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What is Sleipner Steel? - knife Insight

What is Sleipner Steel?

Knife for camping and hunting in a leather case on a white surfaceAny knife aficionado and steel enthusiast will know that there are specific methods used in naming steel grades. They’re not necessarily implemented strictly but they make identification simpler. This is why some might feel confused when encountering the Sleipner steel for the first time.

As nothing in its name hints at its key components, some find themselves very curious about it. So to help those who want to get to know more about this metal, check out the discussion below.

What is Sleipner Steel?

Knife with a black handle from micarta with black leather sheath on a white surfaceThe Sleipner steel is a proprietary cold work steel by Bohler-Uddelholm. It’s classified as a high-alloyed tool steel known for its broad property profile. It is also a top choice for all kinds of surface treatments.

Created as a modification to the AISI D2 tool steel, the Sleipner promises a number of improvements and enhancements on the popular steel grade. It primarily addresses the limitations of such tool steels, offering a more modern, balanced, and versatile tool steel.

The changes made with the Sleipner steel promises better chipping resistance, faster toolmaking, as well as better machinability, hardenability, and grindability. These result in higher tool performance and easier upkeep.

Common Uses of Sleipner Steel

Sleipner steel is frequently used for the following applications:

  • Blanking and forming
  • Fine blanking
  • Powder compacting
  • Shearing
  • Coining
  • Cold forging
  • Thread rolling
  • Drawing and deep drawing

Sleipner Steel Chemical Composition

There are some articles online that contain a few errors in the composition of the Sleipner steel. Here’s an accurate rundown of its content based on the manufacturer’s data sheet.

  • Carbon, 0.9%
  • Chromium, 7.8%
  • Silicon, 0.9%
  • Manganese, 0.5%
  • Molybdenum, 2.5%
  • Vanadium, 0.5%

Carbon, 0.9%: As a staple component of many steel grades, carbon is also a major element in the Sleipner steel. This high amount of carbon contributes to its strength and hardness as well as its hardenability.

Chromium, 7.8%: A lot of people think that the Sleipner steel is a stainless steel grade but based on its chromium levels, it’s easy to see that it can’t be considered as such. This amount still promises some corrosion resistance and boost in hardness.

Silicon, 0.9%: This material primarily serves as a deoxidizer in metal compositions but it also helps add hardness and strength to the mix. It also improves soundness and minimizes defects.

Manganese, 0.5%: Like silicon, manganese is also a deoxidizer when making steel but it’s also an essential alloy when converting iron to steel. It’s a good balancing component as it reduces the brittleness found in hard steels and further strengthens it.

Molybdenum, 2.5%: This component adds a nice modern edge to lots of steel grades as it enhances the performance of metals. It adds toughness, strength, and hardenability in metals. It’s the key component that differentiates the Sleipner steel from the D2 as it also increases the corrosion resistance of this steel grade – one reason why some think that this is a stainless steel grade.

Vanadium, 0.5%: This alloying element is added in metals to reduce the grain size of the steel. Finer carbides are more desirable to achieve more strength and toughness.

Sleipner Steel Hardness

One of the key features of the Sleipner steel is its hardness. On the Rockwell scale, it’s rated at around 62-64HRc, making it a seriously hard steel grade.

Does Sleipner Steel Rust?

Sleipner steel has a few corrosion resistant elements in its mix but they’re not high enough to make it a stainless steel grade. Because of this, it can be expected to get rusty. With proper care and maintenance, however, corrosion can be kept at bay.

Properties of Sleipner Steel

Knife with a black handle from micartaDesigned for high-performance, the Sleipner steel offers a long list of desirable properties in a steel grade. Here are the key features some might be interested in:

Hardness

With its high carbon and chromium content, it can be expected that the Sleipner steel can get pretty hard. Its hardness rating is also a good proof of this.

What does this mean for using Sleipner steel for knife products? This means that blades can handle friction and won’t easily deform or lose material in the process. It can resist abrasive and adhesive damage, promising to stay as intact as possible.

Edge retention

Thanks to its high hardness, the Sleipner steel is also capable of holding its edge for a very long time. This means that it can stay sharp for longer periods of time, lessening the need for sharpening.

This is a very good thing for Sleipner steel knives as they can be quite difficult to sharpen. Those who enjoy the act of maintaining their blades might not find this to be an issue, however.

Wear resistance

Another good thing about the high hardness level of the Sleipner steel is its great wear resistance. It can handle a lot of friction as well as abrasive and adhesive damage so it can be used for a long time.

Machinability

With its high hardness, some might think that the Sleipner steel would be hard to work with but that’s not the case. A lot of its components are added to make it easy to cut or machined so amateur knife forgers might find it a good option to work with.

Toughness

Sleipner steel is best known for its hardness but it’s also nicely balanced with good toughness. This makes it very durable that there’s a demand for Sleipner steel for bushcraft knife products.

Sleipner Equivalent Steels or Alternative

If the discussions above were not able to fully explain what the Sleipner steel is about, comparing them to other steel grades might do the trick. Here are a few of the most popular metals that this steel grade is pitted against to better highlight its qualities and characteristics.

Niolox Steel vs Sleipner

As a niobium-alloyed steel, Niolox tends to stand out from the crowd for its unique composition. Niobium is somewhat similar to vanadium, added to refine grain size and increase wear resistance. As a result, it promises improved strength and resistance.

Because of this and the fact that the Niolox steel is a stainless steel grade, it has a leg up in the competition. It ticks most boxes in what people look for in a hardy and dependable blade material. This can also be the reason why it’s primarily used in manufacturing industrial knives.

Sleipner Steel vs D2

Like what was said above, the Sleipner Steel was created as an improvement to the D2 steel so it’s just normal that it’s often compared to the popular tool steel. Based on their composition, however, they can be seen to be quite different since the D2 is a stainless steel.

In terms of wear resistance and toughness, however, the two are pretty much neck to neck. The Sleipner is just better in terms of machinability and grindability so it can be a more attractive choice for some.

Sleipner vs M390 Steel

Those who are looking for something with great wear resistance but is also very easy to maintain should check out the M390 steel. As a stainless steel grade, it has great corrosion resistance, leading many to believe that it’s the best all-around steel for knives.

Often found in high-end knives, the M390 is also created as a modification to another popular steel grade, the K190. This is why it was able to address several weak points.

Sleipner Steel vs S30V

Another popular steel for high-end knives is the CPM S30V. Some deem it to be the ultimate EDC knife steel because of its great edge retention, toughness, and corrosion resistance. It’s also easy to sharpen which is one of the few weaknesses of the Sleipner steel.

Sleipner Steel vs K720

Made by the same manufacturer as the Sleipner, the K720 is an oil-hardened tool steel. It’s best known for its excellent edge retention and toughness. It’s not a stainless steel grade like the Sleipner steel so it will require some maintenance and develop a patina over time.

Sleipner Steel vs Elmax

Also from Bohler-Uddelholm is the popular stainless steel Elmax. This is a high-end metal that is also very wear resistant, tough, and won’t easily stain or get rusty. It can be seen as a step up from the Sleipner when looking at the range of products offered by the said manufacturer.

Is Sleipner Steel Good for Knives?

With its levels of hardness, toughness, and wear resistance, using the Sleipner steel for knife products prove to be quite a good idea as it creates high performing items. It’s also noted for its high chipping resistance so it can guarantee to handle rough use without getting damaged.

While it can be a bit difficult to sharpen, it holds its edge for a long time so there’s no need to sharpen it very frequently.

Pros & Cons of Sleipner Steel

Pros
  • High hardness guarantees excellent edge retention
  • Good durability thanks to its balance of hardness and toughness
  • Good machinability even if it’s a very hard steel grade
  • High machinability makes it easy to work with
  • Great versatility and can be used for various applications
  • High chipping resistance so it won’t get physically damaged easily
Cons
  • Can be a bit tricky to sharpen
  • Requires a good deal of maintenance

Best Sleipner Steel Knives

Get to know a few of the best Sleipner steel knives to better gauge the capabilities of this particular steel grade.

#1: Casstrom Bushcraft Knife CI11804

Quick Specification
  • Blade length: 11.5cm
  • Total length: 23cm
  • Maximum blade thickness: 0.4cm
  • Exact steel grade/alloy: Uddeholm Sleipner
  • Steel Hardness on the Rockwell C Scale: 58-60
  • Weight: 200g
  • Handle material: Carefully selected Curly birch
  • Grind: Scandinavian
  • Sheath: 3mm thick vegetable-tanned leather (cognac brown)

Starting off this list of Sleipner steel knife reviews is the Casstrom Bushcraft Knife CI11804. Made in Sweden, it has a Scandinavian charm highlighted by its curly birch wooden handle. It has a striking appearance despite its very simple design.

Designed with the help of survival expert Lars Fält, it’s guaranteed that this knife is made to be used in the great outdoors. It’s sturdy and durable featuring a full tang construction.

Pros
  • Attractive appearance
  • Designed with great functionality in mind with the help of an outdoor expert
  • Ergonomic handle makes it easy to wield and use
  • Accessories like sheath and handle strap are included
  • Made to be easy to sharpen
Cons
  • Quite pricey
  • Requires some upkeep as it can get rusty

#2: Kizlyar Sleipner Steel KK0035 Maximus

Quick Specification
  • Item Dimensions: 10.75 x 5.25 x 5.5 inches
  • Item Weight: 1 Pounds
  • Blade Material: Carbon Steel
  • Blade Shape: Drop Point
  • Blade Edge: Plain
  • 5 1/2″ Sleipner Tool Steel with Satin Finish
  • 3D textured G10 handle
  • Nylon molle Compatible sheath
  • Made in Russia

Not ready to splurge but want to try a Sleipner steel? The Kizlyar Sleipner Steel KK0035 Maximus might be a nice option as it’s pretty affordable and made with a high-quality steel.

One notable feature this item has is its little false edge at the tip which promises better penetration. Since it’s a camp knife, this can add to its versatility and functionality greatly.

While the handle is not made of hardwood, this knife still manages to look rugged and appealing. It’s also quite ergonomic so handling this product isn’t too much of a task.

Pros
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty
  • Very friendly price
  • Interesting details boost its performance
  • Highly durable materials used
  • Solid build
Cons
  • Can be a bit hard to sharpen
  • Will require a bit of upkeep

#3: Lion Steel Knife M7 MS

Quick Specification
  • Total length: 315 mm. – 12.40 in.
  • Blade length: 180 mm. – 7.09 in.
  • Blade thickness: 5.5 mm. – 0.22 in.
  • Total weight: 407 gr. – 14.36 oz.
  • Blade steel: Sleipner steel
  • Blade finish: Satin finished
  • Handle material: Micarta
  • Sheath: Cordura + Kydex – MOLLE System
  • Packaging: Cardboard box

Last on the list is the Lion Steel Knife M7 MS. This is a large fixed blade steel that is designed for outdoor use. Some might need to get used to the size but with its good balance, it shouldn’t be too much of a task.

Offering quality construction combined with high-grade materials, this item can easily justify its price tag. It’s an investment for many that gets to pay off with its good performance and durability.

Pros
  • Comes with a number of accessories that boost its functionality
  • Made with high-quality materials like the Sleipner steel and a Micarta handle with the brand’s Solid Knife technology
  • Large size offers solid performance
  • Easy to handle
  • Very well made
  • Available in either black or satin finish
Cons
  • A bit pricey
  • Large size may need some getting used to for lots of users

Conclusion

With everything said in this Sleipner steel review, it’s quite a shame that some shy away from this steel grade because it’s not stainless steel. It still promises great performance with its high hardness, good edge retention, and impressive wear resistance despite the fact that it’s not corrosion resistant.

Got something more to say about the Sleipner steel? Share it to everyone in the comments section.

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