August 08, 2018 6 Comments

N690 Bohler Steel And Why It’s The Best Choice

Let’s all be honest whoever said “blade steel is not everything” most certainly doesn’t own an Arno Bernard knife forged from N690 Bohler Steel. Yes, of course Arno Bernard also uses the best heat treatment techniques, innovative blade designs and add exotic African-inspired handles – but the steel is really the essence of the blade. N690 Bohler Steel can be defined as a cobalt-enriched stainless steel from the Austrian steel company Bohler. Seeing as knives become a lifelong companion, we here at Arno Bernard feel we should enlighten you not only on what N690 Bohler Steel entails, but also why it would the best choice of steel for you!

Excellent Edge Retention

Arno Bernard’s knives are known to have the perfect balance between edge retention and performance – we would ascribe this to the steel we use. N690 Bohler Steel is extremely fine grained creating a blade that will retain its sharpness when subject to periods of use. Let’s face it, all blade experts will tell you that the finer the steel grain - the better the edge retention. By adding cobalt, an extremely unusual alloying element, an extra edge is provided. Having cobalt mixed into the steel creates an uncommon uniformity providing a fine and consistent edge, enhancing edge retention and sharpening receptivity. Coming from Arno Bernard we feel we can safely argue that the edge-holding ability of N690 is superior to most stainless formulations.

Goodbye Stains and Corrosion

By combining various alloying elements (chromium, vanadium, manganese, molybdenum, etc.) N690 is known for its corrosion-resistant stainless steel. Bohler Steel resists deterioration and corrosion such as rust caused by external elements like humidity, moisture and salt. What’s also great about N690’s stainless steel properties is the way it thrives in most conditions leading to a flawless adaptability - ideal for hunting knives. But one must also take care of your life long companion! For a few tips, read our article titled: Here are some finer points to help you take care of your Arno Bernard knife (

Harnessing N690 Steel’s Hardness

Not only are Arno Bernard Knives cut from Bohler N690 steel, followed by freehand hollow ground and hand polished. They are also heat treated and tempered using a liquid nitrogen process. This leads to a staggering hardness and ability to resist deforming when subject to stress and applied force. N690 is once again the winner of steels by resulting in a blade that is 59-60 on the Rockwell hardness scale.
Tough, Tougher, Arno Bernard
And what about toughness? Well it’s right there in our slogan…
Tough enough to use - Nice enough to collect

If you are searching for a blade that can offer edge retention, stain and corrosion resistance, hardness and added toughness – look no further! An Arno Bernard knife forged from N690 Bohler Steel – is not only the right, but the BEST choice for you!

6 Responses

Andrew lopez
Andrew lopez

September 02, 2020

I see comments about steel so I will try to explain. N690 is easier to sharpen then m390. In a hunting or “survival” knife field sharpening is important. M390 is good for a short hunt maybe, but more of an edc steel because its a beast to sharpen and most people won’t bring the necessary tools to the field to sharpen m390.

Hendrik Bosman
Hendrik Bosman

August 03, 2020

Does N690 have a carbon content? I see it is not mentioned in your review here above.


May 02, 2019

Hi Christopher,

Thank you for your comment. We will look into M390 and see how we can make it work for our knives. Maybe one day you will find the knife your are looking for with M390 on our site or in a dealers store.

Best Regards

Christopher Kottra
Christopher Kottra

April 29, 2019

I just ran across some of your knives at Blade HQ, so I stopped by your site to check them out. They are absolutely beautiful. I love your blade profiles and the handle materials turn your knives into works of art . I’m really thinking about getting a Lion for camping and hunting. The main thing holding me back is this:

N690 is just not a premium knife steel anymore. It’s a mid-level steel that doesn’t belong on a high-end knife. It would be great if you would consider a top-of-the-line steel like Elmax or M390 (or the American equivalents S35VN or S20V). Knives this beautiful (and this costly) deserve better.

Ruan Bernard
Ruan Bernard

October 23, 2018

Hi Neriya,

M390 is a better steel but N690 is still very good. We’ve had a few customers that said with N690 they skinned a few animals and kept a great edge.
M390 is also 3 times the price of N690. We don’t stock M390 but we can make a knife out of M390. It will just take a bit longer to make. We are launching a slip joint folder next month and the blade would be made out of RWL34. In the future we will be offering M390 as well.

Kind regards

Neriya yadai
Neriya yadai

October 22, 2018

Hey there,
I did a ton of research on the Bohler PM steel lineup and I was wondering why did you choose N690 over n390 as it’s better in almost every aspect
Best regards

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