A2 Steel Vs CPM 3V Knife Steel

You’ve decided to invest in a quality knife, but you’re faced with a dilemma: should you choose a blade made from A2 steel or one crafted from CPM 3V steel? Fear not, for we’re here to help you make an informed decision. 

In this article, we’ll delve deep into the properties and applications of both A2 steel and CPM 3V knife steel, comparing their performance, corrosion resistance, and sharpening capabilities. So, without further ado, let’s dive in!

Understanding A2 Steel

A2 steel, also known as air-hardening steel, is a versatile and popular tool steel. Its primary components include chromium and molybdenum, giving it a unique balance of hardness, toughness, and wear resistance. 

This steel is widely used for various cutting tools, including knives, as it offers a reliable cutting edge and decent corrosion resistance.

Understanding CPM 3V Steel

CPM 3V steel, produced by Crucible Industries, is a powder metallurgy tool steel known for its exceptional toughness and wear resistance. 

This steel contains high levels of vanadium and chromium, providing excellent edge retention and resistance to chipping. 

Its unique combination of properties makes CPM 3V an ideal choice for heavy-duty knives and cutting tools designed for demanding applications.

A2 Tool Steel Corrosion Resistance

Comprehensive Comparison of A2 Steel Vs CPM 3V

Performance Comparison

When comparing the performance of A2 steel and CPM 3V steel, there are some noticeable differences. 

CPM 3V steel boasts superior toughness and edge retention compared to A2 steel, thanks to its higher vanadium content. This makes CPM 3V knives more suitable for demanding tasks, such as chopping, batoning, and prying.

However, A2 steel is still a reliable choice for everyday use and offers a good balance of hardness, toughness, and wear resistance. 

It’s an excellent option for those who want a versatile knife that performs well in a variety of tasks without the need for frequent sharpening.

Corrosion Resistance

When it comes to corrosion resistance, A2 steel fares reasonably well. Its chromium content helps to resist rust, but it’s still not considered a stainless steel

Regular maintenance is necessary to keep an A2 knife in top shape. CPM 3V steel, on the other hand, has better corrosion resistance than A2 steel, thanks to its high chromium content.

However, it’s still not a stainless steel, so some care is required to prevent rust and maintain the knife’s appearance.

Sharpening and Edge Retention

Sharpening A2 steel is relatively straightforward. It’s not as hard as some other tool steels, so it’s easier to put a razor-sharp edge on an A2 blade. 

However, it may require more frequent sharpening compared to CPM 3V steel.

CPM 3V steel is known for its excellent edge retention, meaning that it can hold a sharp edge for an extended period. 

However, this also makes it somewhat more challenging to sharpen than A2 steel. 

CPM 3V’s high vanadium content leads to the formation of hard carbides, which contribute to edge retention but can make sharpening more time-consuming. 

Nonetheless, with the right sharpening tools and technique, it’s still possible to achieve a keen edge on a CPM 3V blade.

Cost and Availability

In general, CPM 3V steel tends to be more expensive than A2 steel. This is due to the more complex production process and the higher levels of vanadium and chromium in its composition.

As a result, knives made from CPM 3V steel are typically pricier than their A2 steel counterparts.

A2 steel is more widely available and more affordable, making it an attractive option for those on a budget or those looking for a quality knife without breaking the bank.

A2 Vs D2 Knife Steel

Popular Knife Models

There are several popular knife models available in both A2 and CPM 3V steel, catering to various needs and preferences. 

Some popular A2 steel knives include the Bark River Bravo 1 and the Fallkniven F1. These knives are well-regarded for their versatility and performance in various cutting tasks.

Some popular CPM 3V steel knives include the Spyderco ParaMilitary 2 and the Benchmade 4x series. 

These knives are known for their toughness and excellent edge retention, making them ideal choices for heavy-duty applications and demanding tasks.

Choosing the Right Steel for Your Needs

When deciding between A2 steel and CPM 3V steel, it’s essential to consider your specific needs and preferences. 

If you’re looking for a versatile, affordable knife that performs well in various tasks, A2 steel might be the right choice for you.

However, if you need a heavy-duty knife with exceptional toughness and edge retention, CPM 3V steel could be a better option. 

Keep in mind that CPM 3V knives tend to be more expensive, so be prepared to invest a bit more for this high-performance steel.

Maintenance Tips for A2 and CPM 3V Knives

To ensure the longevity and performance of your A2 or CPM 3V knife, proper maintenance is crucial. Here are some tips to help you keep your knife in top condition:

  • Clean your knife regularly, especially after using it in wet or corrosive environments.
  • Apply a light coating of oil to the blade to protect against corrosion.
  • Store your knife in a dry, well-ventilated area.
  • Sharpen your knife regularly to maintain its cutting performance.


Is A2 steel stainless?

No, A2 steel is not classified as stainless steel. It has some corrosion resistance due to its chromium content, but it’s not as resistant to rust as stainless steel.

Can CPM 3V steel be used for folding knives?

Yes, CPM 3V steel can be used for folding knives, although it’s more commonly found in fixed-blade knives due to its toughness and edge retention properties.

How often should I sharpen my A2 or CPM 3V knife?

The frequency of sharpening depends on your usage and personal preference. A2 steel may require more frequent sharpening than CPM 3V steel due to its slightly lower edge retention. It’s essential to maintain a sharp edge on your knife for optimal cutting performance.

Final Thoughts

When choosing between A2 steel and CPM 3V knife steel, it’s essential to consider your specific needs and preferences. 

A2 steel offers a good balance of performance and affordability, making it a popular choice among knife enthusiasts. Its ability to hold an edge and resist corrosion makes it suitable for a wide range of applications.

On the other hand, CPM 3V steel offers exceptional toughness and edge retention, making it ideal for heavy-duty tasks and outdoor activities. 

However, it can be more expensive than A2 steel, and its high level of hardness may make it more challenging to sharpen.

I'm Justin, co-founder of AllofKitchen and your knife and steel specialist. My extensive experience ensures accurate and hands-on advice on every topic. Turn to me for insights on selecting the best knife or maintaining your steel tools to perfection. Knives aren't just tools; they're an extension of the chef, and I'm here to guide you to the perfect fit.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x