oiled. I prefer them after a patina has formed. Heck, all knives should be made with that steel, but if they were most custom knife makers and a bunch of customers that want knives made with all those special high-end steels would be disappointed. I own a bunch of those knives and I’m not impressed with the steels or their price. I don’t know what kind of carbon steel the Germans used to make at Solingen but it made the best knives I have ever used. AUS-8 and AUS-8A are fine steels and make a blade that is good enough for me.

  2. I hear alot about edge retention but not about blade strength, as in the ability to keep a tip on the blade without chipping when thrust-ed into something solid. Is it possible Aus8 isn’t as good in the edge retention category as vg-10 but can be stronger in its trusting capabilities, I heard it said that the head person in a heat treating company was surprised people pulled towards vg-10 because he said aus8 was more robust.

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