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Exploring 20CV VS M390 Knife Blades Performance in 2022

Last Updated: June 29th, 2022

A stainless steel knife blade is influential in turning your cutting experience into a great point. There are different types and series of knife blades in the market. Here, we focus on the 20CV VS M390 with their specific characteristics.

The main differences between 20CV and M390 are that the M390 stainless steel’s Silicon range and toughness are better than the 20CV stainless steel. M390 used 0.70% Silicon, which is responsible for increased hardness. On the other hand, the 20CV stainless steel is introduced with 0.40% Silicon but has better edge retention.

Both stainless steel knife blades are introduced with a third-generation powder metallurgy process. Continue your scrolling to learn more on 20CV and M390 knife blades.

Comparison Table: 20CV VS M390

              Category                     20CV                   M390
Chemical Elements Iron, Tungsten, Carbon, Chromium, Vanadium, Molybdenum Tungsten, Carbon, Molybdenum, Silicon, Manganese, Chromium, and Vanadium
Generation & Making Process Third & Powder Metallurgy   Third & Powder Metallurgy
Toughness                   Better                     Best
Edge Retention                   High                     High
Wear & Corrosion Resistance                   Better                   Better
Sharpening Ease                   Lower                   Lower

20CV In Details

The 20CV’s standard formation is the same as the CPM 20CV in the stainless steel series. The third-generation powder metallurgy process develops this knife blade. This stainless steel uses high volume Vanadium to increase its wear and corrosion resistance.

It also has a high volume of Chromium Carbide, making this knife blade harder than the other blade series.

Today, the 20CV is more popular as super steel for its excellent edge retention. Crucible industries played an essential role in developing these knife blade steel features. Let’s check some exclusive features.

  • Uses Third Generation Powder Metallurgy Process
  • High Range Vanadium & Chromium Carbide
  • Better Toughness
  • High-Level Edge Holding
  • High Wear Resistance

M390 In Detail

The M390 tool steel is manufactured by the Bohler-Uddeholm and uses upcoming third-generation technology in the powder metallurgy process. This stainless steel uses high-volume Silicon that is responsible for increasing its toughness. 

Today, it has become more popular because it is directly formed with third-generation technology, not terminated from the second generation. It even offers better edge retention, wear, and corrosion resistance.

This steel is considered premium steel, but its sharpening ease is lower than CPM 20CV stainless steel knife blades. Let’s check some exclusive features of M390 knife steel blades.

  • Uses Pure Third Generation Technology
  • Bear the Super Steels Tag
  • Better Wear & Corrosion Resistance
  • Potential Toughness
  • Higher Edge Retention

Key Differences & Similarities between 20CV & M390

After seeing the comparison table and knowing detail on 20CV and M390 stainless steel knife blades, we get an overview of them. Let’s check their characteristics to get a clear view and recommendation.

Chemical Elements

The CPM 20CV knife blade is introduced with specific chemical composition. Those are essential to increase its hardness, wear resistance, corrosion resistance, and better edge retention. Let’s check crucial elements.

  • 72.5% Iron
  • 20% Chromium
  • 4% Vanadium
  • 1.9% Carbon
  • 1% Molybdenum
  • 0.6% Tungsten

On the other hand, the M390 steel blade is introduced with some unique and effective chemical elements. Those are responsible for extreme wear resistance and high corrosion resistance. These elements also increased potential hardness and edge retention.

  • 20% Chromium
  • 4% Vanadium
  • 1.90% Carbon
  • 1% Molybdenum
  • 0.70% Silicon
  • 0.60% Tungsten
  • 0.30% Manganese

Generation & Making Process

The CPM 20CV is introduced with third-generation technology with a powder metallurgy process. This stainless steel blade enriches with high technology formation by the Crucible Industries.

On the other hand, the M390 is introduced directly from the third-generation formation with the powder metallurgy process. For that reason, in this steel blade, you will get more updated and exclusive features.


In the CPM 20CV knife blade, you get enough potential hardness. Though there is no far difference with the M390 stainless steel, sometimes it would terminate lower in different aspects of the test.

However, you get potential toughness in M390 stainless steel knife blades. This stainless steel performs well in the various tests and bears high range toughness. So it will be the best option for this criterion.

Edge Retention

The 20CV provides better edge retention than other series. You will get the same edge retention when you want to use this knife blade for a long time. So, a 20CV knife blade is the best for kitchen use.

Wherever the M390 folding knife blade is enriched with better edge retention, you will get the same edge retention after using it for a long time without any significant damage. So you can choose it for your daily use.

Wear & Corrosion Resistance

The 20CV and M390 stainless blades bear the same value in wear and corrosion resistance criteria. You can choose any one from them for your kitchen o,r other use. In the wear and corrosion resistance parameter, both are performing better and have no far difference.

Sharpening Ease

Sharpening ease is one of the crucial criteria to determine the accountability of M390 and 20CV stainless steel blade,s and it makes them similar steels.

Both blades’ ease of sharpening is low, and it’s tough to sharpen in any situation. They also required specific stones to sharpen. For that reason, both failed in this parameter.


After a lengthy discussion, we see no far difference between them in sharpening ease, edge retention, wear, and excellent corrosion resistance without toughness.

According to some test results, the toughness is about the same. But M390 stainless steel blade toughness would be better in some criteria and situations.

So, we suggest you buy any blade from them without any hesitation. Hopefully, you will enjoy it and get a new experience in the cutting journey.

People Often Ask

Is m390 Perfect For Knife Blades?

Yes, it’s perfect for use on any knife blade. According to the Blade HQ research, Bohler M390 stainless steel is one of the best stainless steel in the knife blade series. So you can use this knife blade to make your cutting experience better.

Are M390 & 20CV Hard To Sharpen?

Yes, it’s hard to sharpen both M390 and 20CV stainless steel blades. They are developed by the third generation powder process and use high-volume Vanadium, Silicon, and Chromium Carbide. There will need a specific stone to sharpen. 

Is The 20CV Martensitic Stainless Steel?

There is no doubt that the 20CV is fully martensitic stainless steel. The Crucible industries are also responsible for developing this stainless steel and making it martensitic. So, you can easily use this knife blade for different purposes; perfect for Benchmade use.

Is M390 Considerable As CPM?

The CPM 20CV stainless steel is considerable as CTS 204P and M390.

Both bear the same value from each position. The toughness, edge retention, wear resistance, corrosion resistance, sharpening ease, and chemical components are similar.


So, which blade is better between 20CV VS M390? In the end, it all depends on what you are looking for. If you want a knife blade that is going to hold an edge longer and can withstand more wear and tear, then the M390 blade is your best option.

However, if you are looking for a blade with a little more “give” that can be used for precision cuts without worrying as much about damaging the blade, then the 20CV steel might be a better fit for you.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and what you will be using your knife blades for. Have you decided yet which type of blade is right for you?

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