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5160 vs. 1095

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by XMP, May 5, 2007.

  1. XMP


    Feb 9, 2007
    All other things being equal (profile, grind, heat treat, etc.) what would be the differences, pros and cons, of a knife in 5160 versus 1095? Thanks.
  2. Elen


    Apr 10, 2007
    1095 rusts easier, being a plain carbon steel. It's a good, inexpensive basic steel. Very easy to sharpen, decent edge retention and it's pretty tough as well.

    5160 is a different beast, though. It has some chromium in it unless I'm mistaken, so it doesn't rust quite as easily as 1095. Toughness is excellent, so it's better than 1095 for larger blades in that sense. It's more expensive than 1095, obviously.
  3. XMP


    Feb 9, 2007
    If no one has any input, could someone at least tell me whether I should have posted this in a different forum.
  4. Thomas Linton

    Thomas Linton

    Jun 16, 2003
    All other things being equal, 1095 should hold its edge better and 5160 (motor vehicle leaf spring steel) is tougher (not that 1095 isn't tough, being used for farm harrows and plows). 5160 tends to rust evenly, as opposed to pitting (wouldn't want leaf springs to pit).

    If you want someone else to tell you these things, and more, you could go to the knife makers' forum.
  5. HoB


    May 12, 2004
    Both are simple steels. 5160 has less carbon and a small amount of alloying elements which boost toughness. The corrosion resistance is higher, but it still rusts very easily (I wonder if you would actually see a difference in practice). 1095 has potentially a higher hardness and hence a higher edge stability. In principle it is not as tough but, apparently with the right heattreats you can get very good toughness out of it and you can of course differentially temper it. Both have very low abrasion resistance in comparision to the ledeburitic steels like VG-10, S30V, ATS34 etc. Both are of course much more fine grained though. If you want to forge or heat treat yourself, you really have to go to the smith's forum. From a user perspective the differences are difficult to describe, because it largely depends especially on what the maker did with the steel in particular with 1095. "All other things being equal" is also not enough information. It not only matters that grinds are the same, but what kind of grinds we are talking about. To compare steels with greatly different carbon content and require the same hardness is also not very sensible because you might require one steel too hard the other too soft and obviously you can not heat treat different steels the same way. So your requirements are not very thought through.

    My personal $0.02 would be a 1095 blade run pretty hard for a small ultimate pushcutter, and 5160 for a nice big chopper, but that is a somewhat simplistic statement. I know that 1095 has be used very successfully in pretty large choppers as well.

    Hope this helps a bit to sort out your thoughts.
  6. wjzgma


    Sep 4, 2002
    Thanks for you guys inputs...learned something today, now I can sleep better
  7. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    5160 does not have enough chrome to significantly affect the corrosion resistance. To see a difference in corrosion resistance you would need a lot more than the 0.8% chromium in 5160. (Joe Talmadge says that the Chromium is there for hardenability.)

    Carbon ______0.56 - 0.64
    Chromium ___0.7 - 0.9
    Manganese __0.75 - 1
    Phosphorus __0.035 max
    Silicon ______0.15 - 0.35
    Sulphur _____0.04 max

    So XMP:
    At the risk of oversimplification:
    5160 is generally tougher than 1095.
    1095 will hold an edge better.

    Which is essentially what HoB said.
  8. XMP


    Feb 9, 2007
    Thanks much everyone. I appreciate the helpful explanations.
  9. Dr Rez

    Dr Rez Basic Member Basic Member

    Jun 7, 2012
    @knarfeng sorry to bump and old thread but while researching I found this answer you gave. Does this mean that like 51060 1095CV that Kabar uses has chromium (.4-.6 i think) is for the same reason? Not enough the actually effect rust but for the hardness? Essentially could you just elaborate on this subject I am trying to wrap my mind around it.
  10. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    Well, picking up a 10-yr old conversation...
    Yes. KaBar 1095 Cro Van and Case CV both contain about 1/2 percent chromium for a more uniform heat treat (more uniform hardening). (Which is not to say 1095 Cro Van and Case CV are the same alloy. They are not.)

    If memory serves, adding chromium does not have much noticeable effect on rust resistance until you hit something like 8% chromium. Martensitic Stainless Steel is has a minimum chromium level of 12%.
  11. strategy9

    strategy9 Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 27, 2015
    Memory does serve you well.
    I believe "true" stainless is at 13% though, as d2 is between 11-12% chromium and still falls just short of being called a stainless.

    To elaborate a bit for the good Dr., keeping in mind that even stainless will rust if not cared for, at 13% chromium (and up), the saturation allows the chromium to create a miniscule passive film layer over the steel, which that film is what protects the iron against the elements and rust/corrosion.

    Lower levels, like the 7.5% in 3v; 7.25% in cruwear, etc, even 12% in d2 just isn't enough for a full passive layer to form, but it still will resist corrosion better then plain carbon steels, (1045, 1055, 1075, 1095)...
    (Oftentimes they'll spot rust before they actually rust)

    Low levels like 1% for a2 coupled with a bit of Nickel, or 1.5% for 52100, is still better then nothing I suppose, but even at those numbers the difference is negligible at best, and those additions are more geared for other benefits like heat treat uniformity and such.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017

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