7Cr17MOV is a popular steel used to make budget survival knives that are worth having. Learn how to spot a good budget knife and avoid the junk.
Great knives are great not because of the logo on the side, but rather because of what they are made of, how they are tempered, and the care taken in their birthing.
The best survival knife isn’t the one that costs the most money, it’s one that’s made right and fits your needs.
If that knife you’re considering costs as much as a car payment, slow down a second and take a breath.
It just might be the best for you, nothing wrong with buying that Ferrari of a knife if you want, but maybe with a little knowledge and research you can find an equally good knife that doesn’t break the bank.
This is where 7Cr17MOV comes in. No, that’s not a captcha or some randomly generated password either…
7Cr17MOV is a very popular stainless steel used to make budget survival knives that are actually worth having. Many of these knives are $20 – $30 but perform like $200 knives.
So what exactly is it and why should you care?
7Cr17MOV Steel, Tempering, and Heat Treating
According to Wikipedia, 7CR17MOV is a specially modified 440A stainless steel that contains more Vanadium than other steels.
So what does that mean for your average person? The benefits of added Vanadium is increased overall strength, increased wear resistance, and increased toughness. Meaning, you will be pleasantly surprised by how long the edge will last with 7CR17MoV steel.
Bear in mind that steel composition is only one part of the equation. The other part is the heat treat. Good steel with bad heat treat still makes a bad knife blade.
Knives are first heated, then quenched, then reheated (tempered) and cooled again. This makes the knife tough (the first heating) but also flexible (the second heating).
The temperature of the blade before tempering (the second heating) begins is critical to the overall process. Before tempering begins the blade must be cooled to room temperature from a blazing 2000F and it should be tempered within the hour of initial heating.
The transformation to martensite will otherwise be interrupted and the hardening results will be poor, giving us a knife at about what many of us think of when we speak of cheap knives.
Good knives are quickly cooled down using special conveyor cooling equipment. Cheap knives are often heated and cooled over many hours on racks, or sometimes left overnight as the crew goes home.
The final hardness range is also very important. 56-63Rc is considered ideal for most knives. Bad knives vary wildly in hardness, even from one part of the blade to another!
A Rockwell hardness of 56-63Rc will produce a quality blade if it was also tempered properly.
On the other hand if the same blade was initially heated too much, OR quenched and left to cool overnight, OR tempered in ovens with cool spots…. you’ll have nothing but a poor knife every time.
It may read 56-63Rc on a gauge, but it will be uneven and the invisible crystalline structure of the steel will be vastly inferior.
How To Find 7CR17MoV Steel Knives
So now that you know what it is and how the knife making process affects the quality of the finished product, you need to be able to find these 7CR17MoV knives in the haystack of crappy cheap knives.
A good example of a high quality 7CR17MoV knife made by a popular manufacturer is the SOG FK1001 Field Knife. Also most Old Timer and many Gerber knives are made with 7CR17MoV.
Popular 7CR17MoV Knives
- Smith & Wesson Border Guard
- Gerber STL
- Old Timer Copperhead
- Old Timer Bearhead
The easiest way to find 7CR17MoV is to look on the knife. Many of them are stamped “7CR17MoV” to let you know it was made with high quality steel.
If you don’t see a stamp, check the knife specs online. Many times the manufacturer will put this info right on the sales page or somewhere in the specifications at least.
As you can see it’s the details that make all the difference between a high quality knife that you can pass down to your grandchildren and a piece of junk knife that won’t hold an edge, not the logo to price.
So, what can a logo tell you? They can usually give you a good idea of the quality used to create the knife you hold. High end knife manufacturers live and die by their reputation so they only put their name on the best.
On the other hand, cheap knife manufacturers are under constant pressure to cut costs at every corner, which explains perfectly the current market of subpar knives out there.
That said, don’t judge a book by its cover. Many “cheap” knives from relatively unknown manufacturers are made with good steels, such as 7CR17MoV, and proper manufacturing techniques.
Doing your research and investigating down a little deeper than your average shopper can score you a great knife that doesn’t break the budget.