Space Age XHP Blasts Off! | CTS Knife Review

Veteran Carpenter Steel has entered the knife-making arena with new blade steel that Bob Dozier calls “440C stainless on steroids.”

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This Dozier Personal Knife features a Wharncliff pattern blade made from Carpenter XHP stainless. Independent testing of the steel revealed that it easily out-cut many other premium blade steels, including S30V.

There’s an old tradition connected to marriage that recommends providing the bride with “something old and something new.” Well, the Carpenter Steel Company has been around for 120 years and that qualifies as “something old.” And they’ve recently introduced a blade steel alloy bearing the name CTS-XHP; that fits the designation “something new.”

Carpenter Steel is a huge facility consisting of several buildings spread over some 300 acres in Reading, Pennsylvania. The company was founded in 1889 and has been continuously producing various steel products ever since. They are a leader in the development, manufacture and distribution of cast/wrought and powder metal stainless steel and specialty alloys. At the present time, the company has 14 different types of steel designed especially for the cutlery industry.

Signature Steel

The CTS (CTS is the Carpenter trademark) XHP steel is an air-hardened, high carbon, high chromium and corrosion-resistant steel that is comparable to 440C stainless steel. The chemical formulation of the steel is as follows: Carbon 1.60%, Chromium 16.00%, Magnesium 0.50%, Molybdenum 0.80%, Nickel 0.35%, Silicon 0.40% and Vanadium 0.45%. While 440C has a similar Chromium content, the formulation only has 0.95-1.20% Carbon in its makeup.

As evidenced above, the major difference between XHP and 440C lies in the added Carbon content of XHP. The addition of both Nickel and Vanadium, which are absent in 440C, is also a component that contributes to enhanced edge retention. When compared to 440C, XHP offers superior edge durability, outstanding surface finishing and consistent heat-treatability from steel lot-to-lot.

Of course, XHP is a powder steel produced by Metal Injection Molding (MIM), a manufacturing technique we’ve covered in this column previously. Basically, the primary material is physically powdered. Afterwards, the powdered steel is passed through a die and then heat and pressure self-weld the individual particles together.

According to Carpenter steel metallurgist Rick Gleixner, “XHP was originally formulated for use as bearing steel in the aerospace industry. Since we rigorously monitor the melt process, the steel has smaller carbides that are uniformly distributed throughout the entire matrix. With 440C, you get carbide migration and end up with globs of carbides in various areas within the steel, which can lead to chipping.”

Bob Dozier’s Take