S90v Vs M390:Differences & Similarities

Whether you are a chef or a survival expert, having a knife with the best steel that can meet the need of their day-to-day life is very important.

If you are confused between S90v and M390 then look no further because I’ve listed every single detail about these two high-end steel varients with all the similarities and differences.

Let’s have a look at what I’m going to cover in this article…

  • What are they?
  • Their chemical composition.
  • Their physical properties
  • Similarities
  • DIfferences
  • Which one is best in which parameters?

So without further ado…

Let’s walk you through about S90v and M390…

Does S90v Stainless Steel Good For Knife?

S90v or CPM S90v was initially known as CPM-440 and was released in 1995. S90v is made using the Particle Metallurgy process. Initially, it was designed as tool steel and named CPM-440.

S90v is an expensive version of steel that is used to design some high-end knives. 14% Chromium listed S90v in the category of stainless steel. This is a kind of steel that keeps its edges sharp for a longer period of time and doesn’t require frequent sharpening.

The S90v varient of steel is popular for making bearing, slitters, cutlery, outdoor hiking, etc.

CPM S90v or S90v Chemical Composition

S90v has some huge changes in its chemical composition if we compare it with M390. S90v has 2.3% Carbon which is approx 21% higher than the M390 which has only 1.9% of Carbon.

Carbon makes steel hard and also enhances the ability to bear any wear/tear. 14% Chromium is ideal in both the steel type. There is a huge effect of Chromium in steel processing as it enhances the tensile strength, toughness, hardness, and edge retention property.

The Main Chemical Components Of S90v


Vanadium also plays a very important role to make steel tough, wear resistance, and improve its strength. The percentage of Vanadium is 9% in S90v which is almost 125% more than the M390. M390 has only 4% of Vanadium.

1% Molybdenum and 0.03% sulfur enhances the machinability, and strength of the steel. Other substances which are added to improve the toughness, strength, and hardness of the S90v steel are 0.5% Silicon and Manganese, 0.40% Tungsten, and 0.03% of Phosphorus.

Advantages Of Using S90v Steel on Manufacturing A Knife

  • S90v comes with excellent edge retention property.
  • The knife made with S90v remains sharp for a longer period of time.
  • This is very hard and durable steel because of the 9% of Vanadium.

Best S90v Steel Knive In The Market

Best Seller


Benchmade 940-1 Manual Folding Knife

  • Sharp 3.4″ plain edge blade
  • ultra carbon fiber handle (lightweight and very strong).
  • a rock-solid AXIS Locking mechanism

View the current price here

Does M390 Stainless Steel Good For Knife?

M390 project was an adjustment experiment in the traditional chemical composition of the powder metallurgy tool steel. M390 was developed in the late 80s with the vision to develop a new steel type with improved wear and tear resistance properties, that were missing in K190.

Developers at that time wants a highly wear resistance metal, which was very much needed by the plastic industry at that time.

Since it would be used in plastic processing, that’s the reason toughness was not the primary concern for the developers.

Although M390 was developed by BOHLER-UDDENHOLM by using 3rd generation technology, using it for making knives was pushed by Latrobe steel in Pennsylvania, USA, and became a very popular knife making steel in 2010.

M390 Chemical Composition

M390 has 1.9% of Carbon which provides toughness, 0.7% of Silicon prevents bubble formation during the melting process and provides extra hardness to the steel.

0.3% Manganese provides strength, and 1% Molybdenum is for edge sharpening and also for the strength of the steel if treated at a high temperature.

The Main Chemical Components In M390


Hardness and corrosion resistance are very important for steel and 20% of Chromium makes it possible. Steel must have wear resistance and 0.6% of Tungsten make M390 wear resistance and also improve the toughness of the steel.

4% Vanadium is a substance that is mixed to enhance the wear resistivity of the knife and also ensure the correct distribution of the grains.

Advantages Of Using A Knife Based On M390

  • M390 knives come with better edge retention than the S90v. Its edge retention capability is high due to the presence of 4% Vanadium and high carbide content.
  • M390 is a highly tough steel that can bear beating, twisting, and blending very well.
  • M390 is best in each and every parameter than the S90v.

Best Seller


Benchmade – Barrage 581 Knife With Aluminum Handle

  • Blade Steel: M390 (60-62 HRC)
  • Drop Point Knife with Satin finish
  • Weight: 5.20oz. (147.42g)

View the current price here

Also Read: M390 Vs. S35vn: Similarities & Differences

M390 Vs. S90v: Specifications

Hardness Of The Steel

According to the Rockwell test results, the hardness of M390 is measured between 60 and 62 HRC which is between 57 and 59 HRC for S90v. The Rockwell test clearly stated that M390 has better hardness than the S90v.


Toughness is Important for steel to prevent chips and total failure, which could be due to twisting, torsion, impact, etc. The toughness of M390 is better than S90v.

Sharpening And Edge Retention Property

Some steel are easy to sharpen and touching them to the sharpening stone is easy and some steel take several hours to bring them back to sharp.

M390 is much easier to sharpen and S90v take some time in sharpening but the edge retention is better in S90v than the M390.

Chemical Composition Comparison


Rusting Nature

Every stainless steel will rust if it is not taken care of properly. S90v and M390 both have 14% of chromium which provides great corrosion resistivity to them.

Note: If you want to use your knife for a longer time without rusting then after using it just wipe with a dry cloth will extend its life and prevent any rusting.

Some Major Differences Between M390 And S35vn

  • M390 is much easier to sharpen than the S90v.
  • S90v has better edge retention than the M390.
  • M390 steel is harder than the S90v.
  • M390 is tougher than the S90v.

Also Read: S30v Vs. M390: Similarities & Differences

Which One Is Best For Me Between S90v And M390?

Both the steel are premium and both have some good features and some bad.

Go With S90v For

  • Excellence edge retention.
  • Good corrosion resistence
  • Good toughness.

Go With M390 For

  • This is the best steel for knife making.
  • Best in every perameters.
  • Excellent corrosion resistance.
  • Excellent hardness and toughness.
  • Much easier to sharpen.
  • Goos edge retention.

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