CPM-S30V has become one of the most used premium steels on the market among knife manufacturers. Originally developed by both Chris Reeve (a world renowned knife maker) and Dick Barber of Crucible Industries, S30V is a martensitic powder-made stainless steel.
Martensitic is a specific type of stainless steel alloy. There are three main classifications of stainless steels if you want to classify them by their crystalline structure. They are, austenitic, ferritic and martensitic. Martensitic steels are carbon steels that are usually tempered and hardened. This tempering gives the steel good hardness and high toughness.
S30V lands directly in the Martensitic camp. It is also a powder made, sintered stainless steel. Sintering is the process of making a solid by using heat and/or pressure without actually taking the substance to the liquid state. Sintering is often used with materials that have an extremely high melt point, such as molybdenum. CPM-S30V contains a 1.45% Carbon, 14.00% Chromium, 4.00% Vanadium and 2.00% Molybdenum. Since it has a small but significant presence of Molybdenum, this high end stainless steel is produced by mixing tiny “ball bearing” bits of each of the appropriate ingredients. After being thoroughly mixed, the entire batch is sintered or fused with heat and/or pressure. This allows the atoms in the various materials to fuse together into one solid piece of stainless steel.
The vanadium carbides in S30V give the steel an extremely refined grain. The uniform grain structure created during the process of making CPM-S30V gives the blade uniform wear and strength across the entire blade. This means there are no weak points like can occur in many other stainless steels.
If you are looking for a high end stainless steel knife that will keep an edge, that will be durable, and will resist corrosion–definitely consider one made with a CPM-S30V blade.
According to Wikipedia, “CPM-S30V is considered a premium grade knife steel. It is so expensive that it strongly affects the price of the knife, and is largely used in higher-end production and custom knives.”
Because of its high durability, high corrosion resistance and edge retention, Benchmade Knives entire new line of premium hunting knives, appropriately called the HUNT series, are all made with CPM-S30V. Many other knife makers use it extensively as well including Spyderco Knives, Piranha Knives, Zero Tolerance and Microtech Knives just to name a few.