Is CTS XHP Good for Knives?

There are four main types of steel; carbon steel, stainless steel, tool steel, and alloy steel. Each type has varying characteristics that set it apart from the rest.

We will narrow down to alloy steels because CTS XHP is proudly a type of alloy steel.

Alloy steels are those that are a combination of carbon steel and other alloying elements like Manganese, Tungsten, Nickel, and others.

Generally, CTS XHP is an air-hardening powder metallurgy alloy steel. It is widely popular in knife circles and you have probably come across it or at least heard about it.

If you want to find out more about this steel, keep reading.

Is CTS XHP Good for knives?

CTS XHP is good for knives. It is premium quality steel with all the premium characteristics of good steel for knives. The steel has exceptional edge retention, corrosion resistance, wear resistance, hardness, and decent toughness. It is great for use in wet environments like fishing, hunting, and kitchen use. It is also very hard to sharpen but when you give it razor sharpness, it will stick to that edge for a long time.

Composition of CTS XHP steel

An alloy is a combination of two or more elements. Alloy steels will mainly have Iron and Carbon with the addition of other elements.

Those added in CTS XHP alloy steel are:


Chromium is in very high amounts in CTS XHP. At 16%, the Chromium levels are very high which is great for strength, corrosion resistance, and wear resistance.


Molybdenum works hand in hand with Chromium in enhancing the corrosion resistance in steel. It also adds on the steel’s hardness, toughness, and strength giving you a really strong blade to work with.


Manganese as an alloying element works in strengthening steel and giving it high abrasion resistance. This makes the steel retain its hardness and toughness during impact and use on other surfaces.

However, in high amounts, from 1.5% and above, the manganese will increase the brittleness of steel. For CTS XHP, Manganese is at a good 0.5%.


Silicon comes in at 0.4% which is a little less than Manganese. Silicon will have the same function of strengthening and hardening steel just as Manganese but it will have a lower impact.


Vanadium causes the formation of Vanadium carbides which limit the growth of grains in steel making them remain small in size. The Vanadium carbides are hard and they increase steel hardness, strength, and wear resistance.


Niobium is another element in CTS XHP that is common in many alloys. It functions in strengthening steel, especially at low temperatures.

CTS XHP steel Hardness

CTS XHP steel is very hard steel. It has very high Carbon at 1.6%. Even without other elements, Carbon will always raise the hardness of steel if it is in high quantities and this applies to our CTS XHP steel too.

 It has 64 HRC.

Is CTS XHP stainless steel?

At 16% Chromium levels, CTS XHP steel is highly stainless making it one of the best stainless steels you will ever have.

Too much Chromium makes steel stainless and if your steel has a percentage of 10.5, then it is definitely stainless. This gives it exceptional resistance to rust preventing it from those ugly brown patches.

You can happily use this blade in water without worrying about its maintenance.

Properties of CTS XHP Steel

So far CTS XHP steel looks very promising. Let’s look at the properties it brings to the table. Is it all shine and shimmer?

Edge Retention

CTS XHP has exceptional edge retention. All the Carbon packed in it together with the Vanadium, Manganese, and Silicon give it high hardness.

Hard steel always has much better edge retention and it can hold an edge for a really long time. This is a big plus if you are not a big fan of sharpening blades.

Corrosion Resistance

Of course with such high amounts of Chromium, you would expect the steel to resist corrosion very well. And it does.

CTS XHP does not corrode easily no matter which environment you use it in. The high Chromium raises the corrosion resistance of the steel to high levels.

Wear Resistance

CTS XHP has very good wear resistance. The good balance of components from Manganese to Vanadium to Chromium gives this steel enough strength to resist impact.

It can take hard and long use making the knife serve you for years without wearing out.


Like I have mentioned several times before, this steel is hard. Not only hard but really hard.

A 64 HRC is hard for any steel. This hardness does not give you an easy time to sharpen and achieve that elusive razor sharpness.

You will need to take some good time out to sharpen it which may not appeal to you if you are not the best at it. However, the upside is that once it’s sharp, it will remain that way for very long.


CTS XHP has decent toughness. When steel is both very hard and has high corrosion resistance, it will have low toughness.


It has poor machinability making it hard to machine and form. This is because of its high amounts of both Chromium and Carbon.

Poor machinability makes knife makers wary of steel but with all the great qualities that CTS XHP has, it is still a good choice.

CTS XHP comparisons

CTS XHP is very great steel with exceptional features but you can compare it with other steels. Let’s look at some of its closest comparisons:

S30V steel – CTS XHP has better edge retention but S30V has better corrosion resistance, toughness, and is easier to sharpen.

S35VN steel – CTS XHP has better edge retention but S35VN is easier to sharpen and has better corrosion resistance and toughness.


The CTS XHP is high-end quality steel that is very great at edge retention, corrosion resistance, wear resistance, and it has high hardness.

The knife has exceptional performance and it is a favorite among knife users. It’s stainless steel, so you can use this knife in humid environments without rust and it will not require maintenance.

Being premium raises the price of the steel. It does not come cheap but then again, you pay for its high quality.

Another thing is that the knife may be hard to sharpen taking long to achieve an edge. But when it does get the correct edge, that sharpness is going to last you a long while.

If you were not sure about whether to buy it or not, you can clearly see how good of a blade it makes. So go ahead and make the purchase. It’s totally worth it.

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