What is 1050 Steel?

Best 1050 Steel KnivesThere are fancy metals and then there are simple ones that are very straightforward and out to get the job done. While these fancy options can be exciting, there’s also a high likelihood that they’re very expensive, hard to find, or will require a trade off of some sort. A dependable, straightforward option, on the other hand, just promises to get the job done.

This is the case for the 1050 steel. It’s not considered as a special steel grade but it can be a nice option for those who are looking for something dependable.

What is 1050 Steel?

Combat knifeThe 1050 steel is a medium-carbon machine building steel. It has a medium tensile strength and toughness. It also has a pretty good wear resistance.

This steel grade is a part of the “10xx” group which is named according to their carbon points. As it notes 50, it means that it has 50 carbon points or .50% carbon content. The slight variations in the composition of the steel grades in this family give each a unique distinction that makes them easy to identify and utilize for different purposes.

Using the 1050 steel for knife products is commonly done since this steel is also quite easy to work with. Novice forgers may find this particular steel grade a good option to start practicing with as it can teach them a lot.

Common Uses of 1050 Steel

Like many other basic steel grades, the 1050 is not specifically meant for creating knives but it is widely used for manufacturing different kinds of blades. It’s most popular uses are the following:

  • Die and heavy equipment machinery
  • Electronics
  • Medical equipment
  • Various kinds of springs (flat, custom, die, torsion, disc, extension, wave, etc.)
  • Wire forms
  • Gears
  • Axles
  • Hammers
  • Cutting implements like sickles and axes
  • Automobile parts
  • Swords

1050 Steel Chemical Composition

As mentioned above, the 1050 has a pretty basic composition. This makes it a pretty straightforward steel grade. It’s a lot like the other steel grades in the 10xx family, the level of its carbon content is the only thing that really sets it apart.

  • Carbon, 0.48-0.55%
  • Manganese, 0.60-0.90%
  • Sulfur, ≤ 0.050%
  • Phosphorus, ≤ 0.040%

Carbon, 0.48-0.55%: As a medium-carbon steel grade, the 1050 has a good amount of hardness but just enough to keep it from becoming brittle. This offers a good balance that makes it quite resistant to wear.

Manganese, 0.60-0.90%: To boost the hardenability of the 1050 without compromising its integrity, manganese is added to its composition. It also increases the strength of the steel.

Sulfur, ≤ 0.050%:The sulfur content of the 1050 aids in its machinability.

Phosphorus, ≤ 0.040%: Despite the small amount present, this component helps make the 1050 resistant to corrosion to some degree. It also strengthens it and improves its machinability.

Aside from these, traces of chromium, nickel, molybdenum, copper, and aluminium are also found in 10xx steels so they are also present in small amounts in the 1050 steel.

1050 Steel Hardness

An important thing to note about the 1050 steel is that it’s crafted to be tough but not necessarily hard. However, it can still reach up to 58 HRc in the Rockwell scale. This already offers decent hardness that will suit a wide range of applications.

Does 1050 Steel Rust?

Since the 1050 steel only contains chromium and copper in very small amounts, it can be quite prone to rust and corrosion. This means that if used in humid and wet environments, regular maintenance will be required.

Properties of 1050 Steel

What are the key characteristics of the 1050 steel? Here are its key properties that are noteworthy:

Toughness

As mentioned before, the 1050 steel is noted for its good tensile strength and toughness. This means that it can take quite a beating and won’t easily break when a high amount of strain is applied.

It should be noted that while 1050 has a good amount of hardness in it, it’s not designed to be very hard. This guarantees that the 1050 steel can withstand rough handling and can resist brittle fracture.

Ease of sharpening

Since the 1050 steel isn’t very hard, it’s also not that fussy to sharpen. The blade should be easy to work with since it’s not too resistant to abrasion.

This is a great plus as the 1050 is not known to hold its edge for very long. Since it’s not a hard steel, it tends to get dull quite quickly. Being easy to sharpen makes it simpler to maintain.

Corrosion resistance

Despite not having high levels of chromium, the 1050 steel can still hold up a bit against corrosion and rust. It can get rusty without proper care but galvanizing and the right kind of coating help tremendously in keeping it in top shape.

Machinability

Despite its simple composition, the 1050 steel can still be a favorable pick for blades, particularly for those who make their own knives. Its composition makes it easy to form so those who are just starting out in forging their own blades might be able to practice their skills with this metal.

Despite its easy handling, however, it still comes with a bit of challenges. The forger needs to know how to handle this steel because working on it after it has been hardened will make things difficult.

It’s best to take the necessary steps in shaping and crafting it to one’s desired make before the heat treatment. This is the best way to make this particular metal do what is desired from it.

1050 Equivalent Steels or Alternative

Since the 1050 is a part of the 10xx steel series, it’s easy to find close alternatives to this particular steel grade. Any of the 10xx steel grades could be good substitutes to this specific metal since they have pretty similar compositions.

Out of all of all of the other options, however, the 1060 and 1095 might be the best other options for those who are looking into the 1050. The 1060 already offers a nice step up as it holds its edge slightly better than the 1050. The 1095 is even a better performer with its higher carbon content.

Is 1050 Steel Good for Knives?

While the 1050 is only a medium-carbon steel, it’s still a good option for knives. It’s strength, toughness, and wear resistant will already suffice for a lot of knife users.

Those who do not mind having to sharpen and regularly maintain their knives might also find this particular steel grade a good match to their needs.

Also, as mentioned above, it can be a desirable material for blade forgers. Due to its high machinability, it can prove to be a friendly material for those who want to make their own knives and cutting implements.

Pros & Cons of 1050 Steel

Pros
  • Good strength and high toughness
  • Good wear resistance
  • High machinability and easily formable
  • Easy to sharpen when used in blades
  • Blades can get very sharp
  • Reliable durability
Cons
  • Not very hard so it doesn’t hold its edge for a very long time
  • Requires regular resharpening when used in knives
  • Not very resistant to corrosion and rust

Best 1050 Steel Knives

Want to get to know the available product options for this particular steel grade? Here’s one of the best 1050 steel knives in the market today that’s worth looking into:

#1: CRKT Sting Fixed Blade Knife

Quick Specification
  • Blade Length: 3.197″ (81.2 mm)
  • Overall Length: 6.94″ (176.23 mm)
  • Edge: Dual Plain
  • Blade Finish: Black Powder Coat
  • Blade Thickness: 0.137″ (3.48 mm)
  • Grind: Double Edge
  • Weight: 3.9 oz (110.56g)
  • Sheath Weight: 2.4 oz (68.04g)

Offered by a reputable manufacturer with a notable background, the CRKT Sting Fixed Blade Knife is one product that lots of knife users rave about. It’s commended for its quality as, true to the brand’s reputation, it’s affordable but doesn’t feel cheap.

This fixed blade knife features a dual plain edge with black powder coat. It’s small enough to work as a boot knife but since its sheath doesn’t come with a boot clip, it can’t function exactly as such. It does come with straps, however, so it can be worn around the calves or arms.

The knife itself comes sharp straight out of the box so it’s ready to go upon its arrival. The blade has a nice black coating which matches its black handle and boosts the corrosion resistance of the steel.

Pros
  • Attractive design
  • Friendly price tag
  • Effective corrosion resistant coating
  • Quality build and construction
  • Substantial heft gives it a nice feel and makes it quite nice to handle
  • Comes with a leg holster so it can be comfortably carried around
Cons
  • Labeled as a boot knife but doesn’t come with a boot clip
  • Sheath design and build can be improved

 

Conclusion

Hopefully, all of the points discussed in this 1050 steel review proves to be helpful for those who are interested in finding a good knife material that won’t break the bank. It might not be as fancy as other steel grades but it has a lot to offer, especially those who want to enjoy different aspects of knife ownership.

Has something to add to the points mentioned above? Start a discussion in the comments! Additional information and tips are always welcome.

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