3CR13 Steel Review: What Is It & Is It Good?

The 3CR13 is a type of steel from China.

And it is a low-end martensitic stainless steel, widely used in the knife-making industry. Therefore, its origin reassures users who are on a tight budget and cannot afford high-end steel for use.

However, one minus point is that it will not satisfy those who do not use undependable knives due to many troubles in the long term.



It contains 0.3% of carbon, helping improve its hardness. Nevertheless, harder types come with a higher price. With a low-dense amount of carbon, the knife tends to be more breakable, causing a greater risk of fracturing while you apply pressure.

Breakability likelihood is one limitation of it that it imposes a compromise when offering barely enough hardness to manage.


It has 13% of chromium, which contributes to pushing its hardness besides ensuring its corrosion resistance. 10% is the minimum amount of chromium all types of stainless steel entail. So with 13%, you use over the bare minimum.


With 1% silicon combined with 0.3% of carbon, you can have its strength boosted at the minimal risk of brittleness.


Considered a versatile constituent, 1% of manganese helps increase both the non-brittleness and its hardness.


Nickel plays as a component that counteracts its hardness. With its 0.6%, nickel minimizes the risks of chipping when used.


Although it entails only 0.04% phosphorus, this minuscule amount helps counter the fragility.


Each production stage ends up costing a lot without a sulfur component, which helps it machine more easily. However, 0.03% of sulfur is enough; otherwise, it will become more breakable.


Edge Retention

Because of its decent compositions, its edge retention seems less influential compared to many high-end types. But with an affordable price, its ability to hold an edge is pretty good. Besides, you can sharpen it easily when it does become dull.


Carbon is one of many contributors to steel’s hardness. Therefore, it makes sense that it exhibits a balanced hardness when its carbon content is much lower than other premium types.


Because of its robustness, it does not break easily. So, one of many properties it should be proud of is its complete toughness. Very often, different types compete with each other in two areas of toughness and hardness. From that, we can conclude which steel is far more durable.

In essence, it tends to be more brittle as it gets harder, leading to a decrease in its overall toughness. Therefore, this stainless steel featuring a moderate hardness shines in the toughness area. You can take advantage of this property to use it for tomahawks or machetes.

Corrosion Resistance

Due to a decent amount of carbon and chromium content, it withstands corroding situations fairly well. Contrary to stainless steel’s rustic after-effects caused by continual exposure to drastic conditions, this steel can even tolerate a good bit of abuse.


As aforementioned, it holds an average hardness, making it easier to re-sharpen whenever it gets dull.


  • Affordable
  • Easy to re-sharpen
  • Resists to wear and corrosion
  • Versatile
  • Satisfies different purposes


  • Low-end steel
  • Unsuitable for the tough tasks

Who Should Buy?

Knifemakers and knife companies can use this steel to manufacture many metal items, such as bearings, bolts, or springs. They even can employ its outstanding properties to use it for wear parts or high-strength parts.

Additionally, this stainless steel type is a great option for those who learn to hone their knives without any complex tool because of its sharp feature. Once they perform the sharpening properly, it can attain a razor-sharp edge.


What Is The Steel’s Hardness (HRC)?

The makers of this stainless steel do not aim at the maximum hardness; instead, they reduce hardness to achieve non-brittleness.

On account of a hardness-brittleness compromise desire, the makers produced it with a hardness rating of 52 to 55. So, 54 HRC is it’s average, which exhibits the hardness level of many affordable knives nowadays.

Is It A Good Knife Steel?

This steel type is still a great choice to manufacture knives for an affordable price no matter how tougher and harder steels there are on the market. It features good corrosion resistance and conditions users to sharpen if it gets dull.

You can find it in many EDC knives, kitchen knives, or even outdoor knives for different camping and hunting purposes. Although it is low-priced steel, we guarantee every dollar you spend on it is worth it.

What Is Its Alternative?

People often compare this stainless steel with 420J, whose naming convention is popular in America. Besides, it alongside 2cr13 is widely workable in more industrial operations because of their similar properties. The primary distinction is that it entails a little higher hardness than 420J and 2cr13 steel.

In some applications, AUS-4 can be an alternative to this steel since they exhibit several similarities. However, it contains a lower carbon content compared to AUS-4 steel.

What Is The Steel Equivalent?

It is the most equivalent to the United States ASTM, besides ISO standard, UK BS, France NF, Japanese JIS, and Germany DIN.

Final Verdict

After checking our 3CR13 stainless steel review, you can drop a comment in the box below, sharing your opinion or experiences if you have had as working with this steel. We hope our paper is useful for your buying option.

We thank you for your interest.

Last Updated on February 24, 2021 by Andy Wang

My name is David Strong. I'm a knife expert and a US Marine veteran. I used to fight in Iraq, so I gained lots of combat experience there, especially when it comes to combat, tactical, and outdoor knives. And this blog is where I share my expertise with you alongside my friend Andy.