Whether you need a knife for use in the kitchen, for everyday purposes, or for safety reasons, it’s good to know the type of steel that you are working with. Steels will be low-end, mid-range, or high-end which will make them all differ in composition and functionality.
Just like with everything else, quality is everything. You should never expect low-end steel to function as well as high-end steel.
In most instances, you get what you pay for although some cheap steel may still function better than expected. Low-end steels are quite common and most kitchens will have at least one.
4034 steel is categorized as low range steel. If you have come across it and you are wondering how it functions as a blade, keep reading.
Is 4034 steel good for knives?
4034 steel is European low-end steel. It is affordable, has good corrosion resistance, is durable, and can take hard use. This makes it a good choice for knife makers in the making of folding knives that can be used as EDC, in camping, fishing, or even hunting. However, the steel has low edge retention and although it sharpens very easily, it doesn’t keep the sharpness for long.
Composition of 4034 steel
The composition of steel is the combination of all its elements. Steel is simply just Iron and Carbon mixed together.
However, in most cases, more elements will be added to this mix to make it better in terms of quality. 4034 steel comprises of the following:
Carbon at 0.5 % – Carbon enhances hardness and resistance to corrosion and wear although in large amounts it lowers strength.
Chromium at 14 % – Chromium increases toughness, strength, edge retention, corrosion resistance, and wear resistance.
Manganese at 0.1% – Manganese enhances hardness and if in high amounts it makes the steel more brittle.
4034 steel hardness
According to the Rockwell scale, which measures the hardness of steel, 4034 has a hardness of 54-55 HRC which is not too hard.
Is 4034 steel a stainless steel?
4034 is stainless steel. This is due to the 14% amounts of Chromium in it.
If the steel has above 10.5% Chromium, then it is referred to as stainless.
Properties of 4034 steel
The elements that make up steel and their quantities determine the properties it will have. For instance, if Carbon is in high quantities the steel becomes harder.
4034 steel has the following properties:
4034 steel is not very hard. It has a 55 HRC which makes it softer than most steels.
This gives it low edge retention. The softer the steel, the lower it’s ability to hold an edge.
The steel has a good amount of Chromium which gives it good corrosion resistance.
4034 steel has decent wear resistance and it can take some hard use.
If the steel has low hardness levels, then it becomes much easier to sharpen. This applies for 4034 which is very easy to sharpen because it’s more on the softer side.
Chromium contributes to the toughness of steel but the presence of other elements like Nickel increases the toughness.
4034 lacks other elements for toughness and has only Chromium which makes it less tough than most steels. It has some decent toughness.
4034 steel comparison
The 4034 steel is not very popular among knife users and other low-end steels may be highly preferred due to the presence of more elements that enhance the functioning of the steel.
A good comparison would be 420hc steel. This steel is low-end, cheap, and stainless too.
420hc has a close hardness to 4034 at 57HRC, and a composition of 0.46% Carbon, 13% Chromium, and 0.4% Manganese. In addition, it has Vanadium and Silicon that add to its strength and hardness.
Although they can both compare to having almost similar composition, 420hc is much better. It has more elements and will be preferred as it is more reliable.
4034 steel is decent steel for a cheap price. It has good corrosion resistance and sharpens easily. Its edge retention though is not very great but it still has some good levels of toughness so it can take some hard use.
It is used to make folding knives and fixed blades for everyday activities. However, you can find better low-end steels in the same price range.