What Is Sk5 Steel? (Is Sk5 Really Good For Knives?)

Steel on its own is made up of a combination of Carbon and Iron. To make it have greater quality and function better, other elements are added to it.

Some of those components include Nickel, Chromium, and Manganese. They help in enhancing factors like the strength, ductile capacity, and hardness of steel.

They are added based on the purpose of the steel. Different heating and thermal processes are applied for the creation of the final product.

If the carbon content of steel is high, it makes it harder but reduces its ductile capacity. The quality of a finished steel product is affected by the flaws in the chemical solutions used, environmental conditions, and the system used in forging.

There are many types of steel used in the making of knives from those made in China to those made in America. One of the most commonly used knife steels is Sk5 steel.

The Sk5 has been used for a long time and in many places. Sk5 blades can serve for an extended period as long as they are stored well.

We’ll be looking deeper into its properties, functionality, and if it’s a good steel for knives. Keep reading.

What is Sk5 Steel?

Sk5 steel is high carbon steel made up of Carbon in the range of 0.75%-0.85% and manganese in the range of 0.60%-0.90%. It’s a type of Japanese steel that is equivalent to the American 1080 steel as they both have similar properties.

The Composition of Sk5 Steel

The quality of any type of steel is determined by its composition and the quantities of the elements.

For Sk5 steel, the elements are:

Carbon at 0.9% – carbon enhances hardness and resistance to corrosion and wear but lowers the strength of steel.

Manganese at 0.50% – manganese works in making the steel harder.

Chromium at 0.30% – chromium increases the resistance to corrosion and wear while also enhancing the strength and edge retention.

Silicon at 0.35% – silicon increases the strength.

Copper at 0.25% – copper increases corrosion resistance by preventing the formation of rust.

Nickel at 0.25% – nickel functions in enhancing toughness and making the blade stronger.

Sulfur at 0.03% – sulfur increases the machinability.

Phosphorus at 0.03% – phosphorus enhances strength.

Properties of Sk5 Steel

Sk5 steel is a low-end to mid-range kind of steel. It’s properties are:

Edge retention – the steel has good edge retention due to the high quantity of carbon in it which makes it hard.

Corrosion resistance – it does have corrosion resistance but at low levels. A lot of care has to be taken with the blade to prevent rust from forming.

Toughness quality – the steel is very tough considering that it’s a low-end mid-range carbon steel that is affordably priced.

Wear resistance – Sk5 has quite good wear resistance.

Sharpness – the high amounts of nickel in the steel toughen it making it hard to sharpen.

Sk5 Steel Hardness

Steel hardness is measured using the Rockwell C scale. The higher the hardness of steel, the better it will be at holding an edge but the more brittle it becomes and the harder to sharpen it is.

The HRC of Sk5 steel is 65 which is very hard.

Is Sk5 Steel Stainless Steel?

Sk5 steel is not stainless steel. This is because it contains only 0.30% Chromium.

For steel to be stainless steel, it’s Chromium percentage should be at 11% and above. The fact that it’s not stainless steel may make some knife makers wary of it but it’s really good at cutting.

Is Sk5 Steel Good For Knives?

Sk5 steel is good for knives and most utility blades are made of it. This is due to the fact that it has a high carbon content that makes it very hard and tough. It has high abrasion resistance and edge holding power. Sk5 steel is especially great for hunting and camping knives. Outdoor activities need strong knives with reliable steel blades.

The steel is also used in kitchen knives. However, if the knife is to be utilized in wet conditions, it will require a lot of care so as to avoid rusting which can occur easily with this type of steel.

Knives made with Sk5 Steel

Sk5 steel is a hard, workable, very affordable, and durable steel. It is used as a blade for many tools like razor blades, scalpels, cutting tools, saws, swords, camping knives, hunting knives, utility knives, and others.

When it comes to knives, Sk5 steel is one of the common choices for knife makers and especially for making weapons. It has really high performance because it can hold an edge well, has a good price, and is very tough to use when it comes to hard cutting.

There are many good quality knives made with Sk5 steel. We’ll look at two of them.

One is the Siwi knife. It’s manufactured by The Columbia River Knife and Tool Company. The knife is highly durable with a non-reflective black powder coat that offers resistance to corrosion and rust.

The second one is the Clever Girl also by CRKT. It has a 4.6 plain edge, black powder coat, and a textured G10 handle that gives comfort.

This knife has great edge retention, resistance to wear and corrosion, and it’s very tough too. It’s a specially made tactical knife that has been made to be drawn fast in case of emergencies.


The Sk5 is a Japanese carbon steel that is high in carbon levels. The steel is very hard and tough.

It can hold an edge well and has good wear resistance. However, it can get corroded easily if it’s used and stored in humid conditions.

Due to its toughness, a Sk5 steel blade is very hard to sharpen. At 0.30%, its Chromium levels are way below 11%, making it non-stainless steel.

It’s affordable and good for use in tactical operations and utility knives like swords, kitchen knives, and even chisels.

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