S35VN Vs M390: In-depth Review, Features, Similarities, And Differences

You are in the right place if you are looking for the difference between S35VN and M390 steels because this article discusses everything you should know about both knives, including edge retention, hardness, toughness, and rust resistance.S35VN

We will also compare both knives in different categories and see which one has the edge over the other. Kindly pay attention while we dive into action.


What Is S35VN

Produced by the Crucible Industries in 2009, S35VN steel is used for knives and other kitchen cutlery due to its high edge retention.

It is an upgrade to the company’s S30V series. Some knives made with the S35VN steel include the CPM-S35VN black blade, Satin S35VN Clip Point Blade, etc.

It will interest you to know that the letter “S” (in S35VN) stands for Stainless, the V represents vanadium, while N denotes niobium.

S35VN steel doesn’t get stained easily due to its stainless feature. It also has a massive resistance against rust, while the vanadium content improves its strength and durability.

As for the niobium, it plays a part in increasing the steel’s wear resistance and overall strength. It also ensures the knife won’t chip sooner than expected. All the features combined well to deliver quality and durable steel that will stand the test of time.

Apart from the highlighted attributes, the S35VN steel is also known for its impressive toughness, seamless sharpening, and laudable edge retention.

What Is M390

Also known as Bohler M390, M390 is a steel deployed in manufacturing some of the best knives in the industry.

M390 knives share similar attributes with the S35VN steel as they are tough and durable. They can hold sharpening for a while due to their high-edge retention. However, the two main downsides to the M390 include the price and sharpening difficulty.

It takes time and energy to sharpen them while they’re one of the most expensive knives in the industry.

S35VN Vs M390: In-depth Comparison

Let’s compare both products in the following categories to see which one is suitable for you:

Edge retention: S35VN vs M390

What is edge retention in a knife? Edge retention is the blade’s ability to remain sharp despite being exposed to different chemicals, pressure, and atmospheric conditions

Though both knives have good edge retention, M390 steel comes top in this category due to its superior edge retention.

The M390 steel will remain sharp and efficient for a longer time when compared to its S35VN counterpart.

However, that doesn’t take anything away from the S35VN knives. Their edge retention abilities are better than many other knives in the industry.

Recommended knife based on edge retention: M390

Rust Resistance: S35VN Vs M390

Both knives have almost similar resistance to rust and corrosion. As mentioned earlier, the primary function of the vanadium content in S35VN steel involves increasing its rust and corrosion resistance.

Though there is no obvious letter V in M390, the steel also contains vanadium which boosts its rust resistance.

Likewise, the M390 steel manufacturers deploy third-generation powder metal technology during their manufacturing process. This strategy increases the rust resistance and other features required for a longer lifespan and better overall performance.

In a nutshell, both knives share similar ratings. No one is better than the other. In terms of rating, knifeinformer believes both steel deserve a 7/10 rating for their impressive rust resistance.

Hardness: S35VN vs M390

Hardness is the knife’s ability to maintain its original shape after being subjected to stress and force.

Hardness is almost the same as strength; it is determined using the Rockwell C scale, also known as HRC.

That being said, S35VN is harder than the M390 steel. Its hardness ranges between 62 and 64 HRC compared to M390’s 60 to 62HRC.

This means S35VN might last longer than M390 because it can withstand more pressure and stress. As for the ratings, S35VN commands 7.5/10 while M390 has 6.5.

Toughness: S35VN Vs M390

Toughness in steel is the measurement of the energy and pressure a steel can absorb or resist before deforming.

However, toughness and hardness are inversely related, which means one increases while the other decreases.

Considering the explanation above, it is easy to detect which one comes first in this category. M390 has better toughness than the S35VN because it has a lower HRC score.

Final recommendations based on toughness: M390 steel

Ductility: S35VN VS M390

Ductility in steel means the ability of steel or metal to bend slightly without breaking or damaging. The level of Carbon in steel reduces ductility. Therefore, S35VN is better than the M390 because it contains lesser Carbon content.

Our recommendation based on ductility: S35VN

Composition: S35VN vs M390

According to Bohler’s report, M390 consists of Chromium, molybdenum, vanadium, and tungsten. They all combined well to guarantee outstanding Edge retention, sharpness, hardness, and toughness.

M390 composition includes 18% chromium carbide, 22% carbide, and 20% vanadium. On the other hand, S35VN steel contains 1.4% carbon, 3% vanadium, 14% chromium, 2% molybdenum, and 5% Niobium.

Sharpness: S35VN vs M390

According to Matt Davidson of knifeinformer, it is harder to sharpen M390 than S35VN. He believes it deserves only a 2/10 rating because you require much energy and time to sharpen it.

As for the S35VN, he gave it a 5/10 rating because it is easier to sharpen it than M390.

Price And Commonality

Price is also another crucial factor to consider before selling any steel. S35VN knives are cheaper and more affordable than the M390.

The commonality is another factor you might want to consider so you won’t take too long before seeing your desired knife. S35VN is more common in the market than M390 due to high demand from customers.

Frequently Asked Questions About S35VN and M390 Steel

Which Is One Better— M390 or S35VN?

M390 is better than S35VN in terms of edge retention, meaning you won’t have to sharpen it regularly because it will retain its sharpness for a long time.

In terms of hardness, S35VN is better than the M390 steel meaning it could last longer if you take care of it.

Sharpening S35VN is easier than M390. However, you might need to sharpen regularly due to its poor edge retention. Likewise, S35VN is cheaper and more common than the M390.

One might be tempted to say that S35VN is better overall due to the points discussed above. Nonetheless, both knives are great. They will function well if you take proper care of them.

Is S35VN Premium Steel?

S35VN is a premium steel; it is an upgrade to the S30V steel. The addition of niobium to its composition makes it better and more durable.

You should expect quality performance from the knife if you use it appropriately and ensure top-notch maintenance.

Does S35VN Chip Easy?

No. S35VN does not chip easily. It features both hardness and toughness required to prevent chips and brittle. Ní

Is the M390 brittle?

Though M390 isn’t the toughest steel in the market, it doesn’t break too easily. It isn’t brittle, and you can be sure it will last long with adequate maintenance.

What steel is better than M390?

There are lots of good steels out there; it’s left for you to decide which one is best for your project or task.

Nonetheless N690, CPM 154, CPM 3V, and S45VN are some of the few steel better than M390 in some categories.

Does M390 rust easily?

As mentioned earlier, M390 doesn’t rust too easily. It contains vanadium which is known for its high rust or corrosion resistance.

Does the M390 chip easy?

No, it doesn’t chip easily due to its impressive composition and features. You can be sure it will maintain its original shape for a long time with proper care and maintenance.


Whether you choose the S35VN or M390, you can be sure you are getting a quality product. Consider why you want a new knife and check which one is more compatible with the task.

Carbon1. 4%
Nickel0.1-0 4%
Manganese0. 5
Silicon0. 5%
Phosphorus0. 03%
Sulfur0. 03%
Tungsten0. 4%
Niobium0. 5%
s35vn composition

Silicon0. 70%
Tungsten0. 60%
Manganese0. 30%