Do you really need an expensive super steel for your knife, when you won’t really use it that much? If you’re not a frequent EDC knife user or a professional chef, then you should consider getting 4cr14 steel knives for EDC and kitchen use.
With this guide, you’ll find out why.
What is 4cr14 steel?
Basically, it’s a steel alloy with low carbon levels, leading to rather mediocre hardness levels. But the blades you get with 4cr14 steel gets the job done, if you’re just cutting food ingredients or opening packages.
The 14cr14 steel is stainless steel, which offers good corrosion resistance. It offers decent toughness, and it’s also very easy to sharpen.
You will find the steel used by quite a few kitchen knives brands, and Kershaw also uses it for their affordable EDC knives.
Common Uses of 4cr14 steel
There are plenty of uses for 4cr14 steel, as it’s very affordable and also quite corrosion-resistant.
- Folding EDC knives
- Folding tactical knives
- Kitchen knives (chopping knife, chef’s knife, utility knife, etc.)
4cr14 steel Chemical Composition
For a budget steel, the 4c414 steel chemical composition surprisingly includes a lot of different elements.
- Carbon, 0.38%
- Chromium, 14%
- Molybdenum, 0.12%
- Manganese, 0.41%
- Vanadium, 0.08%
- Nickel, 0.14%
- Silicon, 0.41%
- Sulfur, 0.003%
- Phosphorus, 0.02%
Carbon, 0.38%: This is barely in the medium-carbon steel category, when you consider that plenty of carbon steels come near the 1% level. Carbon is generally considered the most crucial element for hardness and cutting performance, and it’s very telling that there’s not much here. But then again, you also get good toughness because you don’t have too much carbon.
Chromium, 14%: Stainless steels need to contain at least 10% to 12% chromium, so the 4cr14 steel certainly qualifies. With this much chromium, you can safely work in the kitchen or in wet conditions. As long as you wipe down the blade after getting it wet, your blade shouldn’t have trouble with corrosion.
Molybdenum, 0.12%: This works with the manganese and vanadium in the steel, boosting its creep strength and strength in high temperatures. It also improves the hardenability of the steel. It’s also added to stainless steels to help with the corrosion resistance.
Manganese, 0.41%: Manganese is somewhat similar to carbon in its effects, so much so that it’s often considered the second most important element in knife blade steels. It improves tensile strength and hardenability, and also takes out oxygen and sulfur impurities from the slag. You don’t want too much manganese, though, as that can lead to reduced ductility.
Vanadium, 0.08%: The tiny amount of vanadium here boosts the resistance to wear, fatigue stress, and shock loading. It also improves the toughness against fractures and its hardenability.
Nickel, 0.14%: This also helps with corrosion resistance and hardenability. It’s great for the notch toughness of the steel alloy, too.
Silicon, 0.41%: Silicon strengthens the steel, while it also takes out oxygen bubbles. It’s good for the hardness and strength of the steel.
Sulfur, 0.003%: This extremely small amount of sulfur is here to make the steel easier to machine. But you can’t have too much of it. It’s normally regarded as an impurity that can lower the steel’s ductility and toughness.
Phosphorus, 0.02%: This is another “impurity” that helps when limited to no more than 0.03%. But a tiny amount of it improves corrosion resistance and steel strength.
4cr14 steel hardness
With its relatively middling amount of carbon, the 4cr14 steel is acceptably hard, but not impressively so. It rates about 55 to 57 HRC in hardness, which is good enough for EDC and kitchen knives. It’ll cut though the soft stuff easily enough, though edge retention will certainly be a problem.
The good news here is that the moderate hardness also results in acceptable toughness. That means it’s not also easy to chip off a piece of the steel when you use it.
Does 4cr14 steel rust?
Yes, it can rust if you don’t take care of it properly. However, it is also stainless steel, meaning you don’t really have to do a lot for corrosion-resistance maintenance. If you remember to just wipe the steel dry after you wash it, then you’re good.
Properties of 4cr14 steel
The 4cr14 steel is noted for 2 main attributes: it’s affordable and it is stainless steel.
This is perhaps its main advantage, as it is part of the stainless steel category. That means you can safely use it in wet conditions such as in the kitchen and not worry about stains appearing on the steel. You only need minimal corrosion-resistance maintenance, like simply wiping down the blade after it gets wet.
Acceptable Cutting Power
Do you need kitchen knives for preparing home meals, or maybe an EDC knife for cutting open packages every now and then? Then the 4cr14 steel is good enough for your needs. It’ll do those jobs well enough.
Low Edge Retention
This is perhaps the main drawback to 4cr14 steel. It’s not meant for heavy-duty or all-day work. Use it all day for cutting open packages or for slicing food ingredients in a restaurant, and you its edge may be noticeably dull by day’s end.
Easy Enough Even for Newbies to Sharpen
The good news is that even if you do have to sharpen the blade frequently, it’s not all that difficult. In fact, it’s a great steel for sharpening newbies to practice their blade-honing skills. There’s no need for special sharpening equipment, and you can sharpen the edge fairly quickly.
This is another consequence of the middling hardness you get with 4cr14. A steel that’s too hard can get brittle and more likely to chip off. You don’t have that issue with 4cr14 steel.
Ease to Machine
Manufacturers have no trouble using this steel for knives, which leads to very low prices. In fact, the best brands tend to offer a wicked edge right out of the box.
This is the other main feature you’d like if you’re looking for serviceable knife. The price of 4cr14 is very low, which gives you a lot of bang for the buck.
4cr14 Equivalent Steels or Alternative
Here, we compare the 4cr14 steel to similar steels in the budget steel category. You can find out if there’s another steel out there that fits your needs better, or you can confirm for sure that the 4cr14 steel is what you really want.
4cr14 Steel vs 3cr13
The 3CR13 contains lower levels of carbon and chromium. Consequently, it’s not as hard and as corrosion-resistant as 4cr13 steel. The 3cr13 blade can dull even more quickly, though it may be easier to sharpen. The 3cr13 knife is also usually more affordable than its 4cr14 counterpart.
4cr14 Steel vs 8cr13mov
The two steels have much in common, offering good enough cutting performance but poor edge retention, acceptable toughness, convenient ease of sharpening, and good corrosion resistance. Both are also affordable and regarded as among the budget steels.
The 8cr13mov is harder, though, and it’s considered a good all-round performer. But the 4cr14 steel is somewhat easier to sharpen, and also a bit more affordable as well.
Is 4cr14 steel good for Knives?
It works well enough. It really depends on just how you’re planning to use the knife, however.
True, its edge retention is quite poor. If you use this the cutting edge all day for tough materials like rope, then you may not even reach the end of the day before you’ll need to sharpen it. It’s best for occasionally, opening packages, and cutting soft food items when you’re preparing your dinner.
What really makes the 4cr14 steel good for knives is that it’s extremely affordable. Even people who don’t earn much can afford this, because people will need knives sooner or later. With a 4cr14 steel knife, you actually get good value for your money. It does the job and it’s super-cheap.
Pros & Cons of 4cr14 steel
Best 4cr14 steel Knives
While no one says that the 4cr14 is a premium steel for knives, there are a few knives that really works while they don’t cost a lot. Here are the knives that offer great value for your money:
#1: Kershaw Lifter (1302BW) Tactical Tanto Pocket Knife
- Blade Length: 3.5 in. (8.9 cm)
- Blade Material: 4Cr14
- Blade Finish/Coating: Black-oxide BlackWash™ coating
- Blade Thickness: 0.11 in. (0.28 cm)
- Closed Length: 4.5 in. (11.4 cm)
- Handle Material: Stainless steel
- Handle Finish/Coating: Black-oxide BlackWash™ coating
- Handle Thickness: 0.41 in. (1.04 cm)
- Overall Length: 7.9 in. (20.1 cm)
- Weight: 5.8 oz.(167 g)
This is a tactical utility knife, but with the 4cr14 steel, that means you intend to use the knife only occasionally. The blade will work as needed, with its tanto point and sizable 3.5-inch length. It’s great that it comes out of the box extremely sharp.
This is an all-steel knife, with the handle made with stainless steel as well. It comes with a blackwash finish, so it looks formidable and has a well-worn look. Any scratches you get on it will just add to its character. The black finish also minimizes reflections, which is good for tactical situations.
It’s easy enough to open the knife blade, using the built-in thumb stud. You can do it with one hand. The “SpeedSafe Assisted Opening” feature then helps get the knife blade out in the open. Then the frame lock secures the blade in place, and it has a stabilizer to make sure the lock always works.
This also comes with a handy deep-carry pocket clip, so it sits low in the pocket. There’s also a lanyard hole for an alternative way to carry the knife.
#2: Kershaw Starter Folding Pocket Knife (1301BW)
- Blade length: 3.4 in. (8.6 cm)
- Closed length: 4.5 in. (11.4 cm)
- Blade: Stainless steel
- Handle: Stainless steel
- Weight: 6.3 oz (178.6 g)
- Origin: Made in China.
This is rightly considered a “starter” knife, because it doesn’t need much maintenance besides rather frequent sharpening. But that’s a good thing to learn if you’re a newbie.
The 3.4-inch drop-point blade with the plain edge also comes with the black finish for an impressive appearance. That’s especially true with the unique look of the stainless-steel handle and its scale design. The black finish even helps in hiding the scratches you inevitably accumulate after a time.
Again, you have the usual Kershaw features like the SpeedSafe Assisted Opening for easy deployment. You can use a single hand to open the knife, even if you’re left-handed. Then the blade also locks into place when opened.
The knife measures 4.5 inches when closed, and it works with the pocket clip so you can carry it discreetly.
#3: XYJ 4cr14 Stainless Steel Kitchen Knife Set
- Package Dimensions: 13.62 x 4.06 x 1.38 inches
- Knife Set Weight: 648 g
- Handle Style: Unique Resin Fibre Handle
- Blade Material: Carbon Stainless Steel
- Handle Material: Carbon Stainless Steel + Resin Fibre
This time you get a set of 3 knives, for the price of a single knife. You get a 7-inch chopping knife, a 6-inch chef’s knife, and a 5-inch utility knife. All the handles are made with carbon stainless steel and resin fiber.
The 4cr14 steel really shines in the kitchen, since it can basically glide through food ingredients without any issues. Don’t worry about your ingredients getting the steel wet, because it’s stainless steel.
With this set, you have the basic knives you need for cooking at home. The handles are comfy to hold and let you get the work done, and they’re even quite attractive.
For many people (or, as we suspect, a lot more people than knife collectors might think), it’s not about getting a fantastic knife regardless of the price. Instead, a knife is just something you use every now and then, or when you’re in the kitchen.
The steel for the knife just has to do the job well enough, while it gives you full value for your money. And that describes the 4cr14 steel perfectly. It cuts as needed, for the few occasions you need to use it. It’s stainless steel, so working in wet environments (like in the kitchen) isn’t a problem either.
And what’s more, they’re very affordable. Just buy one, and that’s that. You have a serviceable knife that does the job, and you still have lots of money left!