We get questions all the time from our customers about which blade steel is best or how different finishes and coatings will affect the blade as it's used, so we've included information on the more common blade steels and finishes used in ZT's knives.



ELMAX is a third-generation powdered steel. Incredibly clean, it has virtually no nonmetallic inclusions and offers an extremely uniform distribution of carbide. A high chromium-vanadium-molybdenum alloyed steel, ELMAX combines high wear resistance with corrosion resistance. It polishes beautifully and can be hardened to 60+ on the Rockwell Hardness Scale. It is capable of producing highly complex blade geometries for knives with great strength and hardness—and great style. As an environmental bonus, the powdered steel process produces very little scrap material.

With a high chromium and vanadium content, this powdered metallurgy stainless steel offers good wear resistance with excellent corrosion resistance. It takes a razor edge and holds it well. It can also be polished to a mirror finish and is very tough.

Crucible Materials Corporation developed this all-around premium knife steel in collaboration of knifemaker Chris Reeve. S30V takes and holds an edge extremely well and is also extremely tough and wear resistant. This powdered steel's formula promotes the formation and very even distribution of vanadium carbides, which provide enhanced cutting capability. This fine grain improves sharpness and toughness. S30V is easier to sharpen that other powdered steels. Due to this ultra-premium quality, S30V is a more expensive blade steel. The majority of Zero Tolerance knives feature this blade steel.

S35VN modifies the formula of S30V for enhanced toughness and resistance to edge chipping with no loss of wear resistance. Its formula promotes the formation of niobium carbides along with the vanadium and chromium carbides. It provides a sharper, longer lasting edge.

We worked with Sandvik Steel, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of stainless steel and special alloys, to produce this high-performance steel. Increased nitrogen in the formula enables 14C28N to provide both excellent corrosion resistance and the ability to be hardened to 58-60 Rockwell. Sandvik calls 14C28N the overall highest performing knife steel in the world that still maintains the productivity benefit of being fine-blankable.

This is a Crucible high-performance steel that holds an edge extremely well, is fairly tough and moderately stain resistant; heat treatment affects the characteristics of this steel enormously; Zero Tolerance's technical expertise brings out the very best in this steel

3V is also a Crucible steel with very high toughness, excellent wear resistance and good stain resistance. It is extremely impact resistant and is used by ZT in the 0100 fixed blade.

Vanadis 4 Extra
This powdered tool steel offers combination wear resistance. It is chip and crack resistant and is ideal for hard-use applications such as our ZT 0102 tomahawk.


Zero Tolerance’s Tungsten DLC blade coating is not about looks. It’s about performance. Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) coatings lower friction, offer high wear resistance, and enhance hardness. The benefits of such a coating are obvious when it comes to knives.

ZT’s Tungsten DLC coating is applied in a process called Physical Vapor Disposition (PVD). During PVD, metals are instantly evaporated and ionized via a high-current, low-voltage arc. The metal ions are then accelerated into a vacuum chamber. A negative voltage is introduced, which permanently deposits a thin metal coating on the blades.

With its high wear resistance, non-reflectivity, and other performance-enhancing characteristics, Tungsten DLC coating will continue to be part of ZT’s arsenal of top-quality knife materials.