Steel for throwing knives

Jul 30, 2004

I was wondering what sort of steel you guys use for throwing knives, and what you harden it to. Most manufacturers make their knives in 420 grade stainless. Cold Steel uses 1055. I have no idea what the hardness is. The throwing knives I have from United Cutlery seems to be, oh, 54-55 RC? Maybe even softer.

So what do you guys recommend?
Jul 4, 2007
I would definantly want a medium carbon shock resistant steel. I think my choices would be L6, 8670, 5160, S7, INFI, 1055, or even 4340 prehard Chrome-Moly. I'd temper them to about 55 RC. The reason is the knives are subjected to the same stresses as an axe. So it follows that the materials, and heat treat should be the same as what is used in hatchets and axes.
May 22, 2007
420 stainless is stamped on just about every piece of crap out of china, iv never liked anything that claims to be 420... i see that and go the other way. just my opinion.
i would suggest 5160 hardened and tempered to a good brown/blue color and it should be springy and tough as all hell. i have a couple rough blades i tempered like this that iv thrown allot. hope that gives you a direction to try :)


Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Jul 25, 2007
I would steer clear of stainless and go for any 10XX (1045 to 1095). Production companies probably use stainless because they are already buying a lot of it, and because they don't have to worry about a finish. I don't think their using it because it is particularly good for a thrower.

A guy named Jeff Adams made/sold a lot of thrower years ago; I've seen and thrown some of his that have been thrown for over 20 years. They're in great shape, considering their history. They're made from 1095, and he had them hardened to "high 40's".

You want a throwing knife to behave like a spring, so go for a spring temper. I think 55 sounds a bit high.

I use W-1 for my spikes (due to availability, not choice); I quench in Parks 50 and temper at 700°. I was tempering at 500°, but I had some tips shatter. I test my throwers by throwing at a stone wall. 700° seems pretty good.

Pick a steel, look at the tempering/hardness chart, and follow that. Thats what I did.


Blade Heat Treating
Jun 11, 2006
5160 in the lower rc range is very tought. That being said i would also say l6 and s7. But i also think that cpm-3v would make a killer throwing knife.