Is A2 Steel Good for Knives

A2 steel is very tough and it’s often referred to as a type of tool steel. It’s a very good choice for knives because it has great edge retention and still it can be sharpened easily because it does not contain a lot of chromium carbide.

That being said, it’s not considered stainless so it will build up a patina over time and it can rust if not taken care of. There are A2 steel knives with black oxide coating that do not have that problem.

What is A2 Steel?

knife steel

A2 steel is a type of steel that was developed around the beginning of the 20th century. It is often referred to as a type of “tool steel” because it is used to make tools. It is very tough and hard, resistant to abrasion, deformation, and it can cut even at high temperatures. 

A2 steel is perfect for knives that are used to cut wood, plastic, and many other materials. A2 steel knives are also an outstanding companion for all hunters because you can butcher a whole deer without having to sharpen it during the operation.

A2 Steel Composition

A2 steel has the following chemical composition:

  • Carbon – 1.05%
  • Chromium – 5.5%
  • Molybdenum – 1.4%
  • Nickel – 0.3%
  • Manganese – 1%
  • Silicon – 0.5%
  • Copper – 0.25%
  • Phosphorus – 0.3%
  • Sulfur – 0.3%
  • Vanadium – 0.25%

The high carbon content of A2 steel makes it very strong and tough. It gives A2 knives great edge retention. The rather low chromium content means that the knife is also easy to sharpen, but it also means that regular maintenance is a must to avoid stains and patina.

What Are A2 Steel Properties?

A2 steel is very tough, thanks to its high carbon content. It will hold its edge very well but it’s also soft enough that it can be sharpened with basic sharpening tools. It’s a perfect choice for knives that have to cut a lot and have to be used regularly. For example, it’s a perfect tool for woodworking or hunting because a lot can be done without having to sharpen the blade.

A2 does not have a high chromium content, so you will see a patina forming on the blade as you use it repeatedly. Cleaning it with some alcohol and drying it with a paper towel will prevent that. It can also stain and rust if not maintained regularly. Even if there is some rust on the blade, it can be removed easily and it won’t damage the blade if taken care of in time.

It’s resistant to wear and regular use, so it holds its edge very well. And since A2 steel is a type of tool steel, it is easy to get and it’s rather affordable. It can also be machined without too much difficulty. 

What is the hardness of A2 steel?

A2 steel is in the 57-62 HRC hardness range. It is achieved thanks to the high carbon and chromium content. A2 steel gets high hardness and dimensional stability after being heat treated.

So, just like any other tool steel, A2 steel is very tough and can hold its edge. The high carbon content makes it very resistant to any sort of distortion during heat treating. It is also not too difficult to machine or grind.

Will A2 Steel Rust?

A2 steel is not stainless steel because it only has 5.5% of chromium. This means that it stains and, as a result of that, can build up a patina and rust. It does have some chromium in it, so it does have some form of rust protection.

However, an A2 steel knife must be cleaned and dried regularly to prevent rust spots. Many A2 steel knives are coated with black oxide to give some corrosion resistance.

The chromium content will slow down any rust, so if taken care of in time, it will not damage the blade at all. And the patina buildup can also be removed easily with some household items like vinegar and baking soda.

How Strong is A2 Steel?

Just like any other tool steel, A2 steel is very strong, tough, and hard. The edge-holding capabilities of A2 steel knives are incredible. It’s usually around 57-62 HRC and yields a strength range of about 185 – 230 ksi. This means that A2 steel does not have to be sharpened as often as other types of steel.

Very few steels used for knives are as strong and durable as A2 steel, especially given the lower price point.

A2 steel knives are perfect for hunting, fishing, cooking, and general material cutting. They can also be used to cut wood without losing the edge too quickly. It is sharper and tougher than D2 or M2 steel if the knife is well-made and heat-treated properly. 

Is it Easy to Sharpen A2 Steel Blades?

A2 steel blades are very easy to sharpen despite the toughness. Just like any other knife, an A2 steel knife has to be sharpened regularly to get the most out of it.

It can be sharpened with pretty much any sharpening gear, so that says a lot. The reason why A2 steel can be sharpened easily despite its high carbon content and toughness is the low chromium carbide content.

And in addition to being easy to sharpen, A2 steel has incredible edge retention. This means that it does not have to be sharpened as often as other types of steel, which is why it’s so popular with hunters and fishermen.

Final Word

A2 Steel is very tough tool steel, but it has less wear resistance when compared to other tool steels. It’s great for combat knives, thanks to its 0.95-1.05% carbon content. A2 steel blades have excellent edge retention and can be sharpened easily.

Since A2 steel does not have a lot of chromium (around 5%), it can build up patina and rust rather easily. That’s why it’s often coated. And if an A2 steel knife is maintained regularly, it can last a long time. 


I’m Ahmed, the guy behind I’ve owned several types of knives and sharpeners over the last few years and have become obsessed with everything to do with knives. I’m always trying to improve my cleaning and sharpening process, and always on the hunt for the next best knife. But when I’m not spending time with my hobby, I’m here, writing about Knives and Sharpeners on KnifePulse to share with you what I learn along the way.

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