Is 420hc Steel Good For Knife?

When it comes to steel, you have to be very careful making your purchase as different steel will offer varying functionality. Apart from Carbon and Iron, steel will have some added elements that determine how well it works.

Some add to the strength, others to machinability, while others may lower the properties like hardness if put in high quantities. This is why the right measurements of each component are very important.

While looking for steel, you may have encountered the 420hc steel and wondered how good it is and how it compares to other steels. The steel is popularly used by Buck knives for their knife making.

But is it worth your money? Should you get one? Let’s find out by looking at its overall functionality.

What is 420hc steel?

420hc steel is a low range type of steel. HC means High Carbon. 420hc steel is an improvement of the previous 420 steel as it has more carbon which makes it harder. The blade is good and affordable. It’s great at corrosion resistance and can be used under tough weather by fishermen, hunters, divers, and for survival purposes. It’s also easy to sharpen but cannot hold an edge very well.

Composition of 420hc Steel

Chromium at 13 % – Chromium enhances the toughness, strength, and edge retention while also improving the wear and corrosion resistance.

Carbon at 0.46 % – Carbon increases hardness and resistance to wear and corrosion but in large quantities, it decreases strength.

Silicon at 0.4% – Silicon adds strength to the steel.

Manganese at 0.4 % – Manganese enhances hardness, strength, and resistance to corrosion.

Vanadium at 0.3% – Vanadium increases tensile strength, wear resistance, and makes other added elements function better.

420hc steel hardness

According to the Rockwell hardness, 420hc steel has a hardness of 57HRC depending on the heat treatment that it goes through you. The steel can be treated to reach higher levels of hardness.

Is 420hc steel stainless?

420hc steel is stainless. This is because of the presence of 13% Chromium. Steel becomes stainless if it’s Chromium content is above 10.5%.

Properties of 420hc steel

The properties of steel are based on the composition of its components. For 420hc steel, they are:

Edge Retention

420hc steel is not very hard and it is termed as one of the softer steels. This makes its edge retention decent enough though not very good.

Corrosion Resistance

The steel has very good corrosion resistance due to the high amounts of Chromium in it.

Wear Resistance

420hc has some wear resistance but it’s not very good.


The steel is easy to sharpen because it is not too hard.


420hc steel has good machinability and is easy to shape into different shapes by knife makers.


The steel is very tough and can withstand misuse.

Is 420hc steel good for knives?

420hc is good for knives. It is highly affordable, has great resistance to corrosion, is easy to sharpen and it can hold an edge. It is stainless steel which makes it more resistant to rust and it can be used in humid environments.

420HC Steel comparisons

420hc is on the low end of steels but you can still get other alternatives depending on your needs. Some alternatives are:

440C Steel – When compared to 440C, their properties are very close and similar like their edge retention, corrosion resistance, toughness, and ease of sharpening.

8CR13MOV Steel – for 8CR13MOV steel, both offer the same corrosion resistance and toughness, with 8CR13MOV being easier to sharpen but 420hc holding an edge better.

AUS 8 Steel – both have the same edge retention and toughness but AUS 8 is easier to sharpen and offers better corrosion resistance.


If you are tight on a budget or want to buy your first knife, 420hc steel would be a good choice for you. It will work just well and it has very good corrosion resistance and ease of sharpening although it may not hold an edge well and may require regular maintenance due to low wear resistance.

Even though it’s a low range knife, the steel can function as good as a mid-range knife. It is great if you are worried about rust as it doesn’t easily rust so you can easily use it in humid environments without much worry. For hunting, diving, or even as an everyday carry knife, the steel is an affordable starting point.

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