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S90V Vs S30V Steel – Which One’s The Best?

Last Updated: June 15th, 2022

It’s true what they say. Only the one who wields the sword knows of its actual strength. And a similar concept applies when you’re used to dealing with knives made of different steels.

Appearance-wise, it may not seem like much on the outside. But the type of stainless steel used in a knife determines its overall performance, functionality, and integrity.

Nowadays, most stainless-steel knives use either S30V or S90V as manufacturing materials. So, which one wins in the S90V Vs. S30V debate? And what makes them so different from each other?

S90V Vs S30V Steel: Comparison Chart

Here’s a chart overviewing the basic features of both S90V & S30V:

Features S90V Steel S30V Steel
Rust Resistance Moderate Level Rust Resistance Properties Upgraded Level Rust Resistance Properties
Edge Retention Much Better Edge Retention Than S30V Comparatively Lower Edge Retention Than S90V
Precision On-Point Precision With Greater Stability Nice Balance But Lacks Precision Quality

S90V Vs S30V Steel: Detailed Review

Needless to say, it’s easier to judge the steel when you judge the knife made out of that steel. Because then you can firsthand test out its performance and get to see how it holds up in different conditions.

And that’s why we’ve decided to discuss the Spyderco Drunken Prestige & Benchmade Griptilian 551 in today’s article. Among these industrial-grade knives, the first one features the prominent S90V while the latter one features the S30V stainless steel.


1. Spyderco Drunken Prestige S90V Premium Holding Knife

Not many knives can beat the stylish and trendy looks of the Drunken Prestige S90V from Spyderco. Knives with a modern outlook often have a bad reputation for not being as functional as they look.

But that’s not the case with this one. It’s every bit as crafty on the inside as it looks on the outside. Plus, the use of S90V steel enhances its overall performance all the more.

As for usability, the knife itself has a versatile round hole opening for both ambidextrous and one-handed handling. The handle material is solid titanium which ensures good grip and framework integrity.

In addition to the titanium scale, the handle also features a solid carbon fiber scale on the other side. There’s a nested stainless-steel liner as well to maximize the security of the grip.

All in all, the Spyderco Prestige S90V certainly takes the crown in terms of artistic design with unparalleled craftsmanship.


  • Crafty and visually appealing design
  • Utilizes premium-grade CPM S90V steel
  • Stainless steel framework provides water-resistant properties
  • Titanium handles for strong & durable grip
  • Super functional tip with upgraded sharpness


  • Not as affordable
  • Slightly off-centered blade


2. Benchmade Griptilian 551 S30V Knife

Despite looking a lot alike, the Benchmade Griptilian 551 has several different specifications than the Drunken Prestige. For starters, it has a slightly larger blade than the previous one. Prestige S90V’s blade stands at 3.38 inches while Griptilian goes up to 3.45.

For many, it may not seem like much of a difference but that’s not the truth. Depending on the length of the blade, lots of factors change. Such as – dexterity, wielding strength and stability, etc.

Hence, if you’re used to handling a slightly larger blade, it’s better to go with this knife. It’s got a handle made of glass-reinforced nylon for a decent enough grip. Definitely not as durable as a titanium handle, but not that bad either.

Furthermore, the drop point shape of the blade provides great balance while working. As for the stainless steel itself, everyone knows how reliable S30V steel is for everyday use. It’s also extremely resistant against rust damage so that’s another plus point for the Griptilian 551.


  • Custom axis-lock for ambidextrous usage
  • Single-handed opening and closing
  • Well-balanced blade offering great support
  • Comfortable and lightweight design
  • Quite affordable


  • Hard to manually reconstruct the knife
  • Blade lacks high precision abilities

S90V Vs S30V Steel’s Detailed Differences

Now that you know all about the knives, let’s talk about the differences between the steel themselves. Here’s a brief overview of all the factors that make them so different and not-so-different from each other.

Hopefully, the side-by-side comparison will help you to figure out which one you should go for while buying a knife.


The composition of the steel plays an important role in deciding the durability of the steel. Furthermore, it also directly decides the rate of decomposition of the blade overtime. As in, how much the blade will wear out as you keep using it relentlessly.

The 9% of Vanadium is what makes S90V this strong. And the 14% chromium upgrades the steel to its ‘stainless’ standard. However, it does still seem a little brittle compared to its fellow steel models.

For instance – S30V’s composition focuses fully on vanadium tungsten attributes. There’s a splash of manganese and carbon as well to balance out the roughness from the vanadium. As a result, they can withstand blunt forces a lot better than S90V.

All in all, when it comes to regular and consistent use, S30V lightly topples over S90V in terms of durability.

Corrosion Resistance

As you can see, both blades are pretty durable due to the sufficient use of vanadium in them.  In saying that, the same material plays a mega-role in making them brittle from within over time due to corrosion.

Hence, chromium is used to make the steel stainless so they don’t fall victim to rust and water damage. And multiple people feel like S30V has an edge in this department as well since they’re great for regular usage.

That doesn’t mean that the S90V is totally bad at preventing rusting. But due to their artsy outlook and high-priced blade, customers tend to not use them outdoors as much.

Edge Retention

S90V takes the floor in terms of edge retention, as it can retain the sharpness for a lot longer. Compared to the S90V, the S30V gets dull much faster.

Additionally, the blade wears off consistently due to the constant sharpening. Meanwhile, the S90V can give you double the work-time before you even have to think about sharpening it again.

Ease Of Sharpening

In all honesty, none of these blades will give you an easy time with sharpening. The surfaces are way too hard and rough to provide a good result within seconds. But the S30V takes less time and effort than the S90V, comparatively.

However, you can make the process slightly more enduring by using diamond or CBN stones. The rock-hard nature of S90V comes from the vanadium carbide in it. Thus, you need to use something even stronger like diamond or CBN to cut through it.

Final Words

So, did you figure out your way through the S90V Vs S30V debate after all? Turns out, the S90V steel is pretty much the big brother of S30V in terms of edge retention. It comes with better features and upgraded usability to provide enhanced performance.

However, the S30V too is a deserving contender if we’re talking solely about overall reliability. Since it’s been around longer, it’s built up a nice reputation for being handy and user-friendly. Plus, it’s better suited for tough and long-term usage.

Hence, if precision is what you’re after, we’d recommend going for the Spyderco Prestige i.e. the S90V folding knife. But if long-lasting performance is more your style, best to go with the S30V steel knives instead as used in the Benchmade Griptilian 551.

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Steve Thampson

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