N690 vs M390 Reviews – Battle Between Blazing Blades

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When you are in the kitchen or simply prepping for cooking, it’s almost impossible to ignore knives. And if you have a great knife in your hand, creating magic in the kitchen is like a breeze.

However, how great a knife is depended primarily on its blade. There are two significant types of blade materials that make their place in the market-N690 and m390 steels.

During the N690 vs M390 reviews, two things will make the difference.

M390 is much harder than the N690 blades. You can pick N690 for more flexible work. Moreover, M390 comes with Chromium, which gives a shinier look to the edge than N690 steel. The high carbon content in N690 makes it suitable for diverse indoor and outdoor activities.

Let’s look at the differentiating features of N690 vs M390 blades.

N690 vs M390 Reviews

It’s not an easy task to compare between two different steel types designed for various purposes. However, we have picked some standard features that will justify the comparison.

And it will also make things easy for you to choose the right one.  

1. Overview of N690 

N690 vs M390 Reviews

How good is N690 blade steel? Well, Bholar, an Austrian steel company, produced N690. This company has a long record of delivering durable, sharp, and sturdy knife materials. So, do you want to know what they incorporated inside N690? 

Let’s nitpick them below.

  • Steel Type And Composition

The N690 is austenitic stainless steel enriched with solid chemical formulations. And this is the game-changing point for the blade.

Typically steel is composed of iron and carbon. But, incorporating other elements with them will make a difference.

Here is a complete list of the formulations: 

ElementsPercentages Benefit
Carbon 1.07%Increases edge retention, makes it tensile and resistant to abrasion.
Chromium17%Increases hardness
Cobalt1.5%Increases hardness and creates uniformity.
Manganese.40%Increase hardness
Molybdenum1.10%Makes it corrosion resistant 
Silicon, and Vanadium.40% & .10 %Improves toughness
  • Hardness, And Toughness

Toughness means how much resistance the steel can provide against fracture. Besides, hardness also means its ability to withstand deformation.

Manufacturers usually focus either hardness or toughness on a blade. Thankfully, this N690 has got both.

The Mixture of high amounts of cobalt and carbon makes it rock-hard steel. On a scale, this one is about 55-60 HRC. And, The toughness of N690 is 3.5. 

This is indeed a balanced combination. Which makes it worth investing. Because if it is too hard, it will be brittle. 

It is tough enough to use outdoors without fear of chipping off.

  • Edge Retention

It refers to the resistance of the blade to being dulled when it comes in contact with chemicals. And how long it can retain its sharpness in a particular environment. 

N690 has a great potency to withstand chemical, mechanical, and thermal influences. Thanks to the cobalt inclusion, which helps it to do so!

  • Usability

You can use it for a broader range of activities like 

  1. Hunting 
  2. Hiking 
  3. Cutting ropes 
  4. As pocket knives
  5. Carving wood 
  6. Cutting Surgical tools etc.
  • N690 Steel Sharpening

One of the most significant hassles any knife users go through is sharpening. Some even required specialized equipment, force, and time for re-sharpening. 

The good news is you will face no such trouble for N690. With an Arkansas stone, you can sharpen the edges effortlessly. Also, it is not time-consuming at all.

  • Price

You will get more than you pay – it goes well with this one. This is quite budget-friendly. You can say it is one of the reasons why N690 has gained this immense popularity.

  • Drawbacks 

The only downside we found is it may not hold the sharp edge for a long time. 

2. Overview of M390

Overview of M390

M390 is another masterpiece the Bholar company has launched. They use the metallurgy method in the processing, ensuring equal carbide distribution. Now, you may guess – how good is M390 steel

Still, is it worth investing in? Well, you will find out this next:

  • Steel Type And Composition
ElementsPercentage Function
Carbon1.9% Increases hardness and makes it wear-resistant 
Silicon 0.7%Increases hardness, prevents air bubble formation
Manganese.3%Makes it more tensile 
Chromium20%Increase toughness, wear-resistant, tensile 
Molybdenum1%Enhances sharpness
Tungsten .6%Increases wear resistance 
Vanadium4%Increases wear resistance.
  • Hardness And Toughness

On the Rockwell scale, the hardness of N690 is around 60-62 HRC. That means it falls in the medium range.

Indeed a smart move by the makers! Because if the steel is too hard, it will be hard to polish for sharpening. Besides, if the hardness is lower, it will be soft and prone to break. 

Also, the sharpness will go away within a short period. Being in the middle of both worlds, you can quickly grind it. This fine characteristic makes the M390 a go-to tool for many outdoor adventurers. 

As per toughness is concerned, it is relatively low in M390. Bholar company themself revealed that they scored 2 stars out of 5 for toughness.

However, it is not mandatory to have high toughness to make good steel. They incorporate many other materials to make the steel – corrosion-resistant, hard, tough, and tensile. 

The best part is that the m390 has good longevity, compensating for the lack of toughness.

  • Edge Retention

Consumers reported that it lost its keen edges earlier, but it holds up the working edges for a long time. In edge retention, M390 may not triumph; but its grinding ability did. 

The demarketing point between good and bad blade steel is how fast it gets blunt. The working edge’s sharpness will save you from lots of elbow greases. Which combat the lacking for sure.

  • Usability

It should be used for making small pocket knives.

  • Price 

It is relatively expensive. Whether you buy per kilo or piece, it will cost you some extra penny.

  • Sharpening 

It can hold up the sharpness in its working arm for a long time. All you need is to have the right tool in hand that will handle the rest. According to real users, diamond-coated stones or ceramic can help in that.

  • Drawbacks
  • Expensive. 
  • Require diamond-coated stone to polish.
  • Lack of toughness

N690 Vs. M390 Reviews – Which One Is Good For You

A comparison table between these two may help you select your perfect one. 

Specifications N690M390 
Type of steel high-end stainless steelmartensitic chromium steel
CompositionMore carbon contentMore chromium content
Hardness50-60 HRC60-62 HRC
ToughnessTougher Less tough 
Edge retention and corrosion resistance Edge retention is more, but less corrosion resistant Less edge retention and more corrosion resistant 
Usability Hunting Hiking Cutting ropes As pocket knivesCarve wood Cutting Surgical toolsIn small knife
Sharpening Arkansas stoneDiamond-coated stones or Ceramic
PriceBudget-friendly Expensive.

N690 and M390 vs. Others 

N690 and M390 vs. Others 

Are there any steel better than these two? What are they comparable to?  These two questions may pop up in your mind now. Don’t worry; you will find it out next. 

  • What is N690 comparable to?

N690 is compared to VG10 most often. In terms of ease, sharpness, and corrosion resistance, N690 is similar to VG10. But, the N690 is tougher than the VG10. 

  • Is Eimax better than M390?

Eimax is enriched with more carbon, containing less chromium (17%) than M390. Still, with this composition, Eimax provides superior corrosion resistance, toughness, and slightly higher hardness than M390.

But, M390 offers more wear resistance or edge retention. So, it’s indeed difficult to name one. However, Eimax stands out a bit higher than M390 in overall consideration. 


  • What steel is better than M390?

One thing the M390 lacks is toughness. Eimax fills up the lacking with almost similar quality as it possesses high toughness. So, the Eimax is far better than the M390.

  • Does Bohler N690 rust?

Bohler N690 is a household name now because of its ability to resist deterioration. It has become a go-to tool for the adventurer for its supreme corrosion resistance against chemicals, humidity, and salt. 

Take away

We are also most there to wrap up our N690 vs. M390 reviews. We try to introduce you to authentic information from real users’ experiences throughout the breakdown. Hopefully, you get to know your desired pick.

Still, we will keep N690 ahead of M390 for definite reasons if you ask us. The N690 provides high-quality steel alloy with perfect composition, balanced hardness and toughness, superior sharpness, and easy re-sharpening.

However, the M390 is superior in terms of wear resistance. Still, with N690, you’re getting an all-around benefit without cutting a hole in your pocket. So, click here and give it a go!

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