CTS-XHP vs. M390: Which one is more suitable for your knife?

When it comes to a knife, everybody wants a durable, flexible and long lasting product. Yet the effectiveness of the knife relies on several factors and one of them is the blade steel. There is a variety of material that can be used to forge the knife blade. It’s is nearly impossible to judge whether a knife is made from quality steel or not by looking alone. That is why it’s essential to know the name of several excellent types of steel available. Today in this article, you can learn some interesting information about two premium blade steels: CTS-XHP vs. M390

There is no such thing as the best steel, each got their own pros and cons. Depend on the user demands and requirements, one type of steel will look more promising than the others. So it all comes down to the personal preference and working conditions of the knife. In order to ensure that you won’t waste your money, you need to have a firm knowledge on the blade steel characteristic. This is vital in the process of picking a usable and practical knife to use. And you can find just that right below. Check them out and see if one of them looks more suitable than the other

General information

CTS-XHP is a relatively new and uncommon type of steel developed by Carpenter Technology Corporation. However, it got a lot potential to become a popular and widely use steel in the future. Member of the CTS steel line, the CTS-XHP is another powder-based metal that offers respectable corrosion resistance. It is usually compared to the CPM S30V steel and demonstrates slightly superior corrosion resistance and edge retention. But the CTS-XHP also proves to be harder to sharpen and lack the hardness of the Crucible steel.

Bohler M390 Mircroclean, or M390 for short, is also a type of steel that is introduced not too long ago. It got a unique and innovative combination of alloys that permits exceptional resistance against wear and corrosion. The use of the latest technology allows for a nice mixture of molybdenum, tungsten and alike to create a durable steel. Everything makes the M390 only become more and more attractive to the people eye as an excellent choice for a knife blade.  Its popularity on the market has increased fairly fast and strong since the M390 introduction day.

Steel composition

Carpenter CTS-XHP

  • Carbon: 1.60%
  • Chromium: 16.0%
  • Molybdenum: 0.80%
  • Vanadium: 0.45%
  • Nickel: 0.35%
  • Manganese: 0.50%
  • Silicon: 0.40%

The high percentage of Chromium means that the CTS-XHP got a nice resistance to abrasion and corrosion. It will also strengthen the steel hardness though not to the point of others such as the S30V. Humidity and general moisture will have little effect upon the CTS-XHP. Using this type of steel in a knife blade will result in a keen and sharp cutting edge. The presence of Carbon should also enhance the steel performance in heavy-duty tasks.  Utilizing advanced metallurgy procedures, CTS-XHP is a premium and quality steel.

Bohler M390 Mircroclean

Bohler M390 Mircroclean
Bohler M390 Mircroclean
  • Carbon: 1.90%
  • Chromium: 20.0%
  • Molybdenum: 1.00%
  • Tungsten: 0.60%
  • Vanadium: 4.00%
  • Manganese: 0.30%
  • Silicon: 0.70%

Also got a high level of Chromium in it, the M390 steel possesses substantial wear and tear resistance. Couple with Carbon and Vanadium, they considerably increase the steel integrity, hardness, and sharpness. Maintaining and sharpening the M390 remain fairly simple and easy to execute. This makes it a popular blade steel for high ends knife thanks to these characteristics. It can hold its edge for quite some time and when you eventually need to sharpen it, there won’t be any burr forming. Therefore, the possibility of wire edge is also eliminated as well.

Ease of use

Both the CTS-XHP and the M390 has excellent retention rate with M390 in the lead due to its Vanadium. However, this also makes it marginally harder to sharpen in certain case compare to the CTS-XHP. A M390 blade is tough, high endurance and can deal with heavy duty tasks. So if you want something that can withstand lots of abuses for long hours work, the M390 should serve you well as the blade material. Its performance is more than enough to handle anything that you can expect in a premium knife.

While it doesn’t hold the edge as long as the M390, the CTS-XHP is still a good all – around steel. Its efficient composition of alloy ensures that you can use a CTS-XHP blade on a wide range tasks. So you will see that this type of steel is more versatile in the hand of an average knife user. It got a competitive performance due to the steel toughness, sharpness and respectable resistance. Should you in need of a knife for light duty tasks, you can’t go wrong with the CTS-XHP. The steel effectiveness will not make you disappointed.


In order to make a logical and informed purchase, you need to look out and inspect all information of the product. Same with the knife, you need to know exactly what kind of steel its blade is using. It must be suitable to the purpose of the knife and the environment that you intend to use the knife in.  This is how you can achieve a wise investment and obtain a much-needed tool for your uses. Both the M390 and the CTS-XHP are great steel but in the end, the deciding factor will be their suitability to your own needs and requirements.


And that should cover all the basic points, not too hard to absorb, right? A knife primary function lies within its blade and so that part is very important. If you are considering a material for your high ends knife, the comparison between CTS-XHP vs. M390 will definitely come useful. Take a look at the above and one of them may happen to fit all of your conditions for a suitable blade steel.