Knives Steel can be carbon steel, alloy steel, tool steel, or stainless steel. M2 steel is a type of tool steel.
Tool steels are known for their hardness and wear resistance. They are used to make a variety of tools and cutting knives.
The M2 is old steel that has been around for a good number of years. If you are curious to learn more about it, keep reading.
Is M2 steel good for knives?
M2 steel is good for knives and that’s why it’s been a popular choice for knife makers for so long. It is a high-speed tungsten-molybdenum tool steel. It has very great wear resistance, edge retention, hardness, and toughness. However, it lacks corrosion resistance and can rust easily if good care is not taken for the knife. It is used in a variety of cutting tools and for cold work applications in tools for pressing, punching, and forming.
Composition of M2 Steel
M2 steel has a mixture of components with different amounts. They include:
Carbon at 1.05 % – Carbon enhances hardness, wear resistance, and corrosion resistance, but in large quantities, it lowers the strength.
Chromium at 4.5 % – Chromium increases hardness, strength, edge retention, toughness, corrosion resistance, and wear resistance.
Molybdenum at 5.5% – Molybdenum adds weldability, strength, wear resistance, and corrosion resistance.
Nickel at 0.3 % – Nickel improves the structure, weldability, and toughness but too much may lessen corrosion resistance.
Manganese at 0.4 % – Manganese enhances strength, grind-ability, hardness, and brittleness.
Silicon at 0.45% – Silicon increases strength which gives steel more resistance and also removes oxygen from steel while forming.
Copper at 0.25% – Copper prevents surface oxidization and corrosion.
Phosphorus at 0.03% – Phosphorus enhances the strength.
Sulfur at 0.03% – Sulfur improves machinability but lowers strength.
Vanadium at 2.2% – Vanadium increases wear resistance, tensile strength, hardenability, and makes sharpening easier.
Tungsten at 6.75% – Tungsten enhances wear resistance and melting point temperatures.
M2 Steel Hardness
Tool steels are very hard. The Rockwell hardness scale is able to show how hard steel really is.
M2 has a hardness of 62-65HRC making it very hard.
Is M2 steel a stainless steel?
As we have seen, M2 is a tool steel. However, some steels can be tool steels and stainless at the same time if they have high amounts of Chromium in them.
The only difference would be that they would not be able to resist rust as much. For M2 steel, the level of Chromium is at 4.5%.
This is very low considering that steel can only be stainless if it has a Chromium percentage of 10.5%. This means that M2 is not stainless steel.
Properties of M2 steel
The many combined components of M2 give it various properties. They include:
M2 is very hard making it good at holding an edge.
It lacks corrosion resistance due to its low Chromium. More Chromium increases the levels of corrosion resistance.
The high amounts of Tungsten and Molybdenum give M2 steel very high wear resistance.
M2 steel is surprisingly easy to sharpen despite being very hard steel.
When annealed, the steel has medium machinability making it not too easy to shape for knife makers.
When it comes to toughness, hard steels have lower toughness compared to less hard ones. However, there are some exceptions and M2 is one of them. It is quite tough.
M2 Steel Comparison
M2 is compared to D2 steel which is another tool steel. They have similar properties to wear resistance, hardness, edge retention, toughness, and prices.
However, D2 has more corrosion resistance and would fare better for use in humid environments and activities like diving.
M2 steel has been popular for a long time because it’s good knife steel. It has great wear resistance, hardness, edge retention, and toughness. The steel can take very hard use and is highly durable.
This knife is good as an EDC. It is applied in cutting tools like milling tools, twist drills, broaching tools, reamers, metal saws, and taps. It’s also good for cold work applications.
However, it has low corrosion resistance making it prone to rust. It is not the best knife for use in humid environments or wet conditions for activities like fishing and diving.
Though M2 is good steel, in recent years better steels have been produced and you can get a quality and better performing knife for the same price if not cheaper.