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N690 vs M390 – 2022 complete review

There are two kinds of steel materials that are often used to make high-quality blades/Knives. These blades are with a razor-sharp edge that is easy to maintain, You might be confused about the one that is best for you, and that’s why this page on n690 vs m390 is to help identify the best steel that could work for you.

 N690 and M390 are two of the highest quality knife steels on the market today and are made from the toughest steels out there. Please take a look at their razor-sharp precision, their non-skid hard-rubber handles, and their locking mechanism for ultimate safety. They are great for survival situations.

N690 Stainless steel

n690 N690 stainless steel is one of the most popular and versatile knife steels in the cutlery industry. This is due to how widespread its use is among knife manufacturers, even though it’s harder to work with than many other popular knife sheets of steel.

Due to its high alloy content, N690 resists rusting very well, so whether your blade will be used as a kitchen knife or an outdoor survival knife, odds are there’ll be no need for frequent sharpening or any other maintenance besides washing it from time to time.

It’s also easy to sharpen when necessary, thanks to its high Carbon and Chromium content, only adding to its desirable qualities. Cutlery made from N690 stainless steel is hard yet flexible and easy to sharpen. The very high molybdenum and vanadium content in the steel makes it very corrosion resistant; it has a high shear rate, making it tough. It also provides excellent edge retention and ease of re-sharpening.

N690 stainless steel blade is hardened and tempered, which has a hardness of HRC 57~59, Vickers hardness 420~430. Its strength increased 4-5 times more than the medium carbon tool steel; the toughness is 3 times higher. The addition of chromium to stainless steel produces a hard, wear-resistant, corrosion-resistant steel often compared to the widely used 440C.

Chromium is the second most prevalent element in the Earth’s crust and, after oxygen, is the most common metal in use today. Knives made with N690 are easy to sharpen and are highly stain resistant. Knifemakers take advantage of this fact when making sporting cutlery such as hunting and fishing knives.

Advantages of N690 Stainless Steel

  • N690 is a steel grade belonging to the Austenitic chromium-nickel stainless steel
  • It is the most widely used chromium-nickel steel
  • it’s highly corrosion resistance and good weldability
  • If a knife is made with N690 Stainless Steel, it lasts up to 5 times longer than other knife steel
  • N690 will not rust under normal conditions 
  • It is more stain-resistant than any other stainless steel
  • The material edge retention is higher

Related Post: How to sharpen a vegetable peeler 

M390 Stainless Steel

m390M390 stainless steel is the highest-performance martensitic precipitation-hardened stainless steel. It has high hardness, excellent corrosion resistance, as well as high wear and abrasion resistance. M390 can withstand exposure to chemicals typically used in industrial environments and offers improved edge retention compared to AISI M4 steel.

Stainless steel is an alloy with a series of benefits; the M390 stainless steel blade is created for edge retention and is less susceptible to corrosion than other knives/blades on the market today. Adding carbon to M390 steel gives it an increased ability to resist corrosion than M390 alone.

M390 was developed to help balance durability and edge retention. It retains the high corrosion resistance of Stainless Steel along with being one of the highest performing metals when it comes to tear and wear resistance.

Advantages of M390 Stainless Steel

  • M390 will hold an edge like no other steel in the kitchen
  • Its toughness and strength are rarely seen in other stainless steel
  • It is extremely resistant to corrosion and rust
  • It has the ability to resist chipping

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N690 vs M390 – Specification

Type of Steel

N690 is nitrogen-added, stainless steel featuring excellent edge retention, strength, and easy re-sharpening. It can take a very fine edge yet is tough enough to support those edges simultaneously. At the same time, M390 is also nitrogen added but features more fine-grain steel that has been heat-treated to very hard levels.

Elements in Steel

One of the more typical specifications of these steels is their carbon content. The N690 contains more carbon (1.05 %) than the M390 (0.95%), which adds to its wear resistance but does make it slightly less stainless.


N690 steel has substantially more Chromium in it, which makes it much harder to sharpen than M390, making it less corrosion resistant.   


N690 is sharper steel well-suited to daily use and general kitchen/home cutting. Although it is less resistant to wear than M390, the trade-off can be worth it if you want a little more edge retention but don’t plan on using your knife as often.

Stress tolerance

N690 and M390 are welded steel grades. Both grades have excellent forming and welding characteristics but have different stress limits under prolonged loads. Stress tolerance to m390 is much lower than N690.

Edge retention

The N690 has greater edge retention than the M390, as seen in the stone finish test. N690 uses nitrogen during the forging of the steel. Because nitrogen is very similar to iron in stainless steel, N690 develops a hard edge more quickly than its benchmark M390, retaining it longer.

 N690 vs M390 – Similarities

n690 vs m390

  1. Both steels are 1.4026 stainless steel (18% chromium, 14% nickel, 0.5% molybdenum)
  2. They both have the same hardness at 59 HRC (N690) and 58-60 HRC (M390)
  3. Both have comparable overall performance in an assorted range of knives/blade
  4. The two steel have a density of N690 is 7.52 g/cm³ while that of M390 is 7.64 g/cm³

 N690 vs M390 – Differences

n690 vs m390

  1. The N690 has slightly less carbon and slightly more manganese compared to M390, with an increased carbon content that made it slightly harder steel.
  2. N690 is made from chromium, molybdenum, and vanadium. M390 is made from cobalt, molybdenum, and vanadium

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Are M390 and 20cv the Same?

They are both considered premium steels, but they are different steels. Though they are similar, many people confuse the two, and many cutlery companies use these steels interchangeably. 

These steels contain a high amount of carbon and Chromium (covering around 1.5%), increasing their wear resistance and edge retention. And because of this difference in grade, it impacts the price of things like knife blades. M390 has a higher amount of carbon than 20CV (1.4% vs 0.9%).

They are similar in composition and general properties, but they are different alloys.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is M390 better than N690?

M390 is so advanced that it’s used in surgical devices. The 3% chromium content leaves very little room for doubt as to the quality of this steel. When N690 is compared to M390, it doesn’t come close.

How good is N690 steel?

N690 is considered to be one of the best steels for knife blade alloys. It holds an edge longer and is slightly harder. This makes for a more durable knife blade and a higher-grade knife.

Is N690 hard to sharpen?

N690 is not hard to sharpen. The main benefit of N690 steel is its high hardness, which makes it difficult to sharpen. However, many other steel sheets are every bit as hard and take just as much effort and time to sharpen as well. What matters most is how much work you want to put into making the edge.

What steel holds the sharpest edge?

Steel with hardened, high carbon steel blades is guaranteed to hold an edge longer than conventional steel blades. If you get the right blade steel, it can help you slice more smoothly, quickly, and easily.

What is N690 comparable to?

N690 is the highest grade of quality of “martensitic stainless steel” N690 is mainly used for cutlery, high-grade office equipment, watches, artificial nails, charging tools, and industrial machinery.


The n690 blade steel is very durable and low in cost. M390 also has the distinction of possibly being the hardest blade steel around right now at 64 HRC or even harder. With a long-standing debate about these two materials, we did a review of n690 vs m390 to make clarification of their respective similarities, differences, advantages, and disadvantages. Both sheets of steel are great and a good asset to be owned.

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