N690 Vs. M390 Knives: Which Is The Right Choice?

Last Updated on May 19, 2023 by River Tree Farms

A knife is an essential tool with a blade attached to a handle. Would a day end without you using a knife? I guess not. Why? Because it is typically used for industrial, commercial, and domestic purposes, you must at least encounter either of the fields.

Most people will tell you a knife is a knife. Do you know that there are different types of knives? So, what makes them different?

Knives are made of different types of materials used to manufacture them. As we said, knives are used for different purposes and need different materials to meet the need for use. This is, therefore, the case for N690 and M390 knives. How do you choose from the two? Which one is better?

This article will give you the insight you need to decide on the best option to meet your requirement.

Comparison table of N690 and M390:

We will get into in-depth these two knives separately, but it will not cost us much to have a simple comparison. This will help you understand each knife better as you go through the article.

Specifications               N690          M390
Material usedAustenitic SteelMartensitic Steel
ElementsChromium Cobalt MolybdenumCarbon Chrome Vanadium
Common useOutdoor useIndoors use
SharpnessIt stays sharp for a long but it is a bit hard to sharpenNeeds frequent sharpening Easy to sharpen
Firmness and hardnessExcellentGood
Stress toleranceFairly goodExcellent

1. N690 Stainless Steel Knife

N690 Stainless Steel Knife

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This is one of the types of stainless steel. Yes, there are different types of steel with different characteristics. It is manufactured by Bohler-Uddeholm (BU) and was developed by their Austrian parent company, Böhler Edelstahl GmbH & Co KG.

N690 is an excellent martensitic stainless steel widely used to make cutlery. Its main component is Chromium, with other elements like molybdenum and cobalt. It is very similar to 440C steel.

It is a hard steel with an alloy mainly used to make wear-resistant durable knives. Its surface is capable of having an excellent finish. The high molybdenum and vanadium element content makes this type of steel less prone to rust. This is suitable for you if you need to weld any steel since it has a high weldability factor.

In general, this steel is:

  • Hard
  • Tough
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Wear-resistant
  • Very sharp

Advantages of N690 Stainless Steel

  1. It has a high corrosion resistance- It maintains its original look for a long time since it mostly will not rust.
  2. Very versatile- It can make materials used outdoors in very tough environments.
  3. It is also stain-resistant.
  4. It has excellent edge retention- This means materials made from this can stay sharp for a long time.
  5. It is solid steel and resistant to wear.

2. M390 Stainless Steel Knife

M390 Stainless Steel Knife

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M390 is a high-end, high-performance blade steel with exceptional wear resistance and corrosion resistance. It is produced by the same manufacturer as N690 and is regarded as the “gold standard” of stainless blade steel largely because BU has produced some of the finest tool steel in the world since 1695.

This is a trendy, good, quality stainless steel with the main contents being Carbon, chrome, and vanadium. This type of steel can be hardened to very hardness without breakage and remains flexible. It consists of a perfect balance between the:

  • Toughness
  • Wear resistance
  • Perfect edge retention
  • Corrosion resistance
  • Hardness

The surface of M390 steel doesn’t get destroyed easily.

Advantages of M390 Stainless Steel

  1. Excellent edge retention
  2. It is durable
  3. It is solid under being very hard and tough
  4. It is highly resistant to corrosive materials and rusting.

Read More: K390 Vs. M390 Knives

Similarities Between N690 and M390 Knives

These two types of knives have many similarities, as we will see. The first thing they have in common is that the same company manufactures them. This makes it hard for the users to choose because no producer would have a good quality item and a compromised item serving the same purpose.

Don’t worry but keep reading as you will also get to see the differences just after this to answer your questions

Here are the similarities:

  • Stainless steel

They are both stainless steel containing different elements.

  • Corrosion-resistant

The chromium element in both knives guarantees this outstanding quality. Under normal conditions, the knives will not rust.

  • Sharpening

They are both easy to sharpen, though done using different tools.

  • Hardness

They have the same levels of hardness at some point.N690(59 HRC) and M390(58-60 HRC). So at 59, they fall at the same level.

  • Durable

They are both challenging and demanding, making them very strong and durable. This is also attributed to other factors we have discussed here, like corrosion resistance.

Differences Between N690 and M390 Knives

  • Elements

The steel contains different elements. N690 contains Chromium, Cobalt, and Molybdenum, whereas M390 contains Carbon, Chrome, and Vanadium.

N690’s main element is Chromium, and M390 is Carbon.

  • Sharpening Durability

You do not need to sharpen N690 edges as often as you need to sharpen M390.

  • Use and Purpose

N690 is mainly used outdoors, whereas M390 is used indoors. They are both tough and hard, but N690 takes the lead, thus its suitability.

  • Edge retention

The edge retention in N690 is relatively higher than in M390, as it requires less sharpening.

  • Sharpening tools

Though N690 doesn’t require frequent sharpening, it uses a more sophisticated tool to sharpen, unlike M390, which requires easy sharpening with a friendly user sharpening tool.

Which is better, N690 or M390 knives?

What do you need the knife for? Is it for regular kitchen use or hunting?

Considering this, we can then say which is better than the other. Maybe, for example, you need a knife for outdoor use. We have already told you the better choice.

If you look at the similarities, they are pretty similar in many aspects. Both N690 and M390 are great knives suitable for different uses and best in use. However, if we look at which has better features, even though they are very slight, M390 takes the lead. It has better corrosion resistance and stress tolerance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is N690 better than M390?

Not necessarily. These two are similar in so many ways; only N690 is harder than M390, which is also stiff enough. We can also say the use of M390 is much more severe and essential than in the case of surgical devices, making it more technological and advanced. Otherwise, I wouldn’t say N690 is better than M390, but either of the two only becomes better, depending on your use.

Is N690 hard to sharpen?

It is hard to sharpen the N690 blade due to its hardness. It also uses a complex tool to sharpen requiring expertise.

However, the good news is that it doesn’t require frequent sharpening, so you do not have to worry at all.

Is N690 steel suitable for knives?

Yes, good. It is a premium steel with an alloy that is very good for a knife blade.

It has good edge retention, and it is easy to sharpen. It is also corrosion-resistant, hard, and very tough, making it durable. Due to its strength, it is best suitable to be an outdoor knife.

Is M390 suitable for kitchen knives?

Yes, very good. Most kitchen knives are M390 steel knives.

In the kitchen, you have to use your knife for different purposes. For example, it cuts lemons and tomatoes, which are acidic and would corrode the knife. To its advantage, it has high corrosion resistance, among other favorable qualities required in the kitchen, like good edge retention and excellent toughness. It is also effortless to sharpen, so you can give a quick sharpening whenever the need is. It is also very durable, giving you an easy time due to a hand used to a particular tool’.

Does M390 Steel rust?

Under normal conditions and use, M390 steel should not rust. It is highly corrosion-resistant and has an excellent polished surface that is less prone to rust. Therefore, we say good care and maintenance will be an added tick to its already rust-free nature.

What is N690 steel comparable to?

N690 is comparable to 440C steel mainly because they have almost the same carbon content. N690 (1.07% carbon content) 440C (carbon content ranging from 0.95%-1.07%).

Otherwise, they are not the same type of steel. Many other elements are not found in both N690 or 440C.

In Conclusion

A kitchen is a must-use tool in many aspects of our lives, so it is essential to understand different types of knives and their qualities.

We have talked of high-end knives manufactured from great qualities of steel N690 and M390.

In a word, N690 is excellent. It has high edge retention, it’s durable and strong, it holds an edge well and requires little maintenance, and is easy to sharpen. It’s ideal for outdoor knives because of its high corrosion resistance.

M390 is ideal for indoor knives as it is also excellent corrosion resistant. It is strong enough and doesn’t break easily.                     

Do you feel as if you can now choose the best knife depending on what you want to use it for? Go ahead. This is the most relevant information you need to add to your knife’s knowledge bank. Choose the knife that best suits your need.

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