4116 Steel vs 420 Steel – What’s the Difference

4116 Steel vs 420 Steel

Steel quality plays a crucial role in determining their durability, sharpness, and overall quality in the world of knives. Two popular types of Steel used in knife making are 4116 and 420. While these two are often compared, they do have some differences you should be aware of. This post will delve deep into their characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses to help you understand which Steel best suits your needs.

Difference Between 4116 Steel and 420 Steel

Composition Differences:

One of the primary differences between 4116 and 420 steel is their composition. 4116 is a type of martensitic stainless Steel that contains 0.45% carbon, 13% chromium, and 1% molybdenum. 420 steel, on the other hand, is a high-carbon steel that contains 0.15% carbon and 13.5% chromium. 4116 is more complex in composition than 420 steel.

Hardness and Corrosion Resistance:

Regarding hardness, both 4116 and 420 steel have decent levels. However, 4116 steel has slightly better edge retention than 420 steel. Meanwhile, 420 steel is more rust-resistant than 4116 steel, making it more suitable for outdoor and marine environments where corrosion can be an issue.


4116 Steel is manufactured using a proprietary process called “Cryogenic Hardening,” improving its tensile strength and toughness. This process involves cooling the Steel to around -120°C cryogenic temperatures for extended periods. In contrast, 420 steel isn’t subjected to this process.

Differences in Applications:

Due to differences in hardness, rust resistance, and manufacturing, 4116 steel is best suited for critical edge retention applications. Hence, it is most commonly used for general-purpose kitchen knives, fishing knives, and outdoor gear. On the other hand, 420 steel is more commonly used for applications that require corrosion resistance, such as diving knives, which are often exposed to saltwater.

Comparing Prices:

The difference in Steel’s manufacturing processes and application contributes greatly to their price differences. 4116 steel is more expensive than 420 steel because of its proprietary manufacturing process during production. However, the extra price is worth it if you need a tougher steel and sharpness retention.


In summary, you need to know the difference between 4116 steel and 420 steel. The specific use and preference determine whether to choose 4116 or 420 steel. On the one hand, 420 steel is a good option for diving knives in outdoor and marine environments but won’t last as long as 4116 steel when cutting hard materials. On the other hand, 4116 steel is the better option when you need sharpness retention and harder Steel. We hope this post has provided insight into both steel types and enabled you to decide which one to choose for your next knife purchase.

Minal Jogale

Minal Jogale

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