To simplify understanding of how knife steel held within knives will behave we decided to create a "Knife Steel Index."
The whole point is to use the correct steel for the correct types of blade depending on their usage.
We have an index and a page for each steel (with more detail):
1. An index of steels commonly used sorted by carbon composition. We sort by carbon content as this is the material which has the biggest impact on the hardness of the edge. The more the carbon the harder the edge. All knives are rated for how hard they are with what is called the Rockwell rating or measurement (aka HRC) of the steel.
2. The table below links to overviews for each steel and which known brands (at the time of writing) use them. It also gives an overview of other elements in the steel linking back to the element pages themselves.
*Please note, all else being equal, the higher the carbon the harder the knife, however this also makes it more likely to chip - there is no such thing as a perfect steel.
The Knife Steel Index
420 - Carbon 0.15% | HRC ~50 (Affordable Knives, Dexter, etc)
1.4116 - Carbon 0.5% | HRC~54-56 (Knives, Euro Knives, Wüsthof, Zwilling)
CROMOVA 18 - Carbon 0.55% | HRC~55 (Global Knives)
12C27 - Carbon 0.60% | HRC~57+ (Swedish Knives)
14C28N - Carbon 0.62% | HRC~60 (Knives by TKS, Savernake, etc)
VG10 - Carbon 1.05% | HRC~60-62 (Japanese Knives, Big Red, Shun)
AUS10 - Carbon 1.1% | HRC~60-62 (Japanese Knives, Koi Knives)
HAP40 - Carbon 1.27-37% | HRC~64-68 (Japanese Knives)
S35VN - Carbon 1.34% | HRC~58-61 (US Knives, New West Knives)
ZDP189/MC66 - Carbon 3% | HRC ~66-68 (Japanese Knives, Miyabi)
* One final point. If you are looking for something that is "Stainless Steel" by definition it needs to have Carbon of 1.2% or less and a Chromium of 11% or more. As we learn over time there is nothing perfect (and nothing stainless)