Business · November 29, 2022

The Steel Makes the Knife: About SK-5

If you look up “best Cold Steel tanto knife” or just “best tanto style knife,” you’re going to run into the Cold Steel Recon Tanto pretty quickly.

Elegant lines, a tanto-style point with plenty of strength and integrity, and a grippy Kray-Ex handle round out this knife. It’s a workhorse through and through.

But, like many other tools (most, even) the steel chemistry is what defines it, and this one is made with SK-5. Here’s what you need to know.

Carbon Content
SK-5 is a budget Japanese steel that is actually pretty well-received, all things considered. Despite the low price point, it has a decent carbon content.

All steel contains carbon, as it is carbon that gives iron the ability to form a stronger matrix, improving the hardness and wear resistance, and in some instances, improving strength.

SK-5 has .9% carbon in the mix. This offers a pretty good deal of hardness and edge retention when the steel is treated properly. For those of you unfamiliar with SK-5, consider 1095, which has .95% carbon and is chemically very similar.

The good news is, the more carbon, the harder a steel can be made. This gives it better edge retention. SK-5 steel will hold its edge for longer than many softer stainless steels.

The bad news is, the more carbon there is, the more brittle the steel will be. This compromises toughness.

So, there’s more.

Everything Else
SK-5 is not just .9% carbon and 99.1% iron. If it were, it would basically be 1095 tool steel. It contains a variety of other elements that improve workability, corrosion resistance, and toughness.

Notably, SK-5 contains a small amount of nickel, at .25% concentration, which improves the strength, toughness, and general durability of this alloy. Elements like nickel make it more likely that an edge will roll instead of chipping, and improve the ability of the steel to absorb impact.

SK-5 also contains small amounts of silicon (.35%), phosphorus (.03%), sulfur (.03%), and manganese (.5%), all of which impact strength, workability, and toughness. Manganese also supports carbon in improving the hardness and edge retention.

This alloy also contains a respectable amount of chromium, at .3%. The bad news about chromium is that it is not particularly tough and it is very soft. The more chromium a knife has, the less effective it will be at holding an edge.

However, chromium vastly improves the corrosion resistance of a steel alloy, and for that reason, it is found in almost all stainless steel alloys. This alloy in particular also contains .25% copper to help prevent surface oxidation.

The Takeaway
Traditionally, there have been three criteria used to provide a soft analysis of knife steel: edge retention, toughness, and corrosion resistance.

That is, how long will it hold an edge, how likely is it to snap, break or chip under stress, and how easily will it rust?

SK-5 is far from a super steel, but at its fairly low price point, it provides similar to better performance to 1095 at a comparable (perhaps slightly more expensive) price.

It is very tough and relatively corrosion resistant (better than 1095), and with about the same amount of carbon, can hold an edge for a decent length of time. It’s no super steel, but it’s also easy to resharpen.

Where Can You Get This Cold Steel Tanto Knife?
So, in a nutshell, SK-5 is a good steel with a solid mix of attributes, and fairly affordable. If you’re looking for a fixed blade like the Cold Steel tanto knife mentioned here, you could do much worse.

Take a look at what’s in stock at White Mountain Knives ( They carry a huge collection of folding knives, fixed blades, and tools at great prices, and orders in the U.S. get free shipping.

Visit their website for additional details.

For More Information about we knife and Zero Tolerance Pocket Knife Please Visit : White Mountain Knives, LLC